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Build MVC Applications with Connectivity to REST Data

This article shows how to use only the Entity Framework and the CData ADO.NET provider to access REST from an ASP.NET MVC application.

This article shows how to use wizards in Visual Studio to drop the CData ADO.NET Provider for REST into a simple MVC (model, view, controller) project.

Create the Entity Framework Model

Follow the steps below to save connection properties and map tables to entities in the data model.

  1. Create a new MVC project in Visual Studio. In this example, the project name is MvcRESTApp.
  2. If you are using Entity Framework 6, you will need to take the preliminary step of registering the REST Entity Framework provider for your project. See the "LINQ and Entity Framework" chapter in the help documentation for a guide.

    Note that MVC 3 scaffolding and MVC 4 scaffolding do not support Entity Framework 6. You can use your scaffolding with Entity Framework 6 by upgrading to the latest version of MVC.

  3. To add the .edmx file from the designer, right-click your Models folder and click Add New Item. Select ADO.NET Entity Data Model, name the model, and click Add. In this example, the name of the model is RESTModel.
  4. In the Entity Data Model wizard, select the option 'EF Designer from database'. The Entity Data Model wizard is displayed.
  5. Click New Connection. Select CData REST Data Source in the dialog that is displayed.
  6. Specify the required connection string properties.

    See the Getting Started chapter in the data provider documentation to authenticate to your data source: The data provider models REST APIs as bidirectional database tables and XML/JSON files as read-only views (local files, files stored on popular cloud services, and FTP servers). The major authentication schemes are supported, including HTTP Basic, Digest, NTLM, OAuth, and FTP. See the Getting Started chapter in the data provider documentation for authentication guides.

    After setting the URI and providing any authentication values, set Format to "XML" or "JSON" and set DataModel to more closely match the data representation to the structure of your data.

    The DataModel property is the controlling property over how your data is represented into tables and toggles the following basic configurations.

    • Document (default): Model a top-level, document view of your REST data. The data provider returns nested elements as aggregates of data.
    • FlattenedDocuments: Implicitly join nested documents and their parents into a single table.
    • Relational: Return individual, related tables from hierarchical data. The tables contain a primary key and a foreign key that links to the parent document.

    See the Modeling REST Data chapter for more information on configuring the relational representation. You will also find the sample data used in the following examples. The data includes entries for people, the cars they own, and various maintenance services performed on those cars.

    A typical connection string is below:

    DataModel=Relational;URI=C:\people.xml;Format=XML;
  7. Name the connection and select whether to include sensitive information, such as connection credentials, in the connection string. For simplicity, this example saves sensitive information in Web.config. The connection settings are saved as RESTEntities.

  8. Select the tables and views you need. In this example, people is imported. Also, the option to pluralize object names is deselected in this example. Click Finish to create the .edmx file.
  9. Build your project to complete this step.

Scaffold the Controller and Views

After creating the model and building the project, you can use ASP.NET Scaffolding wizards to create the controller and the views.

  1. In Solution Explorer, right-click the controllers folder and click Add -> Controller. Select MVC 5 Controller with views, using Entity Framework.
  2. In the Add Controller dialog that is then displayed, select the following options:

    • Model class: Select a table you imported; for example, people.
    • Data context class: Select your context class.
  3. Leave the default values for the other fields.

You can now access the list of people records at http://MySite/people. Next to each record are links to edit, delete, and see more information. You can also create new people records. With every state change the site picks up any data changes.