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XMLSerializer Sample

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This sample demonstrates how to serialize and deserialize types that are compatible with the XmlSerializer. The default Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) formatter is the DataContractSerializer class. The XmlSerializer class can be used to serialize and deserialize types when the DataContractSerializer class cannot be used. This is often the case when precise control over the XML is required - for example, if a piece of data must be an XML attribute and not an XML element. Also, the XmlSerializer often gets automatically selected when creating clients for non-WCF services.

In this sample, the client is a console application (.exe) and the service is hosted by Internet Information Services (IIS).


The setup procedure and build instructions for this sample are located at the end of this topic.

The ServiceContractAttribute and XmlSerializerFormatAttribute must be applied to the interface as shown in the following sample code.

[ServiceContract(Namespace="http://Microsoft.ServiceModel.Samples"), XmlSerializerFormat]
public interface IXmlSerializerCalculator
    ComplexNumber Add(ComplexNumber n1, ComplexNumber n2);
    ComplexNumber Subtract(ComplexNumber n1, ComplexNumber n2);
    ComplexNumber Multiply(ComplexNumber n1, ComplexNumber n2);
    ComplexNumber Divide(ComplexNumber n1, ComplexNumber n2);

The public members of ComplexNumber class are serialized by XmlSerializer as XML attributes. The DataContractSerializer cannot be used to create this kind of XML instance.

public class ComplexNumber
    private double real;
    private double imaginary;

    public double Real
        get { return real; }
        set { real = value; }

    public double Imaginary
        get { return imaginary; }
        set { imaginary = value; }

    public ComplexNumber(double real, double imaginary)
        this.Real = real;
        this.Imaginary = imaginary;
    public ComplexNumber()
        this.Real = 0;
        this.Imaginary = 0;


The service implementation calculates and returns the appropriate result—accepting and returning values of the ComplexNumber type.

public class XmlSerializerCalculatorService : IXmlSerializerCalculator
    public ComplexNumber Add(ComplexNumber n1, ComplexNumber n2)
        return new ComplexNumber(n1.Real + n2.Real, n1.Imaginary +

The client implementation also uses complex numbers. Both the service contract and the data types are defined in the generatedClient.cs source file, which was generated by the Service Metadata Utility Tool (Svcutil.exe) from service metadata. Svcutil.exe can detect when a contract is not serializable by the DataContractSerializer and reverts to emitting XmlSerializable types in this case. If you want to force the use of the XmlSerializer, you can pass the /serializer:XmlSerializer (use XmlSerializer) command option to the Svcutil.exe tool.

// Create a client.
XmlSerializerCalculatorClient client = new

// Call the Add service operation.
ComplexNumber value1 = new ComplexNumber();
value1.Real = 1;
value1.Imaginary = 2;
ComplexNumber value2 = new ComplexNumber();
value2.Real = 3;
value2.Imaginary = 4;
ComplexNumber result = client.Add(value1, value2);
Console.WriteLine("Add({0} + {1}i, {2} + {3}i) = {4} + {5}i",
    value1.Real, value1.Imaginary, value2.Real, value2.Imaginary,     result.Real, result.Imaginary);

When you run the sample, the operation requests and responses are displayed in the client console window. Press ENTER in the client window to shut down the client.

    Add(1 + 2i, 3 + 4i) = 4 + 6i
    Subtract(1 + 2i, 3 + 4i) = -2 + -2i
    Multiply(2 + 3i, 4 + 7i) = -13 + 26i
    Divide(3 + 7i, 5 + -2i) = 0.0344827586206897 + 1.41379310344828i

    Press <ENTER> to terminate client.

To set up, build, and run the sample

  1. Ensure that you have performed the One-Time Setup Procedure for the Windows Communication Foundation Samples.

  2. To build the C# or Visual Basic .NET edition of the solution, follow the instructions in Building the Windows Communication Foundation Samples.

  3. To run the sample in a single- or cross-machine configuration, follow the instructions in Running the Windows Communication Foundation Samples.

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