Friday, February 11, 2011

Business Connectivity Services in SharePoint 2010

BCS is formerly known as Business Data Catalog [BDC]. BCS provides option to read write access to external data in SharePoint environment from web services, data bases etc. The main advantage with this feature is once you pulled external data into SharePoint list or libraries, from user point of view they may think that they are editing a list item in SharePoint list but not external data in some third databases. But, they are indirectly changing the data in the external database. This is what BCS does for us. With this we can solve many problems as there are many chances that we have to integrate external databases in SharePoint and show the data in the SharePoint sites. So, with this new feature there is no need to create our own pages to grab and show data from external data sources and write edit page, delete page etc.  

You may already had some problems in your previous SharePoint 2007 applications like show the external data from third database in SharePoint pages and do some thing with it. In that case either you write your own logic using web parts or BDC. Again BDC is not really very comfortable to me[So, I believe for you as well]. But, BCS features it is improved when compared to BDC and it is having very good integration behind. Now, easily you can pull any information from a database to the SharePoint list and provide that information to the user.

One more advantage with BCS is creating external content types. For a table in database, it will create a content type and we will use that in a list. So that a table in database is equal to the list in SharePoint. This way you may not need to go to database to do some operation. Instead if you have access to the site then go the list and do the operations. By default, it supports following types of external systems:

  1. Database
  2. WCF services
  3. .NET connectivity assemblies
  4. Custom data sources [Any data source like excel, access etc]

By default above 4 it supports. But along with them, BCS framework is extensible. You can write some extra code and plug that in to SharePoint. Unlike BDC, BCS supports bulk operations. The main advantage with this is that it reduces the round trips to the database and in a single connection you are performing many options. And you can read BLOB data directly with this BCS. And many more.

So, with this BCS you can show the external data in SharePoint and perform the create, read, update, delete, and query (CRUDQ) operations. It supports BULK operations as well.

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