In SharePoint 2007, creating Business Data Connectivity/Line of Business applications was a chore, to say the least. There was only a small amount of built in support, so developers needed to buy 3rd party applications to help with the task. And in some cases, the price was fairly high.

However, in SharePoint 2010, things have gotten a bit better, with built in support for this type of scenario, and more of what the developer needs is built in to the development tools. In the following two tutorials, you will see the basic steps which will allow you to create your own list from an External Content Type.

Open your site in SharePoint Designer 2010

  • In the Navigation Pane, click on ‘External Content Types’
  • In the ‘External Content Types’ tab in the Ribbon, in the ‘New’ section, click on ‘External Content Type’, to create a new ECT
  • Click on the link, just to the right of the ‘Name’ designator, in the External Content Type Information section. An editable Textbox appears. Type in any name you want. (Once you tab out or leave that Textbox, it copies your text to the ‘Display Name’ area also.)
  • Also, you need to choose what type of Office Item type you want it to be (Generic List/Contact/Appointment/Task, etc
  • And in this section, the default is to have Offline Sync for the external list Enabled – which is very nice (IMHO).
  • Click on the link at the bottom of the same section which says “Click here to discover external data sources and define operations“
  • The next page allows you to set up a new connection for your ECT. Click on the ‘Add Connection’ button.
  • Choose between .Net Type, WCF Service or SQL Server (for this tutorial, we’ll use SQL Server) and then click on the ‘OK’ button
  • Put in the name of your DB Server and Name, along with an optional ‘Name’ (this comes in handy if you need to scrap the current one and create another in its place. (Sometimes, without the ‘Name’ designation, the changes will not work)
  • Next, you choose the manner in which the connection can be made to the database. Your choices are as follows:
    • User’s Identity (the current user logged in)
    • Impersonated Windows Identity (using a Secure Store Application which is set up with Windows username and password)
    • Impersonated Custom Identity (also using a Secure Store Application which is set up with SQL authentication)

Part II can be seen here: