Saturday, September 10, 2016 Web API Help Page Customization

After you have setup Web API help page as shown here, you could do following customizations:
  • List APIs by controller name
  • List Model properties by name
  • Multi-project support (Model classes in separate project)

List APIs by controller name

Edit Areas\HelpPage\Views\Index.cshtml and replace below line

ILookup<HttpControllerDescriptor, ApiDescription> apiGroups = Model.ToLookup(api =>  api.ActionDescriptor.ControllerDescriptor);


ILookup<HttpControllerDescriptor, ApiDescription> apiGroups = Model.OrderBy(d => d.ActionDescriptor.ControllerDescriptor.ControllerName).ToLookup(api => api.ActionDescriptor.ControllerDescriptor);

That way it would be easy for anyone to refer to help page documentation and a person can be sure that all the APIs will be in ascending order.

List Model properties by name

Default order of the property is the order you added properties to Model class. To list down properties in ascending order then, edit Areas\HelpPage\Views\DsplayTemplates\parameters.cshtml and replace below line

@foreach (ParameterDescription parameter in Model) 


@foreach (ParameterDescription parameter in Model.OrderBy(c=>c.Name))

Multi-project support

It is normal practice to have layered architecture and hence model classes could be in different project. Please refer this Stackoverflow post for the same. I’ve modified it a bit to generate the help documentation, please follow the steps mentioned below:
  1. Enable XML documentation for your subproject (from project properties / build) like you have for your Web API project. Except this time, route it directly to projectname.XmlDocument.xml so that it gets generated in your project's root folder. Replace projectname with name of your project.
  2. Modify your Web API project's postbuild event to copy this XML file into your App_Data folder:

    copy "$(SolutionDir)SubProject\XmlDocument.xml" "$(ProjectDir)\App_Data\Subproject.xml" 

    Paths are wrapped in double quotes to handle space in between path.

  3. Next open Areas\HelpPage\App_Start\HelpPageConfig and locate the following line:

    config.SetDocumentationProvider(new XmlDocumentationProvider(

    and replace it with below:

    config.SetDocumentationProvider(new XmlDocumentationProvider(

  4. Update Areas\HelpPage\XmlDocumentationProvider as shown below:
    1. Replace the _documentNavigator field with:

      private List<XPathNavigator> _documentNavigators = new List<XPathNavigator>(); 

    2. Replace the constructor with:

      public XmlDocumentationProvider(string appDataPath)
                  if (appDataPath == null)
                      throw new ArgumentNullException("appDataPath");
                  foreach (var file in Directory.GetFiles(appDataPath, "*.xml"))
                      XPathDocument xpath = new XPathDocument(Path.Combine(appDataPath, file));

      Above constructor is different than the original stackoverflow post. Here we’re not defining list of files, but will consider all the files having .xml extension.

    3. Add the following method below the constructor:

      private XPathNavigator SelectSingleNode(string selectExpression)
          foreach (var navigator in _documentNavigators)
              var propertyNode = navigator.SelectSingleNode(selectExpression);
              if (propertyNode != null)
                  return propertyNode;
          return null;

    4. Fix all compiler errors (there should be three) resulting in references to _documentNavigator.SelectSingleNode and remove the _documentNavigator. portion so that it now calls the new SelectSingleNode method we defined above.
For advanced customization, please refer this. I hope it helps!
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