7 Useful Data Field Types in Dynamics CRM

Over the years, Microsoft Dynamics CRM has been introducing new data types, field types, and formats. For example, Microsoft released the “Image” data type in 2013, and the “Calculated” field type in 2015. These new additions meet the growing needs of users as Dynamics CRM continues to expand and evolve, and makes administration and customization much easier.

In Microsoft Dynamics CRM, each field is defined by its data type, and further formatted by field types and formats. For example, “Single Line of Text” is the most common data type in Dynamics CRM. This single line of text could then be a “Simple” or “Calculated” field type. A simple field type can be formatted as Text, Email, Phone etc. So if I want to create an email address field, I would create a “Single Line of Text” simple field type and with a format of Email.

You can find here the complete list of Dynamics CRM data types, field types, and formats. It is a long list – some of them are quite self-explanatory, and some are not. So in this blog, I am going to review some data/field types that I think are beneficial for us to know, as you may want to use them in the future.

Data Type: Customer

The latest data type introduced to Dynamics CRM 2016 SP1 and Online Update 1 is Customer, which can be an Account or Contact. In the past, two custom lookups (Account and Contact) had to be created. This is one step closer to the “Party List” or “Regarding” Lookup field that I have always wanted. However, looking at my existing customizations where two lookups are used, there will be some work that must be done to migrate to this new data type, plus data conversion.

data type crm


Data Type: Single Line of Text

The following field types are available:

Email – one of my favorites – it does the address validation for you. If you are coming from an earlier Dynamics CRM version where you have to write your own validation, you will appreciate this.

Text Area – This can be confused with the Multiple Lines of Text; that is a different data type. The only difference really is the character size where Text Area supports up to 4000 and the Multiple Lines of Text supports 1,048,576. So this is a great alternative where smaller text size is expected.

URL: It’s simply clickable, and you don’t have to make it so.

Ticker Symbol: It’s clickable and linked to the corresponding stock quote page on MSN.com Money.

Phone: This can be misleading, it does not format or mask the phone number, but simply it is clickable and will launch your default telephony client.

Data Type: Whole Number

The following formats are available:

Duration: an option set of 1 minute, 15 minutes, 30 minutes, etc… up to 3 days. Unfortunately these options are not configurable.

Time Zone: an option set with a complete list of time zones.

Language: A list of language options installed for your organization. It is not necessarily useful.

Data Type: Date and Time

The following behaviors are only available under Simple field type. If you have users working in different time zones, this is a life saver:

User Local: displays the date/time in user’s local time, which is the default behavior.

Date Only: only displays the date portion, so there is no time zone conversion.

Time-Zone Independent: allows to display the date/time portion with no time zone conversion.

Data Type: Optionset

The Optionset data type allows users to pick a value from a list.

Optionset has two field types: Simple and Calculated. As for the Calculated type, I am having a hard time to find a scenario where I would want to use this. Apparently you can set the optionset value based on a condition – it reminds me of dependent optionset, and even business rules. But it seems quite tedious to configure, so I don’t think I would use it.

Data Type: Image

The Image type is used to store an image of the entity record. Only one image field per entity is allowed. For it to work, the Primary Image attribute has to be set to ‘Entity Image’ for the Entity; and the in the form customization, the ‘Show image in the form’ property has to be enabled.

Data Types: Floating Point and Decimal

These are the two kinds of numeric fields you can use.

I have to decide what numeric type to use sometimes. There are enough discussions out there on these two and their performance and storage limits. In most cases, these differences are not noticeable. The only thing I want to point out is that Floating Point cannot be used with calculated fields. So if you are unsure, use Decimal.

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