Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
It’s a lot easier to learn about a new system if you’re familiar with the terminology. So let’s start with the common
terms you’ll encounter, in both their full and short form, in this chapter:
• Business Connectivity Services (BCS): BCS is a set of services that facilitates the connection
between SharePoint solutions and external systems. BCS architecture includes BDC services,
BDC service data, Secure Store Services, the BDC runtime, and more.
• Business Data Connectivity (BDC) Service: This used to be the Business Data Catalog in MOSS
2007. The BDC in SharePoint 2013 is a service that acts as a bridge between business data and a
SharePoint site. However, it still depends on the Metadata Store, and it helps you to design the
external system model. The Metadata Store is used to bring external data into SharePoint or Office.
• External System: This includes your various databases, web services, and so forth.
• External Content Type (ECT): Introduced in SharePoint 2010, the ECT is a much-evolved
version of its predecessor, which was called an entity in MOSS 2007.
• External List: Also introduced in SharePoint 2010, an external list is nothing but a SharePoint
list (an “app” in SharePoint 2013 terminology) that is used to display data from an external
system in SharePoint.
• BDC Model: This is basically an XML metadata file that contains definitions and details
about connection settings, the authentication mode, and available ECTs. A BDC model file is
uploaded to the BDC Metadata Store.
• BDC Model definition file: The physical XML file that contains the metadata information
mentioned in the BDC Model description.
• Type Descriptor: A type descriptor, as the name suggests, describes a data type. Here, however,
it is a data type that’s specific to BCS and completely independent of Windows Communication
Foundation (WCF), SQL Server, or .NET connector data types. It is reusable across all data sources.
Introduction to BCS Concepts
If you’ve worked with the Business Data Catalog in MOSS 2007, you know that it facilitates presenting LOB 1
data within MOSS 2007. People often ask, “Why use the BDC when the functionality can be achieved by writing
custom code?” But the BDC does a lot more than bring LOB data into MOSS. If you are new to the BDC, see
http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms563661(v=office.12).aspx to learn the basics.
However, the BDC in MOSS 2007 had a few limitations.
• It was read-only: BDC entities, web parts, lists, and so forth provided read-only functionality.
• Understanding the data wasn’t easy: Implementers of the BDC needed to have a thorough
understanding of the underlying XML data structure and its elements.
• Insufficient tools: Though there were a few tools available to build a BDC XML structure
(model), it was not always easy.
• Lack of client integration: There was no way to integrate data with rich client applications
such as Word or Outlook.
Not only has Business Connectivity Services addressed these limitations, it also comes with additional features.
Let’s look at some of the major capabilities and enhancements in BCS.
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