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Don’t Make Assumptions – Microsoft SharePoint External Lists

I’m continuing to explore the integration between SAP and Microsoft SharePoint. SharePoint provides a fantastic product for knowledge workers, and I’m particularly excited about the possibilities of sharing data between these two systems.

As I dig into the integration between SAP Enterprise Services and Microsoft SharePoint, I encountered an early stumbling point. SAP Enterprise Services is organized very well. It provides services each with one operation: create, update, query, and so on, or all of the CRUD (create, read, update, delete) plus searches.

The problem comes maybe from SharePoint. To build an external list, which is simply a list in SharePoint of some kind of business object (read my purchase orders in SAP), you need two operations: read the list, and read the details of each item in the list. However, there is an assumption from SharePoint that read the list, and read the details are two independent operations in the same service. You can set up services in many ways. Sometimes one web service can be used for all CRUD operations. Or, one service can be used for each operation. I’ve included a screenshot here of the error:

Microsoft SharePoint

There may be a way around this, but it appears this will make things more difficult.

The question is, which way is right? Should one service contain all CRUD operations? Or should you have one service for each operation? If the Microsoft way is right, then maybe SAP should allow a way to combine things. If the SAP way is right, then maybe Microsoft should have a more flexible integration. I think the assumption should be, that both SAP and Microsoft shouldn’t assume anything. They should make both methods available, ultimately providing that integration that everyone needs.


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