Category Archives: BCS

BCS connector for Exchange private mailbox SharePoint and FAST search

SharePoint 2010 BCS Mailbox connector for Microsoft Exchange empowers you search private mailboxes via SharePoint and FAST Search.
SharePoint 2010 BCS Mailbox connector for Microsoft Exchange  allow you:

  • Index all mailboxes, emails and attachments
  • Enable super users from AD group search against all mailboxes
  • Preview Exchange emails and attachments directly from search user interface via SharePoint Business Connectivity services.

    Microsoft provides Exchange OOB connector for SharePoint 2010 search and FAST Search for SharePoint.
    Unfortunately this connector limited to Exchange public folder only.

    Please, make sure you download following dependencies:

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Features from SharePoint 2010 Integration with SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.0

ImageOne of the core concepts of Business Connectivity Services (BCS) for SharePoint 2010 are the external content types. They are reusable metadata descriptions of connectivity information and behaviours (stereotyped operations) applied to external data. SharePoint offers developers several ways to create external content types and integrate them into the platform.

 

The SharePoint Designer 2010, for instance, allows you to create and manage external content types that are stored in supported external systems. Such an external system could be SQL Server, WCF Data Service, or a .NET Assembly Connector.

This article shows you how to create an external content type for SharePoint named Customer based on given SAP customer data. The definition of the content type will be provided as a .NET assembly, and the data are displayed in an external list in SharePoint.

The SAP customer data are retrieved from the function module SD_RFC_CUSTOMER_GET. In general, function modules in a SAP R/3 system are comparable with public and static C# class methods, and can be accessed from outside of SAP via RFC (Remote Function Call). Fortunately, we do not need to program RFC calls manually. We will use the very handy ERPConnect library from Theobald Software. The library includes a LINQ to SAP provider and designer that makes our lives easier.

.NET Assembly Connector for SAP

The first step in providing a custom connector for SAP is to create a SharePoint project with the SharePoint 2010 Developer Tools for Visual Studio 2010. Those tools are part of Visual Studio 2010. We will use the Business Data Connectivity Model project template to create our project:

After defining the Visual Studio solution name and clicking the OK button, the project wizard will ask what kind of SharePoint 2010 solution you want to create. The solution must be deployed as a farm solution, not as a sandboxed solution. Visual Studio is now creating a new SharePoint project with a default BDC model (BdcModel1). You can also create an empty SharePoint project and add a Business Data Connectivity Model project item manually afterwards. This will also generate a new node to the Visual Studio Solution Explorer called BdcModel1. The node contains a couple of project files: The BDC model file (file extension bdcm), and the Entity1.cs and EntityService.cs class files.

Next, we add a LINQ to SAP file to handle the SAP data access logic by selecting the LINQ to ERP item from the Add New Item dialog in Visual Studio. This will add a file called LINQtoERP1.erp to our project. The LINQ to SAP provider is internally called LINQ to ERP. Double click LINQtoERP1.erp to open the designer. Now, drag the Function object from the designer toolbox onto the design surface. This will open the SAP connection dialog since no connection data has been defined so far:

Enter the SAP connection data and your credentials. Click the Test Connection button to test the connectivity. If you could successfully connect to your SAP system, click the OK button to open the function module search dialog. Now search for SD_RFC_CUSTOMER_GET, then select the found item, and click OK to open the RFC Function Module /BAPI dialog:

SP2010SAPToBCS/BCS12.png

The dialog provides you the option to define the method name and parameters you want to use in your SAP context class. The context class is automatically generated by the LINQ to SAP designer including all SAP objects defined. Those objects are either C# (or VB.NET) class methods and/or additional object classes used by the methods.

For our project, we need to select the export parameters KUNNR and NAME1 by clicking the checkboxes in the Pass column. These two parameters become our input parameters in the generated context class method named SD_RFC_CUSTOMER_GET. We also need to return the customer list for the given input selection. Therefore, we select the table parameter CUSTOMER_T on the Tables tab and change the structure name to Customer. Then, click the OK button on the dialog, and the new objects get added to the designer surface.

IMPORTANT: The flag “Create Objects Outside Of Context Class” must be set to TRUE in the property editor of the LINQ designer, otherwise LINQ to SAP generates the Customer class as nested class of the SAP context class. This feature and flag is only available in LINQ to SAP for Visual Studio 2010.

The LINQ designer has also automatically generated a class called Customer within the LINQtoERP1.Designer.cs file. This class will become our BDC model entity or external content type. But first, we need to adjust and rename our BDC model that was created by default from Visual Studio. Currently, the BDC model looks like this:

Rename the BdcModel1 node and file into CustomerModel. Since we already have an entity class (Customer), delete the file Entity1.cs and rename the EntityService.cs file to CustomerService.cs. Next, open the CustomerModel file and rename the designer object Entity1. Then, change the entity identifier name from Identifier1 to KUNNR. You can also use the BDC Explorer for renaming. The final adjustment result should look as follows:

SP2010SAPToBCS/BCS4.png

The last step we need to do in our Visual Studio project is to change the code in the CustomerService class. The BDC model methods ReadItem and ReadList must be implemented using the automatically generated LINQ to SAP code. First of all, take a look at the code:

SP2010SAPToBCS/BCS6.png

As you can see, we basically have just a few lines of code. All of the SAP data access logic is encapsulated within the SAP context class (see the LINQtoERP1.Designer.cs file). The CustomerService class just implements a static constructor to set the ERPConnect license key and to initialize the static variable _sc with the SAP credentials as well as the two BDC model methods.

The ReadItem method, BCS stereotyped operation SpecificFinder, is called by BCS to fetch a specific item defined by the identifier KUNNR. In this case, we just call the SD_RFC_CUSTOMER_GET context method with the passed identifier (variable id) and return the first customer object we get from SAP.

The ReadList method, BCS stereotyped operation Finder, is called by BCS to return all entities. In this case, we just return all customer objects the SD_RFC_CUSTOMER_GET context method returns. The returned result is already of type IEnumerable<Customer>.

The final step is to deploy the SharePoint solution. Right-click on the project node in Visual Studio Solution Explorer and select Deploy. This will install and deploy the SharePoint solution on the server. You can also debug your code by just setting a breakpoint in the CustomerService class and executing the project with F5.

That’s all we have to do!

Now, start the SharePoint Central Administration panel and follow the link “Manage Service Applications”, or navigate directly to the URL http://<SERVERNAME>/_admin/ServiceApplications.aspx. Click on Business Data Connectivity Service to show all the available external content types:

On this page, we find our deployed BDC model including the Customer entity. You can click on the name to retrieve more details about the entity. Right now, there is just one issue open. We need to set permissions!

Mark the checkbox for our entity and click on Set Object Permissions in the Ribbon menu bar. Now, define the permissions for the users you want to allow to access the entity, and click the OK button. In the screen shown above, the user administrator has all the permissions possible.

In the next and final step, we will create an external list based on our entity. To do this, we open SharePoint Designer 2010 and connect us with the SharePoint website.

Click on External Content Types in the Site Objects panel to display all the content types (see above). Double click on the Customer entity to open the details. The SharePoint Designer is reading all the information available by BCS.

In order to create an external list for our entity, click on Create Lists & Form on the Ribbon menu bar (see screenshot below) and enter CustomerList as the name for the external list.

OK, now we are done!

