For the reminder of this article I assume that you already have an Enterprise Content Type configured, if not have a look at my previous posting.

As a short reminder, with the recent Service Update to Office 365 (which some customers may still not have as it is on-going until end of November) you get 2 additional options in your Office 365 Enterprise account’s SharePoint Online administration center, namely Manage Business Data Connectivity (where you manage the BCS) and Manage Secure Store Service (where you manage the login data for these connections). In the rest of this posting I’ll work a lot in the Manage Business Data Connectivity area.

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Search
Simply said, searching external systems in SharePoint Online doesn’t work. It’s not activated, you can’t configure it. Maybe we’ll get to see it sometime in the future, but as of now you can’t search your external data.


Actions
Actions in BCS are additional options that you can add to the ECB (the small item menu that you can open when you click on the arrow next to an item). They provide you with the possibility to add a link to a URL to which you can pass information from the external item as a parameter (e.g. quite often you would pass the ID of the current item).

To add an action, select Business Data Connectivity in the administration center, select the (quite hidden) dropdown next to the ECT for which you want to create the action, and click “Add Action”.
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On the following screen, add a name and the target URL. You can specify where parameters should be placed in the URL by adding them in brackets, such as http://site/Pages/products.aspx?id={0}&cost={1}

Under URL Parameters, select the corresponding columns that provide the value that should be used for each parameter.
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Here’s an example that opens Bing Maps and display a location (my ECT contains the City and the Country of a customer). The URL I use is http://www.bing.com/maps/?v=2&where1={0}, {1}
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Once you click OK, the new action will show up in the overview page of the ECT under Actions:
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Note: the new action will not be displayed in any existing external lists. You need to recreate them before it shows up:
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Profile Pages
A profile page is a normal SharePoint page that shows information about a specific external item. It displays the detailed information of the item as well as any other items associated with it. Profile Pages are used for search results for external data, but as we know that Search doesn’t work for external systems in SharePoint Online, there may be little use for them. Nevertheless, here are the steps to create them:

First, create an empty site somewhere that will be used to store all Profile Pages. For example, under your team site, create a subsite called “BCS” based on the Blank Site template.

In the Ribbon on the BDC page, click on Configure in the Profile Pages group:
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In the following dialog, enter the URL to the site you created:
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Next, select the ECT for which you want to create a Profile Page, and select Create/Upgrade from the Ribbon
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Confirm the following dialog
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The Profile Page will be created, and you’ll get to see the next dialog. Confirm it
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This is where you will get an Error message. Not sure why, but everything seemed to work for me afterwards. Press the small in the top right corner
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Click on the ECT’s name and you’ll see a new action named View Profile:
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When you choose View Profile on an item in an external list, you can then see the Profile Page:
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User Profile Properties
With the “regular” BCS in SharePoint 2010, it is possible to add BCS data to a SharePoint user profile. For example, you could add a custom user profile property “Rank” that is filled with the employees rank (M17, M18, M19, for example are ranks that are used in Singapore’s banks) from an HR database.

In Office 365, you sadly cannot add external data as a user profile property at the moment. In a SharePoint 2010 environment you’d first set up the connection and then add the corresponding external data as a user profile property mapping. SharePoint Online doesn’t provide an option to configure this connection, thus it cannot be done. Just as with Search, I hope that it will be available sometime in the future.

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