Service Tutorial 2 (C#) - Updating State

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Service Tutorial 2 (C#) - Updating State

Writing an application using the DSS is a simple matter of orchestrating input and output between a set of services. Services represent the interface to software or hardware and allow you to communicate between processes that perform specific functions.

This tutorial is provided in the C# language. You can find the project files for this tutorial at the following location under the Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio installation folder:

Sample location

This tutorial teaches you how to:


The service written in Service Tutorial 1 will be modified to become a simple monotonic clock, incrementing an internal counter approximately once per second.


This tutorial uses the service written in Service Tutorial 1 (C#) - Creating a Service. The service you will create is referred to as ServiceTutorial2. Feel free to start a new project or keep working in the previous project, keeping in mind that some names may differ.


This tutorial requires no special hardware.


This tutorial is designed for use with Microsoft Visual C#. You can use:

  • Microsoft Visual C# Express Edition
  • Microsoft Visual Studio Standard, Professional, or Team Edition.

You will also need Microsoft Internet Explorer or another conventional web browser.

Step 1: Add a New Message to a Service

The service needs to store a counter in its state and a message needs to be defined that will cause the counter to be incremented. All these changes happen in ServiceTutorial2Types.cs.

The first change you will make is to add an integer property, Ticks, to the service state type.

private int _ticks;

public int Ticks
    get { return _ticks; }
    set { _ticks = value; }

Next, you need to define a message to increment the Tick property.

The code snippet below defines the IncrementTick message. A message is derived from DsspOperation and has three elements: an action, a body, and a response port. The IncrementTick message declared below is derived from the Update<TBody, TResponse> generic class which sets the action verb to Update (specifically, UpdateRequest). The body type is declared as IncrementTickRequest. The response port is defined as PortSet<DefaultUpdateResponseType, Fault>.

The Update verb is used for a message that will modify a subset of the service state, in this case it will only affect the Tick property.

The body is used for any information that the service requires to perform this message action. In this case, the body doesn't need to contain fields because the IncrementTick message causes the Tick property in the state to increment by one. A constructor is defined for the IncrementTick message that creates and sets the body.

The response port allows the service to communicate success or failure to the caller. In this message, in common with most Update messages, the DefaultUpdateResponseType is sufficient to signal that the update was successful. While the IncrementTick message does not have a failure path, the Fault type is used by the DSS infrastructure to tell a caller when there is a problem sending the message to the service.

Add the following message and request types in ServiceTutorial2Types.cs.

public class IncrementTick : Update<IncrementTickRequest, PortSet<DefaultUpdateResponseType, Fault>>
    public IncrementTick()
        : base(new IncrementTickRequest())

public class IncrementTickRequest

Now add the IncrementTick message to the list of messages that the service supports. If an IncrementTick message is sent to this service right now, the message would sit on the port until the service was shutdown, causing a memory leak. This is because we haven't yet defined a message handler.

/// <summary>
/// ServiceTutorial2 Main Operations Port
/// </summary>
public class ServiceTutorial2Operations : PortSet<DsspDefaultLookup, DsspDefaultDrop, Get, HttpGet, Replace, IncrementTick>

Step 2: Implement Message Handler

The next step is to implement the handler for the IncrementTick message. In ServiceTutorial2.cs, add a handler to the ServiceTutorial2 class.

This handler increments the Tick property of the service state, logs the change to that property, and sends a success response to the caller.

As described in Service Tutorial 1 (C#) - Creating a Service, the ServiceHandler attribute declares that this method handles a message type sent to the main service port. In this case, it needs exclusive access to the state because this handler modifies that service state. Therefore, the handler is declared with ServiceHandlerBehavior.Exclusive.

/// <summary>
/// Increment Tick Handler
/// </summary>
/// <param name="incrementTick">Not used</param>
/// <returns></returns>
public IEnumerator<ITask> IncrementTickHandler(IncrementTick incrementTick)
    // Only update the state here because this is an Exclusive handler
    LogInfo("Tick: " + _state.Ticks);
    yield break;

The service now has a new field in the service state, a message that tells the service to increment that field, and a handler that actually changes the service state. The next step is to cause the state to change.

Step 3: Post a Message Internally

The service increments the Tick property approximately once per second. To do this, it needs some kind of timer. The .NET framework provides a timer mechanism that could be used. However, the CCR provides a mechanism that allows you to use timers directly within the CCR system of ports and receivers.

The first thing you have to do is declare a port to which a message is sent each time the timer fires. The following line declares a port to which a DateTime can be posted. Add this member field in the service class after the _mainPort declaration.

private Port<DateTime> _timerPort = new Port<DateTime>();

Add two lines to the Start method:

  • Post a DateTime to the port you have just declared. The value of DateTime posted is unimportant to the execution of the service although it can be useful for debugging.
  • Activate a handler for the port _timerPort.

