Building Web API with ASP.NET MVC 5 & MongoDB

Topics Covered

  • ConfigurationModel
    • config.json
    • Environment Variables
  • OptionsModel
  • Dependency Injection (IServiceCollection)
  • Forcing JSON or Removing XML Formatter, Content Negotiation
  • MongoDB
    • Installation (OSX & Windows)
    • mongocsharpdriver (nuget package)
  • Testing endpoints w/ Postman or Fiddler

Project Creation

Depending on your environment (Windows or OS X) or preference you have a choice on how you can create the ASP.NET project.

Visual Studio 2015 Preview

Launch Visual Studio 2015 Preview and File > New Project > Web > ASP.NET 5 Empty.
New Project Dialog

ASP.NET Yeoman Project Generator

(see walkthrough here) – note that the MVC Project is the best choice for this example, there is not an “Empty” template.

$ yo aspnet

    |       |    .--------------------------.
    |--(o)--|    |      Welcome to the      |
   `---------´   |   marvellous ASP.NET 5   |
    ( _´U`_ )    |        generator!        |
    /___A___\    '--------------------------'
     |  ~  |     
 ´   `  |° ´ Y ` 

? What type of application do you want to create? MVC Application
? What's the name of your ASP.NET application? (MvcApplication) mongomvc

Setting up the dependencies

Open the project.json file and add the following to the dependencies node.

"dependencies": {  
        "Microsoft.AspNet.Mvc": "6.0.0-beta1",
        "Microsoft.AspNet.Hosting": "1.0.0-beta1",
        "Microsoft.AspNet.Diagnostics": "1.0.0-beta1",
        "Microsoft.AspNet.Server.WebListener": "1.0.0-beta1",
        "Microsoft.Framework.ConfigurationModel.Json": "1.0.0-beta1",
        "Kestrel": "1.0.0-beta1",
        "mongocsharpdriver": "1.8.3"
  • Microsoft.AspNet.Server.IIS : Server Implemenation for ASP.NET 5
  • Microsoft.AspNet.Hosting : Core hosting infrastructure for ASP.NET 5
  • Microsoft.AspNet.Diagnostics : Middleware for error pages, diagnostics etc.
  • Microsoft.AspNet.Server.WebListener : Self host web server
  • Microsoft.AspNet.Mvc : ASP.NET MVC Framework
  • Microsoft.Framework.ConfigurationModel.Json : JSON configuration source for the ConfigurationModel
  • Kestrel : Server for hosting on OS X, Linux
  • mongocsharpdriver : MongoDB Driver

Each of these should be self explanatory with the exception of maybe the ConfigurationModel.Json package, which will be covered when we get into the settings portion of the walkthrough.

Once you save the file, in Visual Studio, the packages will be restored from nuget. If you are using a non Visual Studio editor, then execute kpm restore from the command line to get the packages.


Startup.cs is the entry point for your application; this is where the configuration, services, dependency injectection etc. is configured.

In the following snippet, the ConfigureServices method is used to add our services into the pipleline and expose theIServiceCollection for dependeny injection. It also sets the Configure method to tell the app which services in the pipeline to use on start.

public class Startup  
    public void ConfigureServices(IServiceCollection services)

    public void Configure(IApplicationBuilder app)

At this point you can F5 (VS2015), k web (Win) or k kestrel (Linux or OSX) to run the app and see the Welcome Page.

Welcome Page

Let’s add a few items to this to round out the bootstrapping of the application.

Remove XML Formatters – if you have done any ASP.NET Web API development in the past, the format of the output is dependant on the Content-Type header that is passed when a GET request is made. By default the response type will be JSON, however if the client send application/xml that is what will be returned. You can force JSON results for all returns by adding the following to the ConfigureServices() method:

 services.Configure<MvcOptions>(options =>
                                     .RemoveAll(formatter => formatter.Instance is XmlDataContractSerializerOutputFormatter)

If you wish to control this at a more finite level, please see Content Negotiation in MVC 5 or How Can I Just Write JSON


Gone are the days of web.config, XML transforms for deploying to environments. Now, as with many things in ASP.NET “vNext, you get more choice.

There are multiple file formats supported; XML, JSON, and INI are all supported out of the box. The other option is Environment variables, a characteristic of node.js as well as other frameworks.

Here is an example of how you can use the new ConfigurationModel to take advantage of the new confuration files.

    "key" : "value"

key = value


Environment variables in Azure
Azure Env Variables

public void Configure(IApplicationBuilder app)  
        // Setup configuration sources
        var configuration = new Configuration();

        // …

Accessing the values

var configuration = new Configuration();  

A couple notes concerning configuration:

  • order matters, last one wins
  • not just a key/value pair. Complex structures supported

So how does this apply to this project? Let’s add it to the Startup.cs.