Open the list, and you should get the following result:

The external list shows all the defined fields for our entity, even though our Customer class, automatically generated by the LINQ to SAP, has more than those four fields. This means you can only display a subset of the information for your entity.

Another option is to just select those fields required within the LINQ to SAP designer. With the LINQ designer, you can access not just the SAP function modules. You can integrate other SAP objects, like tables, BW cubes, SAP Query, or IDOCs. A demo version of the ERPConnect library can be downloaded from the Theobald Software homepage.

If you click the associated link of one of the customer numbers in the column KUNNR (see screenshot above), SharePoint will open the details view:

SP2010SAPToBCS/BCS10.png

 

 

SAP Weekend : Part 1 – ERPConnect Services for SharePoint 2010 (ECS)

This weekend was spent completing my new “List Search Web Part” and also 2 Free Web Parts that is included in the “List Web Part Pack” – More about this in my future blog.

erp256-bc0e84ce

In between the “SAP Bug” bit me again and I decided to write a  blog post series on the various adapters I have used in SharePoint and SAP Integration Projects and to give you a basic “run down” of how and with which technologies each adapter connects the 2 systems with.

ERPConnect was 1st on the list. ….

 

Yes, I can hear the grumblings of those of us who have worked with SAP and SharePoint  Integration and the ERPConnect adapter before 🙂

For starters, you need to have a SAP Developer Key to be allowed to use the SAP web service wizard, and also have the required SAP authorizations. In other cases it may not be allowed by IT operations to make any modification to the SAP environment, even if it’s limited to the full-automatic generation and activation of the BAPI webservice(s).

Another reason from a system architecture viewpoint, is that the single BAPI and/or RFC calls may be of too low granularity. You actually want to perform a ‘business transaction’, consisting of multiple method invocations which must be treated as a Logical Unit of Work (LUW). SAP has introduced the concept of SAP Enterprise Services for this, and has delivered a first set of them. This is by far not complete yet, and SAP will augment it the coming years.

SharePoint 2010 provides developer with the capability to integrate external data sources like SAP business data via the Business Connectivity Services (BCS) into the SharePoint system. The concept of BCS is based on entities and associated stereotyped operations. This perfectly suits for flat and simple structured data sets like SAP tables.

Another and way more flexible option to use SAP data in SharePoint are the ERPConnect Services for SharePoint 2010 (ECS). The product suite consists of three product components: ERPConnect Services runtime, the BCS Connector application and the Xtract PPS for PerformancePoint Services.

The runtime is providing a Service Application that integrates itself with the new service architecture of SharePoint 2010. The runtime offers a secure middle-tier layer to integrate different kind of SAP objects in your SharePoint applications, like tables and function modules.

The BCS Connector application allows developers to create BDC models for the BCS Services, without programming knowledge. You may export the BDC models created by the BCS Connector to Visual Studio 2010 for further customizing.

 

The Xtract PPS component offers a SAP data source provider for the PerformancePoint Services of SharePoint 2010. T

his article gives you an overview of the ERPConnect Services runtime and shows how you can create and incorporate business data from SAP in different SharePoint application types, like Web Parts, Application Pages or Silverlight modules.

This article does not introduce the other components.

Background

This section will give you a short explanation and background of SAP objects that can be used in ERPConnect Services. The most important objects are SAP tables and function modules. A function module is basically similar to a normal procedure in conventional programming languages. Function modules are written in ABAP, the SAP programming language, and are accessible from any other programs within a SAP system. They accept import and export parameters as well as other kind of special parameters.

 

In addition, BAPIs (Business-API) are special function modules that are organized within the SAP Business Object Repository. In order to use function modules with the runtime they must be marked as Remote (RFC). SAP table data can also be retrieved. Tables in SAP are basically relational database tables. Others SAP objects like BW Cubes or SAP Queries can be accessed via the XtractQL query language (see below).

 

Installation & Configuration

Installing ERPConnect Services on a SharePoint 2010 server is done by an installer and is straight forward. The SharePoint Administration Service must run on the local server (see Windows Services).

For more information see product documentation. After the installation has been successfully processed navigate to the Service Applications screen within the central administration (CA) of SharePoint:

 

Before creating your first Service Application a Secure Store must be created, where ERPConnect Services will save SAP user credentials. In the settings page for the “Secure Store Service” create a new Target Application and name the application “ERPConnect Services”. Click on the button “Next” to define the store fields as follows:

 

Finish the creation process by clicking on “Next” and define application administrators. Then, mark the application, click “Set Credentials” and enter the SAP user credentials:

 

Let’s go on and create a new ERPConnect Service Application!

Click the “ERPConnect Service Application” link in the “New” menu of the Service Applications page (see also first screenshot above). This opens a dialog to define the name of the service application, the SAP connection data and the IIS application pool:

 

Click “Create” after entering all data and you will see the following entries in the Service Applications screen:

 

That’s it! You are now done setting up your first ERPConnect Service Application.

Development

The runtime functionality covers different programming demands such as generically retrievable interface functions. The service applications are managed by the Central Administration of SharePoint. The following service and function areas are provided:

  1. Executing and retrieving data directly from SAP tables
  2. Executing SAP function modules / BAPIs
  3. Executing XtractQL query statements

The next sections shows how to use these service and function areas and access different SAP objects from within your custom SharePoint applications using the ERPConnect Services. The runtime can be used in applications within the SharePoint context like Web Parts or Application Pages.

In order to do so, you need to reference the assembly i in the project. Before you can access data from the SAP system you must create an instance of the ERPConnectServiceClient class. This is the gate to all SAP objects and the generic API of the runtime in overall. In the SharePoint context there are two options to create a client object instance:

// Option #1
ERPConnectServiceClient client = new ERPConnectServiceClient();

// Option #2
ERPConnectServiceApplicationProxy proxy = SPServiceContext.Current.GetDefaultProxy(
   typeof(ERPConnectServiceApplicationProxy)) as ERPConnectServiceApplicationProxy;
ERPConnectServiceClient client = proxy.GetClient();

For more details on using ECS in Silverlight or desktop applications see the specific sections below.

Querying Tables

Querying and retrieving table data is a common task for developers. The runtime allows retrieving data directly from SAP tables. The ERPConnectServiceClient class provides a method called ExecuteTableQuery with two overrides which query SAP tables in a simple way.

The method also supports a way to pass miscellaneous parameters like row count and skip, custom function, where clause definition and a returning field list. These parameters can be defined by using the ExecuteTableQuerySettings class instance.

DataTable dt = client.ExecuteTableQuery("T001");

…
    
ExecuteTableQuerySettings settings = new ExecuteTableQuerySettings {
  RowCount = 100,
  WhereClause = "ORT01 = 'Paris' AND LAND1 = 'FR'",
  Fields = new ERPCollection<string> { "BUKRS", "BUTXT", "ORT01", "LAND1" }
};

DataTable dt = client.ExecuteTableQuery("T001", settings);

…

// Sample 2
DataTable dt = client.ExecuteTableQuery("MAKT",
            new ExecuteTableQuerySettings {
                RowCount = 10,
                WhereClause = "MATNR = '60-100C'",
                OrderClause = "SPRAS DESC"
            });

The first query reads all records from the SAP table T001 where the fields ORT01 equals Paris and LAND1 equals FR (France). The query returns the top 100 records and the result set contains only the fields BUKRS, BUTXT, ORT01 and LAND1.

