How to use socket based client with WCF (net.tcp) service?

The key decision is whether or not to make the WCF service conform to the socket client or whether to make the socket client conform to the WCF service.

It will be simplest to attempt to conform to the WCF service, rather than trying to implement something custom within WCF, which is never easy. At the bottom of the Other Resources section below you will see a link that describes the message inspection that is necessary in order to attempt to conform to a WCF service.

Having said that, .NET sockets do not natively communicate with WCF.

Any attempt to do so will require custom programming on the WCF side of things.

Whether you are using TcpClient or raw sockets in .NET to connect to and communicate with WCF does not matter. Any such interoperability must be handled with custom logic within WCF. Note that Net.Tcp is a custom transport protocol. It is not technically using TCP in the same way that the TcpClient is.

For example, UDP is very commonly used by socket servers in the Linux world. WCF does not provide a built-in UDP transport. However, there is a UDP sample for WCF that implements UDP for WCF. Unfortunately, that sample does not illustrate communicating to and from a non-WCF UPD socket server.

I have an outstanding question that is rather detailed where I explain my effort to get sample code to generically be testable for using UDP…

Is it possible to make the WcfTestClient work for custom transport channels?

Nobody has answered my question yet. So, if you succeed in making this work, I am very interested. My case was driven by a desire for the WCF Service to be able to call out to a UDP socket server running on Linux without having to clutter my service with non-WCF coding. I don’t want to mix approaches.

Other Resources…

  • Choosing a Transport
    This article states that “The WCF TCP transport is optimized for the
    scenario where both ends of the
    communication are using WCF”.

  • Trying to connect a non-WCF client to a WCF service
    that uses the BasicHttpBinding.
    developer ends up writing custom code
    via the WebClient (as opposed to

  • WCF vs. Raw .NET Sockets
    The answer points out that TCP + binary serialization or UDP + binary
    serialization might be needed. There
    is a UDP binding sample, as I
    mentioned above.

  • Writing Custom Requests to Simple WCF
    The author explains how to figure out the format of the message that
    needs to be sent to the service, so
    that the TcpClient or other non-WCF
    sockets client can send the write
    information to the WCF service. The
    implication here is that you are not
    attempting to conform the WCF
    service, but rather you are forcing
    the socket client to do the heavy
    lifting. Even so, you not get the
    built-in advantages of the WCF
    bindings if you are expecting

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