Tutorial :What's does IMetadataExchange endpoint actually do?



Question:

I'm working on a web service that uses ASP.NET security model (i.e. with AspNetCompatibilityRequirements set to allowed). Like many others, I got an error saying the Anonymous access is required because the mexHttpBinding requires it and the only way to get around it is to remove the mex endpoint from each service as described here:

WCF - Windows authentication - Security settings require Anonymous

I thought by removing mex endpoint I will no longer able to generate WSDL or add a reference to the service from Visual Studio but to my surprise everything still works. I quickly googled the "mex binding" but most web sites just say it's for "Metadata Exchange" without going into too much detail on what it actually does.

Can anyone tell me what's the side effect of removing the mex binding?


Solution:1

If your WCF service does not expose service metadata, you cannot add a service reference to it, neither from within Visual Studio (Add Service Reference), nor will another client be able to interrogate your service for its methods and the data it needs.

Removing Metadata Exchange (mex) basically renders the service "invisible", almost - a potential caller must find out some other way (e.g. by being supplied with a WSDL file, or by getting a class library assembly with a client he can use) about what the service can do, and how.

This might be okay for high risk environment, but most of the time, being able to interrogate the service and have it describe itself via metadata is something you want to have enabled. That's really one of the main advantages of a SOAP based service - by virtue of metadata, it can describe itself, its operations, all the data structures needed. That feature is used to make it really easy to call that service - you just point to the mex endpoint, and you can find out all you need to know about that service.


Solution:2

Without the metadata exchange, you won't be able to use svcutil.exe to automatically generate the proxy classes.


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