Productivity In the New Microsoft Dynamics AX Client: Understanding the Basics

January 21 2016

The New Microsoft Dynamics AX user interface 

With the web client for the new Dynamics AX, Microsoft is providing users with an interface based on the look and feel of Office 365. And as Microsoft Principal Group Program Manager in Dynamics AX R&D, Adrian Orth told readers in a recent webcast, the new Dynamics AX (formerly known as "AX 7") remains a recognizable successor to Dynamics AX 2012 while providing a range of enhancements and new tools to improve productivity.

As Orth explained, the Dynamics AX team has attempted to increase user productivity through enhancements in three areas:

  • Navigation
  • Filtering, and
  • Data entry

Let's examine these in more detail.

Updated Navigation

Navigation begins with the page hierarchy of the web client (see graphic). The hierarchy is similar to that of Dynamics AX 2012, but is topped by a Dashboard. The dashboard aggregates content from across the product, and provides a customized starting experience for users. Users share different custom start screens for performing their functions. And, users whose roles do not require usage of the AX client can still have access to an employee self-service module, typically used for "HR-type" functions such as time-keeping, attendance, personal information updates, etc.

Microsoft Dynamics AX 7 Page Hierarchy

The next level down in the hierarchy is the Workspace, a new concept based on the role-centered pages of Dynamics AX 2012. The workspace is designed to be a separate page-per-task area that a user needs to work on, and aggregates actions across that task.

Action searches are one of the top productivity features of the new Dynamics AX. This feature provides the capability to quickly see and perform available actions; these can be "global-type" actions or actions to be performed on a specific line in a user's grid.

The next level is the Details/Transactions forms, which are migrated from Dynamics AX 2012; then, other forms types available from the previous release.


Much of the new "look & feel" includes the addition of tiles on both the dashboard and in the workspaces. Some functionality was taken from the AX 2012 role-centered pages, but the new Dynamics AX allows separate pages for each major task area on which a user may need to work. The addition of the workspace tiles makes it easier for users to perform navigation and filtering actions on information displayed before them. Information is already hyperlinked, giving users "minimal click" access to layers of information.

Again, the tiles appearing for various user roles can be customized by the AX administrator. However, there are user options to personalize user start experience.

Another new capability of the new AX is the density, or zoom, option. A "single-screen" density approach accommodates smaller touch-screen devices. However, for users with large-screens or multiple monitors, windows can be displayed on multiple screens. Density can be increased up to 50 percent to compress more information into a single view.

Updated Filtering

A quick filter feature has been added in a number of areas to allow users to collect information at a glance in a condensed mode. The filter pane has been enhanced to provide a better user experience for collections of information as well as to add filters for fields that may not appear on the screen. Advanced filtering has also been improved over previous AX versions by allowing the opening up of a dialogue box to use advanced syntax to optimize information-gathering.

Data Entry Enhancements

To minimize data entry, the new Dynamics AX utilizes "type ahead" look-ups. When a user inputs a customer ID number, AX begins listing all IDs that start with that number in a dropdown menu. The options decrease as the user refines the ID. Furthermore, all customer information can be displayed or made available through links. These data can be used to populate a form such as a purchase order.

Also new are task guides. This feature is an online help section that guides the user through the process of performing specific tasks. The guides can be displayed on the side of the screen providing a how-to overview. New interactive tool tips become visible as the user moves through certain tasks, like populating a form. Even error codes have been improved to identify data entry errors and explain what the user can do to correct the information.

New Dynamics AX Terminology

Some of the AX terminology has been changed so it is more familiar and better understood by a greater number of users. The Dynamics AX team also faced a challenge in how the interface behaves in different web browsers, according to Orth, specifically around using the same shortcuts for different functions. In order to be compatible with IE11 for Windows, Google Chrome, MS Edge, and Safari, the AX team created a wiki page for their primary and secondary shortcuts. Many of these shortcuts remain unchanged from previous versions of AX; however, the wiki shortcut list delineates them all.

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