Microsoft open-sources vintage Web services technology

Analysts see Windows Communication Foundation as a last-generation technology, which limits its usefulness

Microsoft open-sources vintage Web services technology

Microsoft is offering an open source version of its Windows Communication Foundation technology, which has provided a programming model for service-oriented applications. The move's usefulness remains to be seen, with one analyst noting WCF is linked to "last generation" technology.

Located on GitHub, the new version of the WCF client is intended to work with .Net Core, which is a cross-platform open source stack unveiled by the company last year featuring a framework, runtime, compiler platform, and ASP.Net 5 Web development technology. "Right now, the WCF project builds on Windows, but .Net Core offers the potential for it to run on OS X and Linux," WCF Project Lead Ron Cain said in a blog post this week.

But analysts disagreed on how useful WCF is these days, as its legacy in Web services dates back many years. "WCF was one of the more useful add-on frameworks for .Net 1.x," analyst John Rymer, of Forrester Research, said in an email. "Its purpose was to provide a programming model for creating and running SOAP Web services. And it received high marks from clients, resulting in a lot of adoption." But SOAP Web services are "last generation," he added. "There's still investment by customers, but products and technologies aimed at RESTful services now have higher market value. Open-sourcing WCF makes it something of a commodity product, recognizing reality."

WCF may have precloud roots going back to early last decade, said analyst Rob Sanfilippo, of Directions of Microsoft, also in an email, but it's still a relevant part of the .Net Framework for some organizations today. "Publishing portions of WCF as open source will help developers and ISVs work with the technology, but it also rounds out the open source subset of .Net a bit more."

The WCF repository on GitHub contains a subset of the WCF product available on Windows desktop, supporting library profiles for building WCF apps for Windows Store. "These profiles are primarily client-based, making them suited for mobile devices or on mid-tier servers to communicate with existing WCF services," Cain said.

WCF becomes the latest in a growing line of Microsoft technologies offered via open source, following products ranging from .Net Core to ManifoldJS tooling to CoreCLR, which provides an execution engine for .Net Core, and MSBuild, which serving as a build platform for the Visual Studio tool set.

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