BlackCompass Visualizer External Data Integration

BlackCompass Visualizer can be used to create dashboards in Microsoft SharePoint and Office 365. The Layer2 Cloud Connector can be used to easily integrate data from 100+ external sources codeless with BlackCompass via native SharePoint lists to visualize it in various flexible charts and share with the team.

BlackCompass External Data Integration in Office 365 and SharePoint

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Black Compass is one of the market-leading data visualization tool for Microsoft SharePoint and Office 365. Various chart types are supported, live updates are shown in real-time, when source data records are changing. The Layer2 Cloud Connector can be used to integrate 100+ external data sources codeless with BlackCompass, e.g. data from local or cloud-based SQL databases, ERP/CRM systems like Microsoft Dynamicsor SAP, Microsoft Project Server or Onlone, Microsoft Excel/Access, CSV/XML files or external web services.
 
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BlackCompass Visualizer External Data Integration Features & Benefits

BlackCompass external data integration via Layer2 Cloud Connector has the following features and benefits:

  • Connect and sync your local or cloud-based business data from 100+ external data sources with native SharePoint lists in the cloud or on-premises, keeping them always up-to-date.
  • High speed of implementation: No programming or tools required, as with Business Connectivity Services (BCS) or SSIS. Predefined sample connection templates included. Setup in a few minutes guided by wizards. Remote setup support (30 minutes are free).
  • Low risk in project: No installation or customizing on the data source and the SharePoint side required. Just install the Layer2 connector on any computer in your local network, in the cloud, or even at your laptop.
  • Highest Security: Connection via secure web services (SSL). Disconnected systems: A connection is only required for data exchange – not for list or library usage. Users do not have direct access to external corporate data sources. You don't have to open your network for the Internet. The application runs where your data resides today - on a server or client inside your corporate network. No data is exposed to 3rd-parties or clouds.
  • Highest performance: Can manage very large data sets in SharePoint lists. No 5,000 items limit. Can scale-out to multiple servers or to the Microsoft Azure Cloud, if required. No bulk-import as with SSIS, only data changes are processed.
  • Fully compatible with 3rd-party data providers: Data providers of the application vendors (e.g. MS SQL, Oracle, mySQL, IBM), 3rd-party data providers, or included Layer2 data providers can be used to access 100+ data sources.
  • Virtually any data sources supported: ODBC, OLEDB, OData, SOAP, Microsoft .NET based providers, Files (Excel, XML, CSV, Text), RSS / XML feeds, SQL databases like MS SQL, SQL Azure, Oracle, MySQL, IBM DB2, IBM AS/400, IBM Informix; Notes, SharePoint (lists and libraries), local file system, cloud-based file stores, Exchange, Active Directory, Dynamics NAV/CRM, Navision, SAP and many more. More complex data sources, REST-based web services, custom COM, or .NET objects can be connected using 3rd-party add-ons. Cloud-to-cloud connections, e.g. to salesforce.com, Twitter, Facebook, Google, Amazon, BOX.NET and others are also supported.
  • Layer2 CSOM Data Provider included: You can connect and sync your SQL data with SharePoint lists and libraries on-premise or in the Office 365 / OneDrive for Business cloud.
  • Layer2 File System Data Provider included: You can sync local files or file server shares with SharePoint Online or on-premises libraries.
  • Layer2 OData Data Provider included: You can connect BlackCompass to all OData sources, e.g. Microsoft CRM/ERP, Project Online or SAP via NetWeaver.
  • Layer2 XML Data Provider included: You can connect your SQL data to any XML-based files and web requests, and filter results by using XPath query language.
  • Layer2 RSS Data Provider included: You can simply pull or aggregate RSS news feeds into SharePoint lists, e.g. for visualization, search and workflows. Please note that this provider is also included as sample source code to build your own provider.
  • Layer2 Exchange Data Provider included: You can connect BlackCompass to Exchange contacts, tasks, calendar events, notes, and email using Exchange Web Services (EWS). Exchange 2007, 2010, and 2013 are supported as well as Exchange Online. Shared & Site Mailboxes supported.
  • Layer2 SOAP Web Services Provider: Connect BlackCompass to any SOAP-based web services codeless with flexible parameters.
  • Very flexible sync options: Uni- and bi-directional sync with SharePoint lists are supported. Execute a specific connection scheduled in background (Windows Service) or on demand (e.g. by command line). Sync all data or pre-selected subsets only. Select source and target folders, make use of additional no-delete, no-insert, no-update options. Data type conversion included.
  • Realtime Update / Process integration: Raise BlackCompass dashboard modifications, change notifications and start workflows in the cloud, triggered on external data changes. Find your data changes in Delve via Office Graph. All features of native SharePoint lists and libraries are supported, e.g. views, sorting, filtering, grouping, search, mobile and offline access, social features like tagging and enterprise metadata, RSS feeds, change notifications per email, or workflows in the cloud on external data change. You can also add your own business logic.
  • Additional unmapped "SharePoint-only" columns can be created: Ranking, rating, managed metadata, comments or file attachments.
  • Data aggregation: Multiple connections can combine several different data queries into one list for better processing in BlackCompass.
  • Flexible logging and alerts: You can log to files, databases, and Windows Event Log via NLOG.
  • Free Shareware Edition: You can test the free Shareware Edition as long as you want or you can use in production with limited features. You can upgrade an evaluation / Shareware version to a licensed version at any time without new installation.
  • Flexible, cost-effective licensing: Personal or Professional Edition, depending on requirements. Licensing per installation (no user CALs, not bound to any SharePoint server or site, just a one-time fee - no data volume-related costs). Easy to setup and maintain.

