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WCF » Inder Singh's Blog
Nov 272012
 

Background
When WCF services get consumed by .NET clients, framework takes care of what gets written onto the wire and all the complexity related to SOAP message serialization, security, etc. is hidden behind the scenes. One does not need to pay much attention to the underlying details. My current project gave me this fabulous opportunity to look under the hood because the WCF services are consumed by external business partner who will be implementing the client in Java. The business partner team has not involved the developers in the project yet, the business analyst is using the soapUI tool to test drive the services and was unable to connect to the service because of some authentication issues. Hence, I got assigned the task of investigating the problem. In this post, I will walk through some of the quirks in the soapUI tool and show how to make it work but first I will start with a little background of the different components/concepts.

Basic Authentication
The services are secured using Basic Authentication protocol over SSL which is pretty standard. In simple terms, the username/password credentials are from Windows Active Directory domain and need to be sent in the HTTP header.

soapUI Tool
soapUI is an open-source tool which can be used to test the SOAP based services. You can read more about it as well as download a free copy from the their website.

The problem was discovered in soapUI 4.5.0, it might exist in other versions of the tool as well but I have not verified yet.

Problem and the Solution
When a service method request is sent to the service the username and password credentials need to be sent in the HTTP header as part of the request. By default this does not happen and the following is the workaround on how to achieve this to make a successful call to WCF Service secured with Basic Authentication.

If you are new to using soapUI, it’s a pretty straight-forward and simple to use tool. You will need to create a new soapUI project using the WSDL for the service.
Following are two simple setting changes you need to make so that Username\Password credentials are sent as part of the request:
1. Open Preferences dialog for the tool using File > Preferences menu and check the “Authenticate Preemptively” checkbox on the “Http Settings” tab as shown on the screenshot below.

soapUI Preferences Screenshot

soapUI (File > Preferences)

2. Specify username and password strictly as shown in the screenshot below. Username property must be set to username along with the domain name, e.g. Domain\Username and Password for the Password Property. Specifying domain name in the Domain property did not work, also specifying username without domain name did not yield the correct results.

soapUI (Request Username and Password Properties)

soapUI (Request Username and Password Properties)

Note: Service name, services methods and usernames are hidden in the screenshots for client privacy reasons.
For those curious how I figured this out. I used Fiddler to see the exact messages sent for successful calls made by .NET Client and then compared that message to the one sent by soapUI. I found that an extra piece of information was included for the successful and then trial/error led me to the successful call.

Mostly I use WCF Test Client provided with .NET Framework for quick testing on the services but it does not allow making calls to WCF Services secured using Basic Authentication (or at least I haven’t figured out a way yet) so soapUI can be handy to .NET Developers who are not planning to consumer the services from JAVA or some other language.

 Posted by on November 27, 2012
Mar 102009
 

I needed to expose a few WCF services to be consumed by Adobe LiveCycle server and ran into certain interoperability issues. With the help of some very useful blog posts and sample code (provided along with the blog posts) I was able to get past the hurdle. In this post I have compiled the complete details of the problem, solution and the references used.

The root of the problem was WSDL generated by WCF, by default the WSDL generated for a WCF service can consist of multiple files. In certain situations the main WSDL file can include a reference to another WSDL file which in turn refers to separate XSD files to describe the data types used in ServiceContracts. When client consuming the service is developed using .NET then .NET tools are able to process such WSDL (spanning multiple files) without any problem, it might not be a problem for client developed using some other technologies either but in our case the Adobe LiveCycle server was not able to process such WSDL correctly. So, the solution was to flatten the WSDL into one long document containing everything.

Problem Definition

Now, I will explain the problem we are trying to solve using some code. The sample I am using is again from Learning WCF by Michele Bustamante.

One of the DataContracts:

[DataContract(Namespace="http://schemas.thatindigogirl.com/samples/2006/06")]
public class PhotoLink: LinkItem
{
   public PhotoLink()
   {
     this.LinkItemType= LinkItemTypes.Image;
   }
}

ServiceContract:

[ServiceContract(Name="PhotoUploadContract",Namespace="http://www.thatindigogirl.com/samples/2006/06")
public interface IPhotoUpload
{
  [OperationContract]
  void UploadPhoto(PhotoLink fileInfo, byte[] fileData);
}

The WSDL generated for the above Service without any customization consists of a total of five files – two WSDL files and three XSD files. Instead of showing the complete text of the WSDL files I will just show the relevant parts.

The first WSDL file generated from MEX endpoint is relatively short and contains the following import statement:


The location attribute points to the second WSDL file and this second WSDL file further refers to external XSD files.The schemaLocation attributes provide the location of external XSD files.

