This entry is part of our Feature Review Series. These short, to the point blogs strive to provide a quick snapshot of information to a user looking for a quick overview of a feature, how it's managed or configured, some insight into how a business / organization would use it, and provide links to resources or tutorials for a deeper dive.

What Is Advanced Find?

For many, Advanced Find is THE method for getting data out of the system.

Advanced Find is a querying option within D365 that allows you to run basic or complex queries against records.  Keep in mind that Dynamics is essentially tables of data (hence, the recent name change from "entities" to "tables"). 

Advanced Find is essentially a giant filter that can be applied to the table.  It allows a user to query related records as well, enabling the ability to find records with or without a specific type of related record, and even allows the query logic to extend to that table.

Find All "Active" Contacts

Advanced Find allows a user to query the table based various attributes within it.  For example, a user might want to see all "active" contacts.  To do so, the user can open Advanced Find and create a new find against the Contact table, and set the details of the find to include the Status equals Active logic, as shown here:

Advanced Find is the logic behind "Views," which we touched on a while back in our feature review series: Dataverse Views.

We're going to provide several blog posts outlining the key features and uses of Advanced Find.  To start, let's review what makes up Advanced Find.

The Anatomy of Advanced Find

To launch Advanced Find, tap the icon that looks like a funnel to the right in the command bar. This will launch the Advanced Find tool in a new window.

At time of writing, the Advanced Find window still resembles the classic interface.  This has essentially been the look and feel of Advanced Find for many years.

Button Summary

Each of these buttons bring forth different functions.  

  • Query - This just denotes that you are looking at a query.
  • Saved Views - Views can be saved. Clicking this icon will alter the ribbon and expose new options where you can do things such as share or assign a view that was saved previously.
  • Results - This will display the results of the query logic provided.
  • New - This will discard the current Advanced Find logic and open a blank find.
  • Save - This saves your work (duh).
  • Save As - Use this to save a view under a new name, so you can modify it without impacting the initial view.
  • Edit Columns - This is where you edit what attributes will display within the find.
  • Edit Properties - This allows you to edit the name and description of the view you are working on.
  • Clear - This will erase the logic you have in place.
  • Group AND - Allows you to group lines of query logic using an AND clause (think: City equals Portland AND Account Type equals Customer).
  • Group OR - Allows you to group lines of query logic using an OR clause (think: City equals Portland OR City equals Redmond).
  • Details - The query logic window can be "locked" in a sense - clicking Details will open it in edit mode.
  • Download Fetch XML - This button will produce the Fetch logic of the query you have designed, which can then be used in other reporting applications that have a connecting to the environment.
  • Look for: - This identifies which table is selected.
  • Use Saved View: - This will display any saved view, either system or personal, for the table identified in the Look For field.
  • Select - This is where the query logic is entered.

Query Logic vs. What Is Shown

One of the areas I've seen users get tripped up on often with Advanced Find is the difference between the attributes used in the query logic vs. the ones visible when the Results are retrieved.

The query logic is the instruction to the system about HOW to find the records.  If you were to think of this using natural language, it's like asking the system:

Find me all Contacts that have a mobile phone number and live in the city Redmond.  This query would look like this:

Note the absence of the AND clause.  This is because the system will automatically layer the query logic together with the AND included.  AND as a grouping applies when you have complex groupings that might include and AND of several components, with an OR of another attribute.  We'll share an example of that in a future post when we dig into more complex Advanced Find queries.

When we click the Results icon, Advanced Find will display all of the records that meet this criteria.  By default, the system will use the table's Advanced Find view to dictate which columns will appear in the view.  Here, we see only a couple of columns and note that they have nothing to do with the query logic used:

However, if we return to the Advanced Find editing window (on the image above you'd tap the Advanced Find tab next to the word FILE), and then tap Edit Columns in the ribbon, a new window appears:

This is the screen from which a user can control WHAT attributes appear.  By tapping the Add Columns button, I was able to review the various fields available and select the one(s) I wanted to add.  Below, I've added the Mobile Phone column so I can see the phone number without having to open the record itself.

Clicking OK at the bottom of the Edit Columns window will return me to the query logic area and I can then tap results.

Now, the view looks like this (note the inclusion of the Mobile Phone column/data):

How Might We Use Advanced Find?

Users can leverage Advanced Find to locate the data necessary to do their jobs.  Some examples of situations a user might use this feature are:

  • All Open Opportunities for Accounts in a specific state/city/region
  • All Cases Owned by themselves
  • All Records Owned by another user
  • Contact records that have / do not have certain data attributes assigned to them (think email, cell phone, etc.)

The limits are virtually endless, and users who learn how to use this feature often find it becomes one of their go to tools for diving into their data.

One creative use of this tool we've seen in the past is when organizations use Advanced Find to identify data that doesn't meet company standards, such as Accounts missing address components, or Contacts missing key preferences.  These companies will create "Views" with Advanced Find so they can return to them periodically to identify if records meet the criteria and if they do, they can dive into why that data is missing (user entry issues which can then be turned into training opportunities).

That's a high level introduction to the basics of Advanced Find.  In our next post, we'll dive into how to build your first query and we'll start to get into how to layer in query logic from related tables.