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Creating and Consuming RESTful Web Services with WCF. Ron Jacobs Sr. Technical Evangelist Platform Evangelism Microsoft Corporation. Agenda. What is REST? Is REST SOA? Key REST principles Adventure Works REST API WCF Example Summary. 71 Slides 5 Demos I must be insane!. Resources.

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Creating and consuming restful web services with wcf

Creating and Consuming RESTful Web Services with WCF

Ron Jacobs

Sr. Technical Evangelist

Platform Evangelism

Microsoft Corporation



  • What is REST?

  • Is REST SOA?

  • Key REST principles

  • Adventure Works REST API WCF Example

  • Summary

71 Slides

5 Demos

I must be insane!



  • Leonard Richardson

  • Sam Ruby


    • Code

    • Slides

What is rest

“Representational state transfer (REST) is a style of software architecture for distributed hypermedia systems such as the World Wide Web.”

What is rest?

What is rest1

What is REST?

  • Application state and functionality are resources

  • Every resource has a URI

  • All resources share a uniform interface


Is rest soa

“Protocol independence is a bug, not a feature”.

- Mark Baker


Is rest soa1


  • REST is an architectural style that allows you to implement services with broad reach

  • SOA is about services

    • SOA is not about protocol, transport, format etc.

5 HTTP Messages

18,604 bytes

“You entered: 1”

Key rest principles

“The promise is that if you adhere to REST principles while designing your application, you will end up with a system that exploits the Web’s architecture to your benefit.”

-Stefan Tilkov

Key rest principles

Key rest principles1

Key REST Principles

  • Give every “thing” an ID

  • Link things together

  • Use standard methods

  • Resources with multiple representations

  • Communicate statelessly

Give every thing an id

Give every “thing” an ID

  • Expose thing or collection things with a scheme that is ubiquitous

  • Embrace the URI

    • How to get it (http:// or net.tcp:// or net.msmq:// etc.)

    • Where to get it (

    • What to get (customer 1234)

Give every thing an id1

Give every “thing” an ID

An API like this

Customer C = GetCustomer(1234);

Can be represented like this

Link things together

Link Things Together

  • Hypermedia as the engine of application state

    • Just means that you should link things together

    • People or apps can transition state by following links

    • Links can be to the same app or to some other app

Link things together1

Link Things Together



<CompanyName>A Bike Store</CompanyName>








Use standard methods

Use Standard Methods

public class Resource


Resource(Uri u);

Response Get();

Response Post(Request r);

Response Put(Request r);

Response Delete();

Response Head();


Shift to resource thinking

Shift to Resource Thinking






Shift to resource thinking1

Shift to Resource Thinking





Resources as operations

Resources as operations

  • The result of an operation can be considered a resource


var result = CalculateShipping(“Redmond”, “NYC”);


Content negotiation

Content Negotiation

  • Allow the client to ask for what they want

  • “I want XML”

  • “I want JSON”

  • “I want …” (HTML, CSV, etc.)

GET /customers/1234 HTTP/1.1


Accept: text/xml

JSR 311 features the idea

of extensions as a way

to do content negotiation

without the headers as in



GET /customers/1234 HTTP/1.1


Accept: text/json

Communicate statelessly

Communicate Statelessly

  • Stateless means that every request stands alone

    • Session is not required

    • Can be bookmarked

  • Application State lives on the Client

    • Everything that is needed to complete the request must be included in the request

  • Resource State lives on the server(s)

    • Stored in durable storage (typically)

    • May be cached

Adventure works rest api

Implementation Time

adventure works REST API

Adventureworks customer api

AdventureWorks Customer API

Http get

“Remember that GET is supposed to be a “safe” operation, i.e. the client does not accept any obligations (such as paying you for your services) or assume any responsibility, when all it does is follow a link by issuing a GET.”

-Stefan Tilkov


Get customer demo

WebGet Attribute


Query String Parameters



Webget attribute

WebGet Attribute

  • WebGet Indicates you want to use an HTTP GET for this method

  • Method name is resource name

  • Arguments are query string parameters

// GET a customer



CustomerDataGetCustomer(string customerId);


Webget uritemplate


  • UriTemplate maps the URI to parameters in your method

  • Using parameters in the Uri makes them mandatory, query string parameters are optional.

