CRM Bit fields: Creating a consistent user experience

When customizing Dynamics CRM you should always keep the end-user experience in mind. One item that sometimes escapes configuration is the display of bit fields, which are generally Yes or No values.

Note: CRM 4.0 uses the attribute type bit while CRM 2011 uses the field type two options. For the sake of consistency, I’ll use the term “bit field” for this article.


Design Choices

Bit fields can be displayed in one of the following styles:

Radio Buttons


Note: This is the default configuration.









The display format for a bit field is actually set from within the Form Editor. Clicking the Change Properties button will display the Properties dialog. The Control Formatting setting can be found on the Formatting tab:



Why this is important

Believe it or not, having what might be called a “variable user interface” sometimes confuses users.

You need to strive for a consistent look and feel in both your field layouts and your field displays. This means picking a bit field display single style and use that style throughout your entities.

That being said, there will always be exceptions where a different display style may work better for a given situation – so don’t consider what I have said as a hard and fast rule, but merely a guideline.


More bit field goodness.

Did you know that the bit field can display any two sets of values?  Well, it can. In its most basic form, the bit field records a positive or a negative value, generally a 0 for false (negative) and a 1 for true (positive).

As an example, let us look at the Contact Methods for an Account:


As you can see, the values are displayed as Allow and Do Not Allow, which in actuality are really just true and false.

Here is how these options are configured:


If you select a value and click the Edit button, you’ll be prompted with the following dialog:


As you can see, you can change the textual value but not the numerical value.

Note: The numerical value is what is stored in the database.


This little feature allows you to use a bit field to record a true/false value whose textual representation is something other than Yes/No or True/False.

It also allows you to use a bit field instead of a Picklist ( CRM 4.0 ) or Option Set ( CRM 2011 ).

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