Windows Communication Foundation (WCF)
The Windows Communication Foundation (or WCF), previously known as "Indigo", is a runtime and a set of APIs (application programming interface) in the .NET Framework for building connected, service-oriented applications.
Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) is Microsoft’s unified programming model for building service-oriented applications. It enables developers to build secure, reliable, transacted solutions that integrate across platforms and interoperate with existing investments.
Using WCF, you can send data as asynchronous messages from one service endpoint to another. A service endpoint can be part of a continuously available service hosted by IIS, or it can be a service hosted in an application. An endpoint can be a client of a service that requests data from a service endpoint. The messages can be as simple as a single character or word sent as XML, or as complex as a stream of binary data.
WCF is a tool often used to implement and deploy a service-oriented architecture (SOA). It is designed using service-oriented architecture principles to support distributed computing where services have remote consumers. Clients can consume multiple services; services can be consumed by multiple clients. Services are loosely coupled to each other. Services typically have a WSDL interface (Web Services Description Language) that any WCF client can use to consume the service, regardless of which platform the service is hosted on. WCF implements many advanced Web services (WS) standards such as WS-Addressing, WS-ReliableMessaging and WS-Security. With the release of .NET Framework 4.0, WCF also provides RSS Syndication Services, WS-Discovery, routing and better support for REST services.
A WCF client connects to a WCF service via an Endpoint. Each service exposes its contract via one or more endpoints. An endpoint has an address (which is a URL specifying where the endpoint can be accessed) and binding properties that specify how the data will be transferred.
The mnemonic "ABC" can be used to remember address / binding / Contract. Binding specifies what communication protocols are used to access the service, whether security mechanisms are to be used, and the like. WCF includes predefined bindings for most common communication protocols such as SOAP over HTTP, SOAP over TCP, and SOAP over Message Queues, etc. Interaction between WCF endpoint and client is done using a SOAP envelope. SOAP envelopes are in simple XML form, which makes WCF platform-independent. When a client wants to access the service via an endpoint, it not only needs to know the contract, but it also has to adhere to the binding specified by the endpoint. Thus, both client and server must have compatible endpoints.
WCF supports interoperability with WCF applications running on the same Windows machine or WCF running on a different Windows machines or standard Web services built on platforms such as Java running on Windows or other operating systems. In addition to SOAP, WCF 4 supports non-SOAP XML, RSS, JSON, and binary formats for external communication via HTTP or HTTPS.
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