How to Throw Typed Fault Exceptions from Orchestrations Published as WCF Services


In general, a WCF Web Service can return two types of SOAP faults: typed and untyped SOAP faults.

Typed Faults

In order to throw a typed fault, a service operation must be decorated with a System.ServiceModel.FaultContractAttribute that specifies a fault data contract defined earlier. The following code snippet shows a WCF web service called HelloWorld which implements the IHelloWorld service or contract interface. This interface exposes a single synchronous operation called SayHello that is decorated with the FaultContractAttribute. The attribute declares that the SayHello method can throw a typed fault exception defined by the CustomError data contract class. The implementation of the SayHello method in the HelloWorld class checks if the incoming request is null and in this case it throws an error of type FaultException<CustomError>.

 namespace Microsoft.BizTalk.CAT.Samples.PublishTypedFaults.Services{    [Serializable]    [DataContract(Name = "HelloWorldRequest", Namespace = "")]    public class HelloWorldRequest    {       ...    }    [Serializable]    [DataContract(Name = "HelloWorldResponse", Namespace = "")]    public class HelloWorldResponse    {        ...    }    [Serializable]    [DataContract(Name = "CustomError", Namespace = "")]    public class CustomError    {        ...    }    [ServiceContract(Name = "HelloWorld", Namespace = "")]    public interface IHelloWorld    {        [OperationContract(Action = "SayHello", ReplyAction = "SayHello", ProtectionLevel = ProtectionLevel.None)]        [FaultContract(typeof(CustomError), Action = "CustomErrorFault")]        HelloWorldResponse SayHello(HelloWorldRequest request);    }    [ServiceBehavior(Name = "HelloWorld", Namespace = "")]    public class HelloWorld : IHelloWorld    {        [OperationBehavior]        public HelloWorldResponse SayHello(HelloWorldRequest request)        {            if (request == null || string.IsNullOrEmpty(request.Name))            {                throw CreateFault(NameCannotBeNullOrEmpty);            }            return new HelloWorldResponse(string.Format(SayHelloFormat, request.Name));        }          private FaultException<CustomError> CreateFault(string message)        {             ...            return fault;        }    }}


Untyped Faults

Untyped SOAP faults are those that do not require a service operation to be decorated with a FaultContractAttribute that specify a custom data contract class.

BizTalk Orchestrations and Typed Faults

BizTalk Server 2006 R2 and BizTalk Server 2009 allow handling typed fault contracts when consuming WCF services from within orchestrations. The steps necessary to implement this technique are clearly described in the  article “How to Handle Typed Fault Contracts in Orchestrations” on MSDN. Instead, WCF adapters actually do not support processing typed fault contract exceptions within orchestrations published as WCF services. However, untyped SOAP faults can always be returned by orchestrations or pipelines. For more information on this topic review the article “How to Throw Fault Exceptions from Orchestrations Published as WCF Services” on MSDN.

This constraint arises from how the Receive Handler of WCF Adapters is actually implemented. The WCF Receive Adapter instantiates a singleton instance of the BizTalkServiceInstance class for each WCF Receive Location. This class can be found in the Microsoft.BizTalk.Adapter.Wcf.Runtime.dll assembly. In particular, as you can see in the picture below, the BizTalkServiceInstance class is decorated with the attribute ServiceBehavior(InstanceContextMode=InstanceContextMode.Single, ConcurrencyMode=ConcurrencyMode.Multiple).



Therefore, all the incoming requests towards a given WCF Receive Location are are managed by the same singleton object. When you enable a WCF Receive Location, the Adapter initializes and opens a dedicated instance of a ServiceHost-derived class (WebServiceHost), which dynamically builds the WCF runtime components within the in-process or isolated host process. This includes the channel stack, dispatcher, and generic service instance. Almost all of the WCF adapters can be hosted within the BizTalk service process itself – the only exception is WCF-CustomIsolated, which must be used in a BizTalk isolated host by design. Even the HTTP adapters can be hosted in-process now. The WCF Adapters build the generic service contracts shown in the table below. Each service contract implemented by the BizTalkServiceInstance covers a different scenario.

