Visual Studio Team Foundation Server Data Integration with SharePoint

Visual Studio Team Foundation Server (VSTS) data can be integrated codeless with native SharePoint lists using the Layer2 Business Data List Connector. Please take a look here for more supported systems and applications.​​​​ In case you are looking for Online data integration, you will find the right tool here.

 

 

sharepoint integration layer2 bdlc

Benefits of Visual Studio Team Foundation Server Integration in SharePoint

 

  • Very easy to setup in a few minutes: Create a SharePoint list, click "Connect to external data source" in the list settings, select the data provider, enter connection settings and data query as shown below. That's it.
  • No changes in VSTS: No programming, no additional tools.
  • Connected data always up-to-date: The connected Visual Studio TFS data updates automatically in background (via SharePoint Timer Job), or alternatively, on-demand (Action Menu / Ribbon Button, URL, via workflow, API).
  • One-way and optional two-way connection: You can write-back the changes made in SharePoint to the VSTS data source automatically with full CRUD (Create / Update / Delete) functionality. The SharePoint list can act as a full-featured front-end for external systems.
  • Well-known BCS "external list" issues and limitations are completely solved: ALL list features are to you. Views, sorting and grouping, filters, calculated fields, search, managed metadata. Lookups, additional columns and attachments can be created as normal. All kind of lists can be used, e.g. contacts, tasks, calendar, or custom lists. You can take external data offline via Outlook.
  • Workflows and notifications on external data change: List workflows and change notifications per RSS or email can be used to take business actions in SharePoint, when external VSTS data records are changed.
  • Application logging, reporting, and notifications: A SharePoint list is used to store settings and log information. SharePoint item versioning and workflows can be used to manage reporting and notifications. Direct notification per email in case of errors is supported as well.
  • Highest Security, best performance, easy to maintain: SharePoint Secure Store can be used to store security relevant configuration information safely in one central place. Users are working with the SharePoint lists as an external data cache with highest security and performance.
  • 100+ external systems supported: Layer2 Data Providers included (e.g. for SharePoint/Office 365, Exchange, Dynamics, OData, XML/RSS, SOAP), vendor specific data providers can be used (e.g. SQL Server Oracle, mySQL etc.), 3rd party data providers also supported, e.g. for ERP/CRMs, Facebook or Twitter. See here for supported systems and applications.

Visual Studio Team Foundation Server Specific SharePoint Configuration Settings

 

​In the Layer2 Business Data List Connector the data source must be configured as follows to connect to Visual Studio Team Foundation Server​.

 

Sample of Visual Studio SharePoint Connection

 

Figure 1: Sample connection configuration to connect to Visual Studio Team Foundation Server​​ via the Layer2 OData Provider.

 

​Please note the following specific settings.

 

  • Select the OData Data Provider to connect. The provider is part of the Layer2 Business Data List Connector ADO.NET provider package and should be already installed. You will find a OData Provider specification here.
  • You can use a connection string like this to connect:
    url=https://tfsodata.visualstudio.com/defaultcollection; Collection=WorkItems; User =myDoain\myUser; Password=myPassword; Authentication=Windows.
  • Several different authentication methods are generally supported. See provider specification linked above for more. For known authentication issues see Microsoft TFS OData documentation.
  • You can make use of OData to query your data as supported by the data provider and source system. For any specification of supported queries see Microsoft TFS OData documentation. You can map your data fields to specific external fields in the Layer2 Business Data List Connector. Please take care about data types (simple type conversions are supported).
  • Please enter an appropriate primary key (column with unique values), depending on query (see data preview for this).
  • You can use the connection for uni- or bi-directional synchronization.
  • No installation or changes are required at the Visual Studio Team Foundation Server (TFS) data source or data destination.
  • No programming required for setup a connection and sync.
  • No need to open your local network for access from outside.

Visual Studio Team Foundation Server​​​ Connection Details

 

​Provider:
Layer2 OData Provider

 

Connection string sample:
url=https://tfsodata.visualstudio.com/defaultcollection; Collection=WorkItems; User =myDoain\myUser; Password=myPassword; Authentication=Windows

 

Select statement sample:
$filter=((Id le 5) and Project eq 'SPaceBook') & $select=Type, Severity, State, AssignedTo

VSTS SharePoint Integration - Samples, Known Issues and Workarounds

 

  • ​In case of inserts from SharePoint to TFS (full CRUD) please take care of the primary key. TFS-side IDs will not work in his case.

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