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Your .NET 5 Questions Answered (Kinda Sorta), Part 1: WCF

In early March I submitted a media inquiry to Microsoft, asking about the No. 1 (in terms of votes) item on the Developer Community site for Visual Studio and the subject of much developer discussion: "Create a Ubiquitous .NET Client Application Development Model."

That post said in part:

This vote is for developers who wish to see the idea of a ubiquitous .NET client application development model created by Microsoft and the Visual Studio team. A ubiquitous .NET client application development model is a model that is defined in .NET-based technologies and is able to run in a multitude of runtime environments -- both native-compiled (store-hosted) and web-hosted.

The inquiry was somewhat related to a GitHub issue titled Cross platform UX for .NET Core 3.0 that stated ".NET Core does not support directly any desktop or mobile UI."

I told Microsoft, no deadline on the inquiry response (often used by PR flacks as an excuse to not answer an inquiry -- "sorry, we couldn't get a spokesperson in time." I know, I used to be a PR flack).

I was put off.

I asked again.


I've had similar experiences with Microsoft PR. Since it's obviously useless to ask Microsoft about these kinds of things (hey, no sour grapes here!), I'll take a stab at answering questions about the big news yesterday that .NET 5 is coming late next year, unifying all the .NET implementations. The company said: "There will be just one .NET going forward, and you will be able to use it to target Windows, Linux, macOS, iOS, Android, tvOS, watchOS and WebAssembly and more."

I'll just rely on official guidance, answers to reader questions by the authors of blog posts, community commentary and so on.

I'll start off with a question from a Visual Studio Magazine reader who responded to yesterday's article.

'Will .NET 5 include WCF?'
This is a big point of contention among developers who responded to yesterday's blog post by Microsoft exec Richard Lander titled Introducing .NET 5. In the post, Lander said: "After .NET Core 3.0 we will not port any more features from .NET Framework. If you are a Web Forms developer and want to build a new application on .NET Core, we would recommend Blazor which provides the closest programming model. If you are a remoting or WCF developer and want to build a new application on .NET Core, we would recommend either ASP.NET Core Web APIs or gRPC (which provides cross platform and cross programming language contract based RPCs). If you are a Windows Workflow developer there is an open source port of Workflow to .NET Core.

Apparently a lot of developers have concerns similar to that of our loyal VSM reader, with comments on Lander's post such as:

  • "So we get Java interop but no WCF. I would like to try what the folks planning this are smoking."
  • "I don't understand the purposeful killing of WCF. It seems sadistic. They got us to buy in and make our apps rely on it, and now they're telling us we can't use it in the future, when our apps are already deeply tied to it."
  • "This. Non negotiable. Give us WCF or forget it."

The closest Lander got to answering the specific WCF concerns was in a response to a developer inquiring about the end-of-life for .NET Framework 4.x (which, obviously, supports WCF), wherein another developer said: "Echoing the above, but my environment is HEAVILY using WCF. Right now we're doing all kinds of RPC research to figure out what else can work best for us. The biggest issue is the support for various binding types and the extensibility model."

Lander replied to that developer: "It will continue to work great! There are so many Microsoft services running on .NET Framework, including HEAVILY using WCF. Microsoft itself is the exact same as your environment in this respect. Many services will stay on .NET Framework for many years. Other teams are adopting .NET Core, as you would guess. Some are adopting ASP.NET Core and others are looking at gRPC. .NET Framework will be there for you and .NET Core will continue to move forward when you decide to get on that train. You've got lots of good choices available."

Microsoft followed up that Lander post with one from Scott Hunter, director program management, .NET, titled .NET Core is the Future of .NET. Hunter, echoing Lander, said: " If you are a remoting or WCF developer and want to build a new application on .NET Core, we would recommend either ASP.NET Core Web APIs or gRPC (Google RPC, which provides cross platform and cross programming language contract based RPCs). If you are a Windows Workflow developer there is an open source port of Workflow to .NET Core."

Again, there was a lot of WCF consternation, with comments such as:

  • "Please port WCF. MS led us here. We followed and invested a lot into it. Please don't leave us hanging / porting to something so much less."
  • "WCF is a show stopper for us. Our comm stack is both hugely stable (and took us years to get to that point) and has to interact with external SOAP services. Porting that to something else is a non-starter for us."
  • "Please give WCF a second thought. It is probably the most requested feature in this comment section. Moving to another stack is not an option for many who need to maintain enterprise applications, and staying with a dead framework (no matter what you say about .NET 4.8, it is dead) is equally bad."

The WCF question was also discussed over at Hacker News, where one developer said: "wcf works under core (at least most of it), core 3.0 + wcf + windows desktop shim actually makes everything under wcf working again."

To which, another developer said: "Most of it is not good enough. I don't want to be the one stating on RFP 'it kind of works.'"

The WCF question was also all over Reddit, where a reader said: "If you rely on legacy features in WCF, ASPX pages, or other older technologies then they likely don't have any path forward after framework 4.8."

Judging from all that, I would say the answer is "No."

Next question? LMK in the comments section. If it's good enough, I might even put in a media inquiry to Microsoft.

Note: This article was edited to correct the description of gRPC as "Google RPC." As a helpful reader pointed out, Google claims the "g" doesn't stand for anything related to Google (though some disagree). We regret the presumed error. More on this pressing issue can be found here.

Posted by David Ramel on 05/07/2019

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