Understanding ASP.NET Web APIs and Their Uses


Microsoft has released the ASP.NET MVC 5 Preview almost 3 months back, and it is expected that it will bring some more enhancement in ASP.NET Web API (Application Programming Interface). ASP.NET Web API is nothing but the combined efforts and anticipation of the WCF (Windows Communication Foundation) and ASP.NET team in order to create a well-integrated web API framework.



You can find tons of articles and information over the web related to the web APIs, but in this article, we’re going to cover some detailed information in order to help newbie developers to get an idea about what this ASP.NET Web API is and how it simplifies developing applications.

Understanding ASP.NET Web APIs

Over the years the WCF team has been trying hard to provide support for REST, which has resulted in a few more REST support in WCF including WCF Web HTTP, WCF REST Starter Kit and last but not the least WCF Web API. On the other hand the ASP.NET team brought support for creating basic web APIs with the help of controller to return JSON data. This has created confusion among the users, and that has resulted into a single integrated web API framework.

ASP.NET Web API is a framework that is used for creating and consuming HTTP services, which reaches a wide range of clients including web browsers and other mobile devices. It is much like a conventional ASP.NET MVC as it includes most of the MVC features, such as routing, controllers, action results, filter, model binders, IOC container or dependency injection and more. If you wish to create RESTful services, there is nothing better than this amazing platform. Moreover, with WebAPI content negotiation, you can easily return data based on the client requests.

What are the benefits of using ASP.NET Web APIs?

  • One of the very first benefits you can leverage from the web APIs is a simplified abstraction. One of the simplest Web API you create can wrap an HttpMessageHandler, which is more or less simple function taking HttpRequestMessage and returning a task.
  • It helps you take full control over the way you send and respond to the HTTP protocol messages.
  • Content negotiation is another feature, which helps developers to return a single type of serialization as it decouples the API code’s intent from the mechanics of serialization.
  • Ample flexibility, which was a prime concern for creating Web API. The content negotiation is one of the biggest example of it.
  • It brings full support for the ASP.NET Routing.
  • ASP.NET Web APIs makes it easy to unit test.

Apart from all these, you can also leverage from query composition, code-based configuration, Improved Inversion of Control (IoC) through DependencyResolver and lots more.

Where it is useful?

  • If you wish to expose your data and service to the different clients, such as web browsers, mobile devices and tablets, ASP.NET Web API is a great framework for you.
  • As it is an open source it is an ideal platform for creating RESTful services over the conventional .NET framework. Moreover, it utilizes full features of HTTP, such as URLs, request/response headers, caching, versioning and more, that means you don’t have to define any additional configuration settings for the different devices unlike WCF Rest service.

Apart from all these, you can also use Web APIs for different purpose including:

  • When you wish to create resource-oriented services over HTTP that can utilize a whole host of HTTP features, such as define cache control for browsers, versioning and concurrency through ETags, documents HTML pages and more, ASP.NET Web API is the best choice for you.
  • When you require a Web Service and don’t need SOAP, then ASP.NET Web API is the only choice you can go for.
  • If you wish to create application for the devices having a very limited bandwidth, Web APIs are a great option because of their light weight architecture.

So, this was all about ASP.NET Web APIs. Hope this article will help you get insights of ASP.NET Web API. What’s your take on this? Do you think Web APIs are a better option than WCF? Share your views in the comments !!!

Author Bio: Jagruti is working with Cygnet Infotech, a Outsource ASP .Net development company India. She has a deep understanding of the current IT trends and loves to share insights about software development, cloud computing, CMS and much more.

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  1. Stephen Hollis November 11, 2013
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