If you’ve ever seen a demo of the cool new BDC functionality in Microsoft Office Sharepoint Server 2007, you’ve probably come away with two conclusions:
1) It’s an incredibly powerful and flexible concept. (XML configuration files that connect Sharepoint’s search functionality to back-end databases, web services, and other types of custom applications.)
2) It looks like a pain in the ass to work with. The required XML files are very complicated, and — as several of my friends in the TAP and Ascend programs have politely pointed out — Microsoft doesn’t provide a high-level tool for creating and managing BDC connectors. Creating the required XML in Notepad (or even VS) can be daunting.
Well, item #2 just went away. Todd Baginski has rolled up his sleeves and built a slick comprehensive tool for working with BDC connectors, which lets you create a typical connector by simply clicking on various settings in the UI he has built. His program generates the required XML metadata automatically for you, no manual setup required.
You can read all about it here, including sample screen shots: http://www.sharepointblogs.com/tbaginski/archive/2006/07/16/9259.aspx
Or if you can’t wait to try it, go straight here for the download: http://www.sharepointblogs.com/files/97/tbaginski/entry9258.aspx
Note that it doesn’t support SQL 2000 yet (only SQL 2005 for now), but Todd says he’ll add that in the next few days. After stepping up and being the first to deliver a tool like this, I think we can take him at his word on that. Nice work, Todd!