Thursday 14 July 2011

SharePoint 2010 Business Connectivity Services (BCS) - Exposing External Lists through Outlook and the InfoPath External Data Part - Fix for "Catastrophic Failure"

Business Connectivity Services (BCS) along with BCS solutions allow you to expose your line of business data (e.g. SAP via Duet Enterprise) through Office client applications such as Outlook 2010.

There are several walkthoughs of generating these solutions available online. Some examples of these are:
I recently had issues with deployment of a Business Connectivity Services (BCS) solution in conjunction with Duet Enterprise 1.0. When my Duet Enterprise solution was deployed , I was being greeted with an exception as per the screenshot below, with a "Catastrophic failure" error message in place of where my custom task pane should show.

The main reason this exception was occuring was because my layout file in my solution (the xsd and schema explanation for BCS Solution layout files can be found here: had a "Width" custom property.

Outlook couldn't handle this as a parameter to the web part - so it crashed out in a "Catastrophic" manner.

Also note that for your task pane to have any datasource at all whatsoever, you still need to have a "DataSourceName" property set on your OBA part. The description on MSDN here ( is somewhat misleading as it indicates that you only need a datasource for your External Data Part if it relies on data from one of the other parts in your layout. If you remove the datasource property, the attributes weren't populated - so the statement on MSDN isn't correct.

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