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This chapter describes the basic WCF capabilities as implemented in the full NET Framework to provide context for understanding WCF1 Our main focus is on understanding how to implement WCF clients on Windows Mobile devices Out of necessity, this chapter also describes implementing a WCF service The NET Compact Framework does not support the creation of WCF services, so instead we rely on the full NET Framework running on a desktop version of Microsoft Windows Windows XP or Windows Vista, for example to provide a service for our device-side client to connect with
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C OMMUNICATION F OUNDATION (WCF) provides a unified programming model for linking software modules that may be deployed across a network boundary but that are made to appear as local procedure calls WCF could easily be called Common Communication Foundation, like other NET parts that have a Common first name The word common can mean plain or ordinary, but we prefer standard
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1 For a deeper understanding of WCF, we recommend the following book, another title in the Microsoft NET Development Series: Essential Windows Communication Foundation for NET Framework 35, by Steve Resnick, Richard Crane, and Chris Bowen (Boston: AddisonWesley, 2008)
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orperhaps universal becauseeach common technologyplaysarolein the set of standard elements for NET software development2 WCF could just as easily have been called Distributed Service Foundation, since it is about enabling distributed services using whatever supporting technologies are required Our point is that WCF is not just about communication, which its name seems at first to suggest Instead, WCF connects service providers and service consumers Perhaps we quibble too much; in WCF, after all, both the service and the underlying communications channels play important roles WCF provides a rich and extensible set of capabilities for service-oriented computing (SOC) This is part of a long-term trend toward enabling and enhancing distributed computing This trend is about breaking down barriers and opening new avenues toward giving users access to their data and the services that manage that data from a disparate set of clients, whether those clients are running as a thick client or in a browser, or are deployed on a PC or mobile phone This trend creates more choices for system architects, who can look to deploy software components on a broad range of machines and connect them together using whatever communications transport happens to be available Some industry pundits see service orientation as the next big thing in computing; for our perspective, see the Service-Oriented Computing sidebar We start our discussion of WCF with a description of the support that is available in the full NET Framework Perhaps the most important reason to cover the full NET Framework is that the NET Compact Framework supports only the creation of WCF clients Even if your only interest is in working with device-side development, you will need some understanding of the full framework to create a WCF service that runs on a desktop or server system to provide the other end of the connection that your Windows Mobile WCF client will be accessing If you are already familiar with WCF, we suggest that you jump ahead to the discussion of WCF in the Compact Framework Otherwise, we provide this overview because the technology is new enough that few have had a chance to dig into it and learn about it In addition, the support provided in the first version of the Compact Framework is likely to grow over time, and so an understanding of the full implementation can only help to prepare you for future enhancements
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2 ThislistincludesCommonTypeSystem,CommonLanguageInfrastructure,CommonIntermediate Language, Common Language Runtime, and Common Language Specification
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The meaning of service-oriented computing depends in large part on the specific vendor you are talking with For Microsoft, it means Software plus Service, since the company fully expects that client-oriented computing will continue to be important and that client/server computing enhances it but does not replace it For IBM, with its focus on consulting services, it means providing a business orientation to everything it offers: hardware, software, and professional services Web-centric companies (such as Google and Salesforcecom) see service-oriented computing as presaging the end of thick client computing and the eventual dominance of Web-centric systems Which is right The market will decide in the long run, and all of us will have to wait to find out We believe service-oriented computing is just another step in the evolution of computing Business computing started in the 1950s with large, centralized systems The 1960s and 1970s brought minicomputers and the start of decentralization The personal computers of the 1980s and 1990s brought the pendulum more fully toward a decentralized approach Along the way, the World Wide Web of the 1990s started the pull toward a more centralized way of doing things A service-oriented model of computing is not an either/or question but rather is about finding a way to have both/and There will continue to be decentralized personal systems witness the success of mobile phones along with centralized enterprise systems The world of service-oriented computing is about enabling the ability to tie service producers with service consumers And that is just what WCF enables
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WCF was designed to overcome some of the shortcomings of earlier technologies At the same time, WCF was designed to interoperate with earlier technologies to allow a smooth migration into a WCF-enabled world A WCF client can be built to connect to and interoperate with the remote procedure calling mechanism supported in the Component Object Model (COM) world (including COM+ and DCOM), as well as distributed applications built on NET Remoting and with ASPNET Web Services WCF provides support for some very old technologies, such as native Win32 Named Pipes WCF also supports very new technologies, including Representational State Transfer (REST) REST extends the standard HTTP
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