Last week I was listening to SharePoint Pod Show – Episode #16 where Brett interviewed Todd Bleeker. Todd presented some of the benefits of custom SharePoint field types which reminded me of a project we have finished few days ago.


A customer wanted to integrate proprietary LOB system (project management application) with SharePoint. Their requirement was simple: they wanted to show a list of their clients and projects as SharePoint document library columns.

OOTB solution for this would be Business data catalog. However, Business Data Columns have a lot of problems with Document Information Panels (example) and for such a solution you need SharePoint Enterprise CALs.

Because of that, I decided to build the solution as custom SharePoint field type which we named “Database lookup”.


The solution we prepared is a custom column that can be deployed to any SharePoint site. It connects to a database and retrieves data. Data is being stored as document property and can be inserted to the document itself as Quick Part. It does NOT require Enterprise CAL, and it works with WSS.

createcolumnIt is easy to add a custom column


Custom column shows data from LOB system and it does not require Enterprise CAL


Here are Pros/Cons for this solution…

Pros Cons
Enterprise CAL not required Cannot be edited in the datasheet view
Work with WSS You need to edit item to update lookup’s value
Can be used in Word as Quick Part Custom solution
Easier to setup than BDC Cannot be edited in Document Information Panel like other document properties
Customizable it to suite our needs


  1. Nevena Says

    Just another one in Cons columns – Cannot be edited in Document Information Panel like other document properties.
    This one has a solution though (is it a pro or a con it’s a question now) – Custom Document Information Panel has to be developed in Infopath in order to change properties directly in clients application.

  2. Toni Says

    @Nevena: Yes, you are correct, but in next post we are going to talk more about custom Document Information Panel… your help is much appreciated…

  3. Ted Fowler Says

    Do you have more detailed instructions for setting this up? We would like to tag visitor stats stored in a SQL 2005 database into our SharePoint site.

  4. David Sykes Says


    Looks great. I would also like more detailed instructions on setting this up if possible.



  5. Toni Frankola Says

    @David: We will soon be releasing this as open source. Stay tuned.

  6. David Sykes Says


    Excellent, this will save me a bunch of work…do you have a rough idea on when it will be released?



  7. Toni Frankola Says

    @ David: Probably in a month or so…

  8. Jeremy Bevins Says

    Looks Great.. How do I get it?

  9. Toni Frankola Says

    @Jeremy: Check your email…

  10. David Sykes Says

    Is this available now Tony? I am still very interested!



  11. Toni Frankola Says

    @David did I email you the source?

  12. David Sykes Says

    Hi Toni,

    I haven’t seen anything come through and still very interested…

    Thanks again


  13. Raj Says

    Hi Toni Frankola, I am a new guy in SharePoint technology. I have the similar requirement in my project. can you give more detailed instructions on setting this up if possible. Thanks in advance.

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