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Introducing Microsoft SharePoint 2010 Business Connectivity Services

Extending Solutions

As previously explained in this chapter, Business Connectivity Services (BCS) allows you to connect to external data through SharePoint Server 2010 and surface the data in Office 2010 client applications, but that is just the beginning. By further extending the Office 2010 client that exposes the external data, you can create very rich, user-friendly, intuitive solutions. Once you’ve established the BCS connection, you can do a great deal more in the client applications to enhance the user experience.

For example, Microsoft Access 2010 makes connecting to external data easier than ever before. Access has always been a great landing pad for data. With Access 2010, Microsoft has built a new cached mode to dramatically improve the performance of connections to SharePoint lists. Additionally, Access can now slice, dice, and report on BCS data, just like any other linked table.

Although you can develop your own BCS connectors, most BCS development within an organization will concentrate on the presentation and manipulation of the data. With a web-based solution, you have the choice of developing logic that will run on the server, server-side code, or code that runs within the browser, client-side code:

  • Server-side code is developed using languages such as C# and is available on web servers as precompiled dynamic-link libraries (DLLs). You can expose such code as controls that you can place on pages or activate as features at the farm, web application, site collection, or site (web scope) level.
  • Client-side code is developed using interpretive languages, such as JavaScript, JQuery, and CSS, that are either embedded into HTML or sent to the browser in separate files. The advantage of using client-side code is that it allows the browser to respond to certain user actions, such as clicking a button, without the need to communicate with the server, providing a faster response and improved user experience. You can also add client-side code to pages using tools such as InfoPath Designer and SharePoint Designer.