I was a little confused (as I often am) earlier today as I noticed Todd Baginski has put together a tool he called the “MOSS BDC MetaData Manager”. Catchy name but didn’t I just hear this tune? There’s a CodePlex project underway called the “Database Metadata Generator for the Business Data Catalog”. Okay, not as catchy but isn’t this essentially the same tool? Not quite.
Todd explains he looked at the project on CodePlex and there are differences between his tool and that one. He outlined them in his blog which I’ll share here:
Features Todd’s tool has that the CodePlex one does not:
- Granularity: Allows you to create BDC components (LOB Systems, LOB System Instances, Elements, and Methods) independently of each other. The application on CodePlex creates one LOB System, one LOB System Instance, an Entity and two Methods. My application allows you to add LOB Systems, LOB System Instance, Entities, and Methods on an ad hoc basis so the Application Definition can grow over time.
- Support for SQL Server Authentication.
- Ability to query objects in the BDC (LOB Systems, LOB System Instances, Entities).
- Column selection capability instead of returning all the columns in a given table.
- LOB System Instance configuration. Authentication Mode, Database Access Provider and Connection Pooling can be individually selected and customized per LOB System Instance.
- SQL Server 2000 and SQL Server 2005 support (I'm not sure if the CodePlex application supports SQL Server 2000 because I did not test it against SQL Server 2000). I tested the CodePlex application with the AdventureWorks database in SQL Server 2005 and the application threw an Exception. I believe this is due to the fact that all the tables in the AdventureWorks database do not have dbo as their owner.
- Database selection capabilities that allow you to browse through the database server to find the database and table you are looking for.
- Export to XML capabilities.
- SSP Administration web site built into the application.
- Guided help and instructions for end users.
- Help system not only describes how to perform tasks but also educates the user on the various BDC components and how they relate to each other.
- UX: Easier to work with than the command line (that's just my personal point of view) and provides the context as well as the status of the current BDC elements as you work with them.
Features the CodePlex tool that Todd’s does not:
- The ability to generate a SpecificFinder Method. (I will be adding this functionality later in the week. I wanted to get my head around the BDC object model before I tackled this functionality.)
- The ability to execute the program via the command line or a batch file.
Like he said, he’ll be adding the SpecificFinder method later this week and executing from the command line, well, might be value-added but I’m not so sure given all the “extra” capability that Todd has already baked into his tool.
Botton line, get Todd’s tool and you’ll be good to go, creating application definitions at the flick of a mouse. If you haven’t figured out what the BDC is all about and what it can do, please dive in (a good starter is here). It’s going to be the unsung hero of SharePoint 2007 IMHO (I’m also giving a presentation at this fall’s DevConnections in Vegas on the BDC and will be using Todd’s tool for some of the demos as I can’t really create a definition in an hour AND present all the other stuff).