Eight Steps to Connect Office 365/SharePoint Online with External Data

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The Read / Write Operations

Read List Operation: The Read List operation is like a select statement without a where clause. It returns by default all columns and all rows from the selected table. Filters can be created allowing the results to be trimmed. The Read List operation is used whenever multiple rows are displayed, such as within an external list or a Business Data List Web Part.

Read Item: The Read Item operation is created so that a specific row of data can be identified and used. Each table, view or stored procedure will require a column whereby each of its values is unique, such as a primary key. This column, called an identifier, uniquely identifies the row so that a specific row can be selected and used within SharePoint Web Parts, search, and the business data column. This method contains a ‘where’ clause that accepts a parameter passing the unique identifier value.

Create Operation: The Create Operation is used by the external list when data is being created. The Create Operation contains the statement allowing data to be inserted into the table.

Update Operation: The Update operation provides the ability to make and submit changes back to the external data source via the external list and some Office applications such as Microsoft Excel.

Delete Operation: The Delete Operation provides the ability to select a specific row and delete it via the external list.

In the last couple of years, a lot of companies have started using BCS (Business Connectivity Services) to integrate data from external data sources into SharePoint. It was initially available with Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 and was called Business Data Catalog. Since Version 2013, it is not only possible to read information but also to create, delete or update.

According to Mario Spies, senior strategic consultant at AvePoint, a lot of companies are in the process of moving their SharePoint content from on-premise to Office 365 / SharePoint Online, using tools such as DocAve Migrator from SharePoint 2010 or DocAve Content Manager from SharePoint 2013. In most of these projects, the question arises about how to handle SharePoint external lists connected to data using BDC.

The good news is that SharePoint Online also supports Business Connectivity Services.


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