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Business Data Catalog in Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007: Architecture and Schemas

  • By Gustavo Velez
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Associations reflect the relationship between Entities in the BDC. For instance, a hospital will have a series of "users", each of which generates a string of medical records which in turn indicate recommended treatments. The Association correlates users with records and treatments.

Installation, Configuration, and Application of the BDC

After constructing the XML file, the next step is to introduce it into the MOSS environment. From the Central Administration of MOSS, proceed to the active Shared Services and apply the link "Import application definition" in the "Business Data Catalog" section. This page prepares a text box and "Browse" button to select the physical locale of the XML definition, selection boxes to choose whether the file will be the Model (definition of the BDC) or other Resources (pictures, localizations, and so on for a predefined BDC), and indicates the selection of properties and permissions to be imported with the definition.

After initializing the import, SharePoint will validate the XML file, and if something is amiss, an error message will indicate the type of problem and the line where it is located. When all systems have been approved, the definition is ready to be used and the properties can be viewed (or altered) in the respective pages inside the Central Administration.

Click here for a larger image.

Figure 4: SharePoint Central Administration in the configuration page of the sample BDC definition

To employ the Business Data Catalog, a SharePoint Administrator can position the default BDC WebParts in one or more pages in the portal to be viewed collectively or an individual user with the appropriate rights can employ the WebPart and pass access to a subset of users. To continue the implementation, proceed to the SharePoint page where the data will be displayed, go to "Site Actions," .Edit page. and add the Business Data List WebPart in the chosen zone.

Carry on by opening the Tool Pane of the WebPart to configure it. Using the "Display" button, located next to the "Type" BDC, the installed Catalogs will materialize and one of them can be selected. The other options permit configuring the display of the WebPart; the input parameters (if there are any); finally, using the XSL editor, change the default SharePoint uses to display data.

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Figure 5: BDC WebPart installed with the open Tool Pane to configure it

After applying the configuration, the data will be recovered from the back-end system and revealed in the page (refer to Figure 1 for the output of the example).

Other Possibilities of BDC Within MOSS

WebParts are not the only means of utilizing data from the BDC. As well as using SharePoint's Object Model to programmatically build custom WebParts, pages, and applications, MOSS is able to utilize out-of-the-box BDC output to provide data to Profile DataBase and lists.

The SharePoint Profile DataBase is an internal repository to store general information about users. The data can be synchronized with Windows Active Directory (AD) and, using the Business Data Catalog, it can utilize external sources as complement to the DataBase. Imagine a scenario where a DataBase is implemented using the default data from AD (names, IDs, telephone numbers, email, and the like) and business data from SAP or PeopleSoft (class data for students in a university, client contact data from a CRM system, and so forth.). In the same way, the non-structured information contained in SharePoint Lists can be supplemented with external data.

Finally, the SharePoint Search Engine is able to index the external data registered in the BDC. This opens up the possibility to make a full-text search of back-end data and, because security is configured in the BDC definition, only users with appropriate rights may retrieve the required information.

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This article was originally published on October 3, 2007

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