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Indigo Notes

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

I’ve had some time to experiment, and downloaded the WinFX CTP to give Indigo a whirl. The installation onto a Virtual PC with the VS2005 February CTP went swimmingly. I thought for a first try I’d write a client for an existing web service, and since I have a few VPCs with Reporting Services installed I looked to start a conversation between the two.

I created a plain console mode application, and added a reference to the System.ServiceModel assembly. The next step was to generate proxy classes from the Reporting Services service contract (the WSDL from ReportService.asmx).

You can create proxies with the Service Model Metadata command line tool “svcutil”. Reporting Services requires an authenticated caller by default, but I did not find a way for svcutil to send my credentials. I could work around this problem by hitting the WSDL page with IE and saving a WSDL file to disk, but it turns out authentication made for more difficulties later on, so ultimately I setup Reporting Services to allow anonymous access.

The first pass with svcutil failed and told me it could not import the type ArrayOfStrings. With help from Hoop in the newsgroups, I finally got the right command line switches needed to create proxy classes.

>svcutil /out:ssrs.cs /config:app.config /tm /uxs http://reporting/reportserver/reportservice.asmx



Microsoft (R) Service Model Metadata Tool

[Microsoft(R) .NET Framework, Version 2.0.50110.20]

Copyright (C) Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.


Generating files...



In the above command line I’m asking svcutil to generate a config file, to generate code using typed messages (/tm) and to generate code using the XML serializer (/uxs). The generated code goes into a file I named ssrs.cs. I’ll point out the impact of these switches in a moment, but it is interesting to note that the tool refers to the XML serializer as The Xml Serializer, so use caution, we may not realize the power we are wielding with these new tools.

The tool generates a file with all of the data contracts and service contracts, and with a proxy class to instantiate and invoke the service methods. An example of a data contract is the complex type CatalogItem (excerpted below), which represents an item (report, data source, folder) in the Report Server catalog.




public partial class CatalogItem


    // ...  


    private string nameField;



    public string Name




            return this.nameField;




            this.nameField = value;




    // ...


Since we requested svcutil to use The XML Serializer we have serialization attributes decorating the classes instead of the DataContract attributes mentioned by Clemens Vasters. It is nice to see the generated code using private backing fields and exposing public properties - this approach does simplify serialization and data binding and is something the current tools do not give us. To mark the class as partial is also a nice touch and allows for easy extensibility without forcing inheritance.

There is also the service contract itself in the generated code, excerpted below.






public interface ReportingServiceSoap


    // ...   






    ListChildren_ResponseMessage ListChildren(ListChildren_RequestMessage request);


    // ...


The ListChildren method returns an array of CatalogItem objects representing the content of a folder in the Report Server catalog. The method is documented as taking two parameters: the path of the folder to list, and a boolean to indicate if the listing should recurse through the subfolders. Since I told svcutil to generate typed messges (/tm), the tool packaged these parameters and return into ListChildren_Request and ListChildren_Response classes respectively. I’m not sure how I feel about this construct as yet, but it does make our intention to hop over the network look explicit.

The following program uses the generated goop to list all of the reports on the server.

using System;


namespace ListReports


    class Program


        static void Main(string[] args)


            ReportingServiceSoap ssrs;

            ssrs = new ReportingServiceSoapProxy();


            ListChildren_RequestMessage request;

            request = new ListChildren_RequestMessage();

            request.Item = "/";

            request.Recursive = true;


            ListChildren_ResponseMessage response;

            response = ssrs.ListChildren(request);


            foreach (CatalogItem item in response.CatalogItems)


                if (item.Type == ItemTypeEnum.Report)


                    Console.WriteLine(item.Path + item.Name);






Going back in time for a moment, the svcutil tool also generated an app.config file. One of the strengths in Indigo is the ability to defer the endpoints, transports, and protocols to configuration files and keep them out of the code. I tweaked the app.config slightly and the result looks like the following.












              isAddressPrivate="False" />








              transferTimeout="00:10:00" />


              maxReadPoolSize="64" maxWritePoolSize="16"

              messageVersion="Soap11Addressing1" encoding="utf-8" />





An endpoint defines the network address to use, as well as the binding (how to communicate) and contract (what operations are available). Our binding specifies we will be using HTTP. It is in this area where Indigo truly feels like a technology preview, in the sense that watching a 30-second movie trailer on TV is just a preview to sitting in front of a big screen watching the full length feature. I couldn’t dig out enough details on configuration to determine what knobs are available for tweaking and tuning in this area, but it gives off an aura of being infinitely flexible, and composable.

On the surface, and from a client perspective only, the Indigo experience is not dramatically different from what we have today, and should be easy to pick up. The exception is configuration, which has a lot more to offer – all we need is better documentation to understand what is possible.

Getting underneath into the details, or developing a service, however, requires one to learn a new Indigo vocabulary. Indigo-ese, shall we say. One of the best ways to learn Indigo-ese is to listen or read as people use Indigo-ese. The following sources are chock full of Indigo-ese:

  Clemens Vasters: “A Weekend With Indigo”: Part I, Part II, Part III.
  Steve Maine: Amaze Your Friends With Duplex Contracts.
  Don Box: Service Contracts In Indigo.
  David Chappell: Introducing Indigo: An Early Look