Thursday, May 13, 2010

Configuring BDC Application Definitions on SSP

As I mentioned in my previous articles, a Shared Service Provider (SSP) is a web application service which offers certain services to its clients. In our previous example, we created one SSP called BDC SSP, which offers BDC services to its clients, in this example (SharePoint - 9999) web application. If you have come to this article, without following the previous ones, you refer to them here first and follow from here.

SSP needs to be configured with various settings depending on what services it offers. In this case, our BDC SSP is offering BDC Services so we should configure settings related to BDC.

First step, in setting up BDC is to create what is called BDC Application Definition file. This is an XML file which contains various information like what is the source of the data (Exteranl LOB system in this case), what are the entities (Table in SQL Server for example) what fields to pull from it etc need to be defined in this file. Initially there was no GUI or any tool available to do this but, now we have one tool called BDC Meta Man. This tool allows us to create BDC Application Definition file graphically. So go ahead and download this tool and start using it. This tool is very easy to use and self explanatory.

In my case, for demonstration, I created a table called Customers and created the BDC Application Definition file using BDC Meta Man. A sample, BDC Meta Man with Customers table selected is shown below.

Once you have the BDC Application Definition file ready, we need to register this file with SSP. So we need to import that into our BDC SSP using Central Administration. For this, from Central Administration, goto the web application which hosts our BDC SSP. This can be found on the left navigation bar. On the SSP host application, select import application defintion option as shown below, and upload the .xml file which was generated from BDC Meta Man application. This will configure SSP to provide BDC services as defined in the application defintion file.

In our case, we are just trying to pull the data from Customers table in SQL Server. Should you require to pull data from multiple external LOB data applications, multiple corresponding application definition files need to be imported into SSP. Once SSP is configured this way, all the web applications associated with this SSP (in our case SharePoint - 9999), will be able to consume the services offered by SSP.

This concludes preparing SSP to offer BDC services to web applications

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