In the early days of .NET and the failed Windows Longhorn project, one of the main technologies was a set of standards built on the nascent model of web services: WS- * and SOAP, the Simple Object Access Protocol. The intention was to build a framework to deliver service-oriented architectures, where applications publish defined service endpoints that can connect them both together and with clients and servers.

Microsoft intends to simplify what can be a complex process by writing WSDL (Web Service Definition Language) endpoints and message descriptions, constructing these endpoints, and constructing and analyzing XML messages used to connect services. Originally codenamed Indigo, Microsoft’s web services tool was one of Longhorn’s key technologies for surviving Vista’s reset, eventually coming as WCF, the Windows Communication Foundation.

Was the transition to .NET the end of official WCF?

WCF remained a key part of the .NET Framework, but by the time Microsoft and its .NET Foundation partners began redefining .NET and its key APIs for the transition to .NET Core and .NET, its heyday was over with new technologies such as gRPC they were seen as a way forward. WCF was rejected and passed on to the community, and developers working on .NET 5 onwards were encouraged to consider alternative approaches to building service-oriented architectures.

Moving away from WCF in the new .NET was a block for many enterprise migrations and updates. Although the WS- * family of standards may have been abandoned by modern web standards and the move to REST and JSON, these XML APIs are still part of many working enterprise applications. This is because core standards come from enterprise requirements, with implementations handling many of the most important features of a secure, reliable, message-driven API. Outside of technologies like WCF, you need to build your own protective message shells and build and manage message queues. Without WCF, porting existing web-based code to .NET 5 or 6 would be nearly impossible.

Here comes CoreWCF 1.0 with Microsoft support

Although Microsoft thought it could not support WCF in the new .NET, there was still a demand for it. An internal project to prove the concept in 2017 implemented some of the main features of WCF on the then .NET Core, but it was far from parity of features. Microsoft passed this code to the open source community with the original designer as project manager. The work started in 2019 and it was hosted on GitHub. Code was slowly added to the project, but things accelerated significantly when an Amazon Web Services team began adding code to the project, transferring several key features. What was to become the WCF Core continued to grow, with the project using ASP.NET Core as a target.

Now it’s time for Core WCF to get its first big version as it now supports enough of the WCF functionality to allow users to start migrating older code to the new .NET. It’s not the whole WCF yet, so the project name has two meanings: it works on what was .NET Core, and it supports the “core” features of WCF. Surprising for a public project, Microsoft offers support for versions 1.x.tying support to the main framework. For .NET 5 and 6, this support will initially be tied to ASP.NET Core 2.1 and the .NET Framework 4.7. Support will be for the current major.minor version and will end six months after the release of the new version.

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

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