I wrote a short article for SharePointProConnections magazine on how to surface Business Connectivity Services (BCS) data in Microsoft Outlook. It has been published now and is available in electronic format here:
One of the biggest pieces of SharePoint 2010 that has taken the industry by storm is its ability to display data from external systems. And not just display the data, but letting you interact with it, changing the views of the data and also modifying the backend data directly from SharePoint’s presentation layer. All this power comes packaged within Business Connectivity Services (BCS).
We are holding a webinar on this Thursday, 1/27/2011 at 2pm Eastern to show you exactly how this functionality works. If you have attended any of our previous webinars, you know that we dive straight into the subject to ‘show’ you how it’s done and not just talk through PowePoint slides. This webinar will be no different. You can see all the information about the webinar and sign up for it here:
This webinar will be presented by Raymond Mitchell and hosted by SharePoint-Videos.com. Raymond is an excellent speaker who has presented at many conferences and has also written the BCS chapters in the following book: SharePoint 2010 Six in One. In addition to this, we also recently launched a video tutorial DVD-ROM for BCS authored by Raymond. It is currently available on the site at the pre-release price. The DVD will be officially released on Feb 1st.
Here are a few words by Raymond himself on BCS and his video tutorials:
"Most of you have probably heard of the Business Data Catalog (BDC) that shipped with SharePoint 2007; it is a component that allows you to use external data inside of SharePoint. What you may not know is that in SharePoint 2010, the BDC got a new name: Business Connectivity Services (BCS). They changed more than just the name in 2010 though:
- While the BDC was only available to customers with the Enterprise license of SharePoint 2007, the BCS is available to all versions of SharePoint 2010, including SharePoint Foundation!
- The BDC only let you read data from your external systems but the BCS allows you to both read from and write data back to your external systems!
- The BDC allowed you to surface your external data in SharePoint but the BCS allows you to surface your external data in SharePoint AND inside of Office applications, meaning your data is that much more accessible!
- One of the big stumbling blocks in getting started with the BDC was the lack of tooling support from Microsoft. With the BCS both SharePoint Designer 2010 and Visual Studio 2010 have first-class support for building solutions with the BCS. What’s even better, many common scenarios can be handled with just SharePoint Designer 2010, without needing a developer or Visual Studio
All of this means that it is that much easier to get started with the BCS. These videos give you the introduction you need to Business Connectivity Services to allow you to hit the ground running and quickly begin building solutions using SharePoint Designer 2010.
In addition to these videos, I also contributed two chapters on Business Connectivity Services to a newly released book: SharePoint Six-in-One. These videos compliment the background provided in the book and show additional examples and walkthroughs on topics such as:
- Creating External Content Types that allow reading and writing back to your external systems
- Building External Lists that surface external data as if it was a SharePoint List
- Adding Business Data Columns to your existing SharePoint Lists and Libraries
- And more…
Hope to see you at the webinar. Once again, here is the link to sign up for the webinar:
We just released the new SharePoint Designer 2010 Workflows DVD. The complete information on this DVD package is available here:
There are four ways to implement workflows in your SharePoint sites:
1) Use the browser and built in workflow templates – A great way to start making simple workflows. Doesn’t require any other tools other than the browser.
2) Use SharePoint Designer 2010 – SharePoint Designer 2010 is free and lets you create powerful and robust workflows using a variety of built in activities (such as sending an email, creating list items, copying documents and a whole lot more). The resulting workflows are easy to understand and ownership can be transferred to business users as it seems fit.
3) Use Visual Studio – This is by far the most powerful and flexible way of creating workflows. However, it requires knowledge of the Visual Studio environment and programming. In addition, once you deploy the workflows, chances are you will need to manage them as well.
4) Buy workflow building tools from 3rd party vendors – There are some really good companies out there who will sell you their workflow building package bundles. Some of them are quite affordable and provide great functionality. Check out the recording of a webinar we conducted a while back in which I talked through the limitations of workflows in SharePoint and demonstrated the functionality of a 3rd party vendor (AgilePoint) – https://www.visualsp.com/sp10-best-practices-workflows-visio-sharepoint-designer
If you decide on option 2 above – to build powerful workflows without programming using SharePoint Designer 2010, the SharePoint Designer 2010 Workflows DVD is what you need to learn all that’s possible.
Among other content, I wrote two chapters in our SharePoint Designer 2010 book (which was released in November 2010) dedicated to workflows. This DVD is a great companion to that book since it contains the videos of all of the workflow scenarios discussed in the book and more. Some of the scenarios covered in the DVD are as follows:
- Creating List and Library Workflows
- Creating Powerful Reusable Workflows
- Creating Site Workflows
- Creating Workflows using Visio
- Managing Workflow forms using InfoPath
- Packaging up Reusable Workflows
- Migrating Workflows to other Site Collections
- and more..
Best wishes to you on your SharePoint journey!