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Build MVC Applications with Connectivity to USPS Data

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

This article shows how to use wizards in Visual Studio to drop the CData ADO.NET Provider for USPS 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 MvcUSPSApp.
  2. If you are using Entity Framework 6, you will need to take the preliminary step of registering the USPS 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 USPSModel.
  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 USPS Data Source in the dialog that is displayed.
  6. Specify the required connection string properties.

    To authenticate with USPS, set the following connection properties.

    • PostageProvider: The postage provider to use to process requests. Available options are ENDICIA and STAMPS. If unspecified, this property will default to ENDICIA.
    • UseSandbox: This controls whether live or test requests are sent to the production or sandbox servers. If set to true, the Password, AccountNumber, and StampsUserId properties are ignored.
    • StampsUserId: This value is used for logging into authentication to the Stamps servers. This value is not applicable for Endicia and is optional if UseSandbox is true.
    • Password: This value is used for logging into Endicia and Stamps servers. If the postage provider is Endicia, this will be the pass phrase associated with your postage account. It is optional if UseSandbox is true.
    • AccountNumber: The shipper's account number. It is optional if UseSandbox is true.
    • PrintLabelLocation: This property is required to use the GenerateLabels or GenerateReturnLabels stored procedures. This should be set to the folder location where generated labels should be stored.

    The Cache Database

    Many of the useful task available from USPS require a lot of data. To ensure this data is easy to input and recall later, utilize a cache database to make requests. Set the cache connection properties in order to use the cache:

    • CacheLocation: The path to the cache location, for which a connection will be configured with the default cache provider. For example, C:\users\username\documents\uspscache

    As an alternative to CacheLocation, set the combination of CacheConnection and CacheProvider to configure a cache connection using a provider separate from the default.

    A typical connection string is below:

    PostageProvider=ENDICIA; RequestId=12345; Password='abcdefghijklmnopqr'; AccountNumber='12A3B4C'
  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 USPSEntities.

  8. Select the tables and views you need. In this example, Senders 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, Senders.
    • Data context class: Select your context class.
  3. Leave the default values for the other fields.

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