Using NLog to provide custom tracing for your ASP.NET Web API

One of the things I love most about MVC3, and now ASP.NET Web API, is that pretty much any functionality or service that is used by your application, can be replaced with a custom one. One of these is the entire tracing mechanism that Web API uses.

Let’s have a look today at how you can build a simple System.Web.Http.Tracing.ITraceWriter implementation to provide support for a custom logging framework in your Web API – in our case it will be NLog.

More after the jump.

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Using controllers from an external assembly in ASP.NET Web API

In general, in my day-to-day job, I am working with large enterprise web applications, where clean projects, noise reduction and test driven development are holy. Therefore I have always been a big fan of placing MVC controllers outside the actual web application project, in a separate class library (or libraries).

With MVC it was very simple, but recently I faced this challenge in Web API, and turns out neither passing the assembly name through MapHttpRoute (not supported) or using something like ControllerBuilder.Current.DefaultNamespaces is not a viable option. So I turned to Henrik Nielsen for advice, and sure enough, he helped immediately. Let’s explore the solution.

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Drag and drop files to WPF application and asynchronously upload to ASP.NET Web API

A while ago, I wrote a post on uploading files to ASP.NET Web API by dragging and dropping them to the browser. Today I will continue with the same topic, but instead, let’s build a WPF application to which you can drag and drop files, and they’ll get uploaded to ASP.NET Web API.

The important thing, is that we will use the *exact* same Web API upload controller as before, meaning the same controller will be handling uploads from the browser and from the client (WPF) application. The client will use the new HttpClient and it’s client-side DelegatingHandlers.

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ASP.NET Web API integration testing with in-memory hosting

In-memory hosting is one of the hidden gems of ASP.NET Web API. While the community, forums, bloggers have been buzzing about web-host and self-host capabilities of Web API, aside from the terrific post by Pedro Felix, very little has been said about in memory hosting.

Let me show you an example today, how a lightweight Web API server can be temporarily established in memory (without elevated priviliges, or cannibalizing ports like self host) and used to perform integration testing, allowing you to test almost the entire pipeline, from the request to the response.

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Control the execution order of your filters in ASP.NET Web API

One of the few minor annoyances in ASP.NET Web API is that you lack the ability to control the order in which the attributes/filters are executed. If you have several of those applied to one action, they wil not run in the order they have been declared in the code, and that sometimes may cause a lot of problems.

In fact, it has even been submitted as an issue to the ASP.NET team on Codeplex. In the meantime, let’s tackle this problem and see how you can easily regain control over the execution order of the attributes.

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Extending your ASP.NET Web API responses with useful metadata

If you ever worked with any API, which, in this day of age, you must have, you surely noticed that in most situations the API response isn’t just the result (requested data), but also a set of helpful metadata, like “total Results”, “timestamp”, “status” and so on.

In Web API, by default, you just serialize your models (or DTO) and such information are not present. Let’s build something which will solve this problem and help you decorate your response with hepful information. This would make it very easy for the client to implement paging, auto-loading scenarios, caching (if you return last modified information) and a lot more.

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Using Ninject with the latest ASP.NET Web API source

After ASP.NET Web API was beta-released in February, a number of blog posts came out explaining how to plug Ninject (and other IoC-s, for that matter) to your application through the use of the IDependencyResolver adapter. There was even a NuGet Ninject extension for that (here).

However, these approaches don’t work anymore if you are using the latest ASP.NET Web API (and release candidate) – either from Codeplex source or nightly build packages.

Let’s explore why is that and what you need to do now to be able to use Ninject with ASP.NET Web API.

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Attribute based routing in ASP.NET Web API

Routing is the key aspect of every MVC application – after all, it’s how people get to your application, and how search engines see it. As flexible as routing in ASP.NET MVC has been, one would often end up in frustrating situations where more flexibility was needed (or you simply started getting lost in a maze of routes). One of the finest extensions to ASP.NET MVC I have ever worked with is the excellent library AttributeRouting by Tim McCall.

Last month, through the great work of Kamran Ayub, the library has been extended to support ASP.NET Web API, and is now available on NuGet. Let’s have a look at how it can immediately make your life easier and drastically improve the way you handle your routes.

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Implementing message handlers to track your ASP.NET Web API usage

Today’s focus is going to be on message handlers (or, to be precise, DelegatingHandlers) in ASP.NET Web API. If you are familiar with WCF you can surely recall them – used to be called DelegatingChannels at some point – but the purpose has been the same all along, to provide the first (or last, depending whether you look at requests or responses) extendibility point in your Web API applications. You stack up as many message handlers on top of each other as you wish, and the request will travel through all of them.

This, in turn, gives us developers a possibility to process/alter/modify/decline the incoming HTTP request before it reaches the HttpControllerDispatcher. Then, when the controller creates the response, it goes through the same chain of message handlers again, so we can tamper with the response. One example of the applicability of this is that message handlers are a perfect place to address security related matters i.e. integrating OAuth.

The plan for today is to show how DelegatingHandlers are used by building a functionality that checks for an API key on an incoming API request and then logs all requests and responses, thus allowing you to track the usage of your API.

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Output caching in ASP.NET Web API

Today we will continue with our favorite topic – ASP.NET Web API. I’ve heard folks asking about how you could easily cache the output of the API methods. Well, in ASP.NET MVC, that’s dead easy, just decorate the Action with [OutputCache] attribute and that’s it. Unfortunately, ASP.NET Web API doesn’t have a built-in support for this attribute.

Which doesn’t mean you can’t have it. Let’s build one

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