Sub-Grids Giving You Trouble in Microsoft CRM: Modify them with Ribbon Workbench

Posted on: March 13, 2017 | By: Jim Bertler | Microsoft Dynamics CRM

Over the years, Microsoft Dynamics 365 has gone through quite a few versions. From its first release of Microsoft CRM 1.0 in 2003, to Microsoft CRM 4.0 (its first robust relationship management system) in 2007, to its most recent version of CRM which was released in late 2016 and rebranded as Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Sales. Each version has basically been an improved version of its predecessor, building upon the last version with new features and functionality with each new release. Versions CRM 2013 and CRM 2015 were the first new releases where the interface had been completely redesigned, but aside from design changes, the background code, functionality, and structure has all remained the same; simply improved as opposed to intricately changed.

That being said, after completing an upgrade, from CRM 2011 to CRM 2016 for example, there will be small differences in the systems that a user will notice. As opposed to a completely new Dynamics implementation, where a user does not know the differences from previous versions, an upgrade will take a little getting used to for each user. The good news is, a knowledgeable Dynamics expert knows the tips and tricks to make the system behave in the ways a user wants. In this blog, I’ll show you how to update a sub-grid to behave the way it is supposed to behave in the most recent version after an upgrade.

CRM improvements


In CRM 2016 the functionality of sub-grids has been improved in a few ways. The most helpful way, in our opinion, is that the Add New (+) button for a sub-grid pops out a new form and quickly lets you add a new record. In CRM 2011, as shown in the picture below, clicking on the Add New button gives a search form. Instead of popping out a new form, it directs the user to type in or look up an existing record. From there the user can create new, but it is not apparent or easy where to do this and can be confusing. This functionality is an example of a leftover piece of code from 2011 that didn’t come over to CRM 2016 after an upgrade correctly.  

The good news is that with the tool Ribbon Workbench the user has the ability to manipulate entity ribbons on the main form and sub-grid without using any code. This FREE tool comes in the form of a managed solution that can be imported into your Dynamics environment and can be found at

Once you have downloaded and imported your Ribbon Workbench solution through Settings – Solutions – Import. Once you publish you will see the Ribbon Workbench button in the header of both the Solutions and Customizations’ screens.

CRM customization


Using the Ribbon Workbench you can now update any native or custom entities’ ribbons on the home screen, sub-grid, or form. For example, if you did not want the ‘Assign’ button to show at all so that any user did not have the ability to use that button you would use this tool to remove it. In this case though, we are going to use a ‘Hide’ action to hide old functionality so that the Add New button will pop out on our sub-grid.

First, you will need the entity you are updating to exist within a solution. Create a new solution and add any entity you want to update. Do not include the required components when adding entities.

Open the Ribbon Workbench, and from the list of solutions that appears upon opening, select the solution you created that has the entity needing updates. Once the solution is open choose the entity you want to update in the entities section. Next, click on the sub-grid column and right click on the ‘Add Existing’ button. (This is the button that is not allowing the Add New Button to pop out).

Dynamics 365 Tutorial

In this case there are two Add Existing buttons (remnants of the upgrade) so right click both then ‘Hide Button.’ Publish these changes, and you are finished. Make sure you complete a backup default solution before and after making changes, because this is a powerful tool and you are changing xml in the background. Once you have backups, check out the Ribbon Workbench and see what other customizations you can make, there are many useful things you can do with it.

If you think that a CRM system is your next best step for your business, contact Logan Consulting your Microsoft Dynamics CRM partner of Chicago.

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