Friday, September 16, 2005

IBF has a new brother, here comes BDC - Business Data Catalog

The last session of thursday was very interesting "Surfacing your application's Line Of Business Data and actions within Enterprise Portal"... This was really amazing...with minimal code, you can create a connection to webservices or a database from within SharePointv3, displaying the data in 2 new webparts - business data details webpart, business data list webpart. Afterwards Jonah Burke used the same data as a lookup field in a SharePoint list and integrated it into the new search interface. All thanks to the new Business Data Catalog in SharePoint.

Now for the title - for those of you who don't know IBF (Information Bridge Framework) - here's a quick summary:

IBF is a new solution that provides a standardised way for developers to integrate data from enterprise applications (CRM,HR, ERP,...) into Office. IBF is an example of a service oriented architecture in which your LOB applications are connected to Office through a webservices layer. At the clientside IBF leverages the smart tag and smart document functionality of Office 2003 Professional. (More about IBF)

Now, it seems that Microsoft will offer a rock-solid alternative in the new Office Servers (... details are still very sketchy), which is called the Business Data Catalog (BDC). BDC is a repository for metadata about LOB datasources and their corresponding business entities. All this metadata is defined in XML format. BDC seems to use analogous terminology as IBF:
  • Entity : XML representation of your business object

  • Method: operation on a business entity

  • Association: relationship between entities

  • IBF defines both UI and business data in XML format and this made it fairly complex with lots of XML metadata definitions, XSLT transformations, etc... IBF was mainly targeted at Office as a client. BDC can be used from all kinds of applications through the API that they define for it. SharePoint already provides a UI out of the box with the 2 new webparts and is seems to integrate very well. By the way, Jonah finished off with a nice demo of connecting to SAP.... pretty need.

    Same remark though as for the other sessions, details are still sketchy how this product will positioned, ... it will not be part of WSS but probably one of the new Office Servers... For more details check out this posting by Eli Robillard

    1 comment:

    tojonas said...

    If you want BDC functionality in WSS 3.0 and MOSS standard edition you should look at MashPoint.