Connections were introduced in Dynamics CRM with version 2011. To the day, various customizations are taking advantage of the enhanced functionality of Connections.
The main advantage over Relationship Roles is the ability to relate almost all entities in Dynamics CRM. With Relationship Roles you were only able to relate Accounts, Contacts and Opportunities.
The process to create new Connections is quite simple and straight-forward. In the context of your solution, navigate to Connection Roles, add a new one, give it a name, select the type (pre-defined types include business, family and other options), and select the entities it will relate.
We are going to look at using Connection Roles in the context of associating Project Stakeholders to a custom entity called Project.
First off, make sure you have a new entity defined. Call it Project, and make sure Connections is checked on the entity definition.
On the Project, add a new data grid. Define it as below:
Next, in your solution, go to Connections, and add a new Connection. Configure it as follows:
Also check the Project entity along with the Contact.
Create a few more:
Save and Publish your solution.
Now create a new Project. Save your project. On the project navigation go to Connections. Add a new connection by clicking on the Connect button. Define it as follows:
Observe that the new Connection Roles we have created are now available to be selected.
Now, when you go back to your project, in the newly added grid you can see the Contacts we have associated to the Project, along with the defined Roles.
Simple to customize, no-code solution. Visual impact to users who now can quickly see all stakeholders related to a particular Project.
Using Connection Roles you can also easily retrieve records associated by different rules. For example, we can do an Advanced Find to see all project stakeholders for more than one project, or we can look from the opposite side and find all project where a contact is filling a specific role (or any role). An example of Advanced Find is: