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.NET Feature — Creating Custom WCF Behaviors

Apply cross-cutting logic to your services

Now that you've seen how to use an interceptor to create common logic (see Listing 1), and how to use a behavior to load that interceptor (see Listing 2), let's see how the behavior can be instructed to load via configuration files. You may first want to refer back to Listing 1 to see that the InsertLogging class inherits from the BehaviorExtensionElement class; this is the first thing you'll need to do if you want to use configured behaviors. When this is done, you must override that class's BehaviorType property and CreateBehavior method, as is shown in Listing 3.

The BehaviorType property in Listing 3 returns the type of behavior, which happens to be InsertLogging. CreateBehavior is a "creational method" that returns an instantiation of a new InsertLogging object. Altogether, this provides the configuration system the information it requires to load the behavior class at the appropriate time.

Let's move on to see what you'll need to put in your configuration files to associate a behavior with a specific service. The first part of the system.serviceModel section from web.config is presented in Listing 4.

The key thing to notice in Listing 4 is the behaviorConfiguration attribute. This tells the configuration system that a specific behavior, in this case one named LogBehavior, should be configured for use with this service. Listing 5 shows the behaviors section where you can see the actual definition for that behavior. Note that it has an element named LoggingBehavior, which indicates the "extension" to be associated with LogBehavior.

Listing 5 shows that the behaviorExtensions element contains a directive to add a custom .Net type named WCF.Behaviors.InsertLogging that can be found in the assembly named WCF.Behaviors. If you have set up your configuration file properly then the WCF runtime will acquire this information prior to opening the ServiceHost and will execute the logic found in Listing 3 and then the logic in Listing 2. If all has gone according to plan up to this point then when a message flows into any service endpoint, the common logging logic found in Listing 1 will be executed.

How To Inject Client Information into the SOAP Headers
Now let's see how we can use a client-side Message Inspector and a Contract Behavior so that we can track which applications use a given version of a contract. Let's say that we always want to enforce this behavior, so we decide to use attributes to tell the WCF runtime to always load the behavior on the client. Listing 6 shows a portion of a class named InsertClientInfo. Notice that it inherits from the Attribute class and also implements IClientMessageInspector and IContractBehavior.

In summary, the logic in Listing 6 creates a custom MessageHeader using the ClientInfo type (see Listing 9), and adds that header to the request message. This all occurs before that message is sent through the proxy's channel stack and over the wire to the service. To put this interceptor into the WCF runtime on the proxy side, we can create code in the ApplyClientBehavior method so that a reference to the InsertClientInfo class will be added into the MessageInspectors collection of the proxy's clientRuntime. This is shown in Listing 7.

Now we have to alter the client proxy code so the ApplyClientBehavior method will be invoked. To do this we can either edit the output file produced by Svcutil.exe, or if we use the Visual Studio IDE to add a service reference to a project, we can edit the .cs file that it adds. Listing 8 shows how an attribute may be added to the code for the client proxy.

In this case, I used Visual Studio to add the service reference; this is why you see information from the CodeDom. Since I want to capture client information for all calls to a given service contract, I have to know the name of either the service interface class or the class that implements this interface. Lucky for me, I happen to know that the interface is named IBargainAirService. To tell the WCF runtime that it should load a behavior, the IBargainAirService interface has been decorated with the [WCF.Behaviors.InsertClientInfo] attribute. By choosing to decorate the IBargainAirService interface with this attribute, the effect will be that all classes in the proxy that implement this interface will have this behavior applied to them. Now, whenever a client opens a channel factory out to the service, the logic in Listing 7 will be invoked, and when the client sends a message out to the endpoint that contains this contract, the code in Listing 6 will step in to intercept the call. Pretty cool, eh?

We've covered a lot of ground in this article, from the WCF architecture that supports extensibility, to a few code samples showing some of the possibilities. I hope that you can now see how this powerful feature may be tapped to apply cross-cutting logic to your services. Perhaps you've even caught a glimpse of the endless possibilities that lie beyond.

More Stories By Rob Daigneau

Rob Daigneau is the Director of Architecture for Monster.com, one of the most visited web sites in the world. Rob has over 18 years of experience designing and implementing enterprise-class applications for a broad array of industries from manufacturing, to financial services, to retail. He is also a frequent speaker at conferences such as VS Live! and DevTeach, and writes on a number of industry-related topics for .NET Developer's Journal as well as at www.DesignPatternsFor.Net

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Most Recent Comments
John Fitzpatrick 05/14/08 02:56:29 PM EDT

Great article. The step by step description was really helpful and made this complicated topic digestible.

Sachin 11/13/07 10:41:34 PM EST


I saw this article and i am very impressed by this message logging idea. If you can send me the sample code for the given article then i will try to inject the policy injection for tracing and exception handling in the WCF services using Application Block.



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