Archive for the ‘WCF’ Category

Setting Client Credentials when calling an HTTPS Web Service with the WSDL Type Provider

February 10, 2015 1 comment

.. just because it was so hard to find it online.  (This works with .Net 4.5 and F# 3.1).

You will need to add references to:

  • System.Runtime.Serialization
  • System.ServiceModel
  • System.IdentityModel
  • FSharp.Data.TypeProviders

Here’s the code, I’m sure you can work out the important bit.  It’s calling a WCF service called MyService, your names may vary:

open System
open System.ServiceModel
open System.IdentityModel
open Microsoft.FSharp.Data.TypeProviders

type MyService = WsdlService<"">

let someService = MyService.GetBasicHttpBinding_SomeService()

// important bit here!
someService.DataContext.ClientCredentials.UserName.UserName <- "MyUser"
someService.DataContext.ClientCredentials.UserName.Password <- "Password1"

// you should probably catch some exceptions here

Categories: F#, WCF

WCF Overview

I did an introductory WCF workshop the other week so I thought I’d post the basics here.  This diagram shows the usage of WCF (excuse the crappy PowerPoint art) – brief explanations below:

WCF Usage Diagram

WCF Usage Diagram


This is your actual service, which is just made up of standard .Net code, usually an interface and the implementation.  The interface has a couple of attributes on it to make itself known to WCF as a service, e.g.:

In VS2008, you can create this by adding a new ‘WCF Service Library’ project, which includes some example code.


The host is whatever runs the service, making it available on a particular address.  In most cases this will be IIS, but it could be a Windows Service or even just a console/winforms app.

Either way, you’ll need some config to specify the Address, Binding and Contracts (known as the ABC), which in it’s most basic form will look something like this:

These are collectively known as an ‘endpoint’.  If you created a WCF Service Library for your service, Visual Studio will actually have created this for you in an App.config file, which you can just copy into your host application.

Then to run the service, just stick this in your main():


Here’s where you actually call your service, again just a standard application of your choosing.  The point at which it turns into a WCF client is when you select ‘Add Service Reference’ in Visual Studio, and give it the address of your running service.  This does a load of magic, and the important things you and up with are:

  • A config file with the relevant WCF endpoint in it
  • A service proxy

The proxy is basically a local version of the service that you created.  If you look at all the files in the service reference, you will see ‘reference.cs’, which contains your service methods.  When we want to call the service from the client, we just make a call to this proxy, which goes away and handles all of the tricky networking stuff in the background so you don’t have to worry about it.

How simple is it?  Here’s the code:


So, WCF’s pretty easy to use.  The main issue you’ll face are probably with config, and firewalls (addresses not matching, remote machines not responding, and so on).  Once you get into it, WCF’s a massive technology, but at a basic level it’s pretty straightforward.

Apologies if this was a little short, but I thought it was about time to feed the blog!  Feel free to get in touch for more details.

Categories: WCF Tags:

WCF Speed Test using Multiple Endpoints

January 17, 2010 6 comments

One of the cool points about Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) is that it lets you change the type of connection you’re using without changing any code.  All you need are a few config changes, and hey presto!  You can go from HTTP to Named Pipes faster than David Blaine can escape from a lead box full of snakes.

At least that’s the theory.  Being so easy to change ‘bindings’ as they’re known in the world of WCF, I thought I’d do a bit of test to see how fast some of the these bindings were.  There are many bindings to choose from, but in this case I’ve gone for HTTP (standard protocol for web services – quite verbose, with data transferred as XML), TCP (which is similar to HTTP but has a more compressed, binary data transfer) and Named Pipes (which is normally used for inter-process communication, so should be very efficient).

Using Multiple Endpoints

Although not strictly necessary for this test, one thing I wanted to try was to define a service which had several different bindings at the same time.  The idea with this is that you can have a single service, but connect to it in multiple different ways – for example, use Named Pipes to call it from the same machine, TCP from within your own network, or HTTP for anything external.  Or maybe you want to offer different SOAP versions for clients of differing advancement.  For my test, this means I can have a single service and a single client, and connect using whatever binding I like to do my speed measurements.

So, to begin with, I created my service and added a standard HTTP endpoint along with a MEX endpoint so I could easily create the client from it.  (In this case, I’m hosting the service in a simple console app host which I created).  I created the client proxy using the ‘Add Service Reference’ functionality in VS2008, got that working, and then set about trying to update the config files to enable different binding types.

As it turns out, this is actually very easy.  To enable this at the service end, you simply have to add some endpoints and corresponding base addresses  to your config:

Specifying multiple endpoints on the service

You don’t even need to tie them up, or do anything different in your code – to start the host it’s simply:

Starting the service host

And bob’s your uncle!  Add a bit of a printout on the host to get the service details, we now have the following (notice the three addresses with different ‘Schemes’):

Service host details

That’s the service sorted – so what about the client?  Well, in the normal case of the client connecting to only one service, we’d just need to put the corresponding endpoint details in – but as I want to connect to all three endpoints from the same client, I put all three in:

Client configured for multiple endpoints

You might notice here that I’ve stripped the config file down to the bare bones, by removing all of the specific HTTP configuration and the MEX endpoint, just to make things clearer (although this config works fine and is what I used for the test).