// GET a customer


[WebGet(UriTemplate = "customer/{customerId}")]

CustomerDataGetCustomer(string customerId);


Making your first restful service

Making your first RESTful Service

  • Create a WCF Service Library

  • Add a reference / using


  • Decorate your method with WebGet

  • Modify configuration

    • Change the binding from wsHttpBinding to webHttpBinding

    • Add the webHttp endpoint behavior to the endpoint

      • Note: WCF will start up without this behavior though it is not very useful configuration

Get customers

Get Customers

  • Returns a collection of customers from the database

  • Issues

    • Security – you can only see orders you are allowed to see

    • Paging – stateless requests decide where to start



Customer[] GetCustomers()



  • Allows clients to request a subset of the collection

  • Use Query String parameters to specify start index and count



// GET customers

[OperationContract] [WebGet(UriTemplate="customer?start={start}&count={count}")]

CustomerGroupingDataGetCustomers(int start, int count);

// POST to customers


[WebInvoke(UriTemplate = "customer")]

CustomerDataAppendCustomer(CustomerData customer);

405 Method not allowed

Creating and consuming restful web services with wcf


  • The template matching engine tries to find the best match

  • The more specific a match is, the better

  • When the URL contains just the resource “customer”

  • The match for “customer” is a POST method

    • Return 405 Method not allowed

Creating and consuming restful web services with wcf


  • Solution

    • Don’t include the query string parameters in the UriTemplate

    • Get them instead from the WebOperationContext.Current

    • UriTemplate is now just “customer” for both GET and POST



// GET customers

[OperationContract] [WebGet(UriTemplate = "customer")]

CustomerGroupingDataGetCustomers(int start, int count);

// POST to customers


[WebInvoke(UriTemplate = "customer")]

CustomerDataAppendCustomer(CustomerData customer);


200 Ok

Query string parameters

Query String Parameters

private string GetQueryString(string argName)


UriTemplateMatch match = WebOperationContext.Current.IncomingRequest.UriTemplateMatch;



return match.QueryParameters[argName];


catch (KeyNotFoundException)


return null;



Query String Parametersare found in here



  • Use HttpRuntime.Cache to cache items on the server if it makes sense to do so

// Check the cache

CustomerDatacustomerData = (CustomerData)HttpRuntime.Cache[requestUri.ToString()];

// Not found in the cache

if (customerData == null)


// Try to get the customer data

customerData = CustomersCollection.GetCustomer(custId);

// Still not found

if (customerData == null)


outResponse.SetStatusAsNotFound(string.Format("Customer Id {0} not found", customerId));


else // found


// Set the headers

outResponse.LastModified = customerData.LastModified;

outResponse.ETag = customerData.ETag.ToString();

CacheCustomer(requestUri, customerData);



Client caching

Client Caching

  • Add Expires or Cache-Control headers to provide clients with hints on caching

  • WCF Default: Cache-Control: private

    • No caching of private results

// Allow client to cache for 5 minutes

outResponse.Headers.Add("Cache-Control", "300");

Conditional get

Conditional GET

  • Headers used by clients to save bandwidth if they hold cached data

  • If-Modified-Since: (Date)

    • Return the data only if it has been modified since (Date)

Conditional get1

Conditional GET

  • If-None-Matches: (Etag)

    • Return the data only if there are no records matching this tag

  • If the data exists but has not been modified return 304 “Not Modified”

    • The server still has to verify that the resource exists and that it has not changed

Supporting if modified since

Supporting If-Modified-Since

  • Your data should have a LastModified value

  • Update it whenever the data is written

// Set the headers

outResponse.LastModified = customerData.LastModified;

Supporting if none matches

Supporting If-None-Matches

  • Your data should have a row version

  • This data is returned in an Etag header as an opaque string

// Set the headers

outResponse.ETag = customerData.ETag.ToString();

Conditional get check

Conditional GET Check

private static void CheckModifiedSince(





// Get the If-Modified-Since header

DateTime? modifiedSince = GetIfModifiedSince(inRequest);

// Check for conditional get If-Modified-Since

if (modifiedSince != null)


if (customerData.LastModified <= modifiedSince)


outResponse.SuppressEntityBody = true;

outResponse.StatusCode = HttpStatusCode.NotModified;




Not Modified?

Suppress body

Return 304 “Not Modified”

Get response

GET Response

  • 200 OK

    • GET successful

  • 304 Not Modified

    • Conditional GET did not find new data

  • 400 Bad Request

    • Problem with the request of some kind

  • 404 Not Found

    • Resource was not found

  • 500 Internal Server Error

    • Everything else

Http post

“You can use it to create resources underneath a parent resource and you can use it to append extra data onto the current state of a resource.”

- RESTful Web Services

http post

Http post1


  • POST is ambiguously defined in the HTTP spec

  • POST is the second most used RESTful verb

  • Often referred to as POST(a) for “Append”

    • Posting to a collection means to append to that collection

    • Allows the server to determine the ultimate URI

Http post2


  • Problem

    • How to detect duplicate POST requests?

  • Solutions

    • Use PUT (it’s Idempotent by nature)

    • Schemes involving handshaking of some kind between the client and server

    • Client generated identifier for POST

Post to customers

POST to Customers

  • Appends a new customer to the collection

  • Issues

    • Security – Are you allowed to create a customer?

    • Idempotency – is this a duplicate POST request?




