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Integrating Business Data into SharePoint

You can integrate business data into SharePoint. Business data can come from back-end server applications, such as Microsoft SQL Server, Siebel, and SAP, or a Web service. Users can view, add, update, or delete business data by using external lists or Business Data Web Parts in SharePoint.  Users can also access this data offline in a Microsoft Office application such as Microsoft Outlook. For more information, see Where Can You Show External Data.

To integrate data into SharePoint, create a model for the Business Data Connectivity (BDC) service. The BDC service is an application in SharePoint that stores information about data in business applications. For more information, see Business Data Connectivity (BDC) Service.

Models in Visual Studio enable you to write custom code to retrieve and update data from back-end data sources. You can also aggregate data from multiple data sources. For example, you can display a list of customers that contains data from a SQL Server database and a Web service.

You can also import models that are already deployed to SharePoint. After you import a model, you can add custom code or just use Visual Studio to package and deploy the model to multiple SharePoint server farms. For more information, see Creating a Business Data Connectivity Model.

You can design a model by using a designer and several tool windows. As you design the model, Visual Studio generates the model XML. For more information, see BDC Model Design Tools Overview.

A model contains entities and methods.

An entity describes a collection of fields. For example, an entity can represent a table in a database. An entity appears as an external content type in SharePoint. For more information about external content types, see What are External Content Types?

A method enables the consumers of an external content type to perform an action on the fields of an entity. For example, an Updater method might enable users to change the address, and birth date of a customer where Address and BirthDate are fields of the Customer entity.

Visual Studio generates a service code file for each entity in your model. When you add a method to your model, Visual Studio generates a corresponding method in the service code file. Add code to each method to perform the appropriate task. For example, if you add a Creator method to the model, Visual Studio generates a Creator method in your service code file. This method is called by the BDC service when a user clicks the New Item button in a list that is based on the model. Therefore, add code to the Creator method that adds new data to a data source. For more information, see Designing a Business Data Connectivity Model.

Title

Description

Creating a Business Data Connectivity Model

Shows you how create a new model or import a model that you export from SharePoint.

Designing a Business Data Connectivity Model

Explains how to design the elements of a model by using Visual Studio design tools.

When to Use SharePoint Designer vs. Visual Studio When Building Solutions Using BCS

Helps you decide whether to use Visual Studio or use SharePoint Designer to create a model for the BDC.

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