Enhance Data Deduplication with alternate keys

Alternate keys can be used for data integration purposes as well as deduplication and uniqueness validation. This post makes a special focus only on how adding an alternante key can help you keep your Customer Engagement instance data clean and avoid duplicates.

Deduplication with duplicate detection rules vs alternate keys

  1. Duplicate detection rules is an amazing feature which helps you set rules on your instance entity fields. It generates an alert popup whenever a user tries to save after a create or update operation if it meets a detection rule (for example creating a contact by filling in emailaddress1 with a value that already exists in the same field on another contact record will generate an alert popup if an exact match rule on contact emailaddress1 is published). Please check out this post for more details about Duplicate Detection Rules
  2. Obviously Duplicate detection rules DO NOT prevent users from creating duplicates, it simply shows an alert that can be ignored.
  3. Alternate keys DO NOT allow users to save if a duplicate is detected (2 records having the same value in the alternate key field)
  4. You can have up to 5 maximum alternante keys per entity
  5. You can have up to 5 maximum duplicate detection rules per entity
  6. System must first validate that alternate key is supported by the platform before it can be used
  7. Alternate keys fields must not have field-security level activated
  8. Data within the field should not contain any of the following special character (still work for deduplication but not for data integration)

    < > * % & : \\

  9. Only the following attributes can be used in alternate key definitions
Attribute Type Display Name
DecimalAttributeMetadata Decimal Number
IntegerAttributeMetadata Whole Number
StringAttributeMetadata Single line of text
DateTimeAttributeMetadata Date Time
LookupAttributeMetadata Lookup
PicklistAttributeMetadata Picklist

How to add a new alternate key?

Another dedicated post explains how to create an alternate key step by step here.

More details on this Microsoft docs link

[D365] How to create an alternate key

This post will show you how to quickly create an alternate key. If you want to know more about alternate keys please check out this post.

First you should open your customizations (either default solution or a dedicated solution that contains your customizations) and go to the entity where you want to create an alternate key.

In this post I’ll create an alternate key on contact entity using emailaddress1 field.


Select now one or more available attributes, I selected Email (emailaddres1)

selected attribute

Now you can save and close. A system job creates an index for Email in the database. The status changes from “pending” to “Active”



You can now test your alternate key by creating two contacts with the same email address, while creating the second record you should have the following error



Make your first duplicate detection rule

This is a quick tip to help you create your first duplicate detection rule in Dynamics365 for Customer Engagement.

First navigate to Settings->Data Management->Duplicate Detection Rule


duplicate detection rules

You have already some default duplication detection rules that you can use or unpublish. It is important to know that a duplication detection rule works only if it’s published and that you can have up to 5 maximum rules per entity.

Let’s create a simple duplication detection rule on Contact entity Mobile phone field, so when you create or update a contact with the same mobile phone number of another contact it will generate an alert. Click New to create a new rule.


Note that you have several options such as excluding inactive matching contact records and the ability to choose whether you want a case-sensitive rule or not by checking the corresponding box. You can also choose to ignore blank values.


Choose a field and a criteria (I took Exact Match) then save and do not forget to publish (buttons are at the top of the window).


Let’s now test our published new duplication detection rule, I’ll create a contact test1 with 07123456 as a mobile phone number then I’ll try to create a second one test2 with the same mobile phone.


When trying to save my contact2 record I get the following popup which means that the duplication detection rule has been triggered


You can choose to Ignore and Save so in this case contact 2 is saved with the same value in mobile phone number field as contact 1, otherwise you can cancel and get back to the record and update it with a different mobile phone number.



How to hide Posts feed in social pane?

This is a quick tip to show you how to disable Posts Feed in social pane in Dynamics 365.

All you need to do is to go to Settings==>”Activity Feeds Configuration” open the record for which you want to disable posts feed and uncheck the box “Enable walls for this type of record form”. The following screenshot is an example for the account entity.


PS: You can also perform a mass edit by selecting multiple entities.

Dynamics 365 April 2019 release: What’s new

april release

The next april 2019 release is a major update (major updates will be done in October and April every year) and it’s coming with many interesting new capabilities across the different Dynamics 365 apps: Sales, Customer Service, Marketing, Portals, Project Service, Field Service, Power Platform(PowerBI, Power Apps, Flow), etc… So Microsoft keeps investing in AI capabilities and this next wave seems to bring some amazing features.

Let’s focus on Sales and Customer Service and Portals in this post where we have selected what we see as the top new features in each app.


  • LinkedIn Sales Navigator integration is becoming easier and the two existing packages will be merged into one. Alerts when key contacts change companies will be available.
  • Microsoft Teams integration including Relationship Assistant: This will make sales teams work together easier and automatically sync documents. Dynamics 365 records can be accessed in Teams within the new Dynamics 365 tab.
  • Customer insights: More data providers in addition to InsideView and Versium to help salespeople get customer insights contextually during the sales process

Customer Service:

  • SMS: This is a new channel introduced in Customer Service app. SMS Conversations with customers through SMS will be possible. Automated responses can also be set using this channel. An SMS subscription with Telesign is however needed.
  • Live Chat Channel: this is nowadays a must have channel in a customer service app, luckily Microsoft is going to launch this feature in the this next wave. Rule-based scripts can be set to anticipate customers demands.
  • Customers can bring their bots: The Omni-channel engagement hub allows customers to bring their own bot built on Microsoft Bot FrameWork and integrate it with Customer Service app.


  • Display External Data: Secured Client-side calls to external API will be possible within the portal. An endpoint is provided to give secure access tokens containing user identity information.
  • Enhancements to portal diagnostics tool: Administrators are going to appreciate this new feature which will help identify incorrectly configured markers, performance impacting slow running queries.
  • Maintenance mode for portals: Portal visitors will ne longer get that service unavailabaility error message when portal is under maintenanace and administrators can now activate maintenance mode and display a custom message in the portal to inform visitors that the website is under maintenance.


Source: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/business-applications-release-notes/april19/

How To Set Date Format at Organization or User Level

This is a quick tip to show you how to set date format in Dynamics 365 (CRM) at both levels: User and Organization.

Organization Level:

This sets the default date format for the whole org.

Navigate to Settings->Administration and open System Settings.

capture 1

Go to Formats tab and click Customize then choose your preferred format

capture 2

User Level:

Users can also choose their preferred date format in the Format tab in their personal options.

capture 3