Introduction to Common Data Service


Whether you are building a canvas app or a model-driven app, Common Data Service is the ideal data source because it is the foundational data source of Power Platform. As a result, you will experience the most functionality, the deepest integrations, the most features, and the best ease-of-use of any available data sources. From simple web-based data design to robust, role-based security, Common Data Service is a straightforward platform that you can use to begin designing your data structures and helping to keep them safe. Then, with your data in place, you have rich integration capabilities from Power Apps and the rest of Power Platform. Additionally, by applying business rules, you can trust that your business integrity will be maintained no matter what tool you use to interact with the data.

Another benefit of using Common Data Service is that all of your data is stored in entities. An entity is a set of records that is used to store data, similar to how a table stores data within a database. Common Data Service includes a base set of standard entities that cover typical scenarios, but you can also create custom entities that are specific to your organization. Standard and custom entities within Common Data Service help provide a secure and cloud-based storage option for your data. Entities allow you to create a business-focused definition of your organization’s data for use within apps.

  • Simple to manage – Both the metadata and data are stored in the cloud so that you’re confident about the details of how they’re stored.
  • Helps secure your data – Data is stored so that users can see it only if you grant them access. Role-based security allows you to control access to entities for different users within your organization.
  • Access your Dynamics 365 data – If you use Dynamics 365, data from your Dynamics 365 application is also stored within Common Data Service, allowing you to quickly build apps that use your Dynamics 365 data and extend your apps by using Power Apps.
  • Rich metadata – Data types and relationships are used directly within Power Apps.
  • Logic and validation – Define calculated fields, business rules, workflows, and business process flows to ensure data quality and drive business processes.
  • Productivity tools – Entities are available within the add-ins for Microsoft Excel to increase productivity and ensure data accessibility.

Common Data Service lets you securely store and manage data used by business applications.


Data within Common Data Service is stored within a set of records called entities. An entity is a set of records used to store data, similar to how a table stores data within a database.

Common Data Service includes a base set of standard entities that support common business scenarios that connect to Dynamics 365 application data. You can also create custom entities specific to your organization and populate them with data that you import from lists in SharePoint, from Excel, or from PowerQuery. App makers can then use Power Apps to build rich applications using this data.

This means you can build apps using Power Apps and Common Data Service directly against your core business data already used within Dynamics 365 without the need for manual integration.

Logic and validation

Entities within Common Data Service can leverage rich server-side logic and validation to ensure data quality. You can also reduce repetitive code in each app that creates and uses data within an entity.

  • Business rules: Business rules validate data across multiple fields and entities, and provide warning and error messages, regardless of the app that’s used to create the data.
  • Business process flows: Business process flows guide users to ensure they enter data consistently and follow the same steps every time. Business process flows are currently supported only for model-driven apps.
  • Workflows: Workflows automate business processes without requiring user interaction.
  • Business logic with code: Business logic supports advanced developer scenarios that extend the application directly through code.


Data in Common Data Service is securely stored so that users can see it only if you grant them access. Role-based security based on the Dynamics 365 system allows you to control access to entities for different users within your organization.

Entity relationships

  • One-to-many relationships: In a one-to-many (1:N) entity relationship, many related entity records are associated with a single primary entity record in a parent/child relationship.
  • Many-to-many relationships: In a many-to-many (N:N) entity relationship, many entity records are associated with many other entity records. Records that are related through N:N entity relationships are considered peers.

Besides defining how records can be related to other records, 1:N entity relationships also provide data to address the following questions:

  • When I delete a record, should any records that are related to that record also be deleted?
  • When I assign a record to a new owner, do I also have to assign all related records to the new owner?
  • How can I streamline the data entry process when I create a new related record in the context of an existing record?
  • How should people who view a record be able to view the related records?

Entity types

After a custom entity is created, the entity type can’t be changed.

Types of entity owners

When you create a custom entity, the options for ownership are User or team owned, or Organization-owned. After an entity is created, you can’t change the ownership.

  • User or team owned: Actions that can be performed on these records can be controlled at the user level.
  • Organization-owned: Access to the data is controlled at the organization level.

Activity entities

An activity is an action that a calendar entry can be made for.

  • They have time dimensions (start time, stop time, due date, and duration) that help define when the action occurred or will occur.
  • They have data (like a subject and description) that helps define the action that the activity represents.
  • They can be opened, canceled, or completed. Several sub-status values will be associated with the Completed status of an activity to clarify how the activity was completed.

Activity entities can be owned only by a user or team. They can’t be owned by an organization.

The following default activity entities are available:

  • Appointment: A commitment representing a time interval that has start/end times and duration.
  • Email: An activity that’s delivered by using email protocols.
  • Fax: An activity that tracks the call outcome and number of pages for a fax. The activity can optionally store an electronic copy of the document.
  • Letter: An activity that tracks the delivery of a letter. The activity can store an electronic copy of the letter.
  • Phone Call: An activity that tracks a telephone call.
  • Recurring Appointment: The master appointment of a recurring appointment series.
  • Task: A generic activity representing work that must be done.

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