Lee Z Lee Z - 2 months ago 14
reST (reStructuredText) Question

Is it possible for ASP.NET MVC website (not project) to return HttpResponseMessage

I am creating a RESTful webservice using ASP.NET MVC (not ASP.NET Web API). What I want to do is have every method in the controller return their result based on an input parameter (i.e. json or xml).

If I were using ASP.NET Web API, the HttpResponseMessage works for this purpose. When I attempt to return an HttpResponseMessage from a controller in ASP.NET MVC, there is no detail.

I have read that in this approach, I am supposed to use ActionResult. If I do this, then I need to create an XmlResult that inherits from ActionResult since it is not supported.

My question is why HttpResponseMessage does not work the same in both situations. I understand that in Web API, we inherit from ApiController and in ASP.NET MVC we inherit from System.Web.Mvc.Controller.

Any help is greatly appreciated.


Much thanks to Fals for his input. My problem was in how to create an empty website and add all of the necessary functionality in. The solution was to use Nuget to get the packages mentioned in the comments and then to follow the steps in How to integrate asp.net mvc to Web Site Project.


Web Api is a Framework to develop Restfull services, based on HTTP. This framework was separeted into another assembly System.Web.Http, so you can host it everywhere, not only in IIS. Web API works directly with HTTP Request / Response, then every controller inherit from IHttpController.

MVC has It's implementation on System.Web.Mvc. coupled with the ASP.NET Framework, then you must use It inside an Web Application. Every MVC controller inherits from IController that makes an abstraction layer between you and the real HttpRequest.

You can still access the request using HttpContext.Response directly in your MVC controller, or as you said, inheriting a new ActionResult to do the job, for example:

public class NotFoundActionResult : ActionResult
 private string _viewName;
 public NotFoundActionResult()

 public NotFoundActionResult(string viewName)
  _viewName = viewName;
 public override void ExecuteResult(ControllerContext context)
  context.HttpContext.Response.StatusCode = 404;
  context.HttpContext.Response.TrySkipIisCustomErrors = true;

  new ViewResult { ViewName = string.IsNullOrEmpty(_viewName) ? "Error" : _viewName}.ExecuteResult(context);

This ActionResult has the meaning of respond thought HTTP Error.