Creating External Content Types Using Visual Studio in .NET

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Figure 6-25: Creating a new Business Data Connectivity Model project
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Figure 6-26: SharePoint Customization Wizard for a Business Data Connectivity Model project
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deployed to the BCS database, and this requires full trust During development you will find the BCS assembly in the GAC, but this only happens in the development environment so you can debug your code in a production environment the assembly will be deployed to the BCS database After the project is created, Visual Studio opens up the BDC designer surface, the BDC Explorer, the Method Details window, and the Properties window all shown in Figure 6-27 These are the main windows you will use to create a BDC model
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Figure 6-27: The Visual Studio windows used to create a Business Connectivity Model
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Let s have a look at what Visual Studio has already built for us If you are used to the ADONET entity designer, the BDC designer should look very familiar to you because the BDC designer is built on top of the ADONET
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Creating External Content Types Using Visual Studio
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entity designer The designer surface shows the external content types defined in the Business Connectivity Model and allows the user to add new entities and associations by dragging them from the Toolbox The designer surface is prepopulated with an external content type called Entity1 Visual Studio refers to external content types as entities because the underlying BDC schema only knows about entities and not external content types Entity1 has an Identifier property called Identifier1 and two methods defined, a Finder method called ReadList and a Specific Finder method called ReadItem A Finder method is a method that returns a collection of entities and a Specific Finder method is a method that returns a single entity An external content type needs to have at least one Finder method defined because this is the method called by SharePoint to get data when an external content type is selected to be rendered in an external list or a business data web part Click on the Entity1 shape to display the method definitions in the Method Details window (at the bottom of Figure 6-27) The Method Details window shows the method structure and allows you to create and delete methods, parameters, method instances, and filter descriptors for an entity (content type) You should always create your methods using the Method Details window as opposed to right clicking on the entity shape and selecting New method if you want to create one of the CRUD (create, read, update, and delete) methods Using the <Add a Method> option in the Method Details window will automatically create the right method signature for you Figure 6-28 shows a closer view of the Method Details window for Entity1 The method ReadList (the Finder method that Visual Studio created for the entity) has one parameter called returnParameter and one method instance called ReadList There are two additional pieces of information stored in the model for the parameter returnParameter First, a Direction is defined that is set to Return A method parameter can have different directions In addition to Return, the direction can be In which means that the parameter is an input parameter; Out which means the parameter is an output parameter; and In/Out which means the parameter is an input and output
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Figure 6-28: Method Details window for Entity1
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parameter This direction type is equivalent to a ref parameter in the C# programming language The second piece of information stored in the model for returnParameter is a Type Descriptor with the name Entity1List A type descriptor is metadata used by the BCS runtime to describe type information about a parameter In this case the type descriptor Entity1List describes a collection of objects of type Entity1 Let s dig a little bit deeper into the world of type descriptors Click on the Type Descriptor cell for returnParameter in which the type descriptor Entity1List is displayed, and select <Edit> from the drop-down menu that displays as shown in Figure 6-29
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