The second query returns the top ten records of the SAP table MAKT, where the field MATNR equals the material number 60-100C. The result set is ordered by the field SPRAS.

Executing Function Modules

In addition to query SAP tables the runtime API executes SAP function modules (BAPIs). Function modules must be marked as remote-enabled modules (RFC) within SAP.

The ERPConnectServiceClient class provides a method called CreateFunction to create a structure of metadata for the function module. The method returns an instance of the data structure ERPFunction. This object instance contains all parameters types (import, export, changing and tables) that can be used with function modules.

In the sample below we call the function SD_RFC_CUSTOMER_GET and pass a name pattern (T*) for the export parameter with name NAME1. Then we call the Execute method on the ERPFunction instance. Once the method has been executed the data structure is updated. The function returns all customers in the table CUSTOMER_T.

ERPFunction function = client.CreateFunction("SD_RFC_CUSTOMER_GET");
function.Exports["NAME1"].ParamValue = "T*";
function.Execute();

foreach(ERPStructure row in function.Tables["CUSTOMER_T"])
  Console.WriteLine(row["NAME1"] + ", " + row["ORT01"]);

The following code shows an additional sample. Before we can execute this function module we need to define a table with HR data as input parameter.

The parameters you need and what values the function module is returning dependents on the implementation of the function module

ERPFunction function = client.CreateFunction("BAPI_CATIMESHEETMGR_INSERT");
function.Exports["PROFILE"].ParamValue = "TEST";
function.Exports["TESTRUN"].ParamValue = "X";

ERPTable records = function.Tables["CATSRECORDS_IN"];
ERPStructure r1 = records.AddRow();
r1["EMPLOYEENUMBER"] = "100096";
r1["WORKDATE"] = "20110704";
r1["ABS_ATT_TYPE"] = "0001";
r1["CATSHOURS"] = (decimal)8.0;
r1["UNIT"] = "H";

function.Execute();

ERPTable ret = function.Tables["RETURN"]; 

foreach(var i in ret)
  Console.WriteLine("{0} - {1}", i["TYPE"], i["MESSAGE"]);

Executing XtractQL Query Statements

The ECS runtime is offering a SAP query language called XtractQL. The XtractQL query language, also known as XQL, consists of ABAP and SQL syntax elements. XtractQL allows querying SAP tables, BW-Cubes, SAP Queries and executing function modules.

It’s possible to return metadata for the objects and MDX statements can also be executed with XQL. All XQL queries are returning a data table object as result set. In case of the execution of function modules the caller must define the returning table (see sample below – INTO @RETVAL). XQL is very useful in situations where you need to handle dynamic statements. The following list shows a

SELECT TOP 5 * FROM T001W WHERE FABKL = 'US'

This query selects the top 5 records of the SAP table T001W where the field FABKL equals the value US.

SELECT * FROM MARA WITH-OPTIONS(CUSTOMFUNCTIONNAME = 'Z_XTRACT_IS_TABLE')

 

SELECT MAKTX AS [ShortDesc], MANDT, SPRAS AS Language FROM MAKT

This query selects all records of the SAP table MAKT. The result set will contains three fields named ShortDesc, MANDT and Language.

 

EXECUTE FUNCTION 'SD_RFC_CUSTOMER_GET'
   EXPORTS KUNNR='0000003340'
   TABLES CUSTOMER_T INTO @RETVAL;

This query executes the SAP function module SD_RFC_CUSTOMER_GET and returns as result the table CUSTOMER_T (defined as @RETVAL).

DESCRIBE FUNCTION 'SD_RFC_CUSTOMER_GET' GET EXPORTS

This query returns metadata about the export parameters of the

SELECT TOP 30 LIPS-LFIMG, LIPS-MATNR, TEXT_LIKP_KUNNR AS CustomerID
   FROM QUERY 'S|ZTHEO02|ZLIKP'
   WHERE SP$00002 BT '0080011000'AND '0080011999'

This statement executes the SAP Query “S|ZTHEO02|ZLIKP” (name includes the workspace, user group and the query name). As you can see XtractQL extends the SQL syntax with ABAP or SAP specific syntax elements. This way you can define fields using the LIPS-MATNR format and SAP-like where clauses like “SP$00002 BT ‘0080011000’AND ‘0080011999’”.

ERPConnect Services provides a little helper tool, the XtractQL Explorer (see screenshot below), to learn more about the query language and to test XQL queries. You can use this tool independent of SharePoint, but you need access to a SAP system.

To find out more about all XtractQL language syntax see the product manual.

Silverlight And Desktop Applications

So far all samples are using the assembly ERPConnectServices.Server.Common.dll as project reference and all code snippets shown run within the SharePoint context, e.g. Web Part.

ERPConnect Services also provides client libraries for Silverlight and desktop applications:

ERPConnectServices.Client.dll for Desktop applications
ERPConnectServices.Client.Silverlight.dll for Silverlight applications

You need to add the references depending what project you are implementing.

In Silverlight the implementation and design pattern is a little bit more complicated, since all web services will be called in asynchronously. It’s also not possible to use the DataTable class. It’s just not implemented for Silverlight.

The runtime provides a similar class called ERPDataTable, which is used in this cases by the API. The ERPConnectServiceClient class for Silverlight provides the method ExecuteTableQueryAsync and an event called ExecuteTableQueryCompleted as callback delegate.

public event EventHandler<ExecuteTableQueryCompletedEventArgs> ExecuteTableQueryCompleted;

public void ExecuteTableQueryAsync(string tableName)
public void ExecuteTableQueryAsync(string tableName, ExecuteTableQuerySettings settings)

The following code sample shows a simple query of the SAP table T001 within a Silverlight client.

First of all, an instance of the ERPConnectServiceClient is created using the URI of the ERPConnectService.svc, then a delegate is defined to handle the complete callback. Next, the query is executed, defined with a RowCount equal 10 to only return the top 10 records in the result set.

Once the result is returned the data set will be attached to a DataGrid control (see screenshot below) within the callback method.

 

void OnGetTableDataButtonClick(object sender, RoutedEventArgs e)
{
  ERPConnectServiceClient client = new ERPConnectServiceClient(
    new Uri("http://<SERVERNAME>/_vti_bin/ERPConnectService.svc"));

  client.ExecuteTableQueryCompleted += OnExecuteTableQueryCompleted;
  client.ExecuteTableQueryAsync("T001", 
    new ExecuteTableQuerySettings { RowCount = 150 });
}

void OnExecuteTableQueryCompleted(object sender, ExecuteTableQueryCompletedEventArgs e)
{
  if(e.Error != null)
    MessageBox.Show(e.Error.Message);
  else
  {
    e.Table.View.GroupDescriptions.Add(new PropertyGroupDescription("ORT01"));
    TableGrid.ItemsSource = e.Table.View;
  }
}

The screenshot below shows the XAML of the Silverlight page:

The final result can be seen below:

ECS Designer

ERPConnect Services includes a Visual Studio 2010 plugin, the ECS Designer, that allows developer to visually design SAP interfaces. It’s working similar to the LINQ to SAP Designer I have written about a while ago, see article at CodeProject: LINQ to SAP.

