Use the Business Data Catalog to integrate external data

Note: This article refers to an example SharePoint site created by Adventure Works, a fictitious company that manufactures bicycles, bicycle components, and bicycling accessories.

The Business Data Catalog enables Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 to retrieve business data from back-end server applications, such as Microsoft SQL Server 2005, Siebel, or SAP, without any coding. For example, the IT staff at Adventure Works has performed the prerequisite tasks for using the Business Data Catalog features of Office SharePoint Server 2007. This enables the Sales team at Adventure Works to quickly find, view, and analyze the company's sales and financial data, which is stored in an external Microsoft SQL Server 2005 database.

Prerequisites for working with the Business Data Catalog

Before you can work with business data in Office SharePoint Server 2007, the following tasks must be completed by a business analyst, administrator, or developer in your organization:

  1. A business analyst defines the requirements of the new Business Data Catalog solution. This might include identifying the entities (for example, Adventure Works customers or bicycle parts) that users must access from Office SharePoint Server 2007 sites and from the Microsoft SQL Server database.

  2. A metadata author defines and tests the required metadata in XML by using the Business Data Catalog metadata model.

  3. An administrator deploys the metadata in XML by adding an application definition to the Business Data Catalog. The administrator is usually also responsible for specifying the settings for access permissions, auditing, and authentication.

After these prerequisites are met, you are ready to use the Business Data Catalog features to view and analyze your external line-of-business data on Office SharePoint Server 2007 sites.

Ways to integrate the external business data into your site

You can use one or more of the following Business Data Catalog features to integrate external business data into a SharePoint site:

Business Data Web Parts    Office SharePoint Server 2007 includes several Business Data Web Parts that can display any entity from the Business Data Catalog. You use Business Data Web Parts to customize how business data is displayed on your SharePoint site.

Business data Web Parts list

You also connect Web Parts so that when you perform an action in one Web Part, it changes the contents of another Web Part.

orders are displayed for the selected customer in a related list web part

1. Business Data List Web Part

2. Business Data Related List Web Part

Business data in lists    You incorporate business data into any existing SharePoint list or document library by adding a business data column. A business data column is a field type that allows you to add any entity that is defined in the Business Data Catalog — for example, Adventure Works customers or bicycle parts — to a SharePoint list or library.

Displaying business data in a Business Data List Web Part

Business data actions    You incorporate business data actions into your lists or libraries so that you can update profile information directly in a business application, such as SAP or Siebel. Actions are implemented as links, so that you can also use them to perform simple actions such as sending an e-mail message or opening a Web site.

The following figure shows View Profile, the default action that is created for each entity. When View Profile is clicked, the Product Details Web Part displays a custom action, Search on MSN.

Business item details are displayed when you click View Profile.

Searching external business data from a SharePoint site

The Business Data Catalog simplifies the process of discovering and accessing data that resides in back-end line-of-business applications. The Sales team at Adventure Works, for example, uses the business data Search feature to discover back-end data quickly and then interact with that data through a set of Business Data Web Parts.

Search the Business Data Catalog

After enabling the business data Search feature in Office SharePoint Server 2007, you can also create new search result types based on specific entities — customers, products, or resellers, for example — that are registered in the Business Data Catalog. To stay current on orders and customer satisfaction, the Adventure Works Sales team can easily view customer data in business data search results on a regular basis.

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