December 1, 2009

Business Data Catalog Overview

The Business Data Catalog (BDC) provides a method of exposing business data in SharePoint 2007 through a browser interface.

Line of Business Interoperability (LOBi)
  • Reduces or eliminates code
  • Achieves a deeper integration of data into places where users work.
  • Centralizes deployment of data source definitions.
  • Reduce latency to data.
  • Centralize data security auditing connections
  • Perform structured data searches
BDC uses ADO.Net, OLEDB, or ODBC drivers to connect to different databases. It can also use Web services to connect to business applications. i.e. SAP, or Sieble applications.

Overview on How to Create:
Create a SML file with details of data connection and data formats. The XML file is known as an "application definition file" (ADF). The ADF contains a hierarchy of XML elements, and must conform to the schema described in bdcmetadata.xsd (\Microsoft Office Servers\12.0\Bin\bdcmetadata.xsd)

To configure Visual Studio 2005 to use bdcmetadata.xsd for IntelliSense, copy and place the BDC Metadata XSD file from %ProgramFiles%\Microsoft Office Servers\12.0\Bin\bdcmetadata.xsd into the folder %ProgramFiles%\Microsoft Visual Studio 8\Xml\Schemas.
Then set the schemalocation in your XML:
<LobSystem xmlns:xsi=" xsi:schmaLocation="./BDCMetadata.xsd" Type="Database" ...

Schema for Business Data Catalog Application Definition:

The Main Metadata XML tags:
  • LOBSystemInstance - Object provides authentication and connection string information.
  • Entity - Key object of metadata. Entity belongs to a single LOB system and must have a unique name. Entities contain identifies, methods, filters, and action. Entity should define 2 properties: an identifier (primary key), and a defult column.
  • Methods - Operations related to an entity. Method is a function that makes calls on the data source.Method could be a stored procedure or SQL statement.
  • Filters - Limits the number of entities returned from method
  • Actions - Provide a link to back-end data source. Used to provide write-back scenarios (send email, open InfoPath form, open new browser window, etc.)
  • Associations - Link related entities withing LOB system. i.e. Claims and Jobs.

More Detailed information regarding BDC's (PDF):

Paul Galvin's blog has a great article on how to get Titles to show in the BDC Picker (rather than the ID):!1CC1EDB3DAA9B8AA!761.entry

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