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,
First the considerations for the installation are being checked.
If there are any problems, please take a look at our FAQs (General FAQ, Installation).
As a next step you have to accept the EULA.
After successful installation please select the desired web applications for deployment of the new feature.
This installation step can take up to 15 min.
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 this 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 appropiate type (e.g. contacts, tasks, etc. or simply custom list) and give a name and description to the newly created list as usual, e.g. MyBDLC in this sample.
Fig.: Enter name and description of the newly created list
To connect this list with your external business data, goto 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 please go 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 sources, e.g. databases like Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle, MySQL, Informix, DB2 etc, Microsoft Office data like Excel, Access or even text data files. Btw. connection strings are available for external SharePoint lists too...
See FAQs for samples and descriptions.
Fig.: Step 1: Enter the connection string (OLEDB sample here) and validate it
Fig.: The BDLC connect SharePoint lists to almost any external data sources
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 eetc, Microsoft Office data like Excel, Acccess or even text data files. Btw. select statements are available for external SharePoint lists too. For most data sources you can start with e.g. "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, wether 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, with any update the whole result set of the given select statement is 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, modified data will be updated only - very fast in 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 press "Add Columns" in 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.
More about field mapping, supported field types etc. see FAQs.
To update the data in your SharePoint list with your external business data, please press "Update" in the SharePoint section of the settings dialogue. As mentioned above, if valid primary key(s) are given, modified data is updated only.
Warning: Updating a SharePoint list, that is connected to an external data source, can modify its content.
STEP 5 - Enable background updates optionally or update using the Action Menu
In this section you can optionally enable background updates. The updates are done automatically by a timer job, one time 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, how to change the timer job options, please see FAQs.
Possibly it is a better approach to update the list manually using the additional action menu or ribbon button
.Fig.: Update a connected SharePoint list manually using the Action Menu.
In any case of update you have to check the access rights
to external data source and
to the current SharePoint list.
RESTRICTIONS OF THE DEMO VERSION
In the evaluation version the number of BDLC lists 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 German and English language. If used in other language context, the English language is applied by default. Requests for other languages please send to firstname.lastname@example.org
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. The can be installed with the BDLC installtion 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, e.g. SAP, Microsoft Dynamics CRM/ERP and others
- Layer2 Data Provider for RSS Feeds to access any RSS data feed (source code sample)
- Layer2 Data Provider for Exchange to any Exchange data on-premises or cloud-based, e.g. contacts, calendar events, tasks, email, notes etc.
If you can't find the providers in dropdown, please install manually from package.
To completely uninstall the solution, go these steps to the other direction. Please deactivate the feature „Layer2 Business Data List Connector“ on site collection level. Thereafter the configuration list of the BDLC can be 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 Site Collection.
Then start the installation wizard and choose "Remove". All installed files will be removed.
Fig.: Remove the Business Data List Connector Feature