As I look at the current feature set for Microsoft Dynamics-CRM, it seems that the existing dialog functionality doesn’t fit. While I have no knowledge as to Microsoft’s thoughts to the future of the dialogs, I feel that the dialog does not have a long life.
For those not familiar with the dialog, it is now something that is created and modified in the Process area, along with workflows, business process flows and actions. The dialog was introduced in Dynamics CRM 2011. At that time, it was being advertised as a way to do call scripting. Used with workflow, it was a simple way to add multiple record types while allowing a feel of one entry point. In the days of Dynamics CRM 2011, it was also allowing the user to walk through a wizard-like series of steps toward some sort of conclusion.
A lot of that functionality was very useful, but seems to be duplicated to some degree with the business process flows. As the business process flows continue to develop, it seems the usefulness of the dialog will diminish. The business process flows already allow for conditional branching. The business process flows also give the users the ability to move through multiple entities with the feeling of one single point of entry.
So what is missing? Dialogs currently allow for prompts to the user, more than then a field name. For instance, based on a series of responses, a dialog can direct the user to answer a caller in a specific way by displaying a text response. This is very relevant in a call center setting. The dialog can escalate the discussion or answer the question. This functionality is required in the business process flows in order to be able to replace the dialog.
Another feature of the dialog that would need to be incorporated into the business process flows is the ability to ask the user for information without needing to store that information. In the business process flows, every object on the process flow has to be a field in Dynamics CRM. It would be nice to be able to ask a question in order to direct the flow without saving it.
If Microsoft decides to keep the dialog, it seems there will be a need to update it to be better incorporated within the post Dynamics CRM 2013 user experience (UX). The dialog still has the rigid feel of Dynamics CRM 2011. In addition, the user typically has to go into the ellipsis (…) button to call initiate the dialog. This is not all that intuitive.