Santosh Benjamin's Weblog

Adventures with AppFabric, BizTalk & Clouds

MockingBird – Beta

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Whew! I’ve finally managed to get the first beta release of MockingBird out the door, almost 3 months after the alpha. The past 3 months have gone by in a blur with my first major project in MCS and the associated tight deadlines and long hours. Technically its been a good learning experience, but it doesnt leave any time at all for side projects like this one, but I’ve managed to steal the odd weekend here and there and get this done.

The key elements of the beta release are

  • The branding and naming is now beginning to work out quite well. As I had written earlier, it started life as MockWeb, then became MockingBird and now I have decided that I like the name “MockingBird” so much its worth promoting to the ‘brand’ or the name of the toolset. The constituent applications now have their own names. The web application with the HttpHandler is now called the “Service Simulator” and the main WinForms application is now called the “Service Studio” which will hold many modules and plugins.
  • The Service Simulator has been completely revised using Unity IoC. I feel a lot happier with the design now and i think its more loosely coupled and the DI /IoC has a good side effect in increasing the test surface. The Service Studio doesnt use the Unity configuration yet, but will do so by RTM.
  • The little ‘Driver’ GUI of the alpha has now been rolled into the “Service Studio” and is officially called the “Service Invoker”. The layout has changed and now uses tabs so occupies less screen real estate.
  • There is a new “WSDL Browser” module in the service studio that allows you to load up a WSDL and it will parse the WSDL for you and list all the operations and allow you to generate sample request and response messages.
  • The WSDL  Browser in turn makes use of an Xml Instance Generator module that provides a more usable facade over a sample from the MSDN archives. The XIG module can stand on its own and will grow in future releases.

The design principle of the Service Studio is that every piece of functionality must be accessible independently and not depend on a UI. This is one of the reasons it took so long to get this done. I came across quite a few samples of WSDL handling where the authors were willing to share and/or the license permitted extension, but the code was simply too deeply hooked into the UI and did not have any “API” to speak of. In the end I wrote the whole thing myself. I’m still looking for ways to plug it into related tools such as WSCF which I also participate in developing.

There are some limitations in the beta especially with regard to WSDL Parsing.

  • The first limitation is that it cannot handle WCF multi-part WSDLs. This will be done by around RTM time or along with the V2 release as V2 should be fully WCF based.
  • While developing i tested it with different types of WSDLs but in the final push I focussed on testing it with a local monolithic WSDL and so it may fall over with complex WSDL documents. The WSDL spec allows for a wide variation in the actual WSDLs so its not possible for me to cater to all possible kinds of WSDLs. I hope that if you come across an issue, then the source is easy to fix or that you can share the WSDL with me and I will try and sort out the parsing.
  • I also only finalised the testing with a “local” WSDL on the file system. The “SimpleWSDLRetriever” class that I have implemented does not use DiscoveryClientProtocol (although i shall plug in a new class soon that does this) so it cant handle connecting to a non local service and downloading the contract and associated metadata. (As you can see, I know how to address the limitation – just havent had the time to write it 🙂  ).

Anyway, those limitations aside, I’m happy with the code base so far and it really is quite stable and if you need to extend and use the source, i think the current structure is easy to understand. On the codeplex space I have written more documentation on how the internals of the system work so hopefully that will be useful to you. If you do end up extending it, I hope you will let me know what you are doing with it and maybe I can incorporate some of those extensions if it will make the product more generic.

As always, please send me feedback, especially if you run into any bugs. Hope you like the new release.


Written by santoshbenjamin

May 7, 2009 at 10:39 PM

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