Data Integrity in Web Services

Introduction

Abstract

Web Services bring with them great possibilities and with these possibilities are some pitfalls. One such pitfall is passing complex data types to and from Web Services without losing data integrity. The clearest thing to keep in mind when passing objects to Web Services is the data is passed for your object's fields, but the code is not.

What happens when I have an object that my web service passes as a return value?

WSDL does some magic when a programmer creates a referance to your web service. Visual Studio.NET creates wrapper objects around foreign data types.

The struct you create inside your Web Service looks like this:

public  struct PersonData
{
	private int yearsExperience;
	public int YearsExperience
	{
		get { return yearsExperience; }
		set
		{
			if(value<2) { throw new Exception("You're unemployable!"); }
			yearsExperience = value;
		}
	}


	public String FirstName;
	public String LastName;
}

...Which then gets translated into WSDL which looks like this:

<s:complexType name="PersonData">
	<s:sequence>
		<s:element minOccurs="1" maxOccurs="1" 
		name="FirstName" nillable="true" type="s:string" />
		<s:element minOccurs="1" maxOccurs="1" 
		name="LastName" nillable="true" type="s:string" />
		<s:element minOccurs="1" maxOccurs="1" 
		name="YearsExperience" type="s:int" /> 
	</s:sequence>
</s:complexType>

... to the client of the web service, Visual Studio creates a wrapper based upon the WSDL that looks like this:

public  struct PersonData
{
	public int YearsExperience;
	public String FirstName;
	public String LastName;
}

And to make matters worse, when this struct gets passed to the server with YearsExperience=1 (A value that PersonData.YearsExperience should not have) it will be passed silently and without an exception! The solution to this bug, I mean feature, is to wrap all data that you want passed to and from a web service inside a struct and then in turn a validator class.

The struct is the carrier of the data between the points and the object does all of the range checking required to keep your data clean.

You might also like...

Comments

About the author

David Talbot United States

David Talbot is an experienced Software Architect with a diverse background including creating network applicances, working with television set top boxes, building Billing/CRM systems, Web Port...

Interested in writing for us? Find out more.

Contribute

Why not write for us? Or you could submit an event or a user group in your area. Alternatively just tell us what you think!

Our tools

We've got automatic conversion tools to convert C# to VB.NET, VB.NET to C#. Also you can compress javascript and compress css and generate sql connection strings.

“Hofstadter's Law: It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter's Law.”