Personalization vs Design in D365 Business Central

I’ve just finished with my presentation on eXtreme 365 about new in Dynamics 365 Business Central and I want to continue my texts about new solution, because I’ve already wrote about some basic expressions.

With Dynamics 365 Business Central we’ve got some new features for customizations and “customizations”. Previously, you could use Design mode as In-App Designer to make some basic customizations or to download it as extension code, open in Visual Studio Code and continue with development. But now we have personalization as well and I want just to show what is basic difference.

When you run standard environment, you can see only ‘Personalize’ in settings.

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But if you run sandbox environment, you can see both ‘Personalize’ and ‘Design’ options in settings.

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If you choose ‘Personalize’ options, you will get something similar as the following picture:

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You will see red frame and that means you can personalize your page or pages. You can move or hide some parts. But you can also add new fields (existing fields from table), or set new place for Freeze Pane. What is else new? If you run list page, you can stretch your columns. You can do it in all pages where you want and when you finish and click on Done, system will collect all your personalization and you can continue to use them.

But if you run ‘Design’, you will get the similar screen, but this time with purple frames.

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Generally, you can do more or less the similar things with Design feature as with Personalize. But this time when you finish everything you planned you will create Extension. When you finish everything and click on Stop Design, you need to fill Extension Name and Publisher and save it. And if you plan to add some bigger changes, you can choose do mark Download Code field and then you will download AL code which can be opened with VS Code and add more seriously customization.

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Anyway, when you use Design mode, everything you done will be showed and installed extension:

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And on the end I would like to add some conclusion. These conclusions are based on advice from some my friends and readers and I think they are in right, because it will be more clear.

Personalization is, as stated, a personal affair. Any changes I make are applicable only to me. This is of course a highly valuable feature in production environments (what you called “standard environment”) to have my workspace optimized just right for how I work.

Designing, on the other hand, applies to all users on that environment. It is intended for Developers or power users to create lightweight extensions that will ultimately be used by all in the organization. The extension produced by the Designer could be edited and enriched further in Visual Studio code where the possibilities are endless (through AL code). Eventually, that extension could be submitted to AppSource for distribution at scale, or it could be imported into a customer’s production environment to customize D365 Business Central.
Since Designing is a technical and mostly dev-focused activity, we don’t enable it in production environments. That is also why Designing gives you a few more features, such as being able to preview your creation as it would appear on a tablet or phone.

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