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Contracts and Service Host


In WCF, all services are exposed as contracts. Contract is a platform-neutral and standard way of describing what the service does. Mainly there are four types of contracts available in WCF

Service Contract

Service contracts describe the operation that service can provide. For Eg, a Service provide to know the temperature of the city based on the zip code, this service is called as Service contract. It will be created using Service and Operational Contract attribute.

To know more on Service contract see Service contract tutorial.

Data Contract

Data contract describes the custom data type which is exposed to the client. This defines the data types, that are passed to and from service. Data types like int, string are identified by the client because it is already mention in XML schema definition language document, but custom created class or data types cannot be identified by the client e.g. Employee data type. By using DataContract we can make client to be aware of Employee data type that are returning or passing parameter to the method.

To know more on DataContract see DataContract tutorial.

Message Contract

Default SOAP message format is provided by the WCF runtime for communication between Client and service. If it is not meeting your requirements then we can create our own message format. This can be achieved by using Message Contract attribute.

To know more on Message Contract see Message contract tutorial.

Fault Contract

Suppose the service I consumed is not working in the client application. I want to know the real cause of the problem. How I can know the error? For this we are having Fault Contract. Fault Contract provides documented view for error occurred in the service to client. This helps us to easy identity, what error has occurred.

To know more on Fault Contract see Fault Contract tutorial.

Service Host

Service Host object is in the process of hosting the WCF service and registering endpoints. It loads the service configuration endpoints, apply the settings and start the listeners to handle the incoming request. System.ServiceModel.ServiceHost namespace hold this object. This object is created while self hosting the WCF service.

In the below example you can find that WCF service is self hosted using console application.

//Creating uri for the hosting the service
Uri uri = new Uri("http://localhost/CategoryService");
//Creating the host object for MathService
  ServiceHost host = new ServiceHost(typeof(CategoryService), uri);
//Adding endpoint to the Host object
  host.AddServiceEndpoint(typeof(ICategoryService),new WSHttpBinding(), uri);
  host.Open(); //Hosting the Service
  Console.WriteLine("Waiting for client invocations");


  • Always create the service with Interface->Implementation format, mention the contract in Interface.
  • Define the service in Class library and refer the class library in Host project. Don’t use service class in host project.
  • Change the instance mode to per call as default.
  • Always catch exception using try/catch block and throw exception using FaultException < T >.
  • Logging and Include exception should be enable while compiling the project in debug mode. While in production deployment disable the logging and Include exception details.