The ECS Designer is not automatically installed once you install the product. You need to call the installation program manually. The setup adds a new project item type to Visual Studio 2010 with the file extension .ecs and is linking it with the designer. The needed references are added automatically after adding an ECS project item.

The designer generates source code to integrate with the ERPConnect Services runtime after the project item is saved. The generated context class contains methods and sub-classes that represent the defined SAP objects (see screenshots below).

 

Before you access the SAP system for the first time you will be asked to enter the connection data. You may also load the connection data from SharePoint system. The designer GUI is shown in the screenshots below:

 

The screenshot above for instance shows the tables dialog. After clicking the Add (+) button in the main designer screen and searching a SAP table in the search dialog, the designer opens the tables dialog.

 

In this dialog you can change the name of the generated class, the class modifier and all needed properties (fields) the final class should contain.

 

To preview your selection press the Preview button. The next screenshot shows the automatically generated classes in the file named EC1.Designer.cs:

 

Using the generated code is simple. The project type we are using for this sample is a standard console application, therefore the designer is referencing the ERPConnectServices.Client.dll for desktop applications.

Since we are not within the SharePoint context, we have to define the URI of the SharePoint system by passing this value into the constructor of the ERPConnectServicesContext class.

The designer has generated class MAKT and an access property MAKTList for the context class of the table MAKT. The type of this property MAKTList is ERPTableQuery<MAKT>, which is a LINQ queryable data type.

 

This means you can use LINQ statements to define the underlying query. Internally, the ERPTableQuery<T> type will translate your LINQ query into call of ExecuteTableQuery.

 

That’s it!

 

Advanced Techniques

There are situations when you have to use the exact same SAP connection while calling a series of function modules in order to receive the correct result. Let’s take the following code:

ERPConnectServiceClient client = new ERPConnectServiceClient();

using(client.BeginConnectionScope())
{
  ERPFunction f = client.CreateFunction("BAPI_GOODSMVT_CREATE");

  ERPStructure s = f.Exports["GOODSMVT_HEADER"].ToStructure();
  s["PSTNG_DATE"] = "20110609"; // Posting Date in the Document
  s["PR_UNAME"] = "BAEURLE";    // UserName
  s["HEADER_TXT"] = "XXX";      // HeaderText
  s["DOC_DATE"] = "20110609";   // Document Date in Document

  f.Exports["GOODSMVT_CODE"].ToStructure()["GM_CODE"] = "01";

  ERPStructure r = f.Tables["GOODSMVT_ITEM"].AddRow();
  r["PLANT"] = "1000";          // Plant
  r["PO_NUMBER"] = "4500017210"; // Purchase Order Number
  r["PO_ITEM"] = "010";      // Item Number of Purchasing Document 
  r["ENTRY_QNT"] = 1;          // Quantity in Unit of Entry
  r["MOVE_TYPE"] = "101";        // Movement Type
  r["MVT_IND"] = "B";            // Movement Indicator
  r["STGE_LOC"] = "0001";        // Storage Location

  f.Execute();

  string matDocument = f.Imports["MATERIALDOCUMENT"].ParamValue as string;
  string matDocumentYear = f.Imports["MATDOCUMENTYEAR"].ParamValue as string;

  ERPTable ret = f.Tables["RETURN"]; //.ToADOTable();

  foreach(var i in ret)
    Console.WriteLine("{0} - {1}", i["TYPE"], i["MESSAGE"]);

  ERPFunction fCommit = client.CreateFunction("BAPI_TRANSACTION_COMMIT");
  fCommit.Exports["WAIT"].ParamValue = "X";
  fCommit.Execute();
}

In this sample we create a goods receipt for a goods movement with BAPI_GOODSMVT_CREATE. The final call to BAPI_TRANSACTION_COMMIT will only work, if the system under the hood is using the same connection object.

 

The runtime is not providing direct access to the underlying SAP connection, but the library offers a mechanism called connection scoping. You may create a new connection scope with the client library and telling ECS to use the same SAP connection until you close the connection scope. Within the connection scope every library call will use the same SAP connection.

In order to create a new connection scope you need to call the BeginConnectionScope method of the class ERPConnectServiceClient.

The method returns an IDisposable object, which can be used in conjunction with the using statement of C# to end the connection scope.

Alternatively, you may call the EndConnectionScope method. It’s also possible to use function modules with nested structures as parameters.

This is a special construct of SAP. The goods receipt sample above is using a nested structure for the export parameter GOODSMVT_CODE. For more detailed information about nested structures and tables see the product documentation.

Power BI connectivity to SAP BusinessObjects BI

Microsoft and SAP are jointly delivering business intelligence (BI) interoperability in Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Power BI for Office 365, and SAP BusinessObjects BI.

 

Microsoft Power Query for Excel seamlessly connects to SAP BusinessObjects BI Universes enabling users to access and analyze data across the enterprise and share their data and insights through Power BI.

This connectivity drives a single version of truth, instant productivity, and optimized business performance for your organization.

Image

Download Microsoft Power Query Preview for Excel

Preview contains SAP BusinessObjects BI Universe connectivity.

Details

Microsoft Power Query Preview for Excel, providing SAP BusinessObjects BI Universe connectivity, is an add-in that provides a seamless experience for data discovery, data transformation and enrichment for Information Workers, BI professionals and other Excel users. This preview provides an early look into the upcoming SAP BusinessObjects BI Universe connectivity feature. As with most previews, this feature may appear differently in the final product.

System Requirements

Supported operating systems

Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2008, Windows Vista

  • Windows Vista (requires .NET 3.5SP1)
  • Windows Server 2008 (requires .NET 3.5 SP1)
  • Windows 7
  • Windows 8
  • Windows 8.1

The following Office versions are supported:

  • Microsoft Office 2010 Professional Plus with Software Assurance
  • Microsoft Office 2013 Professional Plus, Office 365 ProPlus or Excel 2013 Standalone

Microsoft Power Query Preview for Excel requires Internet Explorer 9 or greater.

Microsoft Power Query Preview for Excel is available for 32-bit (x86) and 64-bit (x64) platforms, your selection must match architecture of the installed version of Office.

Installation Instructions

Download the version of the Power Query add-in that matches the architecture (x86 or x64) of your Office installation. Run the MSI installer and follow the setup steps.

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Business Connectivity Services (BCS) client side logging for Office 2010 when working with Duet Enterprise

Use tracing on the client (SharePoint Server 2010) 
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ff700209.aspx

Duet

Here are the condensed steps that I use on the client when troubleshooting issues related to taking Duet Enterprise lists offline. 
NOTE: You must be an Administrator on the computer to use the tracing.

Create the Data Collector Set:

1. Launch Perfmon (Start –> Run –> Perfmon) 
2. Expand Data Collector Sets 
3. Right-click on “User Defined” and choose “New Data Collector set” 
4. Give it a name, I use “BCS” 
5. Choose the “Create Manually” option and click Next 
6. Check the box labeled “Event trace data” and click Next 
7. Next to the Providers box, click the “Add…” button and wait for the list to load. 
8. Select the item named “Microsoft-Office-Business Connectivity Services” and click “OK” 
9. Leave everything at the default values and click “Finish” 
10. You should now see your “BCS” Data Collector Set listed under “User Defined” in Perfmon.

 

Start collecting the trace information:

1. Select the “BCS” data collector set you created previously. 
2. Click the “Start the Data Collector Set” button. 
3. Reproduce the issue. 
4. Click the “Stop the Data Collector Set” button to stop the trace. 
5. A trace file with a .etl extension should be created in a path like this: 
    C:\PerfLogs\Admin\BCS\MACHINENAME_20110824-000001\DataCollector01.etl

View the trace:

1. Launch Event Viewer (Start –> Run –> eventvwr.msc) 
2. Action menu  –> “Open Saved Log…” 
3. In the “Open Saved Log” dialog, navigate to the .etl trace file you created earlier and choose Open. 
4. When prompted to convert to the new event log format choose Yes. 
5. Change the display name if you would like then click OK 
6. You should see the trace information in event viewer.

Using SharePoint FAST to unlock SAP data and make it accesible to your entire business

An important new mantra is search-driven applications. In fact, “search” is the new way of navigating through your information. In many organizations an important part of the business data is stored in SAP business suites.
4336.SP2013SearchArchitecture[1]
A frequently asked need is to navigate through the business data stored in SAP, via a user-friendly and intuitive application context.
For many organizations (78% according to Microsoft numbers), SharePoint is the basis for the integrated employee environment. Starting with SharePoint 2010, FAST Enterprise Search Platform (FAST ESP) is part of the SharePoint platform.
All analyst firms assess FAST ESP as a leader in their scorecards for Enterprise Search technology. For organizations that have SAP and Microsoft SharePoint administrations in their infrastructure, the FAST search engine provides opportunities that one should not miss.

SharePoint Search

Search is one of the supporting pillars in SharePoint. And an extremely important one, for realizing the SharePoint proposition of an information hub plus collaboration workplace. It is essential that information you put into SharePoint, is easy to be found again.

By yourself of course, but especially by your colleagues. However, from the context of ‘central information hub’, more is needed. You must also find and review via the SharePoint workplace the data that is administrated outside SharePoint. Examples are the business data stored in Lines-of-Business systems [SAP, Oracle, Microsoft Dynamics], but also data stored on network shares.
With the purchase of FAST ESP, Microsoft’s search power of the SharePoint platform sharply increased. All analyst firms consider FAST, along with competitors Autonomy and Google Search Appliance as ‘best in class’ for enterprise search technology.
For example, Gartner positioned FAST as leader in the Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Search, just above Autonomy. In SharePoint 2010 context FAST is introduced as a standalone extension to the Enterprise Edition, parallel to SharePoint Enterprise Search.
In SharePoint 2013, Microsoft has simplified the architecture. FAST and Enterprise Search are merged, and FAST is integrated into the standard Enterprise edition and license.

SharePoint FAST Search architecture

The logical SharePoint FAST search architecture provides two main responsibilities:

  1. Build the search index administration: in bulk, automated index all data and information which you want to search later. Depending on environmental context, the data sources include SharePoint itself, administrative systems (SAP, Oracle, custom), file shares, …
  2. Execute Search Queries against the accumulated index-administration, and expose the search result to the user.

In the indexation step, SharePoint FAST must thus retrieve the data from each of the linked systems. FAST Search supports this via the connector framework. There are standard connectors for (web)service invocation and for database queries. And it is supported to custom-build a .NET connector for other ways of unlocking external system, and then ‘plug-in’ this connector in the search indexation pipeline. Examples of such are connecting to SAP via RFC, or ‘quick-and-dirty’ integration access into an own internal build system.
In this context of search (or better: find) in SAP data, SharePoint FAST supports the indexation process via Business Connectivity Services for connecting to the SAP business system from SharePoint environment and retrieve the business data. What still needs to be arranged is the runtime interoperability with the SAP landscape, authentication, authorization and monitoring.
An option is to build these typical plumping aspects in a custom .NET connector. But this not an easy matter. And more significant, it is something that nowadays end-user organizations do no longer aim to do themselves, due the involved development and maintenance costs.
An alternative is to apply Duet Enterprise for the plumbing aspects listed. Combined with SharePoint FAST, Duet Enterprise plays a role in 2 manners: (1) First upon content indexing, for the connectivity to the SAP system to retrieve the data.
The SAP data is then available within the SharePoint environment (stored in the FAST index files). Search query execution next happens outside of (a link into) SAP. (2) Optional you’ll go from the SharePoint application back to SAP if the use case requires that more detail will be exposed per SAP entity selected from the search result.  An example is a situation where it is absolutely necessary to show the actual status. As with a product in warehouse, how many orders have been placed?

Security trimmed: Applying the SAP permissions on the data

Duet Enterprise retrieves data under the SAP account of the individual SharePoint user. This ensures that also from the SharePoint application you can only view those SAP data entities whereto you have the rights according the SAP authorization model. The retrieval of detail data is thus only allowed if you are in the SAP system itself allowed to see that data.

Due the FAST architecture, matters are different with search query execution. I mentioned that the SAP data is then already brought into the SharePoint context, there is no runtime link necessary into SAP system to execute the query. Consequence is that the Duet Enterprise is in this context not by default applied.
In many cases this is fine (for instance in the customer example described below), in other cases it is absolutely mandatory to respect also on moment of query execution the specific SAP permissions.
The FAST search architecture provides support for this by enabling you to augment the indexed SAP data with the SAP autorisations as metadata.
To do this, you extend the scope of the FAST indexing process with retrieval of SAP permissions per data entity. This meta information is used for compiling ACL lists per data entity. FAST query execution processes this ACL meta-information, and checks each item in the search result whether it allowed to expose to this SharePoint [SAP] user.
This approach of assembling the ACL information is a static timestamp of the SAP authorizations at the time of executing the FAST indexing process. In case the SAP authorizations are dynamic, this is not sufficient.
For such situation it is required that at the time of FAST query execution, it can dynamically retrieve the SAP authorizations that then apply. The FAST framework offers an option to achieve this. It does require custom code, but this is next plugged in the standard FAST processing pipeline.
SharePoint FAST combined with Duet Enterprise so provides standard support and multiple options for implementing SAP security trimming. And in the typical cases the standard support is sufficient.

lip_image002_2.png

Applied in customer situation

The above is not only theory, we actually applied it in real practice. The context was that of opening up of SAP Enterprise Learning functionality to operation by the employees from their familiar SharePoint-based intranet. One of the use cases is that the employee searches in the course catalog for a suitable training.

This is a striking example of search-driven application. You want a classified list of available courses, through refinement zoom to relevant training, and per applied classification and refinement see how much trainings are available. And of course you also always want the ability to freely search in the complete texts of the courses.
In the solution direction we make the SAP data via Duet Enterprise available for FAST indexation. Duet Enterprise here takes care of the connectivity, Single Sign-On, and the feed into SharePoint BCS. From there FAST takes over. Indexation of the exposed SAP data is done via the standard FAST index pipeline, searching and displaying the search results found via standard FAST query execution and display functionalities.
In this application context, specific user authorization per SAP course elements does not apply. Every employee is allowed to find and review all training data. As result we could suffice with the standard application of FAST and Duet Enterprise, without the need for additional customization.

Conclusion

Microsoft SharePoint Enterprise Search and FAST both are a very powerful tool to make the SAP business data (and other Line of Business administrations) accessible. The rich feature set of FAST ESP thereby makes it possible to offer your employees an intuitive search-driven user experience to the SAP data.

Now available – A SharePoint XML Indexing Connector

Most organizations have several systems holding their data. Data from these systems must be indexable and made available for search on the common Internal Search portal.

