Category Archives: Web API

Web API Routing – The Basics

Working with API projects, it’s easy to miss some key rules about the routing. This post is basically the result of some that I missed, and subsequent the investigation. It covers some very basic routing rules, and it certainly not intended to be an exhaustive guide.

.Net Framework

Starting with a .Net Framework Web API, let’s create a new web app:

And add a new controller:

Here’s the code for the controller; as you will see, it’s massively complex, but the good news is that you only need to pay attention to the name of the action, and the code inside it:

public class TestController : ApiController
    public IHttpActionResult TestAction()
        return Ok("TestAction Performed");

Let’s run the project and navigate to the URL:

How did I know that was the URL? It’s magic, and you can buy some of that magic by sending a cheque for the low, low price of $25 to the address shown at the bottom of the screen.

Actually, it’s defined in WebApiConfig.cs:


Where there is more than a single function, one surprising (to me) feature is that the parameters that it accepts is more important to the routing than the name of the controller. Here’s a second action with a parameter:

public IHttpActionResult TestAction2(string test)
    return Ok("TestAction2 Performed");

… and here’s it working:

However, should I not give it the parameter that it craves, it hides away, and instead, we get the first function that’s no too fussy about parameters:

It doesn’t even matter whether I just put some drivel as the controller name; the first criteria is the parameter:

This is because, according to this it follows these criteria:

The default implementation is provided by the ApiControllerActionSelector class. To select an action, it looks at the following:
• The HTTP method of the request.
• The “{action}” placeholder in the route template, if present.
• The parameters of the actions on the controller.

So, if we add the {action} placeholder, that ensures that it uses the correct method:

public static void Register(HttpConfiguration config)
    // Web API configuration and services
    // Web API routes
        name: "DefaultApi",
        //routeTemplate: "api/{controller}/{id}",
        routeTemplate: "api/{controller}/{action}/{id}",
        defaults: new { id = RouteParameter.Optional }

Otherwise, we get a best guess based on the parameters.

.Net Core Web API

The rules have changed since switching to .Net Core; WebApiConfig has gone and, in its place, it a localised routing system.

Here, you tell the class how to handle routing; for example, the following:


Will result anything decorated with HttpGet being called when the controller is called. The parameters must be explicitly decorated; so passing no parameters would look like this:

public string OneTest()
    return "TestOne";

Whereas, a single parameter would look like this:

public string aaa(int id)
    return "value aaa";

If you duplicate the signatures then they are not found. As with the framework version, you can simply tell it to look to the action name that you give it:

public class TestController : Controller
    public IEnumerable<string> TestActionOne()
        return new string[] { "one value1", "value2" };
    public string TestActionTwo()
        return "two value";

But, again, it pays no attention to parameters until you decorate it correctly.


Using Entity Framework Core with DBFirst

Say what you like about ORM frameworks, but they do decrease time to market. My impression, as someone that has generally had very little exposure to them, is that, whilst they can make it very quick to get something up and running, they make it very easy to shoot yourself in the foot.

With all the hype about .Net Core, I thought I’d give EF Core a go, and this post is a document of my initial set-up which was, by no means, a straight forward process!

The General Idea of an ORM

The purpose of an ORM is to abstract data access, in a manner similar to the following:

The great advantage of this is that you can very quickly make database changes and maintain a layer of abstraction between the DB and the accessing layer. Obviously, the downside is that you don’t have the same level of control over this access.


The first step is to install the SDK from here. Like everything else in this post, this web-site is not as straight-forward as it appears. Make sure that you select “Current” and “SDK”:

I used x64. That matters when you get further down.

Database First

In this particular installation, I’m using the “Database First” model. What that means is that I already have a database, and it is sat on an accessible machine. The following project will create classes to access that. For details of how to create a database using a VS project, see this article that I wrote on unit testing databases.

Project set-up

The first step is to create your project.

What is the difference between ASP.NET Core (.NET Core) and ASP.NET Core (.NET Framework)?

In this instance, we’ll go with .Net Core. The difference between the two is that one of them (.NET Framework) references the .NET Framework, and so will not be cross platform. Obviously, picking .NET Core is your smallest footprint, and least functionality.

Pick Web API here, as we’re essentially just writing a service that accesses a DB (see the diagram above).

