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Posted 17 Jun 2009

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How to Create a WCF Client Proxy Without Having a Deployed WCF Service

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17 Jun 2009CPOL3 min read
How to create a WCF

At work, we are currently using a very very Agile process, which involves 1/4 hourly builds, which was all going brilliantly with a WPF solution and some Mocks and some NUnit test projects. Then we got to the point where we had to start building our WCF service and have the WPF project obtain a new service reference client proxy based on the newly built WCF service project. This is easily achieved using NANT and wiring up dependencies in a NANT script, but we were not in a position where we could actual deploy the WCF Service with every build, due to the fact that we are hosting the WCF service inside a Windows service.

We could have also automated this using InstallUtil.exe to install the service, but this would have added more complexity to an already complex build arrangement within our CI build server AKA “Cruise Control”. We could have done it, but we simply wanted to be able to create a new service reference client proxy. Normally, what one would do would be to add a service reference within Visual Studio, something like the figure shown below:


When you add a service reference using Visual Studio, you typically have to have, the service both deployed and running, and you then point the wizard at the deployed and running service address, which exposes some metadata which allows the wizard to be able to see information about the service. This will then create a bunch of items in Visual Studio, such as the following:


One of these generated files is the service reference client proxy. In this case, it is called “Reference.cs”, which if we examine a small section of it, contains all the DataContract / ServiceContract class definitions.


Which is fine, but as I stated above, what was needed for a continuous build environment (Cruise Control) was the ability to create this service reference client proxy class “Reference.cs” without a deployed service. Mmmm, how could we do that.

Well, luckily, there is a command line tool which can be run as part of a NANT script. This utility is called “svcutil.exe”, and has many options, which you can find using the svcutil.exe /? switch.

But to help you out, here is what we had to do in order to duplicate the functionality provided by the Visual Studio wizard using just svcutil.exe.

It was a 2 phase operation, the phases are as follows:

Create WSDL from DLLs

You can create a WSDL by using the DLLs themselves, and then you can use the WSDL to create a service reference client proxy class. Here is how we did this.

/d:/d:<directory> Directory to create files in (default: current directory)
/reference:/reference:<file path>: Add the specified assembly to the set of assemblies used for resolving type references.

NOTE: You may have all your ServiceContract and DataContract classes all in one DLL, so in this case you would not need the /reference: switch, this is only needed to link in additional DLLs.

Use WSDL to Create WPF Client Service Reference Proxy Class

Once we had a WSDL, we could the use this to create a service reference client proxy class. We did this as follows:

/d:/d:<directory> Directory to create files in (default: current directory)
/l:Language C# or VB
/out:Name of output file
/noconfigDo not generate a client layer App.Config file
/s/serializable: Generate classes marked with the Serializable Attribute
/ct/collectionType: <type>: A fully-qualified or assembly-qualified name of the type to use as a collection data type when code is generated from schemas.
/ser:/serializer: Auto - Automatically select the serializer. This tries to use the Data Contract serializer and uses the XmlSerializer if that fails.
/tcv:/targetClientVersion:Version35 : Generate code that references functionality in .NET Framework assemblies 3.5 and before.
/n:/namespace:<string,string>: A mapping from a WSDL or XML Schema targetNamespace to a CLR namespace.
/edb/enableDataBinding: Implement the System.ComponentModel.INotifyPropertyChanged interface on all Data Contract types to enable data binding.

And that was enough for us to generate a new WPF client service reference proxy class in an automated manner, without the need to have the WCF service deployed and running.

Hope this helps someone out there.


This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)

Written By
Software Developer (Senior)
United Kingdom United Kingdom
I currently hold the following qualifications (amongst others, I also studied Music Technology and Electronics, for my sins)

- MSc (Passed with distinctions), in Information Technology for E-Commerce
- BSc Hons (1st class) in Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence

Both of these at Sussex University UK.


I am lucky enough to have won a few awards for Zany Crazy code articles over the years

  • Microsoft C# MVP 2016
  • Codeproject MVP 2016
  • Microsoft C# MVP 2015
  • Codeproject MVP 2015
  • Microsoft C# MVP 2014
  • Codeproject MVP 2014
  • Microsoft C# MVP 2013
  • Codeproject MVP 2013
  • Microsoft C# MVP 2012
  • Codeproject MVP 2012
  • Microsoft C# MVP 2011
  • Codeproject MVP 2011
  • Microsoft C# MVP 2010
  • Codeproject MVP 2010
  • Microsoft C# MVP 2009
  • Codeproject MVP 2009
  • Microsoft C# MVP 2008
  • Codeproject MVP 2008
  • And numerous codeproject awards which you can see over at my blog

Comments and Discussions

QuestionExactly what I needed Pin
ilanadeveloper15-Nov-12 3:26
ilanadeveloper15-Nov-12 3:26 
QuestionHow to produce SOAP message using XSD and WSDL files? Pin
Tesic Goran4-Sep-12 22:28
professionalTesic Goran4-Sep-12 22:28 
GeneralMy vote of 5 Pin
Member 400864428-Jan-11 1:22
Member 400864428-Jan-11 1:22 

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