Library for building APIs that support the collection+json media type
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This library provides support for ASP.NET Web API using the [Collection+JSON] ( hypermedia mediatype authored by [Mike Amundsen] (


  • A set of models for fully representing a Collection+Json document.
  • CollectionJsonFormatter which handles Collection+Json representations.
  • CollectionJsonController which is a drop-in API controller that is designed to make it easy to support Collection+Json. It wires up the formatter for you / removes a lot of cruft.
  • A set of adapter contracts for reading and writing Collection+json documents.
  • Easy to test / IoC friendly
  • A light sample.

This documentation is a work in progress. You can check the samples directory for a basic CRUD controller and to see how to wire things up.

Nuget packages

CollectionJson ships with several nuget packages that are factored for client and server scenarios.

IReadDocument and Collection

This interfaces corresponds to the message format Collection+Json defines for returning Collection+Json results.

public interface IReadDocument
    Collection Collection { get; }

public class Collection
    public Collection()
        Links = new List<Link>();
        Items = new List<Item>();
        Queries = new List<Query>();
        Template = new Template();

    public string Version { get; set; }
    public Uri Href { get; set; }
    public IList<Link> Links { get; private set; }
    public IList<Item> Items { get; private set; }
    public IList<Query> Queries { get; private set; }
    public Template Template { get; private set; }

IWriteDocument and Template

This interface corresponds to the message format Collection+Json defines for creating / updating items.

public interface IWriteDocument
    Template Template { get; }

public class Template
    public Template()
        Data = new List<Data>();

    public IList<Data> Data { get; set; }


This controller is a drop in component that one can derive from to implement the Collection+Json CRUD protocol. It constrains to strictly returning and accepting the correct message formats based on the spec. It also handles concerns like status codes, auto-generating the location header etc.

public class FriendsController : CollectionJsonController<Friend>
    private IFriendRepository repo;

    public FriendsController(IFriendRepository repo, ICollectionJsonDocumentWriter<Friend> writer, ICollectionJsonDocumentReader<Friend> reader)
        :base(writer, reader)
        this.repo = repo;

    protected override int Create(IWriteDocument writeDocument, HttpResponseMessage response)
        var friend = Reader.Read(writeDocument);
        return repo.Add(friend);

    protected override IReadDocument Read(HttpResponseMessage response)
        var readDoc = Writer.Write(repo.GetAll());
        return readDoc;

    protected override IReadDocument Read(int id, HttpResponseMessage response)
        return Writer.Write(repo.Get(id));
    //custom search method   
    public HttpResponseMessage Get(string name)
        var friends = repo.GetAll().Where(f => f.FullName.IndexOf(name, StringComparison.OrdinalIgnoreCase) > -1);
        var readDocument = Writer.Write(friends);
        return readDocument.ToHttpResponseMessage();

    protected override IReadDocument Update(int id, IWriteDocument writeDocument, HttpResponseMessage response)
        var friend = Reader.Read(writeDocument);
        friend.Id = id;
        return Writer.Write(friend);

    protected override void Delete(int id, HttpResponseMessage response)

An implementer overrides methods from the base. The controller abstracts away the CJ format, which is handled via a set of adapters.


The reader is responsible for taking a Collection+JSON write template and convering it into "some" model. The model can be anything from a primitive like a string to a complex object.

public class FriendDocumentReader : ICollectionJsonDocumentReader<Friend>
    public Friend Read(WriteDocument document)
        var template = document.Template;
        var friend = new Friend();
        friend.FullName = template.Data.GetDataByName("name").Value;
        friend.Email = template.Data.GetDataByName("email").Value;
        friend.Blog = new Uri(template.Data.GetDataByName("blog").Value);
        friend.Avatar = new Uri(template.Data.GetDataByName("avatar").Value);
        return friend;


The writer is responsible for taking the model and writing it out as Collection+Json Document.

public class FriendDocumentWriter : ICollectionJsonDocumentWriter<Friend>
    private readonly Uri _requestUri;

    public FriendDocumentWriter(HttpRequestMessage request)
        _requestUri = request.RequestUri;

    public IReadDocument Write(IEnumerable<Friend> friends)
        var document = new ReadDocument();
        var collection = new Collection { Version = "1.0", Href = new Uri(_requestUri, "/friends/") };
        document.Collection = collection;

        collection.Links.Add(new Link { Rel = "Feed", Href = new Uri(_requestUri, "/friends/rss") });

        foreach (var friend in friends)
            var item = new Item { Href = new Uri(_requestUri, "/friends/" + friend.Id) };
            item.Data.Add(new Data { Name = "full-name", Value = friend.FullName, Prompt = "Full Name" });
            item.Data.Add(new Data { Name = "email", Value = friend.Email, Prompt = "Email" });
            item.Data.Add(new Data{ Name = "short-name", Value = friend.ShortName, Prompt = "Short Name"});
            item.Links.Add(new Link { Rel = "blog", Href = friend.Blog, Prompt = "Blog" });
            item.Links.Add(new Link { Rel = "avatar", Href = friend.Avatar, Prompt = "Avatar", Render = "Image" });

        var query = new Query { Rel = "search", Href = new Uri(_requestUri, "/friends"), Prompt = "Search" };
        query.Data.Add(new Data { Name = "name", Prompt="Value to match against the Full Name" });

        var data = collection.Template.Data;
        data.Add(new Data { Name = "name", Prompt = "Full Name" });
        data.Add(new Data { Name = "email", Prompt = "Email" });
        data.Add(new Data { Name = "blog", Prompt = "Blog" });
        data.Add(new Data { Name = "avatar", Prompt = "Avatar" });
        return document;