While most of the different data silos are able to dump or export their full dataset as XML, SharePoint does not include an OOTB general purpose XML indexing connector.

The SharePoint Server Search Connector Framework is known to be overly complex, and documentation out there about this subject is very limited.

There are basically two types of custom search connectors for SharePoint 2010 that can be implemented; the .Net Assembly Connector and the Custom Connector. More details about the differences between them can be found here. Mainly, a Custom Connector is agnostic of external content types, whereas each .NET Assembly Connector is specific to one external content type, and whenever the external content type changes, the .Net Assembly Connector must be re-compiled and re-deployed. If the entity model of the external system is dynamic and is large scale a Custom Connector should be considered over the .Net Assembly Connector.

Also, a Custom Connector provides administration user interface integration, but a .NET Assembly Connector does not.

The XML File Indexing Connector

The XML File Indexing Connector that is presented here is a custom search indexing connector that can be used to crawl and index XML files. In this series of posts I am going to first show you how to install, setup and configure the connector. In future posts I will go into more implementation details where we’ll look into code to see how the connector is implemented and how you can customize it to suit specific needs.

This post is divided into the following sections:

  • Installing and deploying the connector
  • Creating a new Content Source using the connector
  • Using the Start Address of the Content Source to configure the connector
  • Automatic and dynamic generation of Crawled Properties from XML elements
  • Full Crawl vs. Incremental Crawl
  • Optimizations and considerations when crawling large XML files
  • Future plans

Installing and deploying the connector

The package that can be downloaded at the bottom of this post, includes the following components:

  1. model.xml: This is the BCS model file for the connector
  2. XmlFileConnector.dll: This is the DLL file of the connector
  3. The Folder XmlFileConnector: This includes the Visual Studio Solution of the connector

Follow these steps to install the connector:

  1. Install the XmlFileConnector.dll in the Global Assembly Cache on the SharePoint application server(s)

gacutil -i “XmlFileConnector.dll”

  1. Open the SharePoint 2010 Management Shell on the application server.
  2. At the command prompt, type the following command to get a reference to your FAST Content SSA.

$fastContentSSA = Get-SPEnterpriseSearchServiceApplication -Identity “FASTContent SSA”

  1. Add the following registry key to the application server

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE]SOFTWAREMicrosoftOfficeServer14.0SearchSetupProtocolHandlersxmldoc

Set the value of the registry key to “OSearch14.ConnectorProtocolHandler.1”

  1. Add the new Search Crawl Custom Connector

New-SPEnterpriseSearchCrawlCustomConnector -SearchApplication $fastContentSSA –Protocol xmldoc -Name xmldoc -ModelFilePath “XmlFileConnectorModel.xml”

  1. Restart the SharePoint Server Search 14 service. At the command prompt run:

net stop osearch14

net start osearch14

8.  Create a new Crawled Property Category for the XML File Connector. Open the FAST Search Server 2010 for SharePoint Management Shell and run the following command:

New-FASTSearchMetadataCategory -Name “Custom XML Connector” -Propset “BCC9619B-BFBD-4BD6-8E51-466F9241A27A”

 Note that the Propset GUID must be the one specified above, since this GUID is hardcoded in the Connector code as the Crawled Properties Category which will receive discovered Crawled Properties.

Creating a new Content Source using the XML File Connector

  1. Using the Central Administration UI, on the Search Administration Page of the FAST Content SSA, click Content Sources, then New Content Source.
  • Type a name for the content source, and in Content Source Type, select Custom Repository.
  • In Type of Repository select xmldoc.

  • In Start Addresses, type the URLs for the folders that contain the XML files you want to index. The URL should be inserted in the following format:

  • xmldoc://hostname/folder_path/#x=:doc:id;;urielm=url;;titleelm=title#

    The following section describes the different parts of the Start Address.

    Using the Start Address of the Content Source to configure the connector

    The Start Address specified for the Content Source must be of the following format. The XML File Connector will read this Start Address and use them when crawling the XML content.

    xmldoc://hostname/folder_path/#x=:doc:id;;urielm=url;;titleelm=title#

    xmldoc

    xmldoc is the protocol corresponding to the registry key we added when installing the connector.

    //hostname/folder_path/

    //hostname/folder_path/ is the full path to the folder conaining the XML files to crawl.

    Exmaple: //demo2010a/c$/enwiki

    #x=doc:id;;urielm=url;;titleelm=title#

    #x=doc:id;;urielm=url;;titleelm=title# is the special part of the Start Address that is used as configuration values by the connector:

    x=:doc:id

    Defines which elements in the XML file to use as document and identifier elements. This configuration parameter is mandatory.

    For example, say a we have an XML file as follows:

    <feed> <document> <id>Some id</id> <title></title> <url>some url</id> <field1>Content for field1</field1> <field2>Content for field2</field2> </document> <document> ... </document> </feed>

    Here the value for the x configuration parameter would be x=:document:id

    urielm=url

    urielm=url defines which element in the XML file to use as the URL. This will end up as the URL of the document used by the FS4SP processing pipeline and will go into the ”url” managed property. This configuration parameter can be left out. In this case, the default URL of the document will be as follows: xmldoc://id/[id value]

    titleelm=title

    titleelm=title defines which element in the XML file to use as the Title. This will end up as the Title of the document, and the value of this element will go into the title managed property. This configuration parameter can be left out. If the parameter is left out, then the title of the document will be set to ”notitle”.

    Automatic and dynamic generation of Crawled Properties from XML elements

    The XML File Connector uses advanced BCS techniques to automatically Discover crawled properties from the content of the XML files.

    All elements in the XML docuemt will be created as crawled properties. This provides the ability to dynamically crawl any XML file, without the need to pre-define the properties of the entities in the BCS Model file, and re-deploy the model file for each change.

    This is defined in the BCS Model file on the XML Document entity. The TypeDescriptor element named DocumentProperties, defines an list of dynamic property names and values. The property names in this list will automatically be discovered by the BCS framework and corresponding crawled properties will automatically be created for each property.

    The following snippet  from the BCS Model file shows how this is configured:

      <TypeDescriptor Name="DocumentProperties" TypeName="XmlFileConnector.DocumentProperty[], XmlFileConnector, Version=1.0.0.0, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=109e5afacbc0fbe2" IsCollection="true">        xxxxx          xxxx          xxxxxx              

    In addition to the ability to discover crawled properties automatically from the XML content, the XMl File Connector also creates a default property with the name “XMLContent”. This property contains the raw XML of the document being processed. This enables the use of the XML content in a custom Pipeline extensibility stage for further processing.

    Example

    Say that we have the following XML file to index.

     Wikipedia: Nobel Charitable Trust  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nobel_Charitable_Trust  The Nobel Charitable Trust (NCT) is a charity set up by members of the Swedish Nobel family, i.e.    Michael Nobel Energy Award	http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nobel_Charitable_Trust#Michael_Nobel_Energy_Award  References	http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nobel_Charitable_Trust#References        ...      

    When running the connector the first time; we see the following Crawled Properties discovered in the Custom XML Connector Crawled Properties Category.

    Full Crawl vs. Incremental Crawl

    The BCS Search Connector Framework is implemented in such a way that keeps track of all crawled content in the Crawl Log Database. For each search Content Source, a log of all document ids that have been crawled is stored. This log is used when running subsequent crawls of the content source, be it either a full or an incremental crawl.

