As I mentioned earlier, I want to blog talk about some of the features in Visual Studio 2008 in the coming months.
Today I want to highlight the support for developing and consuming Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) services in VS 2008. WCF simplifies distributed application development by providing a unified programming model and supporting service oriented concepts as first-class citizens. If you take the combination of WCF and VS 2008, you get a great end-to-end experience for building and consuming web services.
- Jump-start WCF service creation. Project templates set up the necessary code and project artifacts to get a simple service up and running from the get-go. Just create the project and press F5. You can try this out by launching VS2008, and going to File | New Project | WCF.
- Integrated Service Library and Test Host. WCF supports a variety of ways to host a service – VS2008 provides an integrated Test Host so you can develop your service in a library and still get a Edit-Compile-Debug experience and defer your hosting decision till later.
- Improved Service Test Form. In VS2008, the test form now provides support for complex types, and is a useful tool for quickly pinpointing if there’s an issue on the server-side or client-side. The test form is automatically launched when you hit F5 on a WCF Service Library project.
- Advanced Consumption Features. We now support WCF in the Visual Studio proxy generation features that VS users will be familiar with, including integration with RAD data binding features. In addition, the IDE now surfaces proxy configuration options that were previously only available on the command line SDK tools. This means important scenarios like type reuse and specifying collection types can now all be done within the IDE. Of course, there are smart defaults that will cover you 80% of the time so you only have to go into configuration if you really need to. You can access this feature by right-clicking on a project node in Solution Explorer and choosing “Add Service Reference…”
- Easier Client-Server Debugging. Debugging distributed scenarios gets easier by being able to step into service code from a client, as well as being able to hit service breakpoints from a client. You can try this out by simply having a WCF service and client project that consumes it in the same solution, set the client as the startup project, set a breakpoint in the service code and hit F5.
Chris Smith and John Stallo from the VB team have put together a more detailed walkthrough that covers a good set of these features.