Understanding the Web API

As you likely know, there is a growing trend in web development to build applications using what some might call “lower-level” tools. Instead of ASP.Net web forms, many developers are using HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript (with its many helpful libraries). Part of this trend also includes lower-level web services using tools like Microsoft’s Web API.

How does one expand her or his knowledge in these growing areas? One source that I would like to talk about today is an e-book from Syncfusion. They have a series of free e-books in what they call their “Succinctly” series and today I would like to talk about their book ASP.NET Web API Succinctly.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Syncfusion provides me with a free, NFR license to their Essential Studio product because of my MVP status. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

The thing I like about the succinctly series is that the books are relatively short and concise. They are designed for developers working on the Microsoft platforms so they assume some background knowledge of the Microsoft ecosystem.

ASP.NET Web API Succinctly starts by providing a quick review of the REST architecture. For those who have been focusing on ASP.Net Web Forms, understanding the HTTP verbs and status codes is something foreign. I started with traditional asp back in the 1990’s and understanding GET, PUT, etc. was essential. It is interesting to see this coming back as something that was “abstracted” away by some a few years ago.

The book then provides an overview of the Web API by introducing controllers and routing. For someone familiar with Microsoft’s MVC there is a great deal of similarity. By the way, with Visual Studio 2013, a Web API can be added to either a Web Forms or an MVC project.


The next two chapters talk about the “life of a request” and the “routing system”. These two chapters provide additional background for those who are not familiar with the “plumbing” of the request/response cycle of an HTTP request.

The book then provides greater detail in four important areas: the controller, model validation, content navigation, and message handlers. These chapters include details and specific examples. For you VB folks out there, the code example are shown using C# but they are short and generally easy to understand. I created an MVC/Web API application using VB and was able to easily compare the VB and C# code.

The book then closes with four important chanters covering security, OData, hosting, and testing. The security chapter talks about various authentication approaches. The OData chapter covers the basic of OData queries.

The hosting chapter covers “self-hosting” as well as “in-memory hosting”. The testing chapter contrasts unit testing and integration tests. It also covers the basic concepts associated with using a controller and how that supports unit testing.

The book was written before Microsoft released Web API 2 so it does not cover the topics in the newer release. To see what has been added or changed, you might want to look at:

I hope this is helpful.


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