In this Introduction to Entities in the Common Data Service I will step through all the elements important when you start with CDS development.

This post is part of my introduction to the Common Data Service series. I will now look at Entities in the CDS.

Any body who has developed systems in Dynamics 365 (a.k.a. Dynamics CRM) will know what entities are. Dynamics users will only have to get used to the new UI developed as part of the Dynamics to CDS transition that Microsoft have pushed their product through.



What are Entities?

Entity in Common Data Service

I used the Bing Dictionary to find a definition of the word entity.


a thing with distinct and independent existence

What does this mean?

In your CDS or in Dynamics you will find that you create entities for anything that describes data objects or data structures that as different from any other already existing entities.

This could for example mean that you that you would create entities for Account, Address or Department.

Some of the entities that you may need will already exist and other entities that are more specific to your business or solution may have to be created.

Entities in the Common Data Service

Out of the box the CDS already comes with a lot of entities and each entity will have a lot of fields specified.

Within the CD you could create entities as you need them, however you should consider creating entities as part of a solution. Solutions I will look at in a later post.

Creating an Entity

Once you have identified that you need to create an entity you can Click on the New Entity option in the menu. This will give you the new entity form to fill in.

New Entity

Once again you could just get on with it, however you should really do some more work first. In the screenshot on the right you will notice the prefix crd6e_ for the internal name of the entity. Also for the Primary field you will see the same prefix.

To change the prefix you should develop the entities as part of a solution and configure a custom publisher. I will look at this in the solutions post that is part of this series.

Back to the New entity form. Once you have supplied the names for the entity and for the primary field there is more to consider.

For examples does your entity need to hold attachments?

And the more settings gives you even more options.

More settings

Description is where you can explain what an entity should be used for.

Entity type and ownership lets you select if you are using a standard entity of an activity entity. In ownership you can select user or team or Organisation. Does this finally get rid of the little circles that gave you Repetitive strain injury (RSI)?

The Collaboration settings are another one of these things that you want to get right the first time around. Did you notice the warning at the bottom of this section? Once enabled you cannot disable some of these settings.Collaboration

The next section of entity settings is the Create and update settings. This section gives you the option to enable quick create forms, duplicate detection and enable change tracking for Flow!

Finally you can configure in the Dynamics 365 for Outlook section if the you want to enable offline capabilities or not.

Ok, that is a lot of options available to you just to create a “thing”.

We haven’t even considered yet what this thing may look like.

In part two of Entities in the CDS I will look at creating fields and configuring the other parts of your entity


More interesting information about the CDS

Entities in the Common Data Service – Part 2

Common Data Service – a complete overview


By Pieter Veenstra

Business Applications and Office Apps & Services Microsoft MVP working as a Microsoft Productivity Principal Consultant at HybrIT Services. You can contact me using contact@veenstra.me.uk.

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