In the WCF Web Programming Model, how do you write an operation contract with a set of query string parameters (that is, with the same name)?

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Using the WCF web programming model one can specify an operation contract like so:

[OperationContract]
[WebGet(ResponseFormat = WebMessageFormat.Xml, UriTemplate = "SomeRequest?qs1={qs1}&qs2={qs2}")]
XElement SomeRequest1(string qs1, string qs2);

Now if we had to make a contract that accepts an array of parameters with the same name (in this case qs1) contract like so...

[OperationContract]
[WebGet(ResponseFormat = WebMessageFormat.Xml, UriTemplate = "SomeRequest?qs1={qs1}&qs1={qs2}")]
 XElement SomeRequest2(string qs1, string qs2);

We get the error message at run time when we make the invocation to the method:

the query string must have 'name=value' pairs with unique names. Note that the names are case-insensitive. See the documentation for UriTemplate for more details.

How does one define an HTTP service that exposes a resource with an array of parameters without resorting to a loosey-goosey interface?


I've implemented a simple custom QueryStringConverter so that you can make qs1 an string[] then have the query string variable be comma delimited (e.g. http://server/service/SomeRequest?qs1=val1,val2,val3,val4)

[OperationContract]
[WebGet(ResponseFormat = WebMessageFormat.Xml,
        UriTemplate = "SomeRequest?qs1={qs1}")]
XElement SomeRequest2(string[] qs1);

First you need a class that inherits from WebHttpBehavior so that we can inject our custom QueryStringConverter:

public class CustomHttpBehavior : System.ServiceModel.Description.WebHttpBehavior
{
    protected override System.ServiceModel.Dispatcher.QueryStringConverter GetQueryStringConverter(System.ServiceModel.Description.OperationDescription operationDescription)
    {
        return new CustomQueryStringConverter();
    }
}

Then our CustomQueryStringConverter that handles string[] parameters:

public class CustomQueryStringConverter : System.ServiceModel.Dispatcher.QueryStringConverter
{
    public override bool CanConvert(Type type)
    {
        if (type == typeof(string[]))
        {
            return true;
        }

        return base.CanConvert(type);
    }

    public override object ConvertStringToValue(string parameter, Type parameterType)
    {
        if (parameterType == typeof(string[]))
        {
            string[] parms = parameter.Split(',');
            return parms;
        }

        return base.ConvertStringToValue(parameter, parameterType);
    }

    public override string ConvertValueToString(object parameter, Type parameterType)
    {
        if (parameterType == typeof(string[]))
        {
            string valstring = string.Join(",", parameter as string[]);
            return valstring;
        }

        return base.ConvertValueToString(parameter, parameterType);
    }
}

The last thing you need to do is create a behavior configuration extension so that the runtime can get an instance of the CustomWebHttpBehavior:

public class CustomHttpBehaviorExtensionElement : System.ServiceModel.Configuration.BehaviorExtensionElement
{
    protected override object CreateBehavior()
    {
        return new CustomHttpBehavior();
    }

    public override Type BehaviorType
    {
        get { return typeof(CustomHttpBehavior); }
    }
}

Now we add the element to our configuration extensions so that our CustomWebHttpBehavior is used, we use the Name of that extension instead of <webHttp /> in our behavior:

 <system.serviceModel>
   <services>
     <service name="NameSpace.ServiceClass">
       <endpoint address="" behaviorConfiguration="MyServiceBehavior"
        binding="webHttpBinding" contract="NameSpace.ServiceClass" />
     </service>
   </services>
  <behaviors>
   <endpointBehaviors>
    <behavior name="MyServiceBehavior">
      <customWebHttp/>
    </behavior>
   </endpointBehaviors>
  </behaviors>
  <extensions>
    <behaviorExtensions>
      <add name="customWebHttp" type="NameSpace.CustomHttpBehaviorExtensionElement, MyAssemblyName" />
    </behaviorExtensions>
  </extensions>
  <serviceHostingEnvironment aspNetCompatibilityEnabled="true" />
 </system.serviceModel>

You can now also extend your CustomQueryStringConverter to handle other types that the default one doesn't, such as nullable value types.

NOTE: There is a bug logged at microsoft connect that directly relates to this code. The code does not actually work in almost all circumstances where you attempt to Query Convert different types.

http://connect.microsoft.com/VisualStudio/feedback/details/616486/bug-with-getquerystringconverter-not-being-called-by-webservicehost#tabs

Please make sure you read this carefully before wasting hours of your time creating custom REST query string converters that cannot possibly work. (Applies to Framework 4.0 and below).