Microsoft Sharepoint Development Creating External Lists

Microsoft Sharepoint Development Creating External Lists

One of the most acknowledged features of Microsoft SharePoint for Microsoft SharePoint development is external lists which have converted the MOSS 2007 Business Data Catalog (BDC) into Business Connectivity Services (BCS) in SharePoint 2010. It can be created independent of the SharePoint server as it is already included in Microsoft foundation. External lists though look like regular lists to an end user actually spread to external systems such as web services and databases.

Developers who have worked with BDC earlier know very well what a trouble it is to create external list. Heavy data XML files which contained the application definition were to be forged. This was a very massive task and developers often depended on external tools to make the task easier for them. The latest version of Microsoft SharePoint development that is SharePoint 2010 has made creating external lists really very simple, speedy and fast. A SharePoint developer can expose them under SharePoint 2010 in just 10 minutes if the database table is ready.

To create external lists for the customer external content type based on the customers table in Northwind database using Microsoft SharePoint development you will have to first run Business Data Connectivity Service Application. Ensure that it is running perfectly by going to central administration panel and click on manage service applications. Apart from this you will need external content type and Microsoft SharePoint Designer 2010 or the browser.

Server running SharePoint server should be equipped with Microsoft SQL Server 2005 or later, Northwind SQL Server 2000 database and customer external content type for creating external lists using Microsoft SharePoint development practices. To begin with move to SDK Samples SharePoint site from the Microsoft SharePoint Designer 2010. Click View All Site Content from the site’s actions menu on the left. Click the create button and then click external list from the custom lists section. Here we will create a new external list by entering a new name and a small description for the list on a new page.

Type the name of the external content in the text box if you know the name of the content type in the data source configuration section or else use the picker to help you pick the right name. It lists all different external content types denoted in the metadata store of the site’s service application’s Business Data Connectivity (BDC) service. After selecting the type in Microsoft SharePoint development click external content type picker.

Now SharePoint developer can move to the new list in the SharePoint site to view and edit items in the list. It is not mandatory to work online you can easily move the list offline in SharePoint Workspace and Microsoft Outlook.

Similarly external lists for customers can be created using Microsoft SharePoint development. The beginning process remains the same as mentioned above with the only difference that you need to select customer external content type as the data source. Click the create lists and forms button as shown in the figure to open the create list and form for customer dialog box. Name the new external list as NWCustomers List, SharePoint designer will then generate external list.

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