Add the following to constructor

public Startup()  
    Configuration = new Configuration()

Next, add the IConfiguration interface so we can take advantage of DI

public IConfiguration Configuration { get; set; }  

Another new item we have is the the IOptions interface which allows us to bind the configuration file to a class. This is available in the Microsoft.Framework.OptionsModel namespace. Given that, let’s create a new class call Settings.cs to hold the values from the config.json file we’ll be creating shortly.

public class Settings  
    public string Database { get; set; }
    public string MongoConnection { get; set; }

now create the config.json file

    "mongoconnection": "mongodb://localhost:27017",
    "database":  "mongomvc"

Now, add the code to the ConfigureServices() method

First, change the services.AddMvc() to include our configuration


now add this line to configure the settings to be configured and bind based on the configuration


Now that the application is bootstrapped for Configuration, Dependency Injection, JSON formatting; let’s get the datastore setup in MongoDB and then we’ll come back to round out the app with the Controller, Model and DataRepository.


There are a few reasons I chose MongoDB for this example.

  • its a popular NoSQL datastore
  • has a nuget package for C#
  • supported on Azure
  • equal tooling support on OSX and Windows.


Installation is a breeze. If you are on OSX you can use HomeBrew to install by executing $ brew install mongodb, and if you are using Windows I would highly suggest using Chocolately to do the installation. Chocolately installs MongoDB, the shell and the Windows service and is equivalent to the OSX install with HomeBrew.

> choco install mongodb


If you prefer GUI interfaces, the best one I have found is RoboMongo. It is cross platform and provides a great way to explore your collections. You can also connect to you local stores as well as remote stores such as MongoLab(Azure provider).

Test Data

Once you have installed MongoDB, open terminal and connect to the database by the following command

$ mongo mongomvc

mongo starts the terminal command, and the second paramter connects or creates the store. Next copy and paste the test data into the terminal and hit enter.

    first: 'Shayne',
    last: 'Boyer',
    twitter: '@spboyer',
    title: 'Developer Guy',
    blog: ''

    first: 'Scott',
    last: 'Hanselman',
    twitter: '@shanselman',
    title: 'Teacher Blogger Guy',
    blog: ''

    first: 'John',
    last: 'Papa',
    twitter: '@john_papa',
    title: 'JavaScript Angular Guy',
    blog: ''

    first: 'Mads',
    last: 'Kristensen',
    twitter: '@mkristensen',
    title: 'Web Essentials Guy',
    blog: ''

    first: 'Damian',
    last: 'Edwards',
    twitter: '@DamianEdwards',
    title: 'ASP.NET Demo Guy',
    blog: ''

    first: 'Jon',
    last: 'Galloway',
    twitter: '@jongalloway',
    title: 'ASP.NET Community Guy',
    blog: ''

This creates all of the data in the mongomvc datastore under the speakers collection. You can see the data by querying in terminal or viewing in RoboMongo.

$ db.speakers.find()

RoboMongo - OSX

Adding the Model

Add the Models folder under the root, and a Speaker.cs file.

using the yeoman generator generator-aspnet you can add a class with

$ yo aspnet:Class Speaker

    public class Speaker
        public ObjectId Id { get; set; }

        public string First { get; set; }

        public string Last { get; set; }

        public string Twitter { get; set; }

        public string Title { get; set; }

        public string Blog { get; set; }


A few things to point out in this class is the attribute annotations


These are neccessary for the binding because the mongo nuget package binding serialization is case sensitive.

Adding the Repository

Add the SpeakerRepository.cs class, in this case just under the root.

using the yeoman generator generator-aspnet you can add a class with

$ yo aspnet:Class SpeakerRepository

The interface is simple

public interface ISpeakerRespository  
    IEnumerable<Speaker> AllSpeakers();

    Speaker GetById(ObjectId id);

    void Add(Speaker speaker);

    void Update(Speaker speaker);

    bool Remove(ObjectId id);

And implement the interface. In the constructor, we’ll take advantage of DI and get the Settings class that contains the connection information for the MongoDB instance. This is accessed from IOptions

public SpeakerRepository(IOptions<Settings> settings)  
    _settings = settings.Options;
    _database = Connect();

Here is the complete class implementation.

