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My organization is requiring that we rewrite all of our sandbox solutions as we shift to SP 2013 as provider-hosted apps using CSOM. One of the event receivers I wrote would previously use the SPFileVersion class in the Server API to get the property info and the file itself so that we could copy previous versions (the most recent major version of a file). The Client API doesn't seem to have a way to get either of these from the FileVersion class. I could maybe try to use the URL property to retrieve the file stream, but I've read that this is apparently difficult to do as well.. but I still don't see a direct way of grabbing the metadata associated with that previous file version.

Is this simply not possible without server API?

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You can use Lists.asmx web service to get the data. Lists.GetVersionCollection returns the XmlNode for a field. You'll have to add the web service as a web reference to your VS project after which you'll be able to use it. See: MSDN

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