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Using OData Services in ASP.NET Applications

Take advantage of the Open Data Protocol to build RESTful services in ASP.NET.


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The Open Data Protocol (OData) is a Web protocol that relies on HTTP, Atom Publishing Protocol (AtomPub) and JSON. You can use OData to expose, query and update data from a variety of applications, services and stores. The OData protocol allows you to query data over HTTP protocol and then get the result back in Atom, JSON or XML formats.

The official website for Open Data Protocol states: "The Open Data Protocol (OData) is a Web protocol for querying and updating data that provides a way to unlock your data and free it from silos that exist in applications today. OData does this by applying and building upon Web technologies such as HTTP, Atom Publishing Protocol (AtomPub) and JSON to provide access to information from a variety of applications, services, and stores."

This article presents an overview of the Open Data Protocol and discusses how you can work with it in your .NET applications.

Prerequisites

To work with the code examples listed in this article, you need to have Visual Studio 2008 or 2010 installed in your system.

What Is the OData Protocol?

OData is a REST-based protocol that uses HTTP, JSON and ATOM and supports any platform that has support for HTTP, XML or JSON. You can use it to expose data retrieved from relational databases, file systems or data services. OData enables you to perform CRUD operations on top of a data model or a data service. In essence, it is an HTTP-based, platform-independent protocol that supports REST. In OData, data is provided through the usage URIs and common HTTP verbs, like GET, PUT, POST, MERGE and DELETE. Note that WCF Data Services (previously known as ADO.NET Data Services) is the implementation of Open Data Protocol in .NET applications.



MSDN states: "OData defines operations on resources using HTTP verbs (PUT, POST, UPDATE and DELETE), and it identifies those resources using a standard URI syntax. Data is transferred over HTTP using the AtomPub or JSON standards. For AtomPub, the OData protocol defines some conventions on the standard to support the exchange of query and schema information."

Representation State Transfer (commonly known as REST) is an architectural paradigm that is based on the stateless HTTP protocol and is used for designing applications that can inter-communicate. In REST, Resources are used to represent state and functionality and these resources are in turn represented using user friendly URLs.

The official website of OData Protocol exposes data as an OData Service. Here is the service url: http://services.odata.org/website/odata.svc.

When you open the page in a browser, here is how the XML markup looks:

<service xml:base="http://services.odata.org/Website/odata.svc/">
<workspace>
<atom:title>Default</atom:title>
<collection href="ODataConsumers">
<atom:title>ODataConsumers</atom:title>
</collection>
<collection href="ODataProducerApplications">
<atom:title>ODataProducerApplications</atom:title>
</collection>
<collection href="ODataProducerLiveServices">
<atom:title>ODataProducerLiveServices</atom:title>
</collection>
</workspace>
</service>

Note that a collection of entity sets or feeds is referred to as workspace.



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