No-code BCS

Had to put together a quick demo the other day, highlighting some of the features of SharePoint 2010 at all levels (Foundation, Standard, Enterprise). One of the items on the list was BCS. Keep in mind, this is a quick show-how for a demo, so I wasn’t going to spend any time coding anything.

So, BCS with no code! Let’s fire-up SharePoint Designer 2010 (at this point I’ve probably lost all the hard-core developers, so let’s move on…)

First, know where your external data source is. In my case, I took a backup of the default CRM 4.0 VPC database, and restored it on my SharePoint Demo VPC.

Next, in SharePoint Designer, open the site where you will show the External List. In Site Objects on the left side, go to External Content Types. Add a new one.

Fill in the Name, Display Name, Version, and the other fields.

The Office Item Type presents familiar options like:

  • Generic List
  • Appointment
  • Contact
  • Task
  • Post

Offline Sync for external list is “Enabled” by default, but you can disable it if required.

Now, pay attention to External System. Click on the link:


Click on Add Connection, define the database information, and you should see it in the Data Source Explorer. Browse to the View you want, right-click and create the operations you want, or all.

Save, and that’s almost it.

Now, go back to External Content Types (remember, on the left side menu), and select External List to create a new list. Give it a name and description. Voila, almost done. You can close SharePoint Designer now.

Go to your site, and browse to the list you’ve just created. You should see the loading animation, and then poof, error. Permissions!

Go to Central Administration, Application Management, Service Applications, Manage Service Applications. Click on Business Data Connectivity Service.


You see here CRM_Contacts which I just created. Select it and go to Set Object Permissions. Enter the user or group that you want to be able to see the list. Select the permissions.


Now that that’s done, browse back to the list, and VOILA!

Now do your own filtering, sorting and formatting of the view (ideally in a new view).


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