public class SpeakerRepository : ISpeakerRespository  
  private readonly Settings _settings;
  private readonly MongoDatabase _database;

  public SpeakerRepository(IOptions<Settings> settings)
    _settings = settings.Options;
    _database = Connect();

  public void Add(Speaker speaker)

  public IEnumerable<Speaker> AllSpeakers()
    var speakers = _database.GetCollection<Speaker>("speakers").FindAll();
    return speakers;

  public Speaker GetById(ObjectId id)
    var query = Query<Speaker>.EQ(e => e.Id, id);
    var speaker = _database.GetCollection<Speaker>("speakers").FindOne(query);

    return speaker;

  public bool Remove(ObjectId id)
    var query = Query<Speaker>.EQ(e => e.Id, id);
    var result = _database.GetCollection<Speaker>("speakers").Remove(query);

    return GetById(id) == null;

  public void Update(Speaker speaker)
    var query = Query<Speaker>.EQ(e => e.Id, speaker.Id);
    var update = Update<Speaker>.Replace(speaker); // update modifiers
    _database.GetCollection<Speaker>("speakers").Update(query, update);

  private MongoDatabase Connect()
    var client = new MongoClient(_settings.MongoConnection);
    var server = client.GetServer();
    var database = server.GetDatabase(_settings.Database);

    return database;
Add the SpeakerRepository to ServiceCollection

Open Startup.cs and add the following to the ConfigureServices() method to setup the ISpeakerRepository for DI so it can be injected into the SpeakerController.

services.AddSingleton<ISpeakerRespository, SpeakerRepository>();  

options on Dependency Injection

  • .AddTransient – whenever I ask for it give me a new one
  • .AddLifetime – scoped to the current request, regardless of how many times it’s asked for
  • .AddSingleton – one ever

Adding the Controller

Add the Controllers folder under the root, and the add a MVC Controller named SpeakerController.cs

using the yeoman generator generator-aspnet you can add a MVC Controller with

$ yo aspnet:MvcController SpeakerController

In the constructor, add the ISpeakerRepository so we have access to the datastore calls.

readonly ISpeakerRespository _speakerRepository;  
public SpeakerController(ISpeakerRespository speakerRepository)  
    _speakerRepository = speakerRepository;

Add a default GET to return all of the speakers

public IEnumerable<Speaker> GetAll()  
    var speakers = _speakerRepository.AllSpeakers();
    return speakers;

Add a GET to return a specific speaker. In this case the ObjectId string, the default key from MongoDB, is used. As such as route constraint is added to validate the length of the string being passed. {id:length(24)} and a RouteName is added so we can call this by route by name using Url.RouteUrl().

[HttpGet("{id:length(24)}", Name = "GetByIdRoute")]
public IActionResult GetById(string id)  
    var item = _speakerRepository.GetById(new ObjectId(id));
    if (item == null)
        return HttpNotFound();

    return new ObjectResult(item);

Add a Create method, with a [FromBody] attribute on the argument to indicate that the object should be serialized from the body of the message.

public void CreateSpeaker([FromBody] Speaker speaker)  
  if (!ModelState.IsValid)
      Context.Response.StatusCode = 400;

      string url = Url.RouteUrl("GetByIdRoute", new { id = speaker.Id.ToString() }, Request.Scheme, Request.Host.ToUriComponent());
      Context.Response.StatusCode = 201;
      Context.Response.Headers["Location"] = url;

Finally, the Delete to round out the repository functions.

public IActionResult DeleteSpeaker(string id)  
  if (_speakerRepository.Remove(new ObjectId(id)))
      return new HttpStatusCodeResult(204); // 204 No Content
      return HttpNotFound();


Some Various tools are available for testing HTTP services. Fiddler from Telerik is a favorite if you are on Windows, I also like thePostman Chrome Add-in. I happen to like either, Postman saves the urls you hit which is nice when are testing over and over or complex endpoints.

So, if you run the application now you can use the tool of your choice and hit the endpoint:

postman GET

Select a specifid “Id” and add it the url, i.e.

http://localhost:5004/api/speaker/54b7d51140c10266ffa3b04d and a single item is returned.

    "Id": "54b7d51140c10266ffa3b04d",
    "First": "Shayne",
    "Last": "Boyer",
    "Twitter": "@spboyer",
    "Title": "Developer Guy",
    "Blog": ""

to test a POST or the Create endpoint, change the drop down to POST, select the RAW option and add the following data.

Also add the Content-Type: application/json header.

    "First": "Sayed",
    "Last": "Hashimi",
    "Twitter": "@sayedihashimi",
    "Title": "MSBuild Guy",
    "Blog": ""

Postman POST

After executing the POST you can either query the /speaker endpoint or look directly in the datastore and see the new speaker inserted.

RoboMongo Windows

Full source for this example is available on GitHub ->


C# and .NET MongoDB Driver – (

Content Negotiation in MVC 5 or How Can I Just Write JSON – (

ASP.NET Yeoman Generator Project Scaffolding – (


ASP.NET Github – (



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