Posted on 15 July 2012 by Tony
The SharePoint Business Connectivity Services (BCS) is an integration feature of SharePoint 2010 which provides read/write access to line-of-business data in external systems. Once an external system has been modelled in the BCS, a SharePoint user or developer can compose solutions that use external data directly without having to possess expert knowledge about the API of the back-end system.
There are many options when it comes to architecting a SharePoint solution that is integrated with an external system. In some scenarios the BCS will be a valuable constituent of a solution, in other cases it may not be a good fit. If you are looking to connect SharePoint with an ERP system or other line-of-business system, there are some important points to consider when deciding whether the BCS should be part of your solution architecture.
Up to 20 operations need to be supported
The BCS provides a back-end neutral framework for integration by requiring the API of the back-end system to be mapped to 20 stereotyped operations. Many APIs of business applications are not very BCS-friendly and it may require substantial effort to distill the APIs into services that can be mapped to the stereotyped BCS operations. This is not a problem when connecting to simple data sources like SQL Server databases, but more complex business applications often have APIs that are very hard to decipher for outsiders (e.g. SAP has a very granular generic API which presents a significant challenge in this regard).
Data is retrieved on-demand
Business data accessed through the BCS is exposed through what is called external lists in SharePoint. These external lists share many of the characteristics of the traditional SharePoint lists. However, one important difference is that the data is not stored in SharePoint. This is often a positive thing because you generally do not want to replicate business data across multiple storages unless you have to. But there are also common scenarios where data caching is required. For example, the administrator of your ERP system might not be too happy if you are frequently hitting the system live to retrieve data that rarely changes.
Workflows cannot be associated with external lists
SharePoint workflow generally works by reacting to items in a list being added or changed. Items in external lists are fetched on-demand and are not stored in SharePoint and therefore workflows cannot be directly associated with external lists. If you consider a use case where you want to trigger a business process every time a new item is added to a table on the back-end then the BCS is not a good option. You can still query data in an external list as part of a workflow running on a document library or an “internal” list, but items in an external list cannot be the primary object of the workflow.
These are all important things to consider when deciding whether the BCS should be part of your solution architecture. There are solutions where the BCS is a natural fit and there are solutions where you will have to come up with an alternative way of bringing the line-of-business data into SharePoint. As always, if you have any experiences with this please share your thoughts below.
Posted on 03 March 2012 by Tony
Download the SharePoint Permissions Planning Worksheet here
I was going to write a blog about what I considered best practices around SharePoint security but Jasper Oostervald – https://www.nothingbutsharepoint.com/sites/eusp/Pages/SharePoint-Permissions-Part-1.aspx in his 2 part blog pretty much covered exactly what I wanted to say and more.
So instead of rewriting what he said I hope to add something by providing a worksheet that I have been working on. It’s really in Alpha so if anyone can improve on it and share what they have done that would be great.
In case you are unaware, Microsoft provides planning worksheets here – http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc262451.aspx
In my opinion most of them complicate things by having columns that most of our projects don’t really use.
I am hoping my one is simpler and more useful.
This worksheet has 4 tabs and instructions and tips.
Start by looking at the “Sites” tab.
Here you add your sites and the permissions of those sites.
You may need to go to the Groups tab to add your new groups that you will need.
The “Content” tab is very similar to the “Sites” tab but is for assigning permission to the libraries and lists in your site.
If your dropdowns stop working you may need to reset them by following these instructions – http://spreadsheets.about.com/od/datamanagementinexcel/qt/20071113_drpdwn.htm.
I would love to get some feedback to see if this worksheet is of use to anyone or even better if someone with actual Excel skills can improve it, that would be great!
Posted on 07 April 2011 by Tony
Does Bill Gates?s retirement consign Microsoft to the corporate retirement home as well? Mary Jo Foley doesn?t think so. Her 25 years of Microsoft-watching provides a unique vantage point from which to speculate on how Microsoft might write its next chapter. Identifying signposts and interpreting clues she knows well, Foley offers a thought-provoking view of the software giant?s post-Gates future. Don?t be surprised to be surprised.
List Price: $ 27.95
Price: $ 0.01
Posted on 04 April 2011 by
A few content management and site editing tips for power users on this bacon flavoured unicorn morning. The theme here is keep it clean!
- Write “friendly” email addresses
- Remember it’s human beings reading your content. So seeing something like “If you have questions please send an email to Corporate.Comm@mycompany.com” breaks up the readiblity. Instead just do the simple steps of writing the content in plain English and going back, highlighting the name and insert a link (note: you might have to prefix the link with mailto:email@example.com). It makes for a friendlier looking page and hides the ugliness that are sometimes in email addresses.
