Business Connectivity Services (BCS) is still a great addition to any version of SharePoint On-Premises and also SharePoint Online.
Business Connectivity Services is used to make your External Data such as Microsoft SQL Server Databases, Oracle, Dynamics, Salesforce.com and many more data sources available within Microsoft SharePoint.
Business Connectivity Services is made up of a suite of components such as External Lists, Business Data Web Parts, External Data Column, User Profiles, Search and throughout the Microsoft Office applications such as Word, Excel, Access, Outlook and Visio.
In this article, we will discuss in detail what is business connectivity services. Read on to know more about it.
What is Business Connectivity Services?
Business Connectivity Services (BCS) provides the infrastructure that enables SharePoint to bring data from those external systems into a central system.
By providing a flexible and extensible means to describe the external system data source and how to interact with it, BCS makes a compelling argument for using SharePoint as the central interface for working with legacy business systems in addition to new SharePoint Add-ins.
What Can Business Connectivity Services Do?
Business Connectivity Services(BCS) provides mechanisms to enable experienced users, developers, and business unit IT professionals to do the following much more easily:
Reveal external data from enterprise applications, web services, and OData services in SharePoint and in rich-client Office applications.
Provide Office-type behaviors (such as Contacts, Tasks, and Appointments) and capabilities to external data and services.
Provide complete interaction with the data, including write-back capabilities from Office applications and SharePoint Server to the underlying external system data and business objects.
Enable offline use of external data and processes.
Bridge the unstructured world of documents and people and the appropriate structured data that is locked in external systems.
Why is Business Connectivity Services used?
You can use BCS for Developing solutions. You can build a broad spectrum of solutions in SharePoint by using BCS.
These include simple solutions that rely on native capabilities with little or no customization, intermediate solutions that involve customizing features in SharePoint and Office 2013, and advanced solutions that enable complex scenarios and rich applications that extend their functionality.
Advanced solutions involve writing code using Visual Studio.
They can be either complete end-to-end solutions, or reusable code-based components that are included in an intermediate solution.
BCS empowers business users to quickly and easily address a broad array of external data needs by using a web browser and a Microsoft Office client application, such as Word or Excel.
Without writing code, users can assemble composite solutions by using BCS features, such as external lists and external data columns, and reusable BCS components, which are created by developers and approved by IT, in Office client applications and SharePoint sites.
These solutions enable business users (and their teams) to work with external data as easily as with SharePoint data, either offline or connected, or directly in Microsoft Office.
Using OData with Business Connectivity Services in SharePoint
Access to the data is through specially constructed URLs. This architecture lets you interact with data using a variety of technologies.
BUSINESS CONNECTIVITY SERVICES EXTERNAL LIST
The Business Connectivity Services External List looks and behaves like a typical SharePoint List to any user. Users can view external data within the list as well as Create, Update and Delete items if you allow that.
A major benefit of the Business Connectivity Services External List is that the external data is displayed but not imported. If you consider that you may have for example 100,000 contacts in an ERP or CRM system.
You perhaps wouldn’t want to duplicate those contacts by importing them into a list and therefore duplicating the storage and overinflating the SharePoint Content Database.
The External List links to the external data and displays it to the user.
Through the use of filters and pagination, users get great performance and don’t suffer from record synchronization issues.
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Using external content types in BCS
External content types are the core of BCS. They enable you to manage and reuse the metadata and behaviors of a business entity, such as a Customer or Order, from a central location.
They enable users to interact with that external data and process it in a more meaningful way.
For example, consider a business entity, such as a customer. You want to be able to pull data from your proprietary database and work with it in SharePoint.
You also want to be able to allow your field salespeople to take data offline in Outlook 2013.
Or, you might want the user to be able to choose a customer from a list of customers in an orders contract document inside Microsoft Word.
To make all this possible, you can create a single external content type and reuse it anywhere you need.
Hope you found this article informative enough.
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