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How to implement RESTful API Versioning in ASP.NET Web API 2 using IHttpRouteConstraint

The only thing constant in life is change, and that is proved everyday in our industry, API’s are cool to extend the functionality of your application and expose it to other developers. The cool thing about IT and software, it’s that things changes quite rapidly and so it’s the technology, hence technology can change and the needs of your organisation can change, hence in order to keep serving this evolving needs and keep been relevant, your api might need to change also. Small changes can be accommodated within the initial version, but changes that will risked breaking the existing code, will required the need for versioning.

Implementing a custom IHttpRouteConstraint

According to msdn, a IHttpRouteConstraint simply Represents a base class route constraint. What then is a route constraint? A route constraint simply gets or sets a dictionary of expressions that specify valid values for a URL parameter.

public class ApiVersionRouteConstraint : IHttpRouteConstraint

      public ApiVersionRouteConstraint(string apiVersions)

          ApiVersions = apiVersions.ToLowerInvariant();

      public string ApiVersions { get; private set; }

      public bool Match(HttpRequestMessage request, IHttpRoute route, string parameterName, IDictionary<string, object> values, HttpRouteDirection routeDirection)

          object value;

          if (values.TryGetValue(parameterName, out value) && value != null)


              return ApiVersions.Equals(value.ToString().ToLowerInvariant());


          return false;



This class inherits the IHttpRouteConstraint interface and implements the IHttpRouteConstraint.Match method, which will return true if the specified parameter equals the ApiVersions property that was initialised in the constructor, the value for the comparison will be derived from RoutePrefixAttribute, which we'll implement now.

Implementing a custom RoutePrefixAttribute

According to Msdn, a RoutePrefixAttribute is class that annotates a controller with a route prefix that applies to all actions within the controller.

public class ApiVersion1: RoutePrefixAttribute
private const string RouteValue = "api/{apiVersion:apiVersionRouteConstraint(v1)}";
    private const string RouteValuePrefix = RouteValue + "/";

      public ApiVersion1(string routePrefix)

          : base(string.IsNullOrWhiteSpace(routePrefix) ? RouteValue : RouteValuePrefix + routePrefix)




The purpose of implementing the above attribute is to encapsulate the api/v1 part of the template, so you can call directly pass the controller name as a parameter rather than copying the entire template.

public class JobsController : ApiController {


The above implementation is same as the implementation below, the only different is the encapsulation of api/vi part of the template.

public class JobController : ApiController {



Using a custom IHttpRouteConstraint made it easy to constrain apiVersion parameter to a value of v1. The implementation is far from over, in another post i will be discussing how to implement a custom controller selector using IHttpControllerSelector and registering our ApiVersionRouteConstraint with a constraint resolver which the framework will need to instantiate the right constraints.


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