SharePoint Data Integration

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Do you need to integrate external data within your SharePoint environment easily? The Lightning Tools Data Viewer Web Part for SharePoint On-Premises and the Data Viewer Add-In for Office 365 allows for SharePoint Data Integration within just a few minutes.

The data can be styled easily enabling you to display useful data that stands out to your users providing them with a good overview of what is happening within your organizations. Features such as multiple levels of grouping, conditional formatting, calculated columns, allows you to easily build data views that are both powerful and useful.

Many of the standard SharePoint web parts are difficult to style and often require the assistance of a SharePoint developer or external consultant. The Data Viewer is designed to be simple to use whilst still enabling you to build data that is intuitive for users to understand.

The out-of-the-box Business Data list web part and External List web parts offer some styling options, but require XSLT skills to build really useful views. If you consider the below Business Data List web part, that displays product information from the sample Northwind database, you will notice that many of the field do not have data formatting, and are certainly not eye candy. The columns names are displayed as per the underlying database, the unit price column shows the price without currency symbol and to 4 decimal places, and the Boolean column ‘Discontinued’ shows just True or False.

SharePoint Data Integration

The Business Data List web part can be styled using XSLT, but you are required obviously to understand XSLT and have a lot of time to waste.

SharePoint Data Integration

Data Viewer Web Part

Using the Data Viewer Web Part from Lightning Tools, the data can be styled without using XSLT. The results of which are shown below:

SharePoint Data Integration

Notice that within the Data Viewer Web Part, the column names contain spaces, the unit price column is formatted as a currency, and the discontinued column is set to Yes or No which makes more sense than True or False. Conditional Formatting has also been applied to indicate any product that is out of stock. To configure this view, there wasn’t any code required, just a few minutes configuring some options.

SharePoint Data Integration

The Data Viewer Web Part works with multiple data sources and not just Business Connectivity Services. You can build data views on:

  • Microsoft SQL Server
  • Oracle Databases
  • ODBC Data sources
  • SharePoint lists or libraries anywhere in the farm
  • OData
  • Business Connectivity Services
  • XML

A key factor is that the data is not imported into SharePoint, but displayed in SharePoint. Linking to the data source does not over inflate your SharePoint Content Database with a duplication of data from your external data source. Linking to the external data source also means that you do not suffer a delay with synchronization or record locking issues when importing external data into a SharePoint list.

The Data Viewer Web Part is available as a free trial from here. The Data Viewer Add-In can be downloaded from the SharePoint App Store.