Home > Articles > Data > SQL Server

Enhanced Connectivity from SQL to SharePoint to Office

Flexible dynamic data access is an impressive improvement to SharePoint 2010 that provides both read and write capabilities back to an external data source, like SQL, so that you can adjust data between Office, SharePoint and SQL. In this article we will show you how!
Like this article? We recommend

One of the key focus points for SharePoint 2010 was to increase "Insight" with regard to Business Intelligence (BI). Along those lines, PerformancePoint (which was a separate set of services as a 2007 Office Server) was integrated with SharePoint 2010. In addition, Excel Web Services and Visio Web Services have been enhanced.

There was an added push to make more than a read connection to SQL, which is all that was available with SharePoint 2007. SharePoint 2010 allows read and write ability to a SQL database. Even better, you can take that same concept and make a change through an Office 2010 app that connects to your SharePoint data that is pulling from a SQL database ... and it will write that data to the SQL database! This is an impressive and essential set of dynamic data access that we’ve been hoping for.

Originally called the Business Data Catalog, Business Connectivity Services (BCS) allows you to link your data columns in SharePoint to real business data in SQL; and the link is bidirectional so that you can read and write to the data.

In addition, you can connect this to other applications like Visio Services so that adjustments will update the SQL and the Visio diagram that demonstrates a live working copy of inventory can be updated at the same time thanks to the integration capabilities.

Obviously, this kind of solution can become quite complicated from a development perspective. However, it was designed to be easy to use on the lower levels. For example, imagine that you have a Customer database with information established in various tables about your customers. Through the latest version of SharePoint Designer 2010, you can scan the Navigation pane (note: folder views are gone) to select External Content Types, which will take you to the External Content Types ribbon interface. Click External Content Type under the New grouping. This will make it possible for you to connect to and interact with data from back-end systems.

When creating the new external content type you will be asked to provide the Name, Display Name, and so on (as shown in Figure 1, which was provided by Microsoft). There will be a link to External System where is says "Click here to discover external data sources" and you can use it to add your connection to SQL, .NET Type, or WCF Services. If you select SQL (if that is what you are using) you can provide the server connection information (Database Server, Database Name, Name) and then the connection information if you are connecting with the user's identity, impersonated Windows identity, or impersonated custom identity.

This should give a navigation view of your databases so that you can select the one you need for your list. Right-click that table and choose Create All Options. Finish up the wizard and the connection is made.

Next up, you need to create an external list from the ribbon within your SharePoint site by selecting Create Lists & Form from the List & Forms grouping. The external list will require you to provide only the name you wish to use, the Read Item Operation, the System Instance, and the List Description. At this point, you have a connection to external content so that you can read and write from SharePoint to SQL.

To take it one step further, you go back to SharePoint Designer to create an Office Item Type. The link is located just above the External System link we described a moment ago. From here you can choose something simple like a Contact. This will allow Outlook Contacts to integrate with the external content type. Now, you may have fields in your data that do not exactly match up with the fields that Outlook has defined for the same data. The connection cannot guess what you mean so you will be given the opportunity to match up the fields. So, you may have LastName and the field is Last Name; you just need to ensure that they are mapped and then save the changes.

Now, when you open that list in SharePoint, there will be a link that says Connect to Outlook. This will allow your Outlook to now see the list that is connected through SharePoint in SQL! (A little Outlook add-in will be installed at that time specifically to allow you to see that data). You will see it in Contacts, which is only partially awesome. The better part is that you will be able to make changes in Outlook to those Contacts and those changes will be made in SQL (and reflected in SharePoint as well).

There is obviously a lot more to this feature and the implementation possibilities that go along with it. This was just one example to show you how easy it is to get started with and to hopefully help you to appreciate the flexible power that SharePoint now has with BCS and Office 2010.

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020