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What's New: Business Connectivity Services

SharePoint 2010

Published: May 2010

Microsoft Business Connectivity Services (BCS), formerly named the Business Data Catalog, provides read/write access to external data from line-of-business (LOB) systems, Web services, databases, and other external systems within Microsoft SharePoint 2010. SharePoint 2010 has product features that can use external data directly, both online and offline. Developers can gain access to a rich set of features and rapidly build solutions by using familiar tools such as Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 and Microsoft SharePoint Designer 2010.

Business Connectivity Services enhances SharePoint application capabilities and their UI through features, services, and tools. These enhanced capabilities and UI streamline development of solutions with deep integration of external data and services. Power users, developers, and business unit IT professionals can integrate assets from external systems and enable interaction with the external data through many types of applications. The Business Connectivity Services feature set enables rapid development and deployment of scalable and security-rich solutions.

The following are some of the features of Business Connectivity Services.

Using Business Connectivity Services, you can create, read, update, delete, and query (CRUDQ) to the external system from a Microsoft Office application or SharePoint site if the external system supports the operations and is modeled appropriately in the Business Data Connectivity (BDC) service.

External content types provide SharePoint behaviors (such as lists, Web Parts, and profile pages) to external data and services. As a result, users can work in their familiar work environments without needing to learn different (and often proprietary) user interfaces.

The core function of BDC is to provide connectivity support to the following types of external systems:

  • Databases

  • Web and Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) services

  • Microsoft .NET connectivity assemblies

  • Custom data sources

In addition to connectors for the previous list of data sources provided by BDC, BDC provides a pluggable framework with which developers can plug in connectors for new external system types, thus enabling these new data source types to be accessed via the BDC.

In Office SharePoint Server 2007, BDC supported only single item operations, such as search. BDC now provides batch and bulk operation support which enable you to read multiple items in a single call thus reducing round trips to the backend dramatically.

BDC now supports reading Binary Large Object (BLOB) data. This is useful for streaming BLOBs of data from the external system.

BDC now supports dot notation in field names and therefore enables you to read and write complex types.

Business Connectivity Services provides a set of tools to facilitate creation of models and Office 2010 application artifacts, declaratively and by writing code. You can use SharePoint Designer 2010 to rapidly create composite solutions that meet external unit needs without writing code. You can use Visual Studio to create or extend solutions with sophisticated workflows and data that spans structured LOB systems, unstructured SharePoint applications or Microsoft Office applications, and Web 2.0 services.

Developers can use the BDC Runtime object model to write generic applications by using the stereotyped APIs as building blocks. Such generic applications are then assured to work against any external system, including those that are preexisting and those that are yet to be built.

Developers can also write specific applications that make assumptions about the abstract entity model (the fields exposed by these, and the types of the fields).

And with the .NET Assembly Connector, Custom Connector and the pluggable Secure Store Provider, it provides a rich extensibility mechanism for software developers.

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