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Configuring and Extending the Runtime with Behaviors

Behaviors enable you to modify default behavior and add custom extensions that inspect and validate service configuration or modify runtime behavior in Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) client and service applications. This topic describes the behavior interfaces, how to implement them, and how to add them to the service description (in a service application) or endpoint (in a client application) programmatically or in a configuration file. For more information about using system-provided behaviors, see Specifying Service Run-Time Behavior and Specifying Client Run-Time Behavior.

Behavior types are added to the service or service endpoint description objects (on the service or client, respectively) before those objects are used by Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) to create a runtime that executes a WCF service or a WCF client. When these behaviors are called during the runtime construction process they are then able to access runtime properties and methods that modify the runtime constructed by the contract, bindings, and addresses.

ms730137.collapse_all(en-us,VS.110).gifBehavior Methods

All behaviors have an AddBindingParameters method, an ApplyDispatchBehavior method, a Validate method, and an ApplyClientBehavior method with one exception: Because IServiceBehavior cannot execute in a client, it does not implement ApplyClientBehavior.

  • Use the AddBindingParameters method to modify or add custom objects to a collection that custom bindings can access for their use when the runtime is constructed. For example, this how protection requirements are specified that affect the way the channel is built, but are not known by the channel developer.

  • Use the Validate method to examine the description tree and corresponding runtime object to ensure it conforms to some set of criteria.

  • Use the ApplyDispatchBehavior and ApplyClientBehavior methods to examine the description tree and modify the runtime for a particular scope on either the service or the client. You can also insert extension objects as well.

    Note Note

    Although a description tree is provided in these methods, it is for examination only. If a description tree is modified, the behavior is undefined.

The properties you can modify and the customization interfaces you can implement are accessed through the service and client runtime classes. The service types are the DispatchRuntime and DispatchOperation classes. The client types are the ClientRuntime and ClientOperation classes. The ClientRuntime and DispatchRuntime classes are the extensibility entry points to access client-wide and service-wide runtime properties and extension collections, respectively. Similarly, the ClientOperation and DispatchOperation classes expose client operation and service operation runtime properties and extension collections, respectively. You can, however, access the wider scoped runtime object from the operation runtime object and vice versa if need be.

Note Note

For a discussion of runtime properties and extension types that you can use to modify the execution behavior of a client, see Extending Clients. For a discussion of runtime properties and extension types that you can use to modify the execution behavior of a service dispatcher, see Extending Dispatchers.

Most WCF users do not interact with the runtime directly; instead they use core programming model constructs like endpoints, contracts, bindings, addresses, and behavior attributes on classes or behaviors in configuration files. These constructs make up the description tree, which is the complete specification for constructing a runtime to support a service or client described by the description tree.

There are four kinds of behaviors in WCF:

You can add these behaviors to the various description objects by implementing custom attributes, using application configuration files, or directly by adding them to the behaviors collection on the appropriate description object. The must, however, be added to a service description or service endpoint description object prior to calling ICommunicationObject.Open on the ServiceHost or a ChannelFactory<TChannel>.

ms730137.collapse_all(en-us,VS.110).gifBehavior Scopes

There are four behavior types, each of which corresponds to a particular scope of runtime access.

ms730137.collapse_all(en-us,VS.110).gifService Behaviors

Service behaviors, which implement IServiceBehavior, are the primary mechanism by which you modify the entire service runtime. There are three mechanisms for adding service behaviors to a service.

  1. Using an attribute on the service class. When a ServiceHost is constructed, the ServiceHost implementation uses reflection to discover the set of attributes on the type of the service. If any of those attributes are implementations of IServiceBehavior, they are added to the behaviors collection on ServiceDescription. This allows those behaviors to participate in the construction of the service run time.

  2. Programmatically adding the behavior to the behaviors collection on ServiceDescription. This can be accomplished with the following lines of code:

    ServiceHost host = new ServiceHost(/* Parameters */);
    host.Description.Behaviors.Add(/* Service Behavior */);
    
  3. Implementing a custom BehaviorExtensionElement that extends configuration. This enables the use of the service behavior from application configuration files.

Examples of service behaviors in WCF include the ServiceBehaviorAttribute attribute, the ServiceThrottlingBehavior, and the ServiceMetadataBehavior behavior.

ms730137.collapse_all(en-us,VS.110).gifContract Behaviors

Contract behaviors, which implement the IContractBehavior interface, are used to extend both the client and service runtime across a contract.