The next step is to install Entity Framework Core:

A note on project.json

This is a new file that has been introduced into the .Net Core world, and it is (IMHO) a huge improvement on the flakey confusion of NuGet package management. The idea is that you declare your dependencies, in a similar way that you might declare your variables in a program. When you change this, or when you ask it to, VS will simply go and get these packages for you. This means, for example, that I can paste my project.json in this post, and you, the reader (or future me), can simply paste this directly into yours and VS will do the rest… so:

  "dependencies": {
    "Microsoft.ApplicationInsights.AspNetCore": "2.0.0",
    "Microsoft.AspNetCore.Hosting.Abstractions": "1.1.0",
    "Microsoft.AspNetCore.Mvc": "1.1.1",
    "Microsoft.AspNetCore.Routing": "1.1.0",
    "Microsoft.AspNetCore.Server.IISIntegration": "1.1.0",
    "Microsoft.AspNetCore.Server.Kestrel": "1.1.0",
    "Microsoft.EntityFrameworkCore": "1.1.0",
    "Microsoft.EntityFrameworkCore.Design": "1.1.0",
    "Microsoft.EntityFrameworkCore.Relational.Design": "1.1.0",
    "Microsoft.EntityFrameworkCore.SqlServer": "1.1.0",
    "Microsoft.EntityFrameworkCore.Tools.DotNet": "1.1.0-preview4-final",
    "Microsoft.Extensions.Configuration.Json": "1.1.0",
    "Microsoft.Extensions.Logging": "1.1.0",
    "Microsoft.Extensions.Logging.Console": "1.1.0",
    "Microsoft.Extensions.Logging.Debug": "1.1.0",
    "Microsoft.Extensions.Options.ConfigurationExtensions": "1.1.0",
    "Microsoft.NETCore.App": {
      "version": "1.1.0",
      "type": "platform"
    "NETStandard.Library": "1.6.1",
    "System.Collections.NonGeneric": "4.3.0",
    "Microsoft.EntityFrameworkCore.SqlServer.Design": {
      "version": "1.1.0",
      "type": "build"
    "Microsoft.EntityFrameworkCore.Tools": {
      "version": "1.1.0-preview4-final",
      "type": "build"
  "tools": {
    "Microsoft.AspNetCore.Server.IISIntegration.Tools": "1.0.0-preview2-final",
    "Microsoft.EntityFrameworkCore.Tools": "1.1.0-preview4-final"
  "frameworks": {
    "netcoreapp1.1": {
      "imports": [
  "buildOptions": {
    "emitEntryPoint": true,
    "preserveCompilationContext": true
  "runtimeOptions": {
    "configProperties": {
      "System.GC.Server": true
  "runtimes": {
    "win10-x64": {}
  "publishOptions": {
    "include": [
  "scripts": {
    "postpublish": [ "dotnet publish-iis --publish-folder %publish:OutputPath% --framework %publish:FullTargetFramework%" ]

If you now simply open a package manager window in VS and type:

dotnet restore

VS should do the rest.

The next thing that you’ll need to update is the appsettings.json:

  "ConnectionStrings": {
    "JourneyDB": "Data Source=ServerName\\DatabaseInstance; Initial Catalog=MyDatabase; Integrated Security=SSPI"
  "Logging": {
    "IncludeScopes": false,
    "LogLevel": {
      "Default": "Debug",
      "System": "Information",
      "Microsoft": "Information"


So, you should now have a project that’s ready to go. I suggestion, unless you’re reading this in around a year from now (2018) when all this has been stabilised, is that you restart VS. In fact, this should be your first response if anything in this post doesn’t do what you expect (it is still in preview, so I’m not judging).

The next step is to call the following command:

Scaffold-DbContext "Server=ServerName\DatabaseInstance;Database=MyDatabase;Trusted_Connection=True;" Microsoft.EntityFrameworkCore.SqlServer -OutputDir Models

What should that do (because it doesn’t)?

Okay, it took me a good while to get this to actually work, so the chance of it working first time is pretty remote; but when it does work, you should get a mirror of your DB in the project:

Using it

As you can see, I have a `JourneyHeader`; here’s the code to get the contents of that table:

namespace JourneyService.Controllers
    public class JourneyController : Controller
        // GET api/values
        public IEnumerable<JourneyHeader> Get()
            using (JourneyDatabaseContext context = new JourneyDatabaseContext())
                return context.JourneyHeader.ToList();

And here’s the proof that it works: