25 Limitations of External Lists in SharePoint 2010

We can't compare external lists with standard lists where data is stored inside of SharePoint. Since the data is stored outside SharePoint, there are many Limitations in External Lists. Many of the Ribbon features will not be available for external Lists.
  1. Datasheet view is not available
  2. Export to Excel option is not available
  3. Workflows cannot be configured for External Lists
  4. Cannot create Information Management Policies (bar codes,  auditing, retention or labels)
  5. No version or version history
  6. Inline Editing is not available
  7. No Ratings widget
  8. Can't create Visio Diagrams
  9. Open with Access/Open with Project is not supported
  10. REST access via ListData.svc to External Lists is not available (All WCF services like RSS feeds are not available)
  11. No Look ups - No Content Types
  12. No Context Menu (ECB) Send To operations.
  13. Events handlers are not supported.
  14. LINQ to SharePoint spmetal.exe does not support external lists
  15. No Item Level Permissions
  16. No item or field level validation or Formula supported
  17. Document templates are not supported.
  18. Alerts are not supported
  19. Attachments will not be available
  20. Additional data connections in InfoPath 2010 list forms not supported
  21. My favorite Utility: U2U CAML Query builder doesn't work!
  22. No Check In / Check Out options 
  23. Drafts of items are not supported.
  24. No write support for BLOB 
  25. Metadata based navigation is not supported

Tail: You cannot mix the SharePoint columns with External List columns since they are coming from external source.

Update: In SharePoint 2013, following improvements are made:
  1. Sorting & Filtering for External lists is improved
  2. Export to Excel option included
  3. Event Receiver on external lists is introduced.
  4. Supports OData


  1. What do you suggest we use instead of the External Content Type / Lists?

    1. Depends on what features you are looking for! Hope to see some of these limitations removed in Upcoming versions of SharePoint.

  2. You can overcome all the limitations by using data synchronization of external data with native SharePoint lists and libraries with tools like this:


    or this:


    It all has its pros and cons. But if you don't need real-time data, you are on the safe side with replication regarding the list or library Features that might be required at any time.

  3. External list dont support .Net types int64, uint64, uri ,guid.

  4. Another great tool to bring external data to SharePoint is Overcast http://overcast-suite.com
    This tool installs in your SharePoint and enables you to introspect backends such as SAP, Oracle, SQL, Salesforce.com directly from your SharePoint UI (no installation on the backend).
    Data transfer is bi-directional and uses native lists in SharePoint.

  5. I am working with SharePoint 2013, and I have issues with External List.

    I created a lookup field that get data from external list. I am not able to retrieve more than 200 records from external list. I get an error which says that data is truncated. Does anybody has a similar problem?


    1. Yes, That's a known issue!

      More info on MSDN : http://social.msdn.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/d0d3d0c9-8180-40f6-a886-be08c1a56a24/external-data-column-pick-list-sort-order-and-remove-limit-constraint

    2. Hi Salaudeen,
      I am unable to export more than 2000 records to excel from SharePoint external list. External list has 5000 records but only 2000 records getting exported to excel.

      Could you please let me know if you the solution for this issue

      Thanks and Regards,


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