Business connectivity services is an integral part of Microsoft SharePoint Server when it comes to interacting with external systems (i.e. Line of Business Systems). There lots of tools and foundation from QCRUD operations to out-of-the-box web parts to let you surface the data and let users interact with it. For when you need to go further there is a capabale object model that can be utilized to make custom solutions most probably used to develop custom web parts. There is a visual designer in Visual Studio 2010+ that makes it easier to design and validate the interface between SharePoint and your external system. In SharePoint 2013, Microsoft has taken it to the next level by supporting OData, event listeners, apps, REST interface and a better external list (still could be better 😉 ).
With all these said, what makes working wih BCS complex is the shortage of learning resources and the way its object model and BDC files (interface definition) are design (specially the latter). You cannot even trust the documentations on MSDN sometimes (I will come back to this later). Although there are blog posts here and there to help you move forward, sometimes you are on your own to discover hidden gems and pitfalls.
In these series of posts my aim is to share my experience in building real world BCS solutions so you can save valuable development time by focusing on more productive tasks. I will try to show you the safe paths and pitfalls and be as complete as possible. There is not much difference between SharePoint 2010 and 2013, but when things are a little different I will show you how. At the end, comments are always welcome!
- Part 1 – What can I build and what is the best way to do that?
- Part 2 – Interacting with databases (SQL Server and Oracle as examples)
- Part 3 – Interacting with other sources / .NET Connectivity Assemblies
- Part 4 – Interacting with dynamic sources / Custom Connectors
- Part 5 – Searchable BCS solutions
- Part 6 – Enhancing BCS Performance
- Part 7 – Surfacing BCS with search
- Part 8 – Surfacing BCS with out-of-the-box web parts
- Part 9 – Surfacing BCS with custom web parts
- Part 10 – Surfacing BCS with Java Script and JSON (MVVM) in SharePoint 2010
- Part 11 – Adding CSOM support to BCS in SharePoint 2010
- Part 12 – Business Data Catalog file, the complete reference
- Part 13 – Bullet-proof deployment of BCS solutions in Farm
- Part 14 – BCS and Claims-Based-Authentication considerations
Do you have any suggestions for another part? then let me know in the comments.