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Sunday, August 27, 2006

WCF 101: Introduction to Windows Communication Foundation

Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) is Microsoft's next generation platform for distributed systems. Along with Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) and Windows Workflow Foundation (WWF), WCF (code-named "Indigo") is part of the WinFX platform, now officially named as .NET Framework 3.0. With such a diverse array of distributed technologies already floating around, each one with a distinct benefit, Microsoft decided to unify these technologies under a single unified platform that would not only simply developers' lives but also pull in the benefits of all such existing technologies into one. ASP.NET web services, for example, offer ease of programability, WSE offers security, System.Messaging offers guaranteed delivery of asynchronous messages, Enterprise Services offers attribute based transaction support, and yet .NET Remoting offers transparent use of objects. WCF unifies all these benefits and more such that the code base remains the same, while depending upon the requirements, features such as transactions can be configured mostly through XML configuration settings. WCF is based on Microsoft's vision of Service Oriented Architecture (SOA), where developers shall be able to combine multiple services (could be cross-platform and cross-vendor) to invent software applications that have not yet been possible. WCF is based on a well-thought-out design where services and clients define one or more end-points. Each end-point defines the address, binding, and contract (ABC) which can be configured independently, but work together to provide a distributed message-oriented communication infrastructure. WCF runs on Windows Vista, XP and 2003. Beta versions of .NET Framework 3.0 (including WCF) can be downloaded from Microsoft.

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