How to Create an External Data Column in SharePoint 2013

SharePoint 2013 adds many new features to sists and sites, as well as numerous changes pertaining to user interface and locations. As a result of these changes, it can be difficult at first when you’re navigating and using sites in SharePoint 2013. In this article, we’ll take a look at how to create an External Data Column in SharePoint 2013. As you know, the External Column is used to display data that come from Business Connectivity Services (BCS). You can connect to any external source, and can create an External Column from that connection.

To create an External List in SharePoint 2013, we have two parts to configure:

1. In the first part of this post, I will demonstrate how to get Data from a SQL table through SharePoint Designer 2013.

2. In the second part, we’ll look at how to create an External Column in SharePoint 2013.

I. How to get Data from a SQL table through SharePoint Designer 2013.

  • Step 1: Make sure that you’ve created a Northwind database in SQL Server:


  • Step 2: Go to SharePoint Designer 2013 and click on the Open Site icon:


  • An Open Site dialog box is shown. You must input the site URL into the Site Name textbox to create the External List.
  • Click the Open button:


  • The Windows Security dialog is shown, requesting your User Name and Password:


  • Step 3: Go to SharePoint Designer to connect the database with SQL Server as follows:
    • Click on the External Content Types menu on the left pane.
    • Then, select the External Content Types icon at the top.
    • In External Content Type Information, type its Name and click on the External System hyperlink to connect to SQL Server.

You will see a Connection window appear:


  • Click the Add Connection button:


  • You’ll see a dialog appear, prompting you to select Data Source Type as pictured below.  Select SQL Server:



  • After selecting the Data Source Type, fill in the SQL information fully, including Database Server, Database Name, and Secure store Application ID as shown below:


  • Step 4: After connecting successfully, you’ll see Northwind database shown on Data Source Explorer as shown below. We’ll select a Table to create in here right-clicking Table Name and selecting Create All Operations:


  • A Parameter Configuration is shown after that. Select as many columns as you need, and click the Finish button to complete:


  • Finally, don’t forget to click the Save button after you’re done. This is pretty important, for obvious reasons:


  • Now, we have a Northwind database in place, as expected:




II. How to create an External Column in SharePoint 2013.


  • Go to a list and create a column. In the Create Column form, select External Data Type. Don’t forget to input a Column Name:


  • In the External Content Type session, select an External Data Source which you want to use:


  • Click the OK button after making your selection:


  • Select the columns to show from the list:


  • After creating the External Column, you will see the columns which you selected:


Click New Item, go to External Column, and select an item in data source to show:


When you return to the list, you will see it populated with data:


Good luck!