- Use friendly column and list names
- This is a big pet peeve of mine. When you first create a column or list with spaces the internal name is changed. The display name might be “My Amazing List of Animals with Large Testicles” but the internal (and link) name becomes “My_x00x20_Amazing_x00x20_List_x00x20_of_x00x20_Animals_x00x20_with_x00x20_Large_x00x20_Testicles”. What’s worse is if you create a publishing page named “This Website is Fueled By a Dolphin’s Spleen”. Not only is it incorrect grammar, but the apostrophe wreaks havoc on both the internal name for the list (with lots of crazy hex codes) as well as the hyperlink (where everything is uuencoded). Instead create the list with a distinct and compact name then go back and change it to whatever you want. The end result is a better formed name that you can both script and access in code easier.
- Keep your Views Clean
- When you add a column to a list or create a new list the default is to add it to the default view. Do everyone a favour and don’t check this box! The default view of a list should be something similar to the Title field and nothing else. Keep it clean. If you want to set a defalt view that’s different, go back and create one with all the fields and filtering and sorting columns you want and set it as default. It’s a good idea to keep the original AllItems.aspx (note the lack of space in the filename!) easy and unfiltered. It’s also a good idea to keep your column count down in views. Don’t let every column be added by default and don’t add every column just because you can. Create separate views for distinct responsibilities and try to keep the number of columns down to a single screen to prevent horizontal scrolling.
- Simple Navigation
- The Quick Launch is a great tool for navigating around your site but don’t use the default of adding all lists to it. Uncheck that box and keep navigation simple. Create custom groupings that make sense so if you don’t have a site with “Documents and Lists” but “Reports and Notices” makes more sense then do it. Also hide internal lists from the Quick Launch. For example, if most users don’t need to see all the lookup tables you might have on a site don’t show them. You can use audience filtering on the Quick Launch if you want to hide admin items from non-admin users so consider that as an option.
Posted on 20 March 2011 by Tony
I have a spreadsheet with checklists and a weekly schedule that I and a group of friends want to share as a way to collaborate on a team project. We want to use the checklists to assign and schedule task responsibilities and record things we see and do independently, but we would all like read/write access to it. I know about collaboration tools like MS Sharepoint, but none of us have a web server, and none of us own a domain name and no one wants to spend money if we can avoid it. How can we post an excel spreadsheet somewhere and make it available to each team member for exclusive edit FOR FREE?
Google Spreadsheets. If you have a Google Mail/Gmail Account, go to your email and click on ‘Documents’ on the upper navigation bar. You can make a spreadsheet from there or upload your own and share to your friends.
on: 27th March 11
Posted on 20 January 2011 by Tony
I am currently doing a thesis on SharePoint server 2010 and SharePoint WorkSpace 2010 and I’m going to compare it with similar software. The only problem is that I’m more of a practical person – hands on if ya know what I mean – and I struggle with theory. I would like to know how to write a thesis. I’m not too sure what exactly is expected of me or how the thesis should be laid out. I would appreciate any tips or help at all! Thank you.
on: 1st January 70
Posted on 26 July 2010 by Tony
What is sharepoint? And, will I be studying PHP and stuff if I take a SharePoint course?
SharePoint at no point relates to PHP.
SharePoint is a Microsoft Server.
Its about, ASP, C#, VB. DotNet.
on: 2nd August 10
Posted on 14 July 2010 by Tony
I am developing a feature called SMS based service using OMS protocol in Sharepoint 2010 . Now to convince my solution for this particular issue , I need to write a POC for that. Can anyone help in this case ? I want some explanation of POC and how can I use the same explanation in my case
You should contact Billy Joe Pumperdinger who works at the Radio Shack in the mall in Johnston, Tennessee. He can walk you through the process.
on: 20th July 10
Posted on 07 November 2008 by Tony
How do I do this. Is there an easy way to do this or will I need to write a program in .net in C#. I can do either
Does it have to be text or can it be an image of the text?
If it can be an image, you could do a screen capture, paste that into your PowerPoint slide – cropping off the areas you don’t require.
This seems too simple, so I might be missing something… please excuse me, if so!!!
on: 13th November 08
Posted on 04 June 2007 by
yes, they both write to a standard. hell you can open the files in a text viewer.
by: No Name
on: 10th June 07