9AUG 2012

SharePoint 2013: Business Connectivity Services (BCS) improvements – Introduction


Posted by Tobias Zimmergren

Author: Tobias Zimmergren
http://www.zimmergren.net | http://www.tozit.com | @zimmergren

Introduction

As most if not all of you already know, SharePoint 2013 and Office 2013 has been released to preview/beta and is available for download from Microsoft’s download centers. In this article I will briefly introduce some exciting changes that has been made to the SharePoint 2013 Business Connectivity Services framework. I’ve written a bunch of articles on BCS for SharePoint 2010, and now it’s time to continue that track and introduce the new features available in SharePoint 2013.

At the time of this writing, I’m looking into details about upgrading a SharePoint 2010 solution to SharePoint 2013 for one of my clients who rely heavily on BCS – and the new features in 2013 are pretty slick – so I’ll be documenting and writing about some of the new enhancements for developers in this series!

Please note that this article is written for SharePoint 2013 Preview, and for the final version of SharePoint some details may have changed

  1. SharePoint 2013: Business Connectivity Services – Introduction
  2. SharePoint 2013: Business Connectivity Services – Consuming OData in BCS Using an App External Content Type
  3. SharePoint 2013: Business Connectivity Services – Talking to your external lists using REST
  4. SharePoint 2013: Business Connectivity Services – Client Object Model
  5. SharePoint 2013: Business Connectivity Services – Events and Alerts

SharePoint 2013 – Enhancing your BCS experience

After playing around and digging into the BCS playground for a while, these are some of the initial enhancements I’ve discovered and played with:

Support for OData in BCS

With SharePoint 2013 we now have access to the so called "Open Data protocol", or OData. This is a protocol that enables us to access data sources in a way that we haven’t been able to previously – using specially constructed URL’s.

Read more on OData here: http://www.odata.org/ecosystem

In the next article in this series, I will talk about how you can consume OData through BCS in a SharePoint 2013 solution. Stay tuned!

Events and Alerts from external systems

One of the features we’ve missed in a lot of our solutions built on BCS is the ability to simply hook up an alert or trigger an event when things happen in the BCS data source. In SharePoint 2013 this has been addressed and we now have the ability to actually trigger some events and subscribe to alerts. Exciting news indeed.

This is pretty cool and lets the external data source notify SharePoint about things that has changed and trigger some kind of action as a response to that. Read more about Events and Alerts for BCS

In one of the next articles in this series, I will talk about events and alerts more thoroughly and walk you through the process of creating a solution and subscribe to events happening in the data source. Happy times!

Building App-scoped External Content Types

Have you heard about the new App-model for SharePoint and Office? Well if you haven’t, go to Bing.com and perform a search for it and check it out – AWESOME!

Anyway, I’ve been looking a lot on Apps lately, and that obviously means a lot of thoughts coming together around the topic. One thing I’ve found that is pretty interesting, speaking of BCS, is that you can create an App-scoped external content type to consume external data. This esseitnally means that you don’t have to deploy your solution to the Farm anymore, but can deploy it as an App instead.

In one of the next articles in this series, I will talk about building App-scoped external content types. Until then, you can find more info here: App-scoped external content types in SharePoint 2013

Enhanced support for the Client Object Model / REST

Obviously one of the heavy pushes Microsoft is doing, is to focus a lot on the Client API’s. With this focus there has been some improvements in terms of working with BCS Entities from the Client Object Model as well. There has been some pretty neat enhancements, which I will discuss in one of the articles in this series as well. Until then, take a look here: Get started using the client object model with external data in SharePoint 2013

Summary

This is the first post laying out the topics of my next few BCS articles for SharePoint 2013. If there’s something you’d like to explore or talk about, feel free to drop a comment and I’ll see if it can make it into the article series.

Enjoy.