BCS Tester Man – The BCS Test Client

What is is?

BCS Tester Man is a new test client for testing External Content Types. If you have used the WCF test client before then you should be familiar with what a test client sets out to achieve. BCS Tester Man is not designed to allow you to browse through your External Systems data, it can do that but it’s not what it is designed to do, it’s just there to make sure data can be returned. If there is an issue with your model then the aim is to make it as easy as possible to diagnose the issue and to get it working again as soon as possible.

Why did you build it?

The main project I have been working on has been BCS Meta Man and we do a lot of testing of models to make sure that the .Net code and Model we generate is working correctly.

The usual life cycle of creating a model is as follows

BCS Model Creation Flow Chart

If you know what you are doing each time then this workflow is relatively simple, it’s when you do get some issue that it can take quite a while to diagnose. I am pretty sure that most people when developing models for the first time has come across a web part like this:

image

This gives us no clue as to what went wrong, so like in the workflow we grab our Correlation ID (6cd52342-f7f3-4dfa-8775-fef22ddca8e0) and head to the logs in the SharePoint Root:

C:Program FilesCommon FilesMicrosoft SharedWeb Server Extensions14LOGS

We then look for the latest log files and do a search for our Correlation ID…. and eventually I find the section I am after:

image

I can now go back to my model and try again. In this case I had changed the Type of my Color TypeDescriptor from System.String to System.Int32.

So… I thought they should be an easier way of doing this.  This is the new story

BCS Tester Man Flowchart

OK, so lets have a look at how BCS Tester Man looks when we try to call the Finder method on our External System

Before Invoke:

BCS Tester Man Before Invoke

After Invoke:

BCS Tester Man After Invoke

This is what I am most proud of, look at that error message sat right there at the top, the REAL error message. First time. We haven’t had to get a Correlation Id to wade through those SharePoint logs, we have the error right there. If we want to do a search on some of the popular search engines or coding sites then we have provided those buttons for you too, they take the current error message and do a search. You can even copy the error to the clipboard so you can send your friends, colleagues and family an email saying how you can’t believe you got to the bottom of ‘this’ error so quickly with BCS Tester Man.

Where can I get more information and where can I see it in action?

You can do both here: BCS Tester Man

How much is it?

BCS Tester Man is currently free.

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