jQuery UI autocomplete with ASP.NET Web API

jQuery UI autocomplete enables users to quickly find and select from a pre-populated list of values as they type, leveraging searching and filtering.

Step 1 : Getting Web Api Ready

Lets first create a web api method that will return a list of item (Artists) using the search term query sent from the autocomplete textbox. In this post I am not using database, instead I’ll be using List to keep this example as simple as possible.

Below is how I have defined my Artist class

public class Artist
    public int Id { get; set; }
    public int Name { get; set; }

Next I have created a Web Api GET method that will use the search term entered in the autocomplete textbox and with a little help of LINQ will return a list of matching results.

using System.Collections.Generic;
using System.Linq;
using System.Web.Http;

namespace Autocomplete.Controllers
    public class ArtistApiController : ApiController

        public List<Artist> ArtistList = new List<Artist>
            new Artist{Id = 1, Name = "Sonu Nigam"},
            new Artist{Id = 2, Name = "Sunidhi Chauhan"},
            new Artist{Id = 3, Name = "Shreya Goshal"},
            new Artist{Id = 4, Name = "Mohit Chauhan"},
            new Artist{Id = 5, Name = "Nihkil Dsouza"},
            new Artist{Id = 6, Name = "Kailash Kher"},
            new Artist{Id = 7, Name = "Atif Aslam"},
            new Artist{Id = 8, Name = "Ali Zafar"},
            new Artist{Id = 9, Name = "Shafaqat Ali"},
            new Artist{Id = 10, Name = "Shankar Madahevan"}

        // GET api/values
        public IEnumerable<Artist> Get(string query)
            return ArtistList.Where(m => m.Name.Contains(query)).ToList();

Our server side code is ready ! Time to test it out.

autocomplete test

Step 2 : Client side code

Include jquery-ui.js and jquery.ui.css in your html

<script type="text/javascript" src="~/Scripts/jquery-1.7.1.min.js" ></script>
<script type="text/javascript" src="~/Scripts/jquery-ui-1.8.20.min.js" ></script>
<link href="~/Content/themes/base/jquery.ui.all.css" rel="stylesheet" />

<div id="body">
    <label for="autocomplete-textbox">Search : </label>
    <input type="text" id="autocomplete-textbox" />

<script type="text/javascript">
$(document).ready(function (){
    source: function (request, response) {
        // prepare url : for example '/api/artistapi?query=sonu
        var autocompleteUrl = '/api/artistapi' + '?query=' + request.term;
            url: autocompleteUrl,
            type: 'GET',
            cache: false,
            dataType: 'json',
            success: function (json) {
                // call autocomplete callback method with results  
                response($.map(json, function (data, id) {
                    return {
                        label: data.Name,
                        value: data.Id
            error: function (xmlHttpRequest, textStatus, errorThrown) {
                console.log('some error occured', textStatus, errorThrown);
    minLength: 2,
    select: function (event, ui) {
        alert('you have selected ' + ui.item.label + ' ID: ' + ui.item.value);
        return false;

One thing to note here is that inside the success method I have used the following code :

response($.map(json, function (data, id) {
    return {
        label: data.Name,
        value: data.Id

data.Id and data.Name is used because in the ajax response (as shown below) data is returned in this format.

autocomplete ajax response

Step 3 : Test & Output :

autocomplete output

Hope this helps :)

About Yasser Shaikh

Hello, I am a Web Dev, employed with Media.Net where I primarily work on ASP.NET MVC and Angular JS based developement.

Questions? Enquiries? Comments? Or even just want to say “Hi” to me, you are welcome to all of that. Just drop me a message at "mail@yassershaikh.com" and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Cheers !