Integration of external line of business data is one of the hottest topic in each and every SharePoint project. Many issues still exists using Business Data Connectivity Services (BCS) and Web Services, especially with SAP: Configuration is quite complex, at some points programming is required and – it still remains “external” data. That means, not all SharePoint list features are available.
What about connecting SAP (and any other) data directly with NATIVE SharePoint lists, e.g. contacts, tasks, events or custom lists in just minutes without any coding required?
With the Xtract Universal Designer you can select your SAP access method: Database table, SAP query, RFC function module or BAPI, ABAP report, BW Cube / Query, Open Hub Service extraction, BI / BW hierarchie or Delta Q is supported.
More about Xtract Universal see here:
In this sample we will simply use the SAP table or view T101W to sync to a SharePoint contact list. You can freely define the fields to expose for SharePoint.
As a next step you have to create your data destination list directly in SharePoint. You can use any type of list, e.g. contacts, tasks, events – or simply a custom list. Then go to list settings and click “Connect to external data source”. Please note: This step requires the “Business Data List Connector for SharePoint 2007 and 2010” installed and activated:
The configuration is quite easy:
Please select the “Xtract Universal ADO.NET Provider” as a driver to access your pre-modeled data subsets from the Xtract Universal Designer. Please note that the driver is available as 32-bit and 64-bit, so MOSS / SharePoint 2007 is also supported. Please validate the provider.
The Xtract Universal Windows Service can run as a Windows Service on any machine, locally in this sample only. It is accessed per HTTP using the following connection string: host=http://localhost:8065. Please validate the connection string.
To select your data as a select statement simply input the previously defined extraction name, T001W in this case. SQL syntax is not supported here at this time, but planned for next versions. At this time please use the Xtract Universal Designer to form your data query. Please validate and preview the first rows of your data.
Take a look at the data and paste your primary key (a unique field) into the configuration. Please note: A primary key is not required. But if not available, SharePoint list items cannot be updated, but deleted and re-inserted on update. For best performance please use primary keys whenever possible. Please validate the primary key.
The SharePoint list structure is created in the next step. Simply press “Add Columns” in this case. Existing columns are mapped with fields by internal column names. Not existent columns are created automatically. You can delete or modify column type if required. Please check mapping until the mapping meets your requirements.
To insert the data first time or update later on for testing, please press “Update”. It can take a while, depending on data amount and configuration. When it is finished, simply save / close and enter the list view.
Please note: you can enable background update here (via timer job, e.g. every hour) or update manually via ribbon or action menu. Only changed data is updated in that native list.
Please note the native SharePoint list. All list features are fully available:
- Views (global and personal), sorting and grouping, filters, calculated fields, search, enterprise metadata, lookups can be created as usual.
- All list types are supported: Contacts, tasks, events, custom lists etc. You can take the external data offline via Outlook and / or Workspace.
- You can add additional SharePoint-only columns or attachments to the external data: Documents, comments, ratings, tagging or other Web 2.0 content.
- List workflows (SPD-, VS- and Nintex-based) and notifications per RSS or email can be used to take business actions in SharePoint, when external business data records are changed in SAP.
- Easy migration from SharePoint 2007 to 2010: All settings are kept working. Free upgrade for all customers with Software Assurance (SA).
- The BDLC additionally makes available your external SAP data source for enterprise metadata management (tagging, content categorization) to use with the new SharePoint 2010 Knowledge Management and Social Networking features without any restrictions.
- Works with any list-related SharePoint add-on.
- Add-ons available: Use the “Key Value Lookup Column for SharePoint” to keep the foreign key relationships between SAP data source tables for SharePoint list lookups.
Please read here, what customers think about pros and cons of this product. To know more about Xtract Universal see here. To register and download the Business Data List Connector as free Shareware version see here. Please note, that this connection works in the same way also for Office 365 or SharePoint Online in the Microsoft Cloud using the Cloud Connector add-on.