Feature comparison: SharePoint External List (BCS) vs. Layer2 BDLC


The Layer2 Business Data List Connector for SharePoint (BDLC) can connect and sync native SharePoint lists directly with almost any external data source in just minutes codeless using the web browser. But what's the difference compared to out-of-the-box SharePoint external lists (BCS)?


Although the SharePoint Business Connectivity Services (BCS) External List is a great step forward with SharePoint data integration, there are still many gaps. An external list is some kind of web part that integrates external data in the SharePoint user interface. But it is still not a native SharePoint list - as the SharePoint BDLC List definitely is. This causes some limitations in case of features and other issues.



First not all BCS features are available with all SharePoint editions:


BCS Feature
SharePoint Foundation
Standard Edition
Enterprise Edition
External ListYES
External Data Column YESYES
BDC Service YES
Connector FrameworkYESYES
Secure Store ServiceNOYES
External Data SearchNO
Profile PagesNO
Business Data Web PartsNO
Rich Client IntegrationNO


Read more about this here:




The next table compares features of a SharePoint BCS external list to a native SharePoint list connected via the Layer2 Business Data List Connector (BDLC):


SharePoint External List
SharePoint BDLC List
Integrate external data from various sources into SharePointYESYES
A complete SharePoint list with all list features is implemented NO
OOB almost any type of data source is supportedNO (.NET Type / WCF Service / SQL Server)
Full SharePoint 2007 / WSS 3.0 supportNO (SharePoint Foundation 2010 supported)YES
No additional tools, modelling or programming are required to create a listNO (SharePoint Designer has to be installed and used)YES
Connection can be established in just some minutesNO YES
OOB full search capabilities NO (not for SharePoint Foundation)
Full offline capabilities NOYES (with SharePoint 2010 / 2013 only, SharePoint 2007 supports certain list types only, e.g. contacts)
Full Info Path support to customize formsNOYES
Full Info Path support to customize formsNOYES
OOB-support for the SharePoint Client Object ModelNOYES
OOB-support  for REST-services web part connectivityNOYES
OOB-support for making associations to other SharePoint listsNOYES
OOB-support for making associations to other SharePoint listsNOYES
Alerts will be fired on data changeNOYES
Email notification on data changeNOYES
RSS notification on data changeNOYES
Workflows can start business actions on external data change (SPD, Visio, VS and Nintex-based)NOYES
Datagrid editing supportedNOYES
Lookups can display any columnNO (ID Only in 2010)
Support for joins as data sourceNOYES
Support for common SharePoint list types, e.g. contacts, tasks, events etc.NOYES
Exel export featureNOYES
Item level permissionNOYES
Item historyNOYES
Site column supportNOYES
Rating supportNOYES
Commenting supportNOYES
Tagging support, Activity Streams etc.NOYES
Managed Metadata and Enterprise Keyword ColumnsNOYES
Metadata NavigationNOYES
Attachments enabled (documents can be attached to external data)NOYES
Anonymous Login support (for public facing sites)Office 2007 supportNOYES
Office 2007 supportNO (2010 required)
Works with all 3rd party Add-OnsNOYES
Original data source is not queried every time the list is displayed with performance side effectsNO (some kind of cache seems to be implemented)YES
Data is available in SharePoint while original data source is not available (e.g. because of maintenance).NO YES
There is no row limit or list view threshold.NO (it seems to be a row limit of 2000 preconfigured, more info)YES
Data source can be updated (if primary key available)YES (SharePoint users directly access the external system)
YES (if supported by data source)
Can connect to almost any external data source, e.g. SQL, SharePoint (on-premises or Online), Dynamics CRM, Exchange, OData, XML/RSS, CSV, SOAP and many others codeless.NOYES
User licenses are required for SharePoint users in the connected systems (e.g. ERP systems) to read external dataYes (depending on license agreement), SharePoint users directly access the external system.No (depending on license agreement), SharePoint users are working with synced data copies only in SharePoint lists. 

Read more about the BCS features compared here:


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