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Chunking Channel

| Sunday, April 22, 2012
    When sending large messages using Windows Communication Foundation (WCF), it is often desirable to limit the amount of memory used to buffer those messages. One possible solution is to stream the message body (assuming the bulk of the data is in the body). However some protocols require buffering of the entire message. Reliable messaging and security are two such examples. Another possible solution is to divide up the large message into smaller messages called chunks, send those chunks one chunk at a time, and reconstitute the large message on the receiving side. The application itself could do this chunking and de-chunking or it could use a custom channel to do it. The chunking channel sample shows how a custom protocol or layered channel can be used to do chunking and de-chunking of arbitrarily large messages.

Chunking should always be employed only after the entire message to be sent has been constructed. A chunking channel should always be layered below a security channel and a reliable session channel.

Chunking Channel Assumptions and Limitations

Message Structure
The chunking channel assumes the following message structure for messages to be chunked:

 <soap:Envelope ...>
  <!-- headers -->
      <paramElement>data to be chunked</paramElement>

When using the ServiceModel, contract operations that have 1 input parameter comply with this shape of message for their input message. Similarly, contract operations that have 1 output parameter or return value comply with this shape of message for their output message. The following are examples of such operations:

interface ITestService
    Stream EchoStream(Stream stream);

    Stream DownloadStream();

    [OperationContract(IsOneWay = true)]
    void UploadStream(Stream stream);

The chunking channel requires messages to be delivered exactly once, in ordered delivery of messages (chunks). This means the underlying channel stack must be sessionful. Sessions can be provided by the transport (for example, TCP transport) or by a sessionful protocol channel (for example, ReliableSession channel).

Asynchronous Send and Receive
Asynchronous send and receive methods are not implemented in this version of the chunking channel sample.

Chunking Protocol

The chunking channel defines a protocol that indicates the start and end of a series of chunks as well as the sequence number of each chunk. The following three example messages demonstrate the start, chunk and end messages with comments that describe the key aspects of each.

Read more: MSDN
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