    When running an incremental crawl, the BCS framework compares the list of document ids it received from the connector against the list of ids stored in the crawl log database. If there are any document ids within the crawl log database that have not not been received from the connector, the BCS framework assumes that these documents have been deleted, and will attemp to issue deletion operations to the search system. This will cause many inconsistencies, and will make it very difficult to keep both  the actual dataset and the BCS crawl log in sync.

    So, when running either a Full Crawl or an Incremental Crawl of the Content Source, the full dataset of the XML files must be available for traversal. If there are any items missing in subsequent crawls, the SharePoint crawler will consider those as subject for deletion, and og ahead and delete those from the search index.

    One possible work around to tackle this limitation and try to avoid (re)-generating the full data set each time something minor changes, would be to split the XML content into files of different known update frequences, where content that is known to have higher update rates is placed in separate input folders with separate configured Conetent Sources within the FAST Content SSA.

    Optimizations and considerations when crawling large XML files

    When the XML File Connector starts crawling content, it will load and parse found XML files one at the time. So, for each XML file found in the input directory, the whole XML file is read into memory and cached for all subsequent operations by the crawler until all items found in the XML file have been submitted to the indexing subsystem. In that case, the memory cache is cleared, and the next file is loaded and parsed until all files have been processed.

    For the reason just described, it is recommended not to have large single XML files, but split the content across multiple XML files, each consisting of a number of items the is reasonable and can be easily parsed and cached in memory.

    Contact me at tomas.floyd to find out more about this Connector and other custom developed SharePoint and Office 365 Web Parts and Apps!!

    FREE – SharePoint 2013 Search Query Tool

    This tool helps you understand and learn how the available parameters on the Search REST service should be formatted.

     

    What does this tool offer:

    • Issue HTTP GET or POST search queries.
    • See how the different Query parameters are formatted.
    • Authenticate using different users to debug security trimming issues.
    • Use against your tenant on SharePoint Online and authenticate using your SPO User ID.

     

     

    Go get it from:

    http://sp2013searchtool.codeplex.com/

     

     

    Tip: Bypass WebProxy for BCS service application in Duet Enterprise landscape

    Setting up a fresh Duet Enterprise landscape, I was confronted with an issue trying to import BDC Models from the SAP Gateway system into SharePoint BCS:
    Application definition import failed. The following error occurred: Error loading url: “http://&#8230;.”. This normally happens when url does not point to a valid discovery document, or XSD schema.
    Using Fiddler I detected that the problem cause is a “(407) Proxy Authentication Required” issue: “The ISA server requires authorization to fulfill the request. Access to proxy filter is denied.” Although I did setup a rule in Windows CredentialsManager for automatic authentication against the web proxy, this is not picked up in the context of BCS service application as an autonomous running process. As it turns out, by default .NET web applications and services will attempt to use a proxy, even if it doesn’t need one.
    So how then to resolve from this situation? Multiple approaches are possible here:

    1. Explicitly set the Proxy Credentials for the BCS application process. It is not possible to set the proxy credentials direct in the web.config of 14hive\webservices\bdc. Instead you must use a 2-step delegation approach: refer in the web.config to a custom Proxy module implementation, and build the custom Proxy to explicitly set the proxy credentials:
      namespace ByPassProxyAuthentication
      {
          public class ByPassProxy : IWebProxy
          {
              public ICredentials Credentials
              {
                  get { 
                      return new NetworkCredential(
                          "username", "password", "domain"); }
                  set { }
              }
          }
      }
      
          <defaultProxy enabled="true" useDefaultCredentials="false">
    2. Disable usage of (default)proxy altogether for the BCS application process. This is a viable approach in case the consumed external systems are all within the internal company network infra.
      <system.net>  
        <defaultProxy  
          enabled="false"  
          useDefaultCredentials="false"/>  
        </system.net>
    3. Disable usage of (default)proxy for specific addresses for the BCS application process.
      <system.net>
          <defaultProxy>
              <bypasslist>
                  <add address="[a-z]+\.contoso\.com" />
                  <add address="192\.168\..*" />
                  <add address="Netbios name of server" />
              </bypasslist>
          </defaultProxy>
      </system.net>

      The first bypasses the proxy for all servers in the contoso.com domain; the second bypasses the proxy for all servers whose IP addresses begin with 192.168. The third bypass entry is for the ServerName

    4. Disable usage of proxy for specific address on system level. This is in fact the most simple approach, just disable proxy usage for certain url’s for all processes on system level. That is also the potential disadvantage, it can be that it is not allowed to disable proxy usage for all processes. You disable the proxy via IE \ Internet Options \ Connections \ LAN Settings \ Advanced \ Proxy Server \ Exception <Do not use proxy server for addresses beginning with>.

    How to : Configure a Customer or Product workspace for offline availability using Duet Enterprise and SAP

    In the Duet Enterprise Web site, an entity workspace contains one or more lists with data from an SAP backend. For example, the Products workspace has a list of products, or the Customers workspace has a list of customers, contacts, inquiries and quotations list.

    Working with an entity workspace offline gives you more flexibility to use the workspace data. For example, if you configure the Customer workspace for offline availability, you can consolidate your business contacts from SAP with your other Outlook contacts in Outlook 2010. You can then use Outlook 2010 more effectively for corresponding with business contacts and customers.

    To make a workspace available offline, first create a downloadable package (called a BCS solution) that contains several important elements, such as lists of workspace data, task panes, and actions.

    Lists In the Customers workspace, two lists are available for offline use—Customers and Contacts.

    Task pane A workspace task pane is a window that provides information about another workspace element, or about options to perform a task. For example, a task pane can show details of a contact or a product.

    Actions A task (such as Open Workspace) that you are able to perform related to a workspace.

    In Outlook 2010, task panes and actions enable an interactive experience of connecting and working with the information in a workspace. By default, Duet offers a few pre-defined task panes and actions. However, if the default ones do not meet your needs, you can add customized task panes and actions. Customized task panes and actions add functionality to the offline experience in Outlook 2010. For example, you can create a task pane that lists the quotations and inquiries related to a customer, or an action to open an email template or reports for a particular contact, and so on.

    Note The Connect to Outlook option in a SharePoint 2010 site only enables you to take the list data in a workspace offline, and not task panes and actions.
    Step 1: Enable libraries and upload building block files to the site collection

    Building block files are source files for the task panes, actions, and other core files that you need to package together to enable the workspace to function offline in Outlook 2010. First, you have to upload these source files to the site collection. Later in the process, you create a package of building block files to download to Outlook 2010.

    To configure a workspace for offline use, three types of building block files are important.

    A BCS Solution Task Pane file, which is an Extensible Markup Language (XML) file. You can use the task pane file that duet provides, or use a custom file.
    A Business Data Action file, which is also an XML file. You can use the default action file or use a custom file.
    The Dynamic Linked Library (DLL) file that implements the task pane and action.

    Note If you are unsure of the location or the name of the file, contact your server administrator.
    Enable libraries on the site collection

    First, you have to enable the libraries on the site collection that stores these building block files. The following steps describe how to enable libraries:

    From the Site Actions menu, click Site Settings.
    Under Site Collection Administration, click Site collection features.

