How to: Create External Lists in SharePoint
Published: May 2010
Creating an external list is a very simple task after you create an external content type and can be done using Microsoft SharePoint Designer 2010 or the browser. This topic walks you through both procedures; you do not need to write any code in either one.
In this topic, let’s create an external list for the Customer external content type based on the Customers table in Northwind database created in How to: Create an External Content Type Based on a SQL Server Table. Notice that the procedures are exactly the same for all connection types: databases, Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) endpoints, Web services and Microsoft .NET Framework assemblies.
Microsoft SQL Server 2005 or later installed on the server running Microsoft SharePoint Server.
The Northwind SQL Server 2000 database installed on the server running SharePoint Server.
The Customer external content type, created in How to: Create an External Content Type Based on a SQL Server Table.
Create an External List Using the Browser
From the browser, navigate to the SDK Samples SharePoint site.
In the Site Actions menu on the left, click View All Site Content.
Click the Create button. Then, in the Custom Lists section, click External List.
On the New page, type a name (for example, Northwind Customers) and a description for the new external list.
The Data source configuration section displays a text box and an external content type picker. If you know the name of the external content type, you can enter it in the text box or you can use the picker to choose the external content type from a list. In this walkthrough, click the picker button as shown in the figure below. An External Content Type Picker dialog box lists all the external content types that are defined in that site's service application's Business Data Connectivity (BDC) service metadata store. Using the picker, you can discover and select the external content type that you want to use as the data source for this list. In this example, select Customer, and then click OK. Finally click Create.
This creates the external list. You can now navigate to the new list in the SharePoint site and view and edit items in the list. You can also take the list offline in Microsoft Outlook and in SharePoint Workspace. The following figure shows the new external list.
Creating an External List Using SharePoint Designer
Start Microsoft SharePoint Designer, and then open the SDK Samples SharePoint site that contains the external content type.
Click External Content Types on the left navigation. This displays the external content types that are defined in that site's service application's Business Data Connectivity (BDC) service metadata store. Select the Customer external content type as the data source for the external list.
To create the external list, click the Create Lists and Forms button as shown in the figure to open the Create List and Form for Customer dialog box.
Enter NWCustomers List as the name of the new external list. BCS by default creates regular SharePoint forms for View, New, Edit and Delete pages for the items in the external list. However, the customization capabilities on these forms are limited. If you want to perform rich customizations on the forms, you can upsize the forms to InfoPath forms which just means that the regular SharePoint forms are replaced with InfoPath forms. You can then edit these forms in Microsoft InfoPath. To also create InfoPath forms when creating the list, select the Create InfoPath Form checkbox. Then click OK.
SharePoint Designer generates the external list. You can now navigate to the new list in the SharePoint site and view and edit items in the list. You can also take the list offline in Microsoft Outlook and in SharePoint Workspace. The following figure shows the newly created external list.