There are two mechanisms for adding contract behaviors to a contract. The first mechanism is to create a custom attribute to be used on the contract interface. When a contract interface is passed to either a ServiceHost or a ChannelFactory<TChannel>, WCF examines the attributes on the interface. If any attributes are implementations of IContractBehavior, those are added to the behaviors collection on the System.ServiceModel.Description.ContractDescription created for that interface.

You can also implement the System.ServiceModel.Description.IContractBehaviorAttribute on the custom contract behavior attribute. In this case, the behavior is as follows when applied to:

•A contract interface. In this case, the behavior is applied to all contracts of that type in any endpoint and WCF ignores the value of the IContractBehaviorAttribute.TargetContract property.

•A service class. In this case, the behavior is applied only to endpoints the contract of which is the value of the TargetContract property.

•A callback class. In this case, the behavior is applied to the duplex client's endpoint and WCF ignores the value of the TargetContract property.

The second mechanism is to add the behavior to the behaviors collection on a ContractDescription.

Examples of contract behaviors in WCF include the System.ServiceModel.DeliveryRequirementsAttribute attribute. For more information and an example, see the reference topic.

ms730137.collapse_all(en-us,VS.110).gifEndpoint Behaviors

Endpoint behaviors, which implement IEndpointBehavior, are the primary mechanism by which you modify the entire service or client run time for a specific endpoint.

There are two mechanisms for adding endpoint behaviors to a service.

  1. Add the behavior to the Behaviors property.

  2. Implement a custom BehaviorExtensionElement that extends configuration.

For more information and an example, see the reference topic.

ms730137.collapse_all(en-us,VS.110).gifOperation Behaviors

Operation behaviors, which implement the IOperationBehavior interface, are used to extend both the client and service runtime for each operation.

There are two mechanisms for adding operation behaviors to an operation. The first mechanism is to create a custom attribute to be used on the method that models the operation. When an operation is added to either a ServiceHost or a ChannelFactory, WCF adds any IOperationBehavior attributes to the behaviors collection on the OperationDescription created for that operation.

The second mechanism is by directly adding the behavior to the behaviors collection on a constructed OperationDescription.

Examples of operation behaviors in WCF include the OperationBehaviorAttribute and the TransactionFlowAttribute.

For more information and an example, see the reference topic.

ms730137.collapse_all(en-us,VS.110).gifUsing Configuration to Create Behaviors

Service and endpoint, and contract behaviors can by designed to be specified in code or using attributes; only service and endpoint behaviors can be configured using application or Web configuration files. Exposing behaviors using attributes allows developers to specify a behavior at compilation-time that cannot be added, removed, or modified at runtime. This is often suitable for behaviors that are always required for the correct operation of a service (for example, the transaction-related parameters to the System.ServiceModel.ServiceBehaviorAttribute attribute). Exposing behaviors using configuration allows developers to leave the specification and configuration of those behaviors to those who deploy the service. This is suitable for behaviors that are optional components or other deployment-specific configuration, such as whether metadata is exposed for the service or the particular authorization configuration for a service.

Note Note

You can also use behaviors that support configuration to enforce company application policies by inserting them into the machine.config configuration file and locking those items down. For a description and an example, see How to: Lock Down Endpoints in the Enterprise.

To expose a behavior using configuration, a developer must create a derived class of BehaviorExtensionElement and then register that extension with configuration.

The following code example shows how an IEndpointBehavior implements BehaviorExtensionElement:

// BehaviorExtensionElement members
    public override Type BehaviorType
    {
      get { return typeof(EndpointBehaviorMessageInspector); }
    }

    protected override object CreateBehavior()
    {
      return new EndpointBehaviorMessageInspector();
    }

In order for the configuration system to load a custom BehaviorExtensionElement, it must be registered as an extension. The following code example shows the configuration file for the preceding endpoint behavior:

<configuration>
  <system.serviceModel>
    <services>
      <service 
        name="Microsoft.WCF.Documentation.SampleService"
        behaviorConfiguration="metadataSupport"
      >
        <host>
          <baseAddresses>
            <add baseAddress="http://localhost:8080/ServiceMetadata" />
          </baseAddresses>
        </host>
        <endpoint
          address="/SampleService"
          binding="wsHttpBinding"
          behaviorConfiguration="withMessageInspector" 
          contract="Microsoft.WCF.Documentation.ISampleService"
        />
        <endpoint
           address="mex"
           binding="mexHttpBinding"
           contract="IMetadataExchange"
        />
      </service>
    </services>
    <behaviors>
      <serviceBehaviors>
      <behavior name="metadataSupport">
        <serviceMetadata httpGetEnabled="true" httpGetUrl=""/>
      </behavior>
      </serviceBehaviors>
      <endpointBehaviors>
        <behavior name="withMessageInspector">
          <endpointMessageInspector />
        </behavior>
      </endpointBehaviors>
    </behaviors>
    <extensions>
      <behaviorExtensions>
        <add 
          name="endpointMessageInspector"
          type="Microsoft.WCF.Documentation.EndpointBehaviorMessageInspector, HostApplication, Version=0.0.0.0, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=null"
        />
      </behaviorExtensions>
    </extensions>
  </system.serviceModel>
</configuration>

Where Microsoft.WCF.Documentation.EndpointBehaviorMessageInspector is the behavior extension type and HostApplication is the name of the assembly into which that class has been compiled.

ms730137.collapse_all(en-us,VS.110).gifEvaluation Order

The System.ServiceModel.ChannelFactory<TChannel> and the System.ServiceModel.ServiceHost are responsible for building the runtime from the programming model and description. Behaviors, as previously described, contribute to that build process at the service, endpoint, contract, and operation.

The ServiceHost applies behaviors in the following order:

  1. Service

  2. Contract

  3. Endpoint

  4. Operation

Within any collection of behaviors, no order is guaranteed.

The ChannelFactory<TChannel> applies behaviors in the following order:

  1. Contract

  2. Endpoint

  3. Operation

Within any collection of behaviors, again, no order is guaranteed.

ms730137.collapse_all(en-us,VS.110).gifAdding Behaviors Programmatically

Properties of the System.ServiceModel.Description.ServiceDescription in the service application must not be modified subsequent to the CommunicationObject.OnOpening method on System.ServiceModel.ServiceHostBase. Some members, like the ServiceHostBase.Credentials property and the AddServiceEndpoint methods on ServiceHostBase and System.ServiceModel.ServiceHost, throw an exception if modified past that point. Others permit you to modify them, but the result is undefined.

Similarly, on the client the System.ServiceModel.Description.ServiceEndpoint values must not be modified after the call to OnOpening on the System.ServiceModel.ChannelFactory. The ChannelFactory.Credentials property throws an exception if modified past that point, but the other client description values can be modified without error. The result, however, is undefined.

Whether for the service or client, it is recommended that you modify the description prior to calling CommunicationObject.Open.

ms730137.collapse_all(en-us,VS.110).gifInheritance Rules for Behavior Attributes

All four types of behaviors can be populated using attributes – service behaviors and contract behaviors. Because attributes are defined on managed objects and members, and managed objects and members support inheritance, it is necessary to define how behavior attributes work in the context of inheritance.

At a high level, the rule is that for a particular scope (for example, service, contract, or operation), all behavior attributes in the inheritance hierarchy for that scope are applied. If there are two behavior attributes of the same type, only the most-derived type is used.

ms730137.collapse_all(en-us,VS.110).gifService Behaviors

For a given service class, all service behavior attributes on that class, and on parents of that class, are applied. If the same type of attribute is applied at multiple places in the inheritance hierarchy, the most-derived type is used.

[ServiceBehavior(ConcurrencyMode = ConcurrencyMode.Multiple)]
[AspNetCompatibilityRequirementsAttribute(
    AspNetCompatibilityRequirementsMode = AspNetCompatibilityRequirementsMode.Allowed)]
public class A { /* … */ }

[ServiceBehavior(InstanceContextMode = InstanceContextMode.Single)]
public class B : A { /* … */}

For example, in the preceding case, the service B ends up with an InstanceContextMode of Single, an AspNetCompatibilityRequirementsMode mode of Allowed, and a ConcurrencyMode of Single. The ConcurrencyMode is Single, because ServiceBehaviorAttribute attribute on service B is on "more derived" than that on service A.

ms730137.collapse_all(en-us,VS.110).gifContract Behaviors

For a given contract, all contract behavior attributes on that interface and on parents of that interface, are applied. If the same type of attribute is applied at multiple places in the inheritance hierarchy, the most-derived type is used.

ms730137.collapse_all(en-us,VS.110).gifOperation Behaviors

If a given operation does not override an existing abstract or virtual operation, no inheritance rules apply.

If an operation does override an existing operation, then all operation behavior attributes on that operation and on parents of that operation, are applied. If the same type of attribute is applied at multiple places in the inheritance hierarchy, the most-derived type is used.

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