BCS External Content Types
External Content Type is the new name given to what we knew in SharePoint 2007 as a BDC Entity.
As with Content Types you can define an External Content Type once, and use it many places within SharePoint.
If you are using an early beta of SharePoint, there may be a few places where the old term of Entity still exists. As the product moves to RTM all these references will change to External Content Type.
Developing BCS External Content Types
There are 3 options for developing External Content Types.
The first is to use SharePoint Designer. With this tool you can create basic External Content Types that include the write back functionality.
If you want to use code to present your data to the BCS you can create a BCS shim using Visual Studio 2010 Tools for SharePoint. This includes a BCS editor that allows you to define your BCS model and also the code that populates it’s method. We have found however that you still need a deep understanding of the BCS application model to be able to use this tool.
The third option is to use a tool such as BCS Meta Man. This combines the power of Visual Studio with the ease and simplicity of a drag and drop experience. When you drag and drop an object such as a database table onto your BCS Meta Man design surface it will create all the BCS model and generate all the c# code behind the scenes for you. This means you can either press F5 and deploy straight away – or for more advanced scenario’s delve deeper and customize the code for yourself.