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Application Definition Designer – BDC Tool

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For quite a long time I was complaining about current BDC for SharePoint as there was luck of tools supporing creation of XML application definition. Good for me as lately I watched quite good TechEd session around "Configuring SharePoint to Search for structured data" (done by Richard Riley) and I was supprised that Microsoft has released a tool to support this process. The tool is called "Application Definition Designer" and in the nutshell it let you create application definition with visual designer. Before you go and start use it you need to install it. This tool can be found under tools directory located in you SDK for SharePoint folder (if you don’t have it, you need to install it first), the exact location in my case was : "C:\Program Files\2007 Office System Developer Resources\Tools\BDC Definition Editor". When you get there, then you should find a file "setup.exe", which you should start and by this install this tool on your machine.
 
After first start, you shoul see this screen:
 
now, to create new application definition file, you need to click on "Add Lob system" icon. This should open for you new screen. Find and click "Connect to Database" (you have also option to connect to WebService). After providing "connection string" and pointing tables/view to import you will get visual representation of you application definition:
 
 
from no on you are ready to go to tweak this deffinition as you like and when you ready, export it, so later on you can import it to thru "SharePoint central administration\Shared services administration":
 
 
This is the tool I was looking for quite a long time and to be honest I was even supprise on the beggining that Microsoft didn’ supply it faster. With use of it, creation of application definition is quite easy task. After playing with it for a while I manage to expose my entire HR database for SharePoint and reuse those data in custom search pages.
 
Some hints during creation of your app definition:
– During import of tables remember to mark some field as the one which will be use as a tittle
– When you import your definition into sharepoint, make sure that the account hosting "SharePoint timer service" has proper rights to you database (in case you use NTML)
– before you go and export you happy "app def" make sure that all methods can be started. This can be check by going under "Entities\<Entity name>\Methods\<Method name>\Instances\<instance name>" and with right button click chose execute. This let you execute particular method (even with parameters) and make sure that it is working. 
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Written by Mariusz Gorzoch

21 July 2009 at 22:27

Posted in SharePoint

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