If you have worked with the XSLT Data View web part before, you know how much power it has. You can point to virtually any repository of data (web services, databases, xml files, SharePoint lists and libraries etc) and bring it into SharePoint. The data gets retrieved as standard XML and you can modify it to look however you like using SharePoint Designer 2007 without having to do any coding whatsoever! Here is a snapshot of a Data View web part showing information from a database table.

When connecting to the database, there are a couple of options for authentication. The first one (and the one that’s shown in most of the demonstrations :-)) is by supplying it database credentials. Making the connection this way assures that only these credentials would be used by this web part… always! Meaning, no matter who is viewing this web part (reader, administrator or someone in the middle), they will all get the same experience. More often than not, this is not the user experience that organizations want. They want the user experience to be dependent on the user’s access level. For example, a sales person in the organization should be able to view the sales revenue data while an IT analyst should not. To make that happen, you need to configure the Single Sign On functionality which comes built into SharePoint Server. Single Sign On in SharePoint simply means that once the user logs on to their machine, SharePoint will take care of supplying their credentials to the backend applications or databases that the user needs access to. The image below shows how the Data View web part can utilize single sign on to access a database.

Want to see how the process works from end to end – configuring SSO and utilizing it in the Data View web part? Check out our free video of the week on Configuring Single Sign On. Enjoy!