Differences between native and external lists

A SharePoint list comes in two flavors, native and external:

  • A native list has all its features and data built into SharePoint Products. There are a variety of default lists, such as Announcements, Calendars, and Tasks, custom lists that you can start from scratch, and the widest variety of features available.

  • An external list also has its features built into SharePoint Products, but the data is stored in a data source outside of SharePoint Products, such as a database. Someone, such as a business analyst, must first create the external list. Once created, an external list has many of the same features as a native list, but there are some differences that you should know about. They are listed in the following sections.

For more information, see Find content about external data.

In this article

Comparing list feature differences

Comparing column type differences

Comparing list view differences

Comparing list feature differences

Native List Feature

Supported in External Lists?

More information

Basic operations

  • Edit list name and description and navigation

Yes

  • Control navigation in Quick Launch

Yes

  • Do a local filter or sort operation by using column headers

Yes

  • Create and manage views 

Yes

For more information, see Comparing list view differences.

  • Configure per-location views

No

  • View menu, Save View button, and Search box

No

These features only work with client-side rendered list views

  • Add, edit, and delete items with SharePoint forms and InfoPath forms

Yes

  • Enable or disable dialog forms

Yes

  • Add, edit, and delete items with Quick Edit

No

  • Share with others

Yes

  • Set list permissions

Yes

  • Set item-level permissions

No

  • Subscribe to Alerts and RSS Feeds

No

A developer can create an alert in the external data source by using the Event Framework.

  • Work with user ratings, tags, and notes

No

  • E-mail a link

Yes

  • Work with large lists

Yes

The list limits and thresholds are different.

  • Display data in the List Web Part

No

Use the Business Data Web Parts instead.

Column operations

  • Use formulas and calculated values 

Yes

  • Add a new column

No

Can be defined in the external data source and the external content type.

  • Validate columns

No

Can be defined in the external data source.

  • Add, modify, and delete index columns

No

Can be defined in the external data source.

  • Create lookup columns

No

Alternatively, you can associate two or more external lists when you define an external content type.

  • Create unique columns

No

Can be defined in the external data source and the external content type.

  • Enforce list relationships

No

Can be defined in the external data source.

  • Use content types and add site columns

No

  • Create external data columns

No

  • Add managed metadata columns

No

Client operations

  • Synchronize data with Excel

Yes

  • Synchronize data with Visio

Yes

  • Synchronize data with Access

Yes

  • Synchronize data with Outlook

Yes

  • Synchronize data with Project

No

  • Use the Open with Access command

No

Additional operations

  • Use the Send To Command

No

  • Check-in and check-out items

No

  • Associate a workflow with a list

No

  • Create folders

No

  • Require approval

No

  • Attach files

No

  • Versioning (Content approval, item version history, draft item security)

No

  • Use target audiences

No

  • Add list data to Site Search

Yes

Making external list data appear in search results requires advanced configuration.

  • Integrate e-mail with the list

No

  • Set information management policy

  • Generate a file plan report

No

  • Save the list as a template

No

  • New Quick Step

No

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Comparing column type differences

Native List column type

Supported in External Lists?

More information

Single line of text

Yes

Multiple lines of text

Yes

Number

Yes

Currency

Yes

Date and Time

Yes

Yes/No

Yes

Choice

No

Lookup

No

Person or Group

No

Hyperlink or Picture

No

Calculated

No

Managed Metadata

No

Full HTML Content with Formatting and Constraints for Publishing (Publishing HTML)

No

Image with formatting and constraints for publishing (Publishing Image)

No

Hyperlink with formatting and constraints for publishing (Publishing Hyperlink)

No

Rich media data for publishing

No

Summary Links data

No

Top of Page

Comparing list view differences

Native List view option

Supported in External Lists?

More information

All View types

No

In an external list, only the Standard View and Custom View in Designer is supported.

Select or clear columns to display

Yes

In the external content type of the external list, you can also specify the Title column.

Define a view audience (Public and Personal)

Yes

Define a local filter operation

Yes

External lists may also have one or more Data Source Filters defined in the external content type that filter the data at the external data source to help improve performance.

Define a local sort or filter operation

Yes

External lists may also have a pre-defined sort operation in the external content type that pre-sorts the data at the external data source to help improve performance.

Define a Tabular View

Yes

Create a Group By operation

Yes

Define Totals

Yes

Update a Style

Yes

Item Limit

Yes

External lists may also have a Page Number defined in the external content type that limit the data at the external data source to help improve performance.

Create Folders

No

Create a Mobile view

Yes

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Applies To: SharePoint Foundation 2013, SharePoint Server 2013 Enterprise, SharePoint Online



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