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Recently, while trying to implement Bootstrap’s typeahead.js to an ASP.NET MVC project, we ran into a couple problems. To start, we were using the following articles as a guide:

http://deanhume.com/home/blogpost/twitter-bootstrap-typeahead-and-asp-net-mvc—key-value-pairs/88

http://yassershaikh.com/using-twitter-typeahead-js-with-asp-net-mvc-web-api/

The code within these articles worked just fine for the purpose of dealing with in-memory data. For instance, creating a handmade List<Company> would execute without flaws. However, these articles didn’t work for our particular situation because we were dealing with an Entity Framework generated class containing data from a database. This being the case, we figured we could make an equivalent list using an Entity Framework query like so:

var companies = db.Companies.Where(m => m.Name.StartsWith(query)).Select(c => new { c.Name, c.CompanyID });

This turned out to be only half of the battle. We were still having issues so we began logging some JavaScript objects in the console. With the handmade list, the console showed a conventional JSON object. On the other hand, when we passed the Entity Framework JSON serialized object we got numerous errors, including:

A circular reference was detected while serializing an object of type ‘System.Data.Entity.DynamicProxies.Company_983FFFBF6539DF8F813E1EAB1A1565F8743CF808D3B09F748B8A4906B756C4EF’.

We tried manually serializing, but it gave a similar error:

Using JsonConvert.SerializeObject
In Visual Studio before getting to client:
Self referencing loop detected for property ‘Company’ with type ‘System.Data.Entity.DynamicProxies.Company_983FFFBF6539DF8F813E1EAB1A1565F8743CF808D3B09F748B8A4906B756C4EF’. Path ‘[0].SalesCalls[0]’.

So, the big problem was trying to serialize an Entity Framework object. This can be done by changing a particular setting to false. In your code, you can simply call the following:

context.Configuration.ProxyCreationEnabled = false;

After adding that, we had no more issues. Our final action method looked like this:

public ActionResult GetCompanies(string query) {

    // Enable json serialization of the object.
    db.Configuration.ProxyCreationEnabled = false;

    var companies = db.Companies.Where(m => m.Name.StartsWith(query)).Select(c => new { c.Name, c.CompanyID });

    return Json(companies, JsonRequestBehavior.AllowGet);
}