Creating a generic ping proxy

In the previous post we walked through the steps required to implement a service monitoring ‘Ping’ operation as a WCF endpoint behavior. This allows us to add the ping functionality to an endpoint using WCF configuration alone. Following on from this, here’s a generic implementation of a Http proxy class to call Ping on any service.

Last time we left off having created a proxy to a test service using the WcfTestClient application.

Ping operation from metadata in the WCF Test Client

Switching to the XML view lets us see the SOAP request and reply message for a ping.

<s:Envelope xmlns:s="">
    <Action s:mustUnderstand="1" xmlns=""></Action>
    <Ping xmlns="" />

and the response:

<s:Envelope xmlns:s="">
  <s:Header />
    <PingResponse xmlns="">

The namespace highlighted in green is the namespace we gave to our service as part of its ServiceContract attribution:

public interface IService1 {

The SOAP message varies from service to service according to the namespace of the contract and the type of the contract. If we know these two values then we can construct the appropriate SOAP message for a generic client.

private static void CallWcfServiceUsingGenericProxy() {
    const string address = @"http://localhost/TestService/Service1.svc";
    const string serviceContractType = "IService1";
    const string serviceContractNamespace = @"";
    Console.WriteLine("Pinging WCF service using the generic proxy...");
    DateTime utcStart = DateTime.UtcNow;
    string response = PingService(serviceContractType, serviceContractNamespace, address);
    DateTime utcFinished = DateTime.UtcNow;
    DateTime serverPingTimeUtc = ProcessPingResponse(response, serviceContractNamespace);
    WriteTimingMessage(utcStart, serverPingTimeUtc, utcFinished);

The calling of the generic proxy is separated from the processing of the response so that a timing can be made around just the communication.

private static string PingService(string serviceContractType, string contractNamespace, string address) {
    string pingSoapMessage = string.Format(@"", contractNamespace);
    if (!contractNamespace.EndsWith("/")) { contractNamespace = contractNamespace + "/";}
    WebClient pingClient = new WebClient();
    pingClient.Headers.Add("Content-Type", "text/xml; charset=utf-8");
    pingClient.Headers.Add("SOAPAction", string.Format(@"""{0}{1}/Ping""", contractNamespace, serviceContractType));
    string response = pingClient.UploadString(address, pingSoapMessage);
    return response;

To Ping the service, we construct the SOAP message and use a WebClient to make the call. The web client requires headers to be added for the content type and the SOAPAction which tells the WCF Dispatcher which method we want to call.

To process the SOAP message returned from the Ping message we use:

private static DateTime ProcessPingResponse(string response, string contractNamespace) {
    XDocument responseXml = XDocument.Parse(response);
    XElement pingTime = responseXml.Descendants(XName.Get("PingResult", contractNamespace)).Single();
    DateTime serverPingTimeUtc = DateTime.Parse(pingTime.Value).ToUniversalTime();
    return serverPingTimeUtc;

Now we have the UTC DateTime from the server when it processed the response.

All good, if we know the contract namespace and interface type for the service we can ping it. As we saw, this information is attributed on the service contract class. To simplify the proxy code a little, we can use reflection to determine this information given just the contract type.

public class WcfServicePinger<TServiceContract> where TServiceContract : class {
    public DateTime Ping(string addressUri) {
        string @namespace = string.Empty;
        ServiceContractAttribute attribute = typeof(TServiceContract)
            .GetCustomAttributes(typeof(ServiceContractAttribute), true)
            .FirstOrDefault() as ServiceContractAttribute;
        if(attribute == null) {
            throw new ArgumentException("The specified type {0} is not a WCF service contract.", typeof(TServiceContract).Name);
        if(string.IsNullOrWhiteSpace(attribute.Namespace)) {
            @namespace = "";
        } else {
            @namespace = attribute.Namespace;
        return new WcfServicePinger().Ping(addressUri, typeof(TServiceContract).Name, @namespace);

The non-generic WcfServicePinger calls our previous code, as above:

public class WcfServicePinger {
    public DateTime Ping(string addressUri, string serviceContractTypename, string serviceContractNamespace) {
        string response = PingService(serviceContractTypename, serviceContractNamespace, addressUri);
        DateTime serverPingTimeUtc = ProcessPingResponse(response, serviceContractNamespace);
        return serverPingTimeUtc;

So in the end we would use:

DateTime serverTime = new WcfServicePinger<IService1>().Ping(“http://localhost/TestService/Service1.svc”);

Note that we have constructed a generic proxy that calls an Http endpoint. I did try to construct a net.tcp generic proxy class too but it broke my time box. The Ping method can be called via net.tcp using a proxy generated from the endpoint metadata.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: