A quick look at the CRM 2013 navigation changes from the eyes of a CRM 2011 User

There are a lot of CRM developers who have been developing and using CRM 2011 and will soon be starting CRM 2013 project or there will be those developers who are currently working on CRM 2011 project and are thinking about the future and want to be prepared for CRM 2013 projects.

There will also be CRM developers who are new to CRM 2013 so this blog post and video from my Hosk CRM Dev youtube channel is going to look at the navigational changes which have been implemented in CRM 2013 and just give you an overview.

The best way to learn about how CRM 2013 works is to setup a trial and get stuck in there yourself, I have a step by step guide to doing this here, so you have no excuses.

Here is the youtube video

I have also written a blog post about it

So what are the main changes

No more popups

CRM 2013 has done a great job of stopping the popup explosion that can sometimes happen in CRM 2011.  In fact popups seem to occur so infrequently that one a new window does pop up it seems like a bit of a shock.  This also has the effect of having no anchor web page.

Left side Navigation gone

In CRM 2011 you use to

but now will see there is no left hand navigation

So they have moved the left hand navigation menu and basically put it on the top.  The image above shows the previous roles and settings menu and then when you click on one of those you can then access the previous upper left hand navigation.

This works quite well once you get used to it, initially you are not sure where to go and some times the navigation doesn’t seem obvious.  It can also be tricky to navigate if you need an option not in the initial set, press the > (right arrow) needs you to be quite precise and it can slow the speed of navigation.

Social Pane

Above we can see the social pane and it does provide some useful functionality and allows you to create notes and phone tasks quickly but I have answered lots of CRM forum questions where users would like to customize it but there is no way to customize it at all.  I appreciate Microsoft have create this cool, extra functionality widget but Microsoft Dynamics CRM’s strength lies in the fact it is highly customization and so when you have something that you can’t change this can cause frustration.

I wonder if customers would want the social pane functionality, I can see a lot of people removing it, despite the fact it’s great for adding notes and tasks.

Quick Create

This is another area which is good on one hand because it stops a popup and allows you to quickly create a new record.  It’s good for contacts but many entities I have created in the projects I have worked on would need validation and javascript so it wouldn’t be applicable but I think it’s good option to have.

Auto Save

Auto save isn’t really part of the navigation I suppose but I will give it a mention.   I’m still not convinced by autosave, it seems to me Microsoft have added some functionality that no one asked for? and I haven’t yet heard a great reason why Autosave has been added. Personally I like the fact records are not saved until you are ready

Advanced Find

Where is it?  I spent a load of time looking for the advanced find.  Microsoft have made one of my favorite tools impossible to find.  The only question I have is WHY.

CRM MVP Jukka Niiranen has done a really good blog post on finding the advanced find, an article all CRM 2013 users should read.



I don’t think it’s called the ribbon but I what ever it is the command bar, why can it only contain five items.

Recently viewed

I love this, it really speeds up navigation as long as you need to find records you have recently used.  There was a good feature of favourites but Microsoft have removed this and replaced it with recent.  It’s a fair trade.


I like the new subgrids, they have tried to make things faster/smoother by having a little subgrid and if you need more details you press the square grid (ish) button and you get the good old sub grid.  I would say this is an improvement, particularly on form hosting the subgrid.  You may have a bit of a problem if you wanted to display the full subgrid (this maybe possible, I wasn’t sure how to do it in my quick run through)


I haven’t used the new mobile functionality yet but it’s definitely a big win, the only question I have is I haven’t really seen many people using tablets at work but if you waited for people to use tablets at work before you added the functionality into CRM then you would be too late.


Overall I think CRM 2013 looks great, it looks much much better than CRM 2011.  I’m sure a lot of my currently views may well be down to the fact that it’s all different.  In some ways it seems a bit like Windows 8, initially you think WOW it looks great, then you get to the stage of being frustrated because it’s not easier to use and in some places confusing and not logical.  CRM 2013 is not as different or intuitive as initial opinion of Windows 8.  Most of the changes make navigating quicker and easier, until you need to use a ribbon or command bar where the real estate is limited.

I think it’s definitely a step forward but not the great big leap that CRM 2011 was from CRM 4 but the the more I use it the more I will learn to love it is my prediction.


Don’t forget to join me on youtube for Hosk’s CRM Dev channel if you are interested in CRM Development