Chapter 2: Connecting to External Data
In This Chapter
Understanding external content types
Creating external content types
Connecting to external systems by using SharePoint Designer
Business Connectivity Services (BCS) provides an easy, flexible, and extensible method of displaying content from external data sources (such as your custom line-of-business applications) SharePoint, allowing you to work with that content in much the same way you do native SharePoint content. At the center of all this magic lies the external content type. External content types provide configuration information that allows BCS to connect to a specific entity in an external system. For example, an employee external content type may represent an Employee table in a back-end database.
In this chapter, we explain the ins and outs of external content types and show you the steps involved in creating an external content type by using SharePoint Designer 2010.
Understanding External Content Types
Regardless of the type of SharePoint solution you’re deploying, content is crucial to its success. Relevant, meaningful, current, and useful content is what makes users want to come back to your site. Content breathes life into your deployment and comes in all shapes and sizes, including
♦ A public-facing Internet site: Informational Web pages and navigational components.
♦ A departmental collaboration portal: Document libraries, calendars, and discussion boards
♦ A business intelligence dashboard: Web pages that ...