Hero Insights: Adding Data in the Common Data Service

If you are just joining us, I am working on a series to learn about Dynamics 365 and Customer Insights using comic superheroes! You can check out the full series on the Hero Insights page. Enjoy!


Before we get to the exciting meat of Customer Insights, we need to do some environment and data set up. Getting started today, we want to make sure we already have our Common Data Service and Dynamics 365 Trial. I would also recommend creating a fresh environment to work in. This will ensure that our work does not impact other things you are doing and vice versa.

I also decided that this Super Heroes Dataset would be my primary data set. From this, I created a unique list of publishers just using the Excel remove duplicates feature. This will be my Accounts list.

Import Accounts

I want to use this publisher’s list to create Accounts in CDS. I did this by using the Edit Data in Excel feature within the Maker Portal. If you have not used this feature you need to check it out because it works so smoothly.

In the Maker Portal simply expand Data, select Entities and open Account. Then navigate to the Data tab. Here you should see an Edit data in Excel button on the ribbon.

Edit Data in Excel button in Maker Portal
Edit data in Excel from the Maker Portal

This will download an Excel file where you will see a Microsoft PowerApps Office Data Connector pane. This allows you to modify data in the Excel sheet and then just quickly publish back to the Common Data Service. Since the only data I wanted to import was the Account Name (aka publisher), this was a very quick way to do it.

Excel Power Apps Data Connector
This Data Connector will pop up when the Edit in Excel option is used. You can make changes in the spreadsheet and then publish back to CDS!

Creating Our Heroes

Our superheroes are going to be Contacts in the Common Data Service. As I was feeling a bit excited to get moving along quickly and to save time, I decided to use the classic file import to create these records. This allows you to create fields as you import the data.


Do as I say and not as I do. This attempt at saving time did not save time in the long run as a few fields were created multiple times or not the data type I intended. Plus all of the Option Sets were created as local option sets. This means I needed to go back to the classic experience to view the details. No thank you. I will create them manually next time.

Import Contacts and Create New Fields
Here is how you could create new fields as part of a data import. Please don’t do this in production and probably best if you don’t do it at all.
Import Map Publisher to Parent Account
We had already created the Accounts (publishers) from Edit Data in Excel so we can lookup to that record on import.

Reviewing the Results

Now our Accounts and Contacts have been created. I did have a few contacts fail in this dataset as duplicates but this did not impact the goals so I left them in time out.

For the successful records, we want to see all their data! So we simply need to edit the view to add the columns for our new fields. Remember to do this in a solution in order to keep things tidy. I reviewed this view right within the Maker Portal but also when using the out of the box CRM Hub app. I did not need to create a new model driven app for this experiment. (Also note that this experiment did not include any radioactive insects of any kind!) [*Consultant/Hubby Note: Of course no radioactive insects were included, as that is a ridiculous notion. Spiders are arachnids and thus no radioactive arachnids were used in this experiment. It’s an important distinction because those do exist and are worth leaving out of any experiment not supervised by a one armed lizard-professor.]

Reviewing our imported Heroes
Our Heroes have been imported and we can create a custom view to review.

Curious what’s in store for the next part of our adventure? Tomorrow we will super-humanly add pictures to all of these heroic contacts!

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