How to Create an External List Including a Database from SharePoint Designer 2013

SharePoint 2013 adds many new features to Lists. In this article, we’ll take a look at how to create an External List. As you know, the External List is used to display content that comes from Business Connectivity Services (BCS). The Business Data Connectivity (BDC) service enables SharePoint to display business data from back-end server applications, Web services, and databases. This walkthrough shows you how to create a model for the BDC service that returns information about contacts in a sample database.


SharePoint 2013 has a new type of List called the External List which is used for displaying data that comes from Business Connectivity Services (BCS). You can connect with any external source and can create a list from that source. In this example, I’m going to show you how to create a list from the SQL server database. The advantage of this is that you can not only view, but also insert, update, and delete using external content types. You can create External Lists using SharePoint Designer 2013.


We have the following 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 List including a Database with the help of SharePoint Designer 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 List including a Database with the help of SharePoint Designer 2013.


  • Step 1: Click on the External List menu on the Ribbon to create a new list. You’ll see a Create External List form appear. You only need to fill in the List Name in the Name textbox as pictured below:


  • Click the OK button.
  • Step 2: Now, go to the site which you selected for configuration earlier. We’ll see a new External List created from SharePoint Designer:


  • But you may be surprised when clicking on the new list, since you won’t see its database in here. Don’t worry! This only means that you have not yet assigned access privileges for the current logged-in user.



  • Step 3: To assign access privileges for a user, go to the Central Admin Page –> Application Management, and select Manage service applications:


  • Click on the Business Data Connection Services hyperlink as shown below:


  • After clicking on BDC Services, you will see the database which you created earlier. Click on the Database Name to expand the context menu, and select Set Permissions:


  • You should add users and assign access permissions for them in here:


  • Step 5: After finishing the configurations above, you just need to go to the site and press F5 to refresh the page:


Good luck!

re: How to Create an External List Including a Database from SharePoint Designer 2013
on Tue, Jul 2 2013 9:52 PM


I have already done the steps above, but the sharepoint browser give me an error when I want to retrieve the data :

“Unable to render the data. If the problem persists, contact your web server administrator.”

Could you give me any solution?

re: How to Create an External List Including a Database from SharePoint Designer 2013
on Wed, Jul 29 2015 10:54 AM

I also received “Unable to render the data.  If the problem persists, contact your web server administrator.”   Below is the only thing that is associated with the correlation ID I found from the logs:

WcfReceiveRequest: LocalAddress: ‘hostname/…/https&

Channel: ‘System.ServiceModel.Channels.ServiceChannel’

Action: ‘…/GetRestrictedCredentials& MessageId: ‘urn:uuid:d80bb214-b32a-4b6e-bea3-11a74ef92130’               ff7c1e9d-2438-101f-d148-8d0f1b259d78

Do you have any idea what could go wrong in this case?

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