How to Differentiate ASP.NET Web API and ASP.NET MVC?

Difference Between ASP.NET Web API and MVC

While building up your web application through MVC, a lot of developers get puzzled when to use Web API, as it can additionally return JSON data through utilizing JsonResult & can also manage simple AJAX requests. In this blog, we will understand the difference in ASP.NET Web API and MVC.

While it is feasible to expose functionality of web app by Web API, it can additionally be done with MVC by utilizing the action methods. But, to decide between these 2 technologies to utilize for functionality exposing, you can have a few main things to keep in mind and they are mentioned below.

Creating Full-Fledged REST Service or Exposing Functionality:

When talking about exposing the functionality of a web app, you can have two considerations – first is revealing the functionality in the web app & the second is to expose it like a general functionality which is independent of any particular application. Depending on MVC is a nice option in case exposing functionality in the application is your necessity because these controllers are firmly tied to a definite application. Conversely, with the Web API, it would need to generate a whole new API & hence, the procedure will get more time-consuming and complicated.

Considering another case, it’s better to build full-fledged REST service with the aim to use Web API since the REST service is not restricted to just a single apps and can be utilized by various applications for their tasks. Thus, if the functionality of your application is data-oriented then Web API provides an awesome solution, as MVC is good for building up the web application which replies as both views and data.


Hosting is another essential consideration at the time of ASP.NET development session. As MVC controller is an ingredient of an ASP.NET MVC app, it relies on IIS environment for hosting whereas, on other hands, Web API is actually a service-based framework that can enable the developer to host his app in a custom host rather than IIS. Thus, through Web API you can host your apps on lightweight host server according to your needs & save overheads generally witnessed in IIS hosted ASP.NET apps. Web API is, thus, a reliable technology for building up console, web and desktop applications.

Formats to Manage

MVC returns data in usual JSON format making use of JSONResult. Thus, one can utilize action approaches to expose functionality of an app here. However, Web API returns different kinds of data such as the XML, JSON or any other data format rooted in accept header. In MVC you are needed to specify the data format explicitly whereas it is done robotically in Web API.

So, these were some significant differences between ASP.NET Web API and ASP.NET MVC. You can hire pioneer ASP Dot Net development company for your quick development task.

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