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SharePoint Designer 2010 Provides Tools to Incorporate Most Structural Elements of External Data within SharePoint 2010 Enterprise Edition

As Raymond Mitchell and Asif Rehmani demonstrate in a webinar recording, Leveraging the Power of Business Connectivity Services in SharePoint 2010, SharePoint Designer 2010 offers the tools required to incorporate most structural elements of of external data into SharePoint 2010, Enterprise Edition. These structural elements — columns, tables, etc — are configured as an external content type is added, which acts as a placeholder for the external data. Of course, for readers familiar with the Term Store, taxonomy and metadata tagging for SharePoint 2010, specific tags and terms can be added for external content types. Making these additions to these taxonomic features of SharePoint enhances the usefulness of SharePoint search as a method of identifying data spread out across various data repositories for organizations. Therefore, this type of addition can provide SharePoint stakeholders with a means of strengthening a case for wider user adoption for SharePoint, if such a need arises.

These tools, which are included in SharePoint Designer, 2010, can be used to depict an external data source, via an external content type, in the form of either a SharePoint list, or library. Certainly, for SQL Server databases, and/or Excel spreadsheets, a presentation option in the form of a list preserves the columnar theme of the data, which, in turn, enhances the usefulness of the external content type, itself for SharePoint users.

If, for some reason, SharePoint Designer 2010 is not an approved application, then some the same process can be effected merely with a web browser, as Raymond Mitchell goes on to demonstrate in this webinar video. The process of using simply a web browser to map external data to a list or a library in SharePoint 2010, begins with the creation of a new external. Once this new external list has been created, and named, then, as Raymond Mitchell goes onto demonstrate, the point and click process amounts to selecting the specific external content type that is required from the external content types already added to the system; therefore, an important difference between this procedure and simply using SharePoint Designer, is that the pure browser method requires that the external content type already exist within SharePoint.

Once the external list has been created, as long as “create, update and delete” priveleges have been enabled, then users can work with the external list within SharePoint. Any operations performed on the list will be used, transparently to the user, to actually successfully update the external data SQL Server data repository. As Raymond Mitchell notes, because work can actually be performed on an external data source through SharePoint, the process of setting permissions is very granular — down to specific users.

In the next post to this blog we will look further into the points covered in this webinar.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved
on behalf of Rehmani Consulting, Inc.