Build a SharePoint SAP solution in one hour with Lightning Tools products and Business Connectivity Services – Part 1

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Within this series of posts, we will connect to SAP external data using the BCS Connector tool, configure the BCS web parts to show Vendor information from the LFA1 table directly. We’ll configure the document library to lookup vendor information from SAP as Meta Data, and configure search to allow vendor information to be searched via the SharePoint search site. Finally, using the Data Viewer Web Part, we’ll configure some conditional formatting on the SAP data, and display information within the SharePoint chart web part from SAP.

Initially, I will provide a screenshot of each part of the solution. Subsequent posts will show the configuration of each part of the solution.

Microsoft Word integration with SAP

Using Microsoft Office Word and a SharePoint document library, you can lookup SAP data from within a Word document or Document Library template. The SAP data is then stored as Meta Data within the SharePoint Document Library.

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External List

The External List is available with SharePoint Foundations as well as SharePoint Server and SharePoint Enterprise Server (2010 and 2013). It is also available with some flavours of Office 365. The External List below is displaying Product information from SAP allowing you to Create, Read, Update and Delete the data.

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Search Results

Using SharePoint 2013 Enterprise, you can configure SharePoint search to index SAP as a content source. Along with the creation of a Profile Page, you can search the SAP External Data from SharePoint and allow it to be displayed via the Profile Page.

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Build a Chart

Using the Collabion Chart Web Part, you can connect to Business Connectivity Services External Content Types (as well as many other data sources) and display the data within a SharePoint Chart. The Charts are highly configurable allowing for various 3D and 2D charts to be created in minutes.

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Finally, we configure the Data Viewer web part to include conditional formatting on SAP data

Using the Data Viewer web part, you can connect to SharePoint Lists, Oracle, Microsoft SQL, OData, XML, and Business Connectivity Services. Once connected, you can apply formatting and conditional formatting as the below screenshot suggests.

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Steps taken to build the above solution within an hour without writing code

After the initial configuration the Business Data Connectivity service application, you will need to create an External Content Type which describes the data that you are connecting to, as well as providing methods such as Finder, Specific Finder, Updater, Creator, and Deleter. These methods enable the SharePoint SAP data to be displayed, looked up, created, updated and deleted. Unfortunately, using Microsoft SharePoint Designer, you can only create External Content Types for Microsoft SQL. Any other external data source will require writing code within Visual Studio or using a third party product. Lightning Tools provides two products that can assist here. BCS Meta Man can connect to Oracle, Microsoft SQL, OData, or ODBC data sources. The BCS Connector can connect to SAP. Both products allow you to connect to these data sources without writing code.

BCS Connector

Using the BCS Connector, you can generate an External Content Type, and deploy the ECT directly to Microsoft SharePoint.

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Steps to create the External Content Type with BCS Connector:

1. Configure the SAP Connection information such as Application Server Address, Username and Password.

2. Configure the SharePoint Connection by setting the SharePoint site URL, along with Username and Password to connect as a Farm Administrator.

3. Click New within the Entities section, and specify whether you are connecting to a Function or Table. (SAP Out of the box functions as well as custom functions are available).

4. Select the columns that you wish to display within Microsoft SharePoint and set any formatting preferences.

5. Optionally click New within the Entity Operations section to create the methods. (When connecting to a Table, the Finder and Specific Finder methods are created for you).

6. Optionally create filters. (The Limit filter is created for you).

7. Click the Save to SharePoint button.