Tutorial - Adding server-side data to a property editor


    In this tutorial we will add a server-side API controller, which will query a custom table in the Umbraco database, and then return the data to a simple angular controller + view.

    The end result will be a person-list, populated from a custom table. When clicked it will store the ID of the selected person.

    Setup the database

    First thing we need is some data; below is a simple SQL Script for creating a people table with some random data in it. You could also use http://generatedata.com for larger amounts of data:

    CREATE TABLE people (
        name VARCHAR(255) NULL,
        town VARCHAR(255) NULL,
        country VARCHAR(100) NULL,
        PRIMARY KEY (id)
    INSERT INTO people(name,town,country) VALUES('Myles A. Pearson','Tailles','United Kingdom');
    INSERT INTO people(name,town,country) VALUES('Cora Y. Kelly','Froidchapelle','Latvia');
    INSERT INTO people(name,town,country) VALUES('Brooke Baxter','Mogi das Cruzes','Grenada');
    INSERT INTO people(name,town,country) VALUES('Illiana T. Strong','Bevel','Bhutan');
    INSERT INTO people(name,town,country) VALUES('Kaye Frederick','Rothesay','Turkmenistan');
    INSERT INTO people(name,town,country) VALUES('Erasmus Camacho','Sint-Pieters-Kapelle','Saint Vincent and The Grenadines');
    INSERT INTO people(name,town,country) VALUES('Aimee Sampson','Hawera','Antigua and Barbuda');

    Setup ApiController routes

    Next we need to define an ApiController to expose a server-side route which our application will use to fetch the data.

    For this, we will create a file at: /App_Code/PersonApiController.cs. It must be in App_Code since we want our app to compile it on start. Alternatively, you can just add it to a normal .NET project and compile it into a DLL as usual.

    In the PersonApiController.cs file, add:

    using System;
    using System.Collections.Generic;
    using System.Linq;
    using System.Web;
    using Umbraco.Web.WebApi;
    using Umbraco.Web.Editors;
    using Umbraco.Core.Persistence;
    namespace My.Controllers
        public class PersonApiController : UmbracoAuthorizedJsonController
            //we will add a method here later

    This is a very basic API controller which inherits from UmbracoAuthorizedJsonController this specific class will only return JSON data, and only to requests which are authorized to access the backoffice.

    Setup the GetAll() method

    Now that we have a controller, we need to create a method, which can return a collection of people, which our editor will use.

    So first of all, we add a Person class to the My.Controllers namespace:

    public class Person
        public int Id { get; set; }
        public string Name { get; set; }
        public string Town { get; set; }
        public string Country { get; set; }

    We will use this class to map our table data to a C# class, which we can return as JSON later.

    Now we need the GetAll() method which returns a collection of people, insert this inside the PersonApiController class:

    public IEnumerable<Person> GetAll()

    Inside the GetAll() method, we now write a bit of code, that connects to the database, creates a query and returns the data, mapped to the Person class above:

    //get the database
    var db = UmbracoContext.Application.DatabaseContext.Database;
    //build a query to select everything the people table
    var query = new Sql().Select("*").From("people");
    //fetch data from DB with the query and map to Person object
    return db.Fetch<Person>(query);

    We are now done with the server-side of things, with the file saved in App_Code you can now open the URL: /umbraco/backoffice/My/PersonApi/GetAll.

    This will return our JSON data.

    Create a Person Resource

    Now that we have the server-side in place, and a URL to call, we will setup a service to retrieve our data. As an Umbraco-specific convention, we call these services a resource, so we always have an indication of what services fetch data from the DB.

    Create a new file as person.resource.js and add:

    //adds the resource to umbraco.resources module:
        function($q, $http, umbRequestHelper) {
            //the factory object returned
            return {
                //this calls the ApiController we setup earlier
                getAll: function () {
                return umbRequestHelper.resourcePromise(
                "Failed to retrieve all Person data");

    This uses the standard angular factory pattern, so we can now inject this into any of our controllers under the name personResource.

    The getAll() method returns a promise from an $http.get call, which handles calling the URL, and will return the data when it's ready. You'll notice that the $http.get method is wapped inside umbRequestHelper.resourcePromise, the umbRequestHelper.resourcePromise will automatically handle any 500 errors for you which is why the 2nd string parameter is there - it defines the error message displayed.

    Create the view and controller

    We will now finally setup a new view and controller, which follows previous tutorials, so you can refer to those for more details:

    the view:

    <div ng-controller="My.PersonPickerController">
            <li ng-repeat="person in people">
                <a href ng-click="model.value = person.Name">{{person.Name}}</a>

    The controller:

        .controller("My.PersonPickerController", function($scope, personResource){
                $scope.people = response.data;

    The flow

    So with all these bits in place, all you need to do is register the property editor in a package.manifest - have a look at the first tutorial in this series. You will need to tell the package to load both your personpicker.controller.js and the person.resource.js file on app start.

    With this, the entire flow is:

    1. the view renders a list of people with a controller
    2. the controller asks the personResource for data
    3. the personResource returns a Promise and asks the my/PersonAPI ApiController
    4. The ApiController queries the database, which returns the data as strongly typed Person objects
    5. the ApiController returns those Person objects as JSON to the resource
    6. the resource resolve the Promise
    7. the controller populates the view

    Easy huh? - honestly tho, there is a good amount of things to keep track of, but each component is tiny and flexible.


    The important part of the above is the way you create an ApiController call to the database for your own data, and finally expose the data to angular as a service using $http.

    For simplicity, you could also have skipped the service part, and just called $http directly in your controller, but by having your data in a service, it becomes a reusable resource for your entire application.