From Microsoft Sharepoint Team Blog:
The BDC is essentially a catalog of business applications that are of interest to SharePoint Server 2007 users, and it bridges the gap between the portal and business applications by bringing in key data from various applications to SharePoint sites, lists, search, and user profiles. The BDC is the key infrastructural component around which most of the other business data features of SharePoint Server 2007 are built. Administrators can register business applications in the BDC, after which the data in the application is immediately available to SharePoint through the business data features described below. A key requirement for each registered business application is an XML-based metadata model that describes the application programming interfaces (API) of the application or the schema of the database that maps to business objects (e.g. customer) and properties (e.g. name) that a SharePoint user can understand. These metadata models can be easily created by DBAs or database developers.
SharePoint Server 2007 ships with four out-of-the-box Business Data Web Parts: Business Data List, Business Data Items, Business Data Related List, and Business Data Actions. These Web Parts rely on the Business Data Catalog, and their main purpose is to display business data in a portal application without the need for any programming. Moreover, these Web Parts are generic and can show any type of data (entity) registered in the Business Data Catalog.
These Web Parts support Web Part Connections, which enable Master-Detail types of data display – again, without any programming. For example, you can display customers and their details using the BusinessDataList and BusinessDataItems Web Parts.
Table 1 provides a brief description of the Business Data Web Parts.
|Business Data ListWeb Part||Displays a list of entity instances from a business application registered in the Business Data Catalog. For example, you can use a Business Data List Web Part to display all the customers or orders from the AdventureWorksDW database.|
|Business Data ItemsWeb Part||Displays the details of an entity instance from a business application. For example, you can use a Business Data Items Web Part to display the details of a particular customer or order from the AdventureWorksDW database.|
|Business Data Related ListWeb Part||Displays a list of related entity instances from a business application. For example, you can use a Business Data Related List Web Part to display all the orders for a particular customer from the AdventureWorksDW database.|
|Business Data ActionsWeb Part||Displays a list of actions associated with an entity as defined in the Business Data Catalog. For example, you can use a Business Data Actions Web Part to display all the actions that portal users can perform on the Customer entity. Some examples of these actions are to send e-mail to a customer or edit the address of a customer.|
Figure 1 shows a Business Data List Web Part.
Figure 2: A Business Data Item Web Part shows the details of a product
Business Data in Lists
Windows SharePoint Services V3 provides custom field types. SharePoint Server 2007 leverages this feature to provide a new field type called Business Data that is available to all lists in SharePoint Server 2007. The Business Data field type enables users to add data from business applications registered in the Business Data Catalog to any SharePoint list. For example, in your RFP (Request for Proposal) Document Library, you can add a Business Data column to the document properties that specifies the customer who issued the RFP. This enables users to view the customer’s details and perform actions associated with them from within the Document Library.
Business Data Actions
You can define actions for each entity in the Business Data Catalog. Some examples of actions for a customer entity are to send e-mail to a customer or to edit the address of a customer. Business Data Catalog implements actions as links that allow you to navigate to a URL directly from the page where the entity or Business Data column is displayed. For example, these links can open Web pages, display the native graphical user interfaces (GUI) of line-of-business applications, and launch Microsoft® Office InfoPath® forms.
Business Application Search
By leveraging the Business Data Catalog, the
Center feature of SharePoint Server 2007 can gather and index data from all of the registered business applications and provide full-text searching. For example, after you register the AdventureWorksDW sample database from SQL Server 2005 in the Business Data Catalog, the
Center feature can crawl the database and return customer data in search results. In addition, the
Center feature’s extensibility enables you to create customized search experiences. For example, you can create a Customers tab in the
Figure 5 shows a custom
Figure 5: A custom
Business Data in User Profiles
Business Data Catalog allows you to add data from business applications to SharePoint Server 2007 User Profiles. This means that you could, for example, add a birth date or employee number from an SAP or Siebel application registered in the Business Data Catalog to a SharePoint User Profile attribute. The User Profile attribute can then be used to create a rules-based Audience such as “Employees with birth dates in March” to which SharePoint Server can target content such as a link to an online coupon for a free dinner.
The BDC enables easy and rapid integration between SharePoint Server and business applications and databases by leveraging an application or database connection and metadata model for multiple SharePoint features such as sites, lists, search, and user profiles. With Office SharePoint Server 2007, customers will be able to derive even more value from the Enterprise Application Intengration (EAI) and Data Warehousing (DW) efforts they have undertaken in the past several years by putting the data into the hands of SharePoint users, so they can readily use it for collaboration, project tracking, business intelligence, and other types of portal applications. You can find this article here.