 [ServiceContract(Namespace = "")]public interface IOneWayAsync{    // Methods    [OperationContract(AsyncPattern = true, IsOneWay = true, Action = "*")]    IAsyncResult BeginOneWayMethod(Message message, AsyncCallback callback, object state);    [OperationContract(IsOneWay = true, Action = "BizTalkSubmit")]    void BizTalkSubmit(Message message);    void EndOneWayMethod(IAsyncResult result);}[ServiceContract(Namespace = "")]public interface IOneWayAsyncTxn{    // Methods    [OperationContract(AsyncPattern = true, IsOneWay = true, Action = "*")]    IAsyncResult BeginOneWayMethod(Message message, AsyncCallback callback, object state);    [OperationContract(IsOneWay = true, Action = "BizTalkSubmit")]    void BizTalkSubmit(Message message);    void EndOneWayMethod(IAsyncResult result);}[ServiceContract(Namespace = "")]public interface ITwoWayAsync{    // Methods    [OperationContract(AsyncPattern = true, IsOneWay = false, Action = "*", ReplyAction = "*")]    IAsyncResult BeginTwoWayMethod(Message message, AsyncCallback callback, object state);    [OperationContract(IsOneWay = false, Action = "BizTalkSubmit")]    Message BizTalkSubmit(Message message);    Message EndTwoWayMethod(IAsyncResult result);}[ServiceContract(Namespace = "")]public interface ITwoWayAsyncVoid{    // Methods    [OperationContract(AsyncPattern = true, IsOneWay = false, Action = "*", ReplyAction = "*")]    IAsyncResult BeginTwoWayMethod(Message message, AsyncCallback callback, object state);    [OperationContract(IsOneWay = false, Action = "BizTalkSubmit")]    void BizTalkSubmit(Message message);    void EndTwoWayMethod(IAsyncResult result);}[ServiceContract(Namespace = "")]public interface ITwoWayAsyncVoidTxn{    // Methods    [TransactionFlow(TransactionFlowOption.Mandatory), OperationContract(AsyncPattern = true, IsOneWay = false, Action = "*", ReplyAction = "*")]    IAsyncResult BeginTwoWayMethod(Message message, AsyncCallback callback, object state);    [TransactionFlow(TransactionFlowOption.Mandatory), OperationContract(IsOneWay = false, Action = "BizTalkSubmit")]    void BizTalkSubmit(Message message);    void EndTwoWayMethod(IAsyncResult result);}


As you can easily see in the code above, all the service contracts implemented by the BizTalkServiceInstance Class are generic and asynchronous. In fact, one-way service operations are decorated with [OperationContract(AsyncPattern = true, IsOneWay = true, Action = "*")] attribute, while request-response methods are decorated with the [OperationContract(AsyncPattern = true, IsOneWay = false, Action = "*", ReplyAction = "*")] attribute. Besides, they receive a generic inbound message of type System.ServiceModel.Channels.Message and eventually return a message of the same type. As a consequence, these methods can accept any request message and eventually process any reply message. However, since these operations are generic and untyped, they are not decorated by any FaultContractAttribute. As a consequence, WCF Receive Locations cannot return typed fault exceptions. Since every WCF Receive Location is implemented as an instance of the BizTalkServiceInstance and this class cannot be customized or inherited to expose typed service contracts, BizTalk Server does not natively support throwing typed fault exceptions within orchestrations published as WCF services or more in general throwing typed fault exceptions within a WCF Receive Location.

At this point a question arises: is there any workaround to throw typed fault exceptions within orchestrations published as WCF services? The answer, fortunately, is yes.

The Solution

The WCF-Custom and WCF-CustomIsolated Adapters provided by BizTalk Server 2006 R2 and BizTalk Server 2009 allow to define a custom WCF binding configuration to meet your precise communication needs. These adapters can be used to define custom WCF configurations for Send Ports or Receive Locations and extend their standard functionality using custom components as endpoint and service behaviors, message inspectors, custom bindings, binding elements, channels, etc. Therefore, I decided to create the following custom components:

  • Microsoft.BizTalk.CAT.Samples.PublishTypedFaults.WsdlExportExtensions assembly: flattens and extends the WSDL generated by the BizTalk WCF Service Publishing Wizard to enable WCF Receive locations to expose typed soap faults.
  • Microsoft.BizTalk.CAT.Samples.PublishTypedFaults.MessageInspector assembly: intercepts a reply message and when this latter is a fault, it creates and returns a typed fault message.

The following picture depicts the architecture of the proof of concept I implemented to test these components:



  1. A WCF-CustomIsolated Request-Response Receive Location receives a new xml document from a client application.
  2. The XML disassembler component within the XMLTransmit pipeline promotes the MsgType context property. The Message Agent submits the incoming message to the MessageBox (BizTalkMsgBoxDb).
  3. The inbound request starts a new instance of the HelloWorld orchestration type.
  4. The orchestration checks the incoming HelloWorldRequest message, and if the Name element is null or empty, it creates and return a new fault message of type CustomError. Otherwise, the orchestration returns a reply message of type HelloWorldResponse.
  5. The HelloWorld orchestration publishes the reply message to the MessageBox (BizTalkMsgBoxDb).
  6. The response message is retrieved by the WCF-CustomIsolated Request-Response Receive Location.
  7. The reply  message is processed by the CustomErrorMessageInspector component. If the response is a fault message, it creates a new typed fault message using the configuration data set on the Receive Location.
  8. The reply message is returned to the client application.

The following picture shows the XML Schema which defines the CustomError typed fault.



The following figure shows the configuration of the WCF-CustomIsolated Request-Response Receive Location.



RLConfig01 RLConfig02
RLConfig03 RLConfig04





The Receive Location exposes an endpoint that uses the WsHttpBinding and make use of the serviceThrottling service behavior (see System.ServiceModel.Description.ServiceThrottlingBehavior for more information), a custom service behavior called errorHandler and a custom endpoint behavior called wsdlExport :

The custom service and endpoint behaviors must be configured in the machine.config as follows:


 <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?><configuration>    ...  <system.serviceModel>      ...    <extensions>      <behaