Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) is one of the cornerstones of the .NET Framework 3.0. It consists of a large and foreboding set of classes that finally unify communication techniques between .NET components. If you ve worked with Web services or .NET remoting, then you ve got a headstart but you still have a lot to learn about WCF.
Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) is a hot buzzword these days, but precious few people thoroughly understand what it means. Software development is slowly evolving from an application-centric world into an era where data takes on a life of its own. If your skills aren t evolving along with it, you ll be left behind.
So how does one begin learning about complex new technologies and concepts such as WCF and SOA? I d suggest you start with a good book like Learning WCF by Michele Leroux Bustamante. Michele s writing style makes this otherwise hard-to-digest subject matter far more palatable. She has a way of covering the same material several times in different ways, adding new details and analysis each time to keep it fresh. This deeply engaging style had the effect of nailing the information solidly into my brain rather than the fuzzier feeling most books leave behind.
For example, Chapter 1 explains the basic concepts behind creating a WCF service, host, and client. Then you re presented with a lab section listing step-by-step instructions for creating these three assemblies in Visual Studio. Then these steps are reviewed to discuss why certain design decisions were made, what alternatives could have been chosen, and under what circumstances those alternatives might be better choices. So, in addition to the How-to instructions that most books provide, you also get the deeper Why, When, and Where analysis that others tend to lack.
Chapter 2 goes in-depth about contracts, protocols, and serialization. Chapters 3 and 4 discuss bindings and hosting, respectively. Chapter 5 dives into the deep topic of instancing and concurrency, which is an important concept to understand for all but the most trivial of WCF applications. Chapter 6 covers topics related to reliability, such as transactions, sessions, and queues. Security is the theme of Chapter 7, where various Internet and intranet security model options are examined along with a detailed dialogue about certificates. The book ends in Chapter 8 with a detailed analysis of exception handling, including SOAP faults, debugging, and useful error-handling strategies. Appendixes deliver WCF installation and set-up steps, as well as an overview of CardSpace.
With so much free development information available on the Web these days, it can be hard to justify the purchase of a programming book. However, when it comes to a topic as deep and complex as WCF, nothing short of a complete book will encompass the big picture all the way down to the technical details. It can be intimidating to start learning such a challenging new technology, and a good book like Learning WCF can make all the difference.
Steve C. Orr
Title: Learning WCF
Author: Michele Leroux Bustamante
Publisher: O Reilly
Page Count: 582