CustomerDataAppendCustomer(CustomerData customer);

Post example

POST Example

public CustomerDataAppendCustomer(CustomerData customer)


OutgoingWebResponseContextoutResponse = WebOperationContext.Current.OutgoingResponse;



CustomerDatanewCustomer = CustomersCollection.AppendCustomer(customer);

if (newCustomer.CustomerID != 0)



BuildResourceUri("customer", newCustomer.CustomerID.ToString()));


return newCustomer;


catch (CustomerRowIDExistsException)


outResponse.StatusCode = HttpStatusCode.Conflict;

outResponse.StatusDescription = "RowID exists, it must be unique";

return null;


catch (Exception ex)






Post a response

POST(a) Response

  • 200 OK

    • POST successful

  • 400 Bad Request

    • Problem with the request of some kind

  • 409 Conflict

    • Resource already exists

  • 500 Internal Server Error

    • Everything else

Testing post methods

Testing POST Methods

  • Fiddler – HTTP proxy

  • Use machine name instead of localhost in URI

    • IIS hosting helps with this

  • Build a request

    • Drag a GET request to the Request Builder

    • Open a GET in Visual Studio for easy formatting of XML

  • Set the Request type to POST

  • Set the request body to valid XML

  • Set the Content-Type: text/xml

Http put

PUT is an idempotent way to create / update a resource

http PUT

Http put1


  • Creates or Updates the resource

    • Completely replaces whatever was there before with the new content

    • Update the cache with new resource

  • Idempotent by design

    • Creating or Updating record 123 multiple times should result in the same value

    • Do NOT do some kind of relative calculation

Put and ids

PUT and IDs

  • If you can allow the client to define an ID within a context that is unique, PUT can insert, otherwise PUT is used to update resources



  • Note: the first arg comes from the URI, the customer data comes from the request body


CustomerDataPutCustomer(string customerId,

CustomerData customer);

Put response

PUT Response

  • 200 OK

    • Update successful

  • 201 Created

    • Insert Successful

  • 400 Bad Request

    • Problem with the request of some kind

  • 404 Not Found

    • Resource to update was not found

  • 500 Internal Server Error

    • Everything else

Http delete

DELETE is for uh... well... um... deleting things




  • Used to delete a resource

  • Issues

    • Security – can you delete a resource

    • Cache – need to remove it from the server cache

Delete response

DELETE Response

  • 200 OK

    • Delete successful

  • 400 Bad Request

    • Problem with the request of some kind

  • 404 Not Found

    • Resource to delete was not found

  • 500 Internal Server Error

    • Everything else

Uri mapping

URI Mapping

Urimapper http module

UriMapper HTTP Module

  • RESTful people do not like ugly URIs

  • ScottGu has Many ways to rewrite URIs

  • HttpModules can rewrite the URIs as they come in

  • Jon Flanders blog

    • Using WCF WebHttpBinding and WebGet with nicer Urls

    • Modified it a bit to support my scenario



  • I installed my HttpModule in web.config under <system.web><httpModules>

  • Not working

  • Searched blogs to find out that for IIS 7 you must install under <system.webServer><modules>

  • If your HttpModule does not rewrite the URL correctly you will get 404 errors and have a hard time understanding why

Content negotiation1

Content Negotiation

  • Trend is toward an extension syntax

  • Unfortunately you must specify the response format in the WebGet, WebInvoke attribute

  • You can dynamically choose your format by making your service return a stream and then serializing your content directly to the stream

Two services

Two Services

  • apixml.svc for XML

  • apijson.svc for JSON

  • UriMapper code looks for an extension on the resource and maps it to the appropriate service

    • default is XML

  • 2 .SVC files means two classes that implement 2 different contracts

Class diagram

Class Diagram

Uri mapping1

URI Mapping

Content negotiation demo

Content Negotiation Demo


Consuming a restful service

Consuming a RESTful Service

  • Use WCF or HttpWebRequest

  • Need a ServiceContract interface

    • Copy from service

    • Build from scratch

      • Build UriTemplates that will match up to the service

Data contract schema

Data Contract Schema

  • Export Schema from Assembly

    • svcutil foo.dll /dconly

  • Generate data contracts from xsd files

    • svcutil *.xsd /dconly

Using wcf on the client

Using WCF on the Client

public CustomerDataGetCustomer(string customerId,

Guid? eTag,

DateTime? modifiedSince)


using (var factory = new



IAdventureWorksServiceXml service =


using (OperationContextScope scope =

new OperationContextScope( (IContextChannel)service))


OutgoingWebRequestContext request =


if (eTag != null)

request.IfNoneMatch = eTag.ToString();

if (modifiedSince != null)


DateTimeFormatInfoformatInfo =


// RFC1123Pattern

request.IfModifiedSince =

modifiedSince.Value.ToString("r", formatInfo);


return service.GetCustomer(customerId);




You must create

a scope to access the context



  • RESTful services extend the reach of HTTP to your SOA

  • RESTful design is harder than you might think

  • Implementation has some tricky issues to overcome

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