The installation is done using a SharePoint Solution Package. The included wizard distributes all files to a SharePoint farm, if required, and does all necessary configurations. Before installation, please make sure to:
First, a system check will run to make sure the requirements are met.
After successful installation, please select the desired web applications for deployment of the new feature.
Note that this installation step can take up to 15 minutes.
Fig. Activation of the feature "Layer2 - Business data List Connector" on site collection.
After successful activation on site collection level the new feature is available in the List Settings dialog: "General Settings > Connect to external data source".
USAGE OF THE BUSINESS DATA LIST CONNECTOR
In order to connect an existing SharePoint list with external business data, you have to choose "Connect to External Data Source" in the General Settings section of the list. Fig. Starting with V2.0 you can connect any type of SharePoint list directly to external data.
If you don't use an existing list, you have to create a new one of the appropriate type (e.g. contacts, tasks, or simply custom list) and give a name and description to the newly created list as usual (MyBDLC is used in this example).
Fig. Enter name and description of the newly created list.
To connect this list with your external business data, go to list settings and simply choose Connect to external data source to enter your connection string, select statement, and primary key(s).
BUSINESS DATA LIST CONNECTOR SETTINGS
In the settings dialogue, use the following steps to configure your list connection.
Fig. Business Data List Connector Settings dialogue.
STEP 1 - Connect the external data source using a connection provider and connection string
First choose your connection provider. If installed, choose the native .NET database provider, e.g. for SQL Server or Oracle. Choose OLEDB if no native provider is available. Choose ODBC if no OLEDB provider is available.
Enter your connection string to your external data source and validate it. Connection strings are available for virtually any external data source, e.g. databases like Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle, MySQL, Informix, DB2; Microsoft Office data like Excel, Access, or even text data files. Connection strings are also available for external SharePoint lists.
See the FAQs for samples and descriptions.
Fig. Step 1: Enter the connection string (OLEDB example used here) and validate it.
Fig. The BDLC connect SharePoint lists to almost any external data source.
STEP 2 - Select the desired data using a select statement
Enter your select statement supported by your external data source and validate it. Select statements are available for virtually any external data sources, e.g. databases like Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle, MySQL, Informix, DB2, Microsoft Office data like Excel, Acccess, or even text data files. Select statements are also available for external SharePoint lists. For most data sources you can start with, for example, "Select * FROM Tablename" where Tablename should be a valid name of a table or view in your data source.
Fig. Step 2: Enter select statement and validate it.
Fig. Preview your result set to verify your select statement. You can paste the given field names, if required, for primary keys.
STEP 3 - Optionally, enter primary key(s) to use advanced update features
In most cases, your external data would have one or more primary key(s). A primary key of a relational table uniquely identifies each record in the table. It can either be a normal attribute that is guaranteed to be unique (such as Social Security Number in a table with no more than one record per person) or it can be generated by the DBMS (such as a globally unique identifier, or GUID, in Microsoft SQL Server). Primary keys may consist of a single attribute or multiple attributes in combination.
If a primary key is available, then advanced update features can be used. For more information about possible primary keys / field names please take a look into your result set using the Preview button.
Fig. Step 3: Optionally enter primary key(s).
The validation function only validates, whether the entered field name(s) exists in the result set or not. If invalid primary keys are given, the resulting SharePoint list data could become invalid too.
If no primary key is given, any update will cause the whole result set of the given select statement to be re-inserted again. That can cause performance problems, and change notifications per RSS or email will not work as expected.
If valid primary key(s) are given, only modified data will be updated quickly in the background. Change notifications and workflows can be used in this case, to take business actions, if external data records are changed.
STEP 4 - Create your SharePoint list structure and update the data items
To create the list structure required to display your external business data, please click "Add Columns" in the SharePoint section of the settings dialogue. The fields of the result set of the given select statement are added and mapped to common SharePoint list fields automatically. You can create, rename, modify, or delete the column fields afterwards manually. Also you can modify the field types, if required (e.g. to longer text). The mapping of external fields to SharePoint columns is done by internal column names. See the mapping dialogue for help.
Fig. You can use custom mapping to map certain data source fields to certain SharePoint columns.
For more information about field mapping, supported field types, etc., see our FAQs.
To update the data in your SharePoint list with your external business data, please click "Update" in the SharePoint section of the settings dialogue. As mentioned above, if valid primary key(s) are given, only modified data is updated.
Warning: Updating a SharePoint list that is connected to an external data source can modify its content.
STEP 5 - Enable optional background updates or update using the Action Menu
You can optionally enable background updates. The updates are done automatically by a timer job, once per hour by default. You can modify this interval later on in the "BDLC Configuration List", a list on the root site of your site collection.
Fig. The timer job enables fast background updates of your data items.
For more information and instructions for how to change the timer job options, please see our FAQs.
You can also update the list manually using the additional action menu or ribbon button
.Fig. Update a connected SharePoint list manually using the Action Menu.
For any type of update, you will need to verify that there are proper access rights
to the external data source and
to the current SharePoint list.
RESTRICTIONS OF THE DEMO VERSION
In the evaluation version, the number of BDLC lists allowed per site collection is limited to 3 and the number of managed entries in the BDLC list is restricted to 25 items.
The feature is currently available in the German and English languages. If used in other language context, the English language is applied by default. Requests for other languages can be sent to [email protected]
To access external data you have to select a data provider that supports to your data source.
The following data providers are pre-installed with the Windows operating system:
- ODBC (supports any ODBC data source, e.g. FileMaker, mySQL, IBM Lotus Notes)
- OLEDB (supports any OLEDB data source, e.g. Access, Excel)
The following 3rd party data providers can be downloaded from their respective vendors, but must be installed to work with BDLC:
- SQL Server, SQL Azure
- IBM DB2
- IBM AS/400
- Any other 64-bit ADO.NET provider
The following data providers are included in the BDLC package. They can be installed with the BDLC installation or manually on each SharePoint server later on.
- Layer2 Data Provider for SharePoint (CSOM) to access any local SharePoint 2010/2013, Online, OneDrive, etc.
- Layer2 Data Provider for SharePoint 2007 to access any SharePoint 2007 data.
- Layer2 Data Provider for XML to access any XML file or web request via XPath query.
- Layer2 Data Provider for OData to access any OData source (SAP, Microsoft Dynamics CRM/ERP, and others).
- Layer2 Data Provider for RSS Feeds to access any RSS data feed (source code sample provided).
- Layer2 Data Provider for Exchange to any Exchange data on-premises or cloud-based, e.g. contacts, calendar events, tasks, email, and notes.
If you can't find the providers in drop-down, please install manually from the package using instructions in the Provider section of the FAQ.
To completely uninstall the solution, deactivate the feature "Layer2 Business Data List Connector" on site collection level. Then the configuration list of the BDLC can be removed. To do that, delete the list "BDLC Configuration List" in the root site of every site collection where the feature has been activated.
Note: You can delete the "BDLC Configuration List" of a given Site Collection only if the BDLC feature is deactivated for this the Site Collection.
Finally, start the installation wizard and choose "Remove". All installed files for BDLC will be removed.
Fig. Remove the Business Data List Connector Feature.