Wednesday, March 17, 2010

My WCF service doesn’t generate a WSDL!

Recently I added a new WCF web service to an pre-existing application. That application already contained two other WCF web services and was specifically partitioned in that it had the interfaces, data classes and SVC files in separate projects. So I just copied the necessary files from inside the projects and adjusted them to suit my needs, adding many new data classes for the new interface.
I compiled to make sure I didn’t have any syntax errors and then I copied and changed the WCF config parts in the web.config.

So far so good. The code compiled and I could access the SVC page from my browser.
I then started SOAPUI so I could test the web service and pointed it towards the WSDL interface of the new web service. Imagine my surprise when it did find the web service, but not a single method from it.
I checked the WSDL from my browser and lo’-and-behold: There were only endpoints in there. No methods and data structures.

I re-checked the WSDL, comparing it to another, working, web service we had and it was all correct. Then I went over the SVC, service contract interface and implementation again and I noticed a line similar to this:

[OperationContract(Action="", ReplyAction="*")]
void DoStuff();

I didn’t know what that “ReplyAction” was about, but that wildcard doesn’t seem right to me. I checked the interface I copied it from and that interface was an older, pre-existing SOAP web service that we added to our app by using the svcutil.exe tool. So that “ReplyAction” was added by that tool.
It turns out that ReplyAction"=”*” means: don’t use a SOAP action in the reply. This has to do with a WCF web service that is building the messages by itself, instead of letting the framework do it for you. This was probably caused by the old web service that didn’t quite fit into the mold WCF has created for us to develop web services in. But since WCF needs to provide us with the ability to create all kinds of web services that are legal according to the SOAP standards, it provides the ability to create the SOAP messages by hand. So when we used the WCF svcutil.exe tool, it determined that it needed to do that for that particular web service. Then when I copied those files for my new web service, I got stuck with the “ReplyAction”.

I removed the “ReplyAction” from the “OperationContract” and after that the web service auto-generated a WSDL just fine.

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