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What Is OData? Open Data Protocol Explained

Data is king in IT. It drives decisions, shapes strategies, and powers many of the technologies we use daily. But to fully harness the power of data, it needs to be accessible and manipulable. That’s where OData, the Open Data Protocol, comes in handy.

What is OData?

OData, or Open Data Protocol, is an open standard that defines a set of best practices for building and consuming RESTful APIs. It was initiated by Microsoft in 2007 and later handed over to the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS) in 2012.

The OData standard allows for the creation of HTTP-based data services, which allow resources, identified using URLs and defined in a data model, to be published and edited by Web clients using simple HTTP messages. In essence, OData is a standardized protocol for creating and consuming data APIs.

Purpose of OData

The primary purpose of OData is to provide a protocol that is clear, standardized, and easy to use, enabling data to be shared across applications, services, and stores. It aims to simplify the process of data sharing, making it more efficient and user-friendly.

OData enables you to request and write data to resources, using familiar web protocols such as GET, POST, PUT, DELETE, PATCH. This means developers can use OData to expose and handle data over the Web, or other networks, from a variety of applications, services, and stores. It provides a uniform way to expose, structure, and manipulate data with RESTful APIs.

How does OData work?

OData works by extending the existing HTTP protocol, allowing for data interaction using the standard methods mentioned earlier. A typical OData service includes a Service Document, Service Metadata Document, Resource Collections, and Service Operations.

The Service Document is a simple representation of all the available collections of data that can be accessed. The Service Metadata Document lays out the data structure, including entity types, properties, relationships, and so forth.

Resource Collections are sets of resources that can be individually addressed. They are usually grouped by entity type. Service Operations are essentially functions that may be called on the service endpoint, allowing for server-side logic.

When a client wants to interact with the data, it sends an HTTP request to the OData service endpoint. The server then processes the request, performs the necessary operations, and returns an HTTP response, usually in the form of an Atom or JSON document.


OData is a powerful protocol that simplifies the process of working with data over the internet. It provides a standardized method for exposing, structuring, and manipulating data, making it an essential tool for developers and IT professionals alike. By understanding and implementing OData, you’re taking a big step toward efficient data management and utilization.

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