Solution Step 1

I used quite a few blog posts but the following article by Christian Weyer was most helpful, you can also download code for free which will flatten out the generated WSDL.

Link to the post: Improving WCF Interoperability: Flattening your WSDL

Christian Weyer showed multiple solutions to the tackle the problem:

  • A custom endpoint behavior.
  • A custom ServiceHost.
  • A custom ServiceHostFactory to be used when service is hosted in IIS (this was my case).

I used the custom ServiceHostFactory to host the service and was able to solve the problem partially, this time WSDL generated consisted of only two files. The first WSDL file referenced the second WSDL file and all the XSD schema definitions were included in line in the second WSDL file. This is one step forward but still it did not solve our problem completely because Adobe LiveCycle required all the content to be in one WSDL file.

The first WSDL file stays the same as before and refers to the second WSDL file, but the second WSDL file contains all XSD schemas inline.

Solution Step 2

Two more changes were required to get all the WSDL generated in one file:
1. Service Endpoint needs to be in the same namespace as the ServiceContract.

2. A ServiceBehavior needs be to the service implementation type with the same namespace as ServiceContract. Example, Service implementation was modified to include a ServiceBehavior attribute as follows:

[System.ServiceModel.ServiceBehavior(Namespace = "http://www.thatindigogirl.com/samples/2006/06")]
public class PhotoManagerService: IPhotoUpload
{
   public void UploadPhoto( ContentTypes.PhotoLink fileInfo, byte[] fileData)
   {
      PhotoUploadUtil PhotoUploadUtil = new PhotoUploadUtil();
      photoUploadUtil.SavePhoto(fileInfo, fileData);
   }
}

With the above two changes in place along with custom ServiceHost, desired results were achieved and the entire WSDL generated including XSD schemas was in one long file.

Please Note: There was no need to change namespace of the DataContract or the Mex Endpoint.

Conclusion

I was not too happy to discover this issue, wish there was simpler configuration based solution to generate WSDL in one document but the good thing is that WCF is extensible enough that if we dig beneath the surface desired solutions can be developed. Hence, I won’t jump on the bandwagon that WCF is not ready for interoperability.

 Posted by on March 10, 2009
Mar 072009
 

I have been reading Michele Bustamante’s Learning WCF. Its a very well-written book and the best part is that its written in a Tutorial style with plenty of labs to give hands-on experience otherwise it kind of gets boring to do plain reading. I am learning WCF on my own and not using it on a real project so I am finding this book to be very useful. This book was originally written for WCF released as part of .NET Framework 3.0 targeting Visual Studio 2005, there has been a reprint of the book as well as the accompanying code has been updated for .NET Framework 3.5 and Visual Studio 2008. With the ever changing world of technology, things get outdated pretty quickly hence I am also finding things here and there which have changed. Yesterday, I spent a few hours researching an issue related to DataContract where the code did not behave as expected so I thought I should write a quick post about my learning.

 

Let’s look at a simple ServiceContract:

[ServiceContract] 
interface IEmployeeService
{
   [OperationContract]
   Employee GetEmployeeDetails(int employeeID);
}

The Employee class:

public class Employee
{
  private int _ID;
  private string _FirstName;
  private string _LastName;
  private string _Title;

  public int ID
  {
     get { return this._ID;  }
     set { this._ID = value;
  } 

  public string FirstName 
  {
     get { return this._FirstName; }
     set { this._FirstName = value; }
  }

  public string LastName
  {
     get { return this._LastName; }
     set { this._LastName = value; }
  }

  public string Title
  {
     get { return this._Title; }
     set { this._Title = value; }
  }
}

In versions prior to .NET Framework 3.5 SP1, an InvalidDataContractException was thrown if an attempt was made to host this service because WCF required any parameters/return types in the ServiceContract (other then simple types like int, decimal, string, etc.) to be explicitly marked serialiable either by using a DataContract or some other mean. Now, with .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 this is no more a requirement, any type not marked as seriailizable is by default serilized using DataContractSerializer. A few points to note about this default serializion for types:

  • The class must have a default constructor(parameterless constructor).
  • Only public read/write properties are serialized.
  • If the class is marked as DataContract then the normal rules apply i.e. only members marked with DataMember attribute are serialized.

One benefit resulting from this feature is that if you are exposing types defined in an existing assembly through WCF services, you don’t need to make any changes to the existing type they will be automically be serialized for you whereas earlier there is was need to come up with a workaround like create surrogate types.
I was not able to find this change easily so thought I should write this post, hope this helps.

I have learnt quite a few other quirks related to WCF and LINQ and will be writing more posts as the time permits.

 Posted by on March 7, 2009