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BCS Actions Provide a Method of Quickly Obtaining Targeted Results with Data Accessed through External Content Types

In the interests of ensuring that SharePoint Server 2010 may be used as an attractive support for approved collaborative activities that involve communication with external web sites on the Internet, an organization should consider configuring BCS Actions. Creating custom actions for user organizations which will automate otherwise repetitive manual procedures is the type of activity that can contribute to an effort to hasten user adoption of SharePoint. Examples of these types of manual activities including checking weather conditions for specific geographical areas, or collecting specific information about known individuals within a business from well known social web sites on the Internet.

Our set of video tutorials on Business Connectivity Services, BCS for SharePoint 2010 authored by Raymond Mitchell includes a specific course on setting up BCS Actions. The intended audience for this set of training videos includes SharePoint Administrators, Developers and Architects.

As Raymond Mitchell notes, BCS Actions allow users to “link to application pages and to pass business data to those applications.” Therefore, as a preliminary to proceeding on this training on BCS Actions, it makes complete sense to verify rights to transmit company specific data outside of organizational firewalls. Once permissions have been verified, following Raymond Mitchell’s instructions can produce highly useful procedures.

It should be noted that SharePoint Designer 2010 cannot be used to create BCS Actions. Access to SharePoint’s Central Administration web application is required to configure these processes; hence we have reduced our intended audience for this video tutorial to SharePoint Administrators and suitably authorized developers and/or architects. Further, an appropriate level of access will be required where a SharePoint Administrator has the authority to utilize the “Manage Service Applications” tools.

Utilizing these tools, it is a straightforward procedure to add BCS Actions, though we need to note that a minimal amount of scripting is required to complete the “Add Parameter” feature of the Actions tab on the Ribbon, simply including parameters for a targeted and specified URL along with a corresponding definition for each of the parameters.

To reiterate BCS Actions must be configured by SharePoint users with appropriate permissions. Generally, these users will be SharePoint Administrators. These users will also need to decide on the security risk of transmitting organizational specific information beyond firewalls, over the Internet. Where each of these caveats is acceptible, BCS Actions constitute a promising feature of SharePoint 2010 that can be used to hasten user adoption of the platform. We will be happy to elaborate on any of these points. Please contact us at (630) 786-7026, or Contact Us to further a discussion about our video training content.

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