Web API navigation properties

In the CSDL $metadata document, each entity type that isn't abstract has NavigationProperty elements. NavigationProperty elements describe data that's related to the current entity type. When you retrieve a record, you can expand navigation properties to include related data.

The following table describes the attributes of NavigationProperty elements.

Attribute Description
Name The name of the navigation property; case-sensitive
Type The related entity type; can be to a single value or a collection of a type
Partner The name of the navigation property on the other side of the relationship
Nullable="false" Whether the value can be null


There are two types of navigation properties: single-valued and collection-valued. This distinction is important because the capabilities of each type of navigation property are different.

Single-valued navigation properties

When a navigation property Type refers to a single value, it represents a one-to-many relationship that creates a reference to another table record. This relationship is commonly called a lookup. The following example is the account table createdby navigation property:

        ReferencedProperty="systemuserid" />

This single-valued navigation property connects multiple account records to a single systemuser record. Each systemuser record has a collection-valued navigation property named lk_accountbase_createdby that connects it to the account records the user has created.

These values are stored in relationship definitions. You can access them using the SDK OneToManyRelationshipMetadata or the Web API OneToManyRelationshipMetadata entity type, as described in the following table.

Attribute OneToManyRelationshipMetadata property Description
Name ReferencingEntityNavigationPropertyName The name of the single-valued navigation property.
Partner ReferencedEntityNavigationPropertyName The name of the collection-valued navigation property.

Lookup properties

Single-valued navigation properties have a ReferentialConstraint with a Property attribute that refers to a lookup property. Lookup properties use the following naming convention: _<name>_value. Learn more about lookup properties.

The ReferentialConstraint has a ReferencedProperty attribute that identifies the primary key name of the related entity type.

In most cases, the <name> found in the lookup property matches the name of the navigation property, except when the single-valued navigation property represents a multi-table lookup.

Multi-table lookups

When the single-valued navigation property is part of a multi-table, or polymorphic, lookup, a single lookup property is the ReferentialConstraint for more than one single-valued navigation property.

An entity type may have something like the following combination, where a single _customerid_value lookup property supports multiple single-valued navigation properties that represent a multi-table lookup. There is one single-valued navigation property for each type of table supported by the multi-table lookup.

        <PropertyRef Name="socialprofileid" />
        Name="_customerid_value" <!-- lookup property -->
            String="Shows the customer that this social profile belongs to." />
        Name="customerid_contact" <!-- Name different from lookup property -->
            Property="_customerid_value" <!--  Reference to lookup property  -->
            ReferencedProperty="contactid" />
        Name="customerid_account" <!-- Name different from lookup property -->
            Property="_customerid_value"  <!--  Reference to lookup property  -->
            ReferencedProperty="accountid" />

In these cases, setting the value of any of the single-valued navigation properties sets all the other participating single-valued navigation properties to null. The corresponding lookup property GUID value changes, but you need to retrieve specific annotations to know which table it now refers to. More information: Lookup property data

Collection-valued navigation properties

When a navigation property Type refers to a collection value, it represents a many-to-one or many-to-many relationship. The following example is the account entity Account_Tasks navigation property:


This navigation property connects an account record to many task records. Each task has a single-valued navigation property named regardingobjectid_account_task that refers to the account as the regarding object.

The way you work with collection-valued navigation properties using OData is the same regardless of whether the relationship is one-to-many or many-to-many. Both are considered collections and you interact with them the same way.

Many-to-one relationships

A many-to-one relationship is the mirror image of the one-to-many relationship. It has a partner single-valued navigation property. In the earlier single-valued navigation properties example, we looked at the createdby single-valued navigation property for the account entity type.

In the systemuser entity type, the collection-valued navigation property partner named lk_accountbase_createdby exists.

<NavigationProperty Name="lk_accountbase_createdby"
    Partner="createdby" />

Many-to-many Relationships

When the Name and the Partner of the collection-valued navigation property are the same, it represents a many-to-many relationship.

Many-to-many relationships have some implementation details you can find in the service documents. For most use cases, you can ignore them.

For example, every many-to-many relationship has an intersect table that supports it. These intersect tables have entity types that typically have four read-only properties. In the following example, the teammembership entity type is an intersect table that supports a many-to-many relationship between the systemuser and team entity types:

<EntityType Name="teammembership"
        <PropertyRef Name="teammembershipid" />
    <Property Name="systemuserid"
        Type="Edm.Guid" />
    <Property Name="versionnumber"
        Type="Edm.Int64" />
    <Property Name="teammembershipid"
        Type="Edm.Guid" />
    <Property Name="teamid"
        Type="Edm.Guid" />

You can't work with entity types that represent intersect tables directly because all the properties are read-only. Perform operations on the respective collection-valued navigation properties for each entity type. More information: Associate and disassociate table rows using the Web API

For this many-to-many relationship, the systemuser entity type has the following collection-valued navigation property:

<NavigationProperty Name="teammembership_association"
    Partner="teammembership_association" />

The team entity type has this collection-valued navigation property:

<NavigationProperty Name="teammembership_association"
    Partner="teammembership_association" />

These values are stored in relationship definitions. You can access them using the SDK ManyToManyRelationshipMetadata or the Web API ManyToManyRelationshipMetadata entity type, as described in the following table.

Attribute ManyToManyRelationshipMetadata property Description
Name Entity1NavigationPropertyName The name of the collection-valued navigation property for one of the entity types
Partner Entity2NavigationPropertyName The name of the collection-valued navigation property for the other entity type

Next steps

Learn about Action definitions.

See also

Web API types and operations
Web API service documents
Web API EntityTypes
Web API properties
Web API actions
Web API functions
Web API complex and enumeration types
Use the Dataverse Web API
OData Version 4.0. Part 3: Common Schema Definition Language (CSDL) Plus Errata 03 7.1 Element edm:NavigationProperty