Posting compressed JSON Content to ASP.NET Web API Controller

I had a requirement to POST gzipped JSON content to a .NET web api controller. It turns out the technique for doing this is not easy, or at least not common knowledge. This is the solution I came up with that works:

public class GZipToJsonHandler : DelegatingHandler
	protected override Task SendAsync(HttpRequestMessage request, CancellationToken cancellationToken)
		// Handle only if content type is 'application/gzip'
		if (request.Content.Headers.ContentType == null ||
			request.Content.Headers.ContentType.MediaType != "application/gzip")
			return base.SendAsync(request, cancellationToken);

		// Read in the input stream, then decompress in to the outputstream.
		// Doing this asynronously, but not really required at this point
		// since we end up waiting on it right after this.
		Stream outputStream = new MemoryStream();
		Task task = request.Content.ReadAsStreamAsync().ContinueWith(t =>
				Stream inputStream = t.Result;
				var gzipStream = new GZipStream(inputStream, CompressionMode.Decompress);


				outputStream.Seek(0, SeekOrigin.Begin);

		// Wait for inputstream and decompression to complete. Would be nice
		// to not block here and work async when ready instead, but I couldn't
		// figure out how to do it in context of a DelegatingHandler.

		// This next section is the key...

		// Save the original content
		HttpContent origContent = request.Content;

		// Replace request content with the newly decompressed stream
		request.Content = new StreamContent(outputStream);

		// Copy all headers from original content in to new one
		foreach (var header in origContent.Headers)
			request.Content.Headers.TryAddWithoutValidation(header.Key, header.Value);

		// Replace the original content-type with content type
		// of decompressed data. In our case, we can assume application/json. A
		// more generic and reuseable handler would need some other
		// way to differentiate the decompressed content type.
		request.Content.Headers.Add("Content-Type", "application/json");

		return base.SendAsync(request, cancellationToken);

Added to the MessageHandlers in WebApiConfig.cs with:

    config.MessageHandlers.Add(new GZipToJsonHandler());

Using this approach, existing controllers which normally work with JSON content and automatic model binding, continue to work without any changes. Related StackOverflow question with my answer here.

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  • El Tori

    Useful!!! Thanks 😀

  • Hannaan

    My model in my api controller is null after the decompression

    • Hannaan

      Any help/suggestions ?

    • kaliatech

      Are you able to post without the compression? I would make sure that works first. Did you add the GZipToJsonHandler message handler correctly? (I edited my post to include that line in WebApiConfig.cs). If still having issues, consider posting a question to stackoverflow. However, you will need to provide more information regarding your setup.

  • Dan


    What code did you use for sending the compressed content from the client?

    Is it possible to have HttpClient send compressed content from the client?
    I already have a HttpClient that attaches a client certificate for authentication but do not know how to change the code to have compression

  • Dan

    Thank you for your help and fast response.
    I will give it a try