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Hosting WCF Services in Windows Activation Service : Page 3

You're probably used to hosting WCF services with IIS, but Vista and IIS 7 provide a much more powerful and lighter-weight option that supports additional protocols besides HTTP.

Using Named Pipe Activation
As part of the implementation of this service, it's important to understand the basics of data contracts and their role in returning complex type data from the service.

Just as in the previous example, you first need to bind the net.pipe protocol to the default web site. Use the following command from an elevated administrator command prompt.

   <DriveName>\Windows\system32\inetsrv\appcmd.exe set site 
      "Default Web Site" -+bindings.[protocol='net.pipe',
Then enable the named pipe activation for the WASHostedService virtual directory as follows:

   <DriveName>\Windows\system32\inetsrv\appcmd.exe set app 
      "Default Web Site/MyProjects/DevX/WASHostedService" 
The preceding command enables net.pipe support for the WASHostedService application.

You define a data contract by decorating a class, structure, or enumeration with the [DataContract] attribute and identifying the members by placing [DataMember] attributes on the fields or properties of the class. Here's an example. Add a new class file named Product.cs to the WASHostedService project and modify its code as follows:

   using System;
   using System.Runtime.Serialization;
   public class Product
      public int ProductID;
      public string Name;
      public string ProductNumber;
You can leverage the data contract from a WCF service. Add a WCF service named ProductService.svc to the project and modify its code-behind file as shown in Listing 1:

The GetProductByProductID() method in Listing 1 is straightforward. It retrieves a connection string from the Web.config file, opens a database connection, creates a SQL command string and a SqlCommand object, and executes the query against the database using the SqlCommand.ExecuteReader() method. It loops through the data returned in the resultant SqlDataReader object, filling a new Product object with the retrieved values, then returns that to the client.

To configure the Named Pipe binding for this service, add the <service> section shown below directly underneath the <system.serviceModel>/<services> element in the app.config file:

   <service name="ProductService"
     <endpoint binding="netNamedPipeBinding" 
       bindingConfiguration="Binding1" contract="IProductService" />
     <endpoint address="mex" binding="mexNamedPipeBinding"
       contract="IMetadataExchange" />
The configuration sets the behaviorConfiguration and binding values to ProductServiceBehavior and netNamedBinding respectively. You can define these (starting with NetNamedPipeBinding) by adding the following lines of code directly underneath the <system.serviceModel>/<bindings> section as shown below:

     <binding name="Binding1" >
       <security mode = "None">
     </binding >
Finally, define the ProductServiceBehavior by adding the following <behavior> section to the <system.serviceModel>/<behaviors>/<serviceBehaviors> section.

   <behavior name="ProductServiceBehavior">
     <serviceMetadata />
     <serviceDebug includeExceptionDetailInFaults="False" />
That's all you have to do to support Named Pipe binding from the service side.

Consuming the Product Service
From the client side, just as in the previous example, the first step in consuming a service is to create a proxy and configuration file for the client. Again, you use svcutil.exe. For the ProductService, you can accomplish that with the following line of code from the command prompt.

   svcutil.exe net.pipe://localhost/MyProjects/DevX/
That creates a proxy file and a configuration file. Add the created proxy file to the WASHostedServiceClient project. From the output.config file, copy the <netNamedPipeBinding> and <endpoint> sections to the App.config file. I've highlighted these sections in the output.config file shown below:

   <?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
           <binding name="NetNamedPipeBinding_IProductService" 
         <endpoint address="net.pipe://thiru-
           name="NetNamedPipeBinding_IProductService" />
To test the service, add a command button named btnGetProduct and a list box named lstResults to the form and modify the button's Click event as follows:

Figure 3. Testing the ProductService: When you enter a product id in the text box and click on the Get Product button, the Windows form invokes the GetProductByProductID() method to get the product details and displays the results in the list box control.
   private void btnGetProduct_Click(
      object sender, EventArgs e)
      ProductServiceClient client = new 
      Product prod = client.GetProductByProductID
The preceding code passes in a user-entered ProductID value to the service, which retrieves the product details and returns a Product object. Finally, it displays the product detail results in the list box. Figure 3 shows the output produced by the Windows form.

This article showed you the steps involved in using WAS to host WCF services and examples of how to use TCP and Named Pipe bindings to host and consume the WCF services. You've seen how to use some key WCF concepts—including the use of configuration files—to define the service behavior. To consume the services, you saw how to use the Service Model Metadata Utility (svcutil.exe) to create proxies and configuration, both for simple data types and for more complex types that require data contracts. All in all, WAS is both a more powerful and more flexible host for WCF services than IIS, and is a welcome addition to developers' toolkits.

Thiru Thangarathinam works at Intel Corporation in Chandler, Arizona. He's a Microsoft MVP who specializes in architecting, designing, and developing distributed enterprise-class applications using .NET-related technologies. He is the author of the books "Professional ASP.NET 2.0 XML" and "Professional ASP.NET 2.0 Databases" from Wrox press and has coauthored a number of books on .NET-related technologies. He is a frequent contributor to leading technology-related online publications.
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