Because the _timerPort field is not part of the main service port, you cannot activate a handler by adding a ServiceBehavior declaration to the hander method. The Activate method takes a list of tasks to activate. The task that is declared here, Arbiter.Receive(...), is a simple receiver on a port. In this case, specifying that the TimerHandler method will be called when a message arrives on the port _timerPort. The first (boolean true) parameter indicates that the receiver is persistent, and so all messages to the port are received by the handler.

CCR manages all tasks passed to a call to Activate(). CCR is a concurrent task dispatch infrastructure on which DSS is built.

The Start() method should look like this:

/// <summary>
/// Service Start
/// </summary>
protected override void Start()

    // Kick off the timer (with no delay) and start a receiver for it
    Activate(Arbiter.Receive(true, _timerPort, TimerHandler));

The TimerHandler is called when a message arrives on _timerPort. It does two things:

  • It posts an IncrementTick message to the main service port. This causes the execution of IncrementTickHandler.
  • It activates on a 1000 millisecond timeout interval. Since we have not declared a method as the handler for this receiver, an anonymous delegate (a new feature in .NET 2.0) is used. This allows us to write the handler inline in the call to Arbiter.Receive. In that anonymous delegate, we post the DateTime value to the port, _timerPort. Note that this receiver is not persistent--the first parameter is false. This is because the port created by the TimeoutPort() method receives one message after the specified interval (in this case 1000 milliseconds) expires.

When the Activate()method is called, it adds the task defined by calling Arbiter.Receive to the list of active tasks for this service. The operations defined within the Activate call will be scheduled independently of the current thread. In this case the TimerHandler method will return immediately after the call to Activate; it does not wait until the timer is fired.

The Arbiter.Receive() method defines a one-time receiver that will take the message sent when the timer interval specified in the call to TimeoutPort expires (in this case after 1000 milliseconds) and passes it as the parameter to the anonymous delegate specified as the third parameter to Arbiter.Receive().

/// <summary>
/// Timer Handler
/// </summary>
/// <param name="signal">Not used</param>
void TimerHandler(DateTime signal)
    // Post a message to ourselves.
    // Do not modify the state here because this handler is
    // not part of the main interleave and therefore does not
    // run exclusively.
    _mainPort.Post(new IncrementTick());

    // Set the timer for the next tick
        Arbiter.Receive(false, TimeoutPort(1000),
            delegate(DateTime time)

Step 4: See the Service in Action

If you look carefully at ServiceTutorial2.cs you will see that there are no handlers for the Get or HttpGet operations. However, you are going to use a web browser to examine the state. The reason that this works is because the state is tagged with the ServiceState attribute and DsspServiceBase uses default handlers when there are none declared in the service itself.

/// <summary>
/// Service State
/// </summary>
private ServiceTutorial2State _state = new ServiceTutorial2State();

Build and run the service in the usual way.

Now if you navigate to http://localhost:50000/servicetutorial2 , you should see the service state looking something like:

Figure 1

Figure 1 - Viewing the state of ServiceTutorial2 in browser.

Note the Ticks property. If you refresh the browser you will see this number increase over time.

Now open a browser window to http://localhost:50000/console/output. The logging messages sent by the service should appear in your browser:

Row Time Level Description (mouse-over for details)
0 14:50:55 ** Validating Contract Directory Cache
1 14:50:57 ** Contract Directory is initialized
2 14:50:57 ** Attempting to load manifest: file:///C:/MSRS/samples/config/ServiceTutorial2.manifest.xml
3 14:50:58 ** Service uri: http://localhost:50000/servicetutorial2
4 14:50:57 ** Initial manifest loaded successfully.
5 14:50:59 ** Tick: 1
6 14:50:59 ** Tick: 2
7 14:51:00 ** Tick: 3
8 14:51:01 ** Tick: 4
9 14:51:02 ** Tick: 5
10 14:51:03 ** Tick: 6
11 14:51:04 ** Tick: 7
12 14:51:05 ** Tick: 8
13 14:51:06 ** Tick: 9
14 14:51:07 ** Tick: 10
15 14:51:08 ** Tick: 11
16 14:51:09 ** Tick: 12
17 14:51:10 ** Tick: 13
18 14:51:11 ** Tick: 14
19 14:51:12 ** Tick: 15
20 14:51:13 ** Tick: 16

Clicking on each row will open details about that message:

16 14:51:09 **
SubjectTick: 12
CodeSiteBoolean MoveNext()() at line:92, fileC:\MSRS

The DsspServiceBase class defines a variety of logging methods using various overloads of the methods allows you to change the Category, Level and Subject fields of the Log. These methods include: LogInfo, LogWarning and LogError. The Time, Source and CodeSite entries are automatically populated.


In this tutorial, you took the service that you wrote in Service Tutorial 1 and turned it into a simple clock that updates a state member approximately once per second.

To do this, you completed the following:



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