In terms of opening the client, again because we’re using multiple endpoints, I’ve had to tell it which one to use by referring to the name I gave the endpoint in the config file:

Starting the client for a specific endpoint

So I’ve done this for each of the endpoints.  Of course, if I’d wanted to be clever I could have read the names from the config file and not had to be so specific in the code – but it’s Sunday, and Top Gear’s on soon.

So that’s it!  I now have a service which you can connect to over three different protocols, and a client which can use them all – and David Blaine got out ages ago…

The Speed Test

So onto the speed test.  First, I’ll give you a little info about how it was done (although don’t be fooled into thinking this is in any way scientific or tightly controlled).

I created two methods, one passing a simple data type and one a more complex data type:

Service contract used for the speed test

These methods don’t do anything except pass back the data that was passed in.

Performing the tests was simply a case of calling both of these methods in a loop once, then 10 times, then 100 times each.  I also did one ‘warm-up’ call to each method before starting the timing, as WCF services take a little while to get going the first time.  This was all done on my local PC, there was no networking involved.

I timed all these calls using a stopwatch, calculated the average, and that’s about all there was to it.

So, you want to know the results?  Very well, but I have to give you a number of disclaimers first:

  • These results are using a WCF host not IIS, which could make quite a difference
  • I haven’t optimised any of the connections (e.g. by putting parameters in the config file)
  • The first call was not timed, so if you’re only calling a method once, this won’t mean so much to you

Essentially, this boils down to the standard advice for performance testing – you need to try it yourself, with your particular environment and setup, making the kind of calls you make, to get any meaningful numbers.  And with that, here are the meaningless numbers!:

Speed Test Results

You can see the final averages at the bottom there.  Pretty much what you might expect – Named Pipes was slightly faster than TCP, both of which were considerably faster than HTTP.

Of course, it’s all in milliseconds so really not worth paying a lot of attention to, unless you happen to be making hundreds or thousands of calls – and even then, your choice is likely to be made based on security issues, what kind of network you’re using, and the types of client connecting to your service.

So my time’s been pretty much wasted then…  Never mind, it’s time for Top Gear now anyway.

Categories: WCF Tags:

Closing a WCF Client – The Proper Way!

January 17, 2010 5 comments

I’ve finally gotten around to putting a bit of time into Windows Communication Foundation (WCF), more of which to follow.

There’s one particular ‘feature’ I came across which doesn’t seem too well advertised, which I though would be worth sharing, related to how you close the connection.

Now, with most things in .Net that implement IDisposable (database connections, network connections, and so on), you simply have to call Close() or Dispose() – or more commonly, just put them in a Using statement:

Closing a WCF client implicitly with a Using statement

The problem with this approach when it comes to WCF is that, unlike most things that you can Close(), when you call Close() on a WCF client, an exception might be thrown:

Exception during WCF client close with a Using statement

If you don’t know about the Using statement, it just calls Close() for you at the end of the code block so you don’t have to remember it.  You can see the same thing happening here using Close() explicitly:

Exception occurring on WCF client Close()

So, what’s happening here?  Well, unlike some of the other things you might call Close() on, the WCF client is doing some actual work in this method.  For a start, it’s connecting back to the service, which is something that could always fail due to network problems and so on – in the example above, I simply stopped the service before the client was closed.  There may also be transactions to be finalised, and many other things I don’t know about.

But do we really need to care?  Well, it’s hopefully not something that will happen a lot, but knowing the systems I’ve worked on, I’m sure it will happen at some point.  And the chances are, you don’t really care about this exception – you’ve finished using the service anyway.  So although it may be something you want to log, it probably isn’t a good enough reason to stop your app running, or disturb the user with a random message.  It also means that your connection hasn’t been closed down properly, which could cause problems.

‘So what’s the fix already?!’, I hear you cry.  Alright, I’m getting there!  In the basic case, it’s as simple as putting a try-catch around the call to Close(), and calling Abort() on the client if something bad happens (which will make sure everything’s cleaned up properly):

A better way to close a WCF client

And if you want to go the full hog and get one more tick in your ‘best practices’ box, you can follow this pattern (as pinched from Steve Smith’s blog):

The Proper way to close a WCF client

Obviously, you can add logging in as appropriate.

This is admittedly a bit of a hassle, but you can always put it into a helper class or, as Steve suggests in the above blog, write an extension method on ICommunicationObject which will then work for all of your clients.  I haven’t tried this, but it seems like a good approach.

So there you have it – one less thing to worry about with WCF!  (Or is that one more thing to worry about..)

Categories: WCF Tags: