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What is a Multi-Select Option Set?

Version 9 of Dynamics 365 now allows you to create multiple option sets – a highly requested enhancement to Dynamics 365. In brief, this is a field that provides the user with a pick-list of options, with the ability to select multiple option set values from a pre-defined list. Option sets have been available since Version 4 of Dynamics CRM. They enabled the customer to define a list of values for a field. However, previously, the user could only pick one of these options. Examples of where the multi-select option set would be applicable are:

  • Creating a list of languages – users can select more than one language if relevant.
  • Regions an account covers
  • Multiple roles a contact may assume (i.e. billing contact, claims issues)
  • Multiple supporting documents requested on an Opportunity
  • Languages that a contact may speak

The image below shows how the option field used to work – with the first field – the Language field allowing only. one value to be selected. The field directly below that, the Languages field, shows how it now works. Users can now select more than one language. The values in this field are displayed as a comma separated list.

Benefits

In the past selecting multiple options sets could only be achieved by extra programming and more complicated grouping (see below *) You would have had to either create numerous individual fields that are checkboxes, a single line of text field which increases the chances for data entry error and thus is not reportable, or implement custom code to create a multi-select feature. With the new version, you can create and produce reports on the data much more quickly, saving developer time and providing clearer reporting. In a nutshell, the benefits are:

  • Faster development
  • Save money on implementation
  • Better reporting (maybe remove this bit below?)

*Previously creating something similar to a multiple option set was more convoluted and involved:

  • creating custom 1:N entities, such that each child record represented a selected value
  • Creating custom N:N relationship where linking records in each entity together represented a selected value
  • Creating multiple custom fields on the entity where each field represented a selected value. These fields would typically be Yes/No fields that toggled on or off (See image below)

Limitations

  • There is a limit of 150 items in the Multi-select Option Set
  • They are not supported on legacy forms (i.e. mobile form)
  • Multi-select option sets cant be used in the Form Header Section
  • There is no method provided in SDK to query the field values
  • Multi-select option set fields cannot be a calculated or rollup field (single-select option set fields can be a calculated field).

Features

Multi-Select Option Sets are a new attribute type. The main features are as follows:

  • They are available on the Unified Interface as well as the Web Client
  • They are available for Main Forms, Quick Create Forms, and Quick View Forms.
  • They support all client APIs such as set attributes and controls, and will return an array instead of a single value.
  • Select All and Clear Selection option
  • Supported in Advanced Find and FetchXML queries
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