Wcf – What’s the point of a DataContract in WCF


VS.net creates a template when you create a WCF project.

It adds a class to the iService1.cs file:

// Use a data contract as illustrated in the sample below to
// add composite types to service operations.
public class CompositeType
    bool boolValue = true;
    string stringValue = "Hello ";

    public bool BoolValue
        get { return boolValue; }
        set { boolValue = value; }

    public string StringValue
        get { return stringValue; }
        set { stringValue = value; }

Since a WCF service can return any user defined class, why use a DataContract and CompositeType class?

I can return something like:

MyUserCollection GetUsers();

What am I missing?

Best Answer

The DataContract is just a formal definition of a type that can be understood on both sides of the service boundary.

If you return, as in your example, a "MyUserCollection" object, the consumers of your service will need to reference the innards of your service/system, which is a violation of the SOA tenet of explicit boundaries. By using a DataContract, you are publishing the structure of your return types in a loosely-coupled way.

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