Dynamics 365 Business Central: improving the user’s search experience for your extensions

As you already knows, with the new web experience in Dynamics 365 Business Central the menusuite object is disappeared and the Search functionality is now essential to find the right object or function you need for performing a particular business task.

Dynamics 365 Business Central has a powerful built-in search engine that you can start using by going to the Tell me feature (click on the lens in the top-right corner):

D365BCSearch_01.jpg

The Tell me feature heps the user to find objects inside the Dynamics 365 Business Central system but also external things like online help, articles and applications on AppSource (only in a production tenant).

Regarding the application objects (pages, reports etc.) the search is perfomed by using the UsageCategory property. The UsageCategory setting will make the page or report searchable and the value chosen for this setting will further sub categorize the item.

When you create a page object in your extension and you set the UsageCategory property to a value different than None, your object is “search classified” by this setting value (Lists, Tasks, ReportsAndAnalysis, Documents, History, Administration) and it will be automatically searchable by caption (the value of the object’s Caption property will determine the search keywords for your object):

D365BCSearch_02.jpg

Often, the Caption property is not enough “intuitive” for and end user to search for an object. If your user doesn’t know well what object name to search, sometimes it could be difficult to find the right object. This is why I always suggest to use also additional search terms for your objects.

When you define an object, you can now specify other words or phrases that cen help the end user to better find an object, You can do that by using a property called AdditionalSearchTerms.

As an example, in an extension I’ve created a new page called “Simple Customer List” defined with the following Caption and AdditionalSearchTerms properties:

D365BCSearch_03.jpg

When you deploy this extension to Dynamics 365 Business Central and you activate the Tell me feature, you can see that (as a usual standard behaviour) you can find your object by searching for its Caption keywords:

D365BCSearch_04.jpg

But now you can also search for the defined alternative keywords and the search engine will find your object:

D365BCSearch_05.jpg

NOTE: For Business Central on-premises, the Business Central Web Server configuration file (navsettings.json) includes a setting called UseAdditionalSearchTerms that enables or disables the use of additional search terms by the Tell me.

I think that this property should have more importance than the actual it has now and I think also that it should be mandatory for AppSource (AppSourceCop analyzer could check for this property as default). If you want to help your users find the right functions, please use this property on your extensions.

P.S. the AdditionalSearchTerms property actually doesn’t work with pageextension objects. You can define the property in the pageextension object itself but the keywords does not work on the search engine. This is a bug (?) that will be soon fixed.

 

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