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A new feature introduced with Dynamics CRM 2016 Update on both online and on-premise is the ability to use word templates. This makes simple reporting a lot easier now, as well as provides assistance with various data print jobs. A very welcomed feature added.
But let’s have a look at what this is and how to use it.
One common question back in the day was: How do I print this record? Can I just do a print? Do I do a print screen?
Not any more. Now, with a simple template, we can print a nicely formatted record, showing exactly the information we need, in a layout that’s pleasant to both users and customer.
The process involves a few steps. Let’s have a look at the steps involved:
- Create a template
- Define the template (design)
- Upload the template to CRM
- Generate a document (test before you release)
Creating a Word template
The first step is the creation of a Word template. This is a process we start from within Dynamics CRM. Navigate to More (…) > Word Templates.
From the fly-out menu select Create Word Template.
Follow the prompts and select Word for template and the entity you started from. Next slide in the wizard shows you all the relationships active on the selected entity. This is a very important part of the wizard. Select the relationships you intent to use to bring into your template data fields from related record. You should understand the data model for Dynamics CRM.
If you only need to bring into your template data fields from the current record alone, nothing needs to be selected here.
Once done, click on Download Template and save it locally. Now comes the editing part.
Define the template
With the template provided saved on your machine, now it’s time to define how the final output will look like. You can make it as fancy as you need, your knowledge of Word editing being the limit.
When you open the template file you downloaded, it will show you a blank page. That’s normal!
Next, enable the Developer tab in Word. You do that from File > Options > Customize Ribbon.
As all new products, a few issues are documented by Microsoft as possibly causing crashes. They are:
- Auto-correct – might lead to freezes when customizing word templates. Turn off auto-correct if that happens.
- Content types – use only plain text or picture.
On the Developer tab find and select the XML Mapping option. Make sure to select from the drop-down the correct schema as seen in the screenshot below:
Create your page design using tables, images, headers and footers, etc. Introduce the CRM data fields at the correct locations from the XML Map.
When you are satisfied with the layout and format, you are ready to push the template back to CRM and make it available to users.
Upload the template to CRM
Now here comes the flexibility. You do not have to be an admin to use this template yourself. You can actually create your own custom templates, and use them yourself.
If you want to make the templates available to all users, you need to either be an admin, or have an admin perform the template load for you.
As a user, to load the template for personal use, you follow the same steps we covered in extracting the base template from CRM. You navigate to a record. This defines the record type for the template. From the Create Word Template wizard select Upload and load your template. Once done, this template will be available for you to use on any record of that selected type.
In order ta make a template available to all users, as an admin, go to Settings > Templates > Document Templates and upload the template there.
This makes it available to all users that have permissions to use it.
Generate a document
As mentioned before, always test before you release. You can test by loading the template for yourself only first. Once you are satisfied with the output, load it through the Documents Template menu in Settings.
Now you have a nicely formatted way of printing records. All users of Dynamics CRM should take advantage of this feature to create nicely formatted print-outs for reporting or for customer communication.