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Hi All,

I am playing around with RESTful web servcies in WCF. I am using the online template in visual studio called 'WCF REST Service Template 40(CS)'.

Anyway, all is good and my service calls return appropriate XML data (which is what I am looking to return)

At first, I quite liked how easy it was to return a class and it would automatically be translated into XML. A simple example would be return a string with a value representing an authentication token, the XML returned would be:


...easy as pie! But now, I am deciding what I really want to return is something like...


...So my ultimate question is, what is the best way to make this happen?

I though it would probably work if I had a custom class called 'token' and I override whatever function handles the 'to xml' part of it - but this would be overkill and just doesn't seem right

What I would really like to be able to do, is to include a 'View' as would be possible using the ASP.Net MVC framework. So I could define my XML format in a View as easy as (in MVC 3)...

</token> this possible in WCF? Perhaps I should use MVC 3 to do the RESTful service instead of WCF? Any thoughts?


1 solution

Well I have been looking into this and what I have found so far is as follows.

In order to return XML formatted exactly how I wanted it, I found this post[^] which shows how to convert an XMLDocument into a Message. Then with a further helper class my calling code can now be as simple as this...

[WebGet(UriTemplate = "Test")]
public Message Test()
    System.Xml.XmlDocument doc = new System.Xml.XmlDocument();

    return CustomMessage.XML(doc);

...which produces the XML result I was looking for. I was also able to produce an MVC style view parser using a bit of Regex and Reflection to parse for variables in the XML file and substitute them for matching parameters in a given class instance...

public static Message XML(string view, object model)
    System.Xml.XmlDocument doc = new System.Xml.XmlDocument();
    doc.Load(System.Web.Hosting.HostingEnvironment.MapPath("~/Views/" + view + ".xml"));

    return new CustomResponses().CreateResponseMessage(doc, model);

public System.Xml.XmlDocument MergeDoc(System.Xml.XmlDocument doc, object model)
    string xml = doc.OuterXml;
    System.Reflection.PropertyInfo[] properties = model.GetType().GetProperties();
    foreach (Match match in Regex.Matches(xml, "@ViewBag.[a-zA-Z0-9]{1,}", RegexOptions.None))
         string propertyName = match.Value.Replace("@ViewBag.", "");
         System.Reflection.PropertyInfo property = model.GetType().GetProperty(propertyName);
         xml = xml.Replace(match.Value, property.GetValue(model, null).ToString());
    return doc;

These two above functions allow for an xml file containing:


to be merged with a class instance and used like:

public class TokenClass
    public string Token { get; set; }

[WebGet(UriTemplate = "Test2")]
public Message Test2()
    TokenClass token = new TokenClass() { Token = "123456" };

    return CustomMessage.XML("Token", token);//params here are View and Model

the returned XML response would be...


...this is not 100% ideal as you do not have the extra functionality of parsing code within the xml file (such as a for loop) that would be possible with the Razor view engine used in MVC 3 (there is a post here[^] that shows how the Razor engine can be used outside of MVC 3 that may interest some but I am not sure it is what I want so I may chose to leave it out)

Anyway, I will probably continue to investigate further possibilities but hopefully this information will be of use to someone else. Also, if anyone reading this has any further comments, I would be interested in hearing them


Here[^] is a nice little article on how to use the Razor view engine without MVC and I can say that it works pretty well
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