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

Tobias Zimmergren
Tobias Zimmergren

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 have been made to the SharePoint 2013 Business Connectivity Services framework.

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

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:

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

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 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 have been some improvements in terms of working with BCS Entities from the Client Object Model as well. There have 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



Tobias Zimmergren Twitter

Hi, I'm Tobias! 👋 I write about Microsoft Azure, security, cybersecurity, compliance, cloud architecture, Microsoft 365, and general tech!

Reactions and mentions

Hi, I'm Tobias 👋

Tobias Zimmergren profile picture

Find out more about me.

Recent comments