SharePoint Data Views and Real Estate Systems

Posted on June 17, 2010 by

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After the recent MRI International User Group and Realcomm 2010 Conferences I was surprised to learn how many people are still not using many of the standard SharePoint web parts and expanding their functionality with SharePoint Designer.  In tandem they provide a low-cost and effective way of leveraging data in your underlying source systems while using SharePoint as a unified presentation layer.

The two most frequently questions asked are “How easy is it?” and “What skills do I really need?’.  Like most simple “How easy…” questions the answer usually starts with “It depends…” and ends with an individual’s perspective.  With that said if you have a working knowledge of your property management system (i.e. MRI, Yardi, RealPage) and can write a SQL query you can accomplish quite a bit with SharePoint Designer.  In the example to follow  I’ll walk you through the basic steps of creating a data view web part that will display lease expiration information.  Hopefully this will also provide a sense of what’s a possible and the level of ease or difficulty, hence perspective…  Since most real estate firms are still using SharePoint 2007 I’ll address those versions for now, but this example can be applied to any SQL databases not just real estate related systems.

Open SharePoint Designer 2007 and select the respective web site you will be working with.  I suggest you start with a new blank page when creating a Data View.  Later on I’ll walk you through the steps of exporting your work to a web part for inclusion on a web page.

  • From the Main Menu Choose File > New > Page
  • Select a General ASPX page format 
  • On your new page you will now need to add a SharePoint Data View control
  • From the Main Menu Choose Insert > SharePoint Controls > Data View
  • You will now see the Data View area placed on the page 

 

Now it’s time to create a connection to your Database Source

  • From the Data Source Library Pane, located to the far right, select Database Connection
  • Click on the Connect to a Database link
  • A Database Connection Configuration dialogue box will appear
  • Enter the respective SQL server information
  • Click Next 

You will be asked to provide the source database information

  • Select the Database
  • Select the lower radio button for specific SQL Statement
  • Click Finish

 

 

 

You can now enter your SQL Query.  I find it’s easier to test the Query using SQL Studio Manager for validating the results then simply the SQL Statement into the Data View.

  • In this case we are selecting the following fields:
  • Suite
  • Tenant DBA
  • Lease Expiration Date
  • Where Building is 100 and Tenant is Current
  • Click OK
 

 You will now see a Current Data Source Pane, to the far right, with the respective fields and values.  You’ll note it also returns the record count and each result.

  • Highlight the fields you would like to see in the Data View
  • Drag them into the Data View area on the page
  • You’ll data set is now visible on the page

 

Using the chevron located to the right of the Data View to view sorting, grouping and formatting options available for the web part.

 

Export the Data View for Use

Not that you’ve created your Data View you need to export it as a web part to place on a page within your website

  • From the Main Menu Choose File > Export > Save Web Part to
  • Select a destination being the Site Gallery or a File
  • Enter a File Name and Save

Placing a Web Part on a Page

To import your new SharePoint Web Part navigate your browser to the page where you want to add or use the Web Part.  

  • Choose Modify Shared Page > Add Web Parts > Import
  • Browse… to the location of the DWP, select it, and click the Open button
  • Click the Upload button
  • Drag and drop the Web Part from the Tool Pane into a desired Web Zone

So back to my initial answer, “It Depends…”.  I hope this example drives home the point of how simple it really can be to create a Data View and provide users with access to information from your SQL data.  For the power user this is a powerful productivity enhancement at no real cost or significant investment in resources.  Consider the time saved not having to log into multiple systems, remember confusing options or parameters required to run a report.  Not to mention when you consider the vast set of  property data available and related documents which can be combine onto a single SharePoint you start to provide users with tangible productivity benefits.

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