    Note If the Site collection features option does not appear, then click Go to top level settings option under Site Collection Administration. The Site Collection Features option will now appear.

    On the Features page, against BCS Solution Galleries, click Activate.

    You are now ready to upload the source files to the site collection starting with the DLL file.
    Upload the building block files to the site collection

    Click Site Collection Administration on the breadcrumb navigation at the top of the page.
    On the Site Settings page, under BCS Solution Galleries, click Application Assemblies.
    On the All Documents page, click Add document. Then in the Upload Document window, click Browse to navigate to the DLL file, and then click OK.
    On the Site Actions menu, click Site Settings.
    On the Site Settings page, under BCS Solution Galleries, click Task panes.
    On the All Documents page, click Add document. Then in the Upload Document window, click Browse to navigate to the task pane file (for example, ContactDetails.xml), and then click OK.
    On the Site Actions menu, click Site Settings.
    On the Site Settings page, under BCS Solution Galleries, click Business data actions.
    On the All Documents page, click Add document. Then in the Upload Document window, click Browse to navigate to the action file (for example, CollabOnAction.xml), and then click OK.

    Step 2: Build the BCS solution

    A BCS solution is a package of downloadable files that enable specific functionality. In this case, the BCS solution contains a collection of files that together enable elements of a Duet workspace to function offline. It includes workspace lists, BCS Solution Task Panes, and BCS Data Actions. When you create a BCS Solution, the resulting objects are called BCS Solution Artifacts.

    To build a BCS solution, you have to follow these steps:

    Configure a setting that will make the workspace available offline in Outlook 2010.
    Add the BCS Solution Task Pane files for the workspace.
    Add the Business Data Action files for the workspace.
    Generate the BCS Solution Artifacts.

    Note If you are unsure of what files to use or where they are located, contact your server administrator.
    Configure a workspace for offline availability

    Open the Customers collaboration space.
    From the Site Actions menu, click Site Settings.
    On the Site Settings page, under Site Actions, click Manage site features.
    On the Features page, locate the BCS Solution Design Feature and click Activate.
    Click Site Settings on the breadcrumb navigation at the top of the page.
    On the Site Settings page, under Duet Enterprise Administration, click Outlook Application Designer.
    On the Outlook Application Designer page, under External Lists, click Contacts.
    On the Outlook settings page, under List Settings, click Outlook Client Settings.
    In the Edit Outlook settings for this external list dialog box, select the Offline this external list to Outlook and Auto generate Outlook forms check boxes and click OK.
    (Optional) Repeat steps 7 to 9 for configuring another workspace.

    You are ready to upload the task pane files for the workspace.
    Upload the Business Data Task Pane files for the workspace

    Note If you are unsure of what files to use or where they are located, contact your server administrator.

    On the Outlook settings page, under Task Panes, click Add from Business Data Task Panes Gallery.
    In the Add task pane page, do the following:

    In Select a task pane, select a task pane from the available task panes.
    In Display properties, enter a display name and a tool tip for the task pane. A tool tip is the text that appears when you hover over the task pane in Outlook 2010.
    In Default task pane, select Make this the default task pane if you want to make the selected task pane as the default task pane.
    Click OK.
    (Optional) Repeat the previous steps to upload additional task panes.

    Note If you do not see any task panes listed, it might mean that your site administrator has not uploaded the task pane files to the site collection. Contact your site administrator.

    You are now ready to upload the action files for the workspace.
    Upload the Business Data Action files for the workspace

    On the Outlook settings page, under Business Data actions, click Add from Business Data Actions Gallery.
    On the Add business data actions page, do the following:

    In Select a business data action, select an action from the available actions.

    Note If you do not see any actions listed, it might mean that your site administrator has not uploaded the action files to the site collection. Contact your site administrator.

    In Display properties, enter a display name Open Customer Workspace and a tool tip for the action. The tool tip text appears when you hover over the task pane in Outlook 2010.
    Click OK.
    In Map business data action parameters, select a field from the dropdown menu of entity fields.
    Click OK.
    (Optional) Repeat steps 25 and 26 for adding more action files.

    Generate the BCS Solution Artifacts

    The next step is to generate the BCS Solution Artifacts. A BCS Solution Artifact is a software object that collects elements of the solution into a logical unit that the system can process.

    On the Outlook settings page, click Back to the Outlook Application Designer page.
    Click Generate BCS Solution Artifacts.
    Click OK when you get a message that the operation is successfully completed.

    Step 3: Generate the BCS Solution and open in Outlook 2010

    Once you have generated the BCS Solution Artifact, you or other users with the necessary permissions can generate the BCS Solution and download the solution in Outlook 2010.

    On the Site Actions menu, click Generate BCS Solution.
    On the Generate BCS Solution page, in Certificate, select a certificate, and then click OK.

    Note If the OK button is not available, it means that the farm administrator has not uploaded the necessary certificates to the Trusted Publishers and Trusted Root Certification Authorities stores in the farm. Contact your server administrator for further assistance.

    Click OK in the Web page to confirm when the operation completes successfully.

    Duet Enterprise opens the All Documents page, where you can download the solution in Outlook 2010. In the All Documents page, you can even manage permissions for the solution. This means you can add users who can download the solution in Outlook 2010, or even remove users.
    Download the solution in Outlook 2010

    On the Site Actions menu, select Download BCS Solution. Click Allow.
    On the Microsoft Office Customization Installer dialog box, click Close.

    The Contacts list now opens automatically in Outlook 2010. In Outlook 2010, you can view and update contact details, email contacts, or open a customer workspace corresponding to a contact.

    Follow these steps to work with contacts:

    In Outlook 2010, double-click a contact in the contacts list.
    On the contact details window, click the Duet Enterprise tab, and click View SAP actions. The View SAP actions option displays the task pane and action that we added in the earlier steps.

    View SAP actions

    Do one of the following:

    Click Show Details Task Pane to view the contact details task pane. The task pane displays the contact’s full name and the title. By default, the task pane is docked to the contact details window, and this position might prevent you from viewing the full details. You can undock it by clicking the dropdown appearing next to Customers, and then clicking Move.

    Customers task pane in Outlook 2010

    Customers task pane in Outlook 2010

    Click Open Customer Workspace to open the customer workspace on the Duet Enterprise Web site for the selected contact.

    Each time you open Outlook 2010, a synchronization window opens automatically to show that Outlook 2010 is synchronizing with the workspace on the Duet Enterprise Web site.

    BCS Solution Packaging Tool

    Resource Page Description

    735240_BCSSolutionPackagingTool48  http://archive.msdn.microsoft.com/odcsps14bcsgnrtrtool/Release/ProjectReleases.aspx?ReleaseId=4352
    The Business Connectivity Services (BCS) Solution Packaging Tool is intended for Power Users and Developers of Microsoft Business Connectivity Services solutions.

    With this tool you can create:
    – Intermediate Declarative Solutions (for Microsoft Outlook 2010)
    – Advanced Code-Based Solutions (utilizing a Solution Manifest, for Microsoft Outlook 2010)
    – Data Solutions (for use with Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2010 Add-Ins)

    This tool includes a help file.

    NEW
    A sample solution has been added to the Downloads page (click “Sample Solution” in the Releases navigation at the right side of the page).

    NEW
    The tool now has an option to validate the artifacts and their connections before packaging. This option is on by default, but can be turned off to speed up the packaging process.