Business Connectivity Services Retirement
Lightning Tools was formed in 2007 as a company promoting its first-ever tool, BDC Meta Man, which later became BCS Meta Man. The Business Data Catalog (BDC) was born as a service offered through Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 (MOSS) as a means for organizations to connect silos of data through External Lists, Web Parts, Lookup Columns, and Search. The only real challenge with the Business Data Catalog was the configuration required for it to work. It was simple to use SharePoint Designer when connecting with Microsoft SQL, but things became tricky when you needed to manually build XML files for other data sources, such as Oracle or ODBC data sources like DB2. This configuration challenge for the Business Data Catalog was the reason Lightning Tools was founded.
When SharePoint 2010 was launched, the Business Data Catalog became Business Connectivity Services. Many improvements continued to evolve through SharePoint 2016. While Business Connectivity Services was available in SharePoint Online, there were no improvements to integrate with the Modern Experience. Web Parts, External Lists, and Lookup Columns remained classic. Meanwhile, Microsoft was investing its efforts in Power Apps and External Connectors, which would later become the official alternative to Business Connectivity Services.
In May 2023, Microsoft announced the retirement of Business Connectivity Services and that BCS would not be available to new Microsoft 365 Tenants from January 2024. The official alternative from Microsoft is to use Power Apps and External Connectors for your data sources. You can read more about the Business Connectivity Services retirement here: https://learn.microsoft.com/en-us/sharepoint/business-connectivity-services-retirement
Books written by Lightning Tools co-founder on BDC and BCS
Brett Lonsdale, co-founder of Lightning Tools, was the co-author of the ‘SharePoint 2007 Developers Guide to Business Data Catalog’ and the later ‘Microsoft SharePoint 2010 Business Connectivity Services’ books.
So, how can Lightning Tools help with the Business Connectivity Services Retirement?
Lightning Tools offers The Data Viewer web part for SharePoint Online. The Data Viewer provides SharePoint Online Site Administrators with the ability to add the Data Viewer to modern SharePoint Sites and Pages. You can use the Data Viewer to connect directly to SQL Azure databases, Excel workbooks, OData, and Microsoft External Connectors. Microsoft External Connectors open up possibilities to connect to various external data sources, including On-Premises SQL, Oracle, and online data sources like Salesforce and JIRA.
Users can build data grid views with the Data Viewer web part without any coding. You can simply select the columns from your tables, views, or stored procedures that you wish to display. You don’t even need to write code to configure conditional formatting, data formatting, aggregate functions, or grouping. All of these options can be easily configured. Below, you can see the Data Viewer on a modern SharePoint Online page, offering an alternative to the Business Connectivity Services web parts and the conditional formatting configuration.
Beyond the data grid view, The Data Viewer also extends its offering to build charts. Pie Charts, Bar Charts, Column Charts, Line Charts, Tree Views, Maps, and more are on offer. Again, none of these options will require any coding. See below, the screenshot displaying a data grid alongside a Data Viewer configured to display charts.
In January, Brett Lonsdale from Lightning Tools will be hosting a webinar that demonstrates how you can use Power Apps as an alternative to Business Connectivity Services, and also how to use The Data Viewer to replace BCS External Lists and BCS Web Parts. Register:
Comparing Business Connectivity Services with Data Viewer
Below, you can see a summary of how the Data Viewer offers a great alternative to Business Connectivity Services:
|Feature||Business Connectivity Services||Data Viewer Web Part|
|External List||BCS offers a classic External List providing Create, Read, Update, Delete features.||The Data Viewer web part is a modern web part offering Create, Read, Update and Delete features.|
|BDC Web Part||Classic web part offering Read Only view of the data with web part connections||Modern experience web part offering Read Only option for a view of data with web part connections.|
|BDC Related List Web Part||A separate BDC web part showing one-many joins through web part connections.||Connect multiple instances of the Data Viewer and web part connections for one-many joins.|
|BDC Filter Web Part||A web part offering web part connections to filter BDC Web Parts||Data Viewer has inbuilt filter capabilities or filters through the Lightning Filters web part.|
|Connectivity in SharePoint Online||Limited to SQL Azure or OData in SharePoint Online||Can connect to Online and On-Premises data sources|
|Charting Capabilities||Not Available||Can build powerful 3D or 2D charts with the Data Viewer|
|Display Data in Microsoft Teams||Not available in BCS||Can add the Data Viewer as a Microsoft Teams Channel App|
|Retirement?||Retiring in SharePoint Online||Not retiring!|
Below, you can walkthrough the configuration of the Data Viewer, or please feel free to book a demo or download a trial of the Data Viewer.