BlackCompass Visualizer Specific External Data Integration Settings

​To connect 100+ external data sources to SharePoint lists, the destination entity must be configured as follows in the Layer2 Cloud Connector Connection Manager:

Blackcompass integration sample connection
Fig.: Sample connection configuration to connect and external sync data with SharePoint or Office 365.


Please note the following specific settings.

  • Select the Layer2 Data Provider for SharePoint (CSOM) to connect. The provider is part of the Layer2 Cloud Connector ADO.NET provider package and should be already installed. You will find a SharePoint Data Provider specification here.
  • You can use a connection string like this to connect:
    url=http://mydomain.com/mySite; List=MyList; View=MyView; User =myUser; Password=myPassword; Authentication=myAuthentication.
  • Chosing the right authentication method is very important. Windows, Office365, ADFS and others are supported. See specification linked above for more details.
  • Data queries are not supported. Please make use of views to select your data.
  • In case of SharePoint libraries, files are synchronized as well as metadata. List are for metadata only, attachments are not supported at this time.
  • You can map your data fields to specific external fields in the Layer2 Cloud Connector. Please take care about data types (simple type conversions are supported). If fields are not available, please check your view.
  • The primary key will be set automatically to the SharePoint item ID.
  • You can use the connection for uni- or bi-directional synchronization. In case of inserts (full CRUD) via external systems please take care of the primary key.
  • No installation or changes are required at the data source or data destination, e.g. on SharePoint or Office 365.
  • Data synchronization can be started manually in the Connection Manager, per command line or scheduled in background by the Layer2 Cloud Connector Windows Service. Only data changes are processed (no delete / bulk import).
  • No programming required for setup a connection and sync.
  • No need to open your local network for access from outside.

Known Issues and Workarounds with BlackCompass Data Integration

​Currently there are no known issues with BlackCompass Office 365 & SharePoint Data Integration.

Step-by-Step Intros For BlackCompass External Data Integration

​You will find a step-by-step intro about BlackCompass Office 365 SharePoint external data integration here.

Just some more ideas what to connect next:

Next Steps For Evaluation

​​​​​You can register to download and evaluate the Layer2 Cloud Connector here. Please contact BlackCompass directly and ask for the "External Data Visualization Pack" for best pricing.
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No more custom code, no more BCS, just pull in external data, visualize and keep in sync! Delivered through Gold Partnership with Layer2, the “External Data Visualization Pack” uses the BlackCompass Visualizer with Layer2 connectors in an integrated way.

 

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