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Securing the Connection to SQL Azure (part 2) - Set Permissions for an External Content Type

8/11/2011 4:12:30 PM
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3. Set Permissions for an External Content Type
  1. Navigate to SharePoint Central Administration | Manage Service Applications, and select Business Data Connectivity Services.

  2. Find your newly created external content type in the list of external content types (for example, CustomerDataECT), and either click it or select the check box beside it.

  3. Click Set Object Permissions on the SharePoint ribbon.

  4. Add the Active Directory alias of a valid user that you want to have permissions for the external content type (that is, the external list) and click Add. Then select all of the check boxes you want to set for the permissions for that user, and click OK.



  5. To test the list, navigate back to the new Customer Data external list and reload the list.

  6. The first time the external list is loaded, you’ll need to authenticate against the external content type with the credentials that are required to access the SQL Azure database and table. To do this, click Click Here To Authenticate as shown in the following image.



  7. Enter the SQL Azure user name and password (you’ll need to enter the password twice), and click OK. The external list will now render, loading the data from SQL Azure as configured with the appropriate level of permissions for the list.



At this point, you now have a functioning external list that surfaces SQL Azure data in SharePoint. And although you’ve created a no-code solution, this type of solution could fall equally on the plates of a developer or an IT pro.

The external list, though, is not just restricted to SharePoint; you can extend a view of the SQL Azure data to the client as well (that is, the Office client). For example, navigate to the new external list and click the List tab. On the List tab, you’ll see Sync To SharePoint Workspace and Connect To Outlook as available options—see Figure 1. These are available because you created a Contact Office type when creating the ECT.

Figure 1. SharePoint tab function to synchronize external list with SharePoint Workspace.


If you click Sync To SharePoint Workspace, you can view the external list offline. (SharePoint Workspace is the SharePoint 2010 offline workspace that you can use to work on your SharePoint libraries and lists offline and then synchronize them when you’re back online.) When you click Sync To SharePoint Workspace (or Connect To Outlook, for that matter), you are prompted to install a client-side application—the ECT is installed as an Office add-in on the client so it can be used in SharePoint Workspace and Outlook. Figure 2 illustrates the dialog box prompt for the install. Click Install, and the ECT will be installed and enabled on your client machine.

Figure 2. Installation dialog box for client-side ECT add-in.


After you install the Office add-in (which uses the Visual Studio Tools for Office [VSTO] infrastructure for the Office developers out there), you can open SharePoint Workspace and, assuming you’ve been delegated read/write permissions, you can manage the SQL Azure customer data from within your SharePoint Workspace instance. If you’re offline, when you connect back to your corporate network, the changes will be propagated to the external list in SharePoint and to the SQL Azure database. Figure 3 illustrates what the SQL Azure customer list looks like in SharePoint Workspace 2010.

Figure 3. External list displayed in SharePoint Workspace.


You can also manage the SQL Azure data from within Microsoft Outlook 2010. Figure 4 illustrates what the SQL Azure data looks like when using Outlook to manage the customer data. Note that when you created the ECT, you created it as a Contact Office type. You also mapped the specific properties of the Contact Office type as you walked through the ECT wizard. Here is where you actually see the contact type manifested: you can see the external list as an additional item in the navigation pane (SharePoint External Lists), but the object is a contact, so Outlook automatically creates contact cards for each one of the records that is pulled from SQL Azure.

Figure 4. Surfacing external list data in Outlook.


When installed on your computer, the installation process creates a local SQL Compact instance of the external data. This enables the ECT to manage your permissions through to the external system (in this case, SQL Azure) and yet also manage the updates to that external system from the client. If you make any changes on the client, a synchronization process updates the external list—assuming you have read/write permissions to interact with the external system.

Now that you’ve walked through creating an external list by using an ECT and the BCS, let’s move on to using SQL Azure data in a slightly different way.

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