Building adjunct business systems using SharePoint 2010; part one

Revision 5/14/2012; I will be following up on this topic May through June.

An opportunity arose late last year for us to re design an iSeries business system using SharePoint 2010 (SPS) during the process of our SAP conversion. While SAP promises much for our organization our SAP conversion team chose to explore SPS as the vehicle for this particular build. Following are the specs of what went into this project. Each one of these will be a separate post in this series which I hope to complete writing by the end of the month.

Building composite applications is a powerful option. Code or no code you will face development lifecycle challenges. Promotion from dev, to staging and then production environments and then back down for regression testing is just one aspect. With the tool stack that SPS offers, and a good plan, a development team can make these types of applications fully enterprise and fun to build.

This composite pulls data from SAP through RFC calls which are stored in SQL server. Specifically we built a C# utility app to leverage the NCO 3.0 api and a LINQ to SQL class. This surfaces SAP data from the SQL schema into SPS through BCS as external content types built over SQL views (looking at stored procedures in a later iteration). An SPS Site acts as the user interface for the composite. We’ve created a master/detail record set of objects using an InfoPath form Library as the parent and a List as the detail linked by ID. We’ve also built a custom Visual Studio 2010 sequential Workflow as looping, permissions gleaned from user input, custom delay activities, along with syncing the master/detail records were required as the form progresses through it’s lifecycle. Lastly, the C# application that processes the data housed in the SPS form master/detail to sum and total for charging back both our vendors and getting our people paid

This post serves as an introduction to the documentation of what we all learned together in the shop; teamwork is where best practices come from. I will speak to each one of the points above outlining the research and practices we chose to implement in later posts.

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