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MD-SAL datastore is divided in config and operational. The first one is filled with the configuration information that users push for example through REST API. The second is the operational information that comes from the system and you normally read to understand if your configuration has been succesfully pushed into a device for example.

Another example to understand the difference between config and operational: if you get a regular ethernet switch, you normally configure vlans, the ports that belong to the vlans, the vlan tag, etc... all this information goes to the switch configuration which is what you have in the OpenDaylight config datastore. On the other hand, after configuring you switch, you would like to check the system status by issuing some show commands for vlan, port, etc.. this system information is what you have in the OpenDaylight operational datastore.

In the case of custom topologies (if this is your question), you have to use the config API to define your topology:

PUT http://localhost:8080/restconf/config/network-topology:network-topology/topology/<id>

However if your topology does not match a real topology learned by the system (via LLDP for example), you will get empty operational information:

GET http://localhost:8080/restconf/operational/network-topology:network-topology/topology/<id>