Activity Timeline – An Interactive Vertical Timeline View

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You cannot imagine CRM without activities, activities play a vital part in managing customer relationships. Dynamics CRM provides an activity pane which is an amazing placeholder to display all customer interactions in one place. But it has its own limitations, so many times, we want the users to view activities but while adding we want to capture some more fields, for example, adding a custom follow-up field on task or showcasing the activities in more interactive manner.

Dynamics CRM 365 July update in future releases promises to address the latter part which is revamped activity timeline view. But the original part still remains a challenge and Soluzione’s activity timeline tries to overcome those. Key design parameters with which we started the Interactive Activity Timeline are below:

  • Single contextual view: In the default activity tabs we are unable to view activities and notes in a single pane. There are different tabs for viewing the same and does not give the complete timeline context.
  • Visually appealing and Interactive: You will have to agree that default activity timeline is a bit mundane and CRM is all about engaging. So, we wanted to attract and encourage users to engage & contribute to a more visually appealing view.
  • Customizable: Above all, the most important feature is that we can be able to customize the way it behaves, the form it opens etc. We have had so many customer requests.

Soluzione’s activity timeline is a vertical timeline view which enables you to see activities and notes in a single pane. We have provided different colours for different activity types which are eye-catching and users are able to differentiate activities very easily. Being a web resource, we are able to customize the behaviour and add additional fields.

So, without any further ado, below is the screenshot of our activity timeline view.

As you can see above we have removed the CRM default activity timeline view and added our own view. It can be enabled on any entity and similar to associated activity grid, it will show all activities either from related (regarding) or (to, from, cc, bcc) activity party fields.

At the top of activity, the timeline is the activity toolbar
(1) where one can add a new activity. It opens the default CRM form for activity. On the left
(2) is the set of activities that have occurred with clearly marked icons and grouped by month and year. Each activity has the contextual menu
(3) from where the activity can be edited. Clicking on edit opens the default CRM form which provides the entire activity view and the same can be edited. Each activity has a status identifier
(4) which indicates what is the current status of the activity such as the draft, completed etc. A note is a special type of activity that has inline actions i.e. users can create, delete and edit notes directly within the activity view. Below diagram depicts the inline operations for notes.

Similar to create on editing the notes can be edited in an inline view. Notes can be directly deleted by clicking the delete (X) icon. File attachment to notes can be downloaded or deleted as depicted from an inline view. Now coming to the extension part which is the real strength and why we developed this. We had a requirement wherein selective notes needed to be displayed on the customer portal (trainer). We extended the notes entity and our vertical timeline to include an additional field (Is Visible to Trainer?). This field could be set the by the end user while creating the notes directly.

Figure: Extended timeline view with additional field capture while creating notes. We hope that in future releases Dynamics 365 would allow for such customization but for now, our activity timeline is working well for us and our customers. In future releases, we are planning to enhance this by adding more contextual options like marking an activity complete and so on (hopefully next year now).