Business Connectivity Services Limitations

Even though BCS is great and can do wonders when you want SharePoint 2010 to interact with your external systems or other LOB applications, it has its own limitations. Understanding these limitations will help you build good BCS solutions.

Below are some/all of the BCS/External Lists limitations:
  1. Workflows cannot be associated with external lists
    • However, you can use the external data columns and manipulate the external lists in a workflow.
  2. No RSS feed support for external lists.
  3. No REST based access for external lists
  4. LINQ to SharePoint spmetal.exe does not support external lists
  5. Cannot configure alerts for external lists
  6. Cannot export external list items to Excel (Export to Excel feature)
  7. Item-Level permissions is not available for external lists
  8. Versioning cannot be configured on external lists
  9. Item History is not available on external lists
  10. Datasheet view cannot be used in external lists
    • XSLT is supported though
  11. You cannot create a site column of type ‘External Data Column’
    • External data columns can be created only as list based columns and cannot be consumed in site level content types
  12. No Write support for BLOB
    • You cannot write back to BLOB fields using BCS unless you write your own method
    • You can access BLOB columns by defining a StreamAccessor method and presenting the external data via the BCS Data List web part by checking the Display stream fields property
  13. Ratings feature is not supported for external lists
  14. Metadata based navigation is not supported for External Lists
Some of the limitations are quite obvious as the data does not reside in SharePoint and it is not SharePoint’s responsibility on how the data behaves. SharePoint is here to just present the external data. That said, I do think some are not limitations, but Microsoft just didn’t have time to implement, like:
  1. RSS feed support
  2. External data site columns
  3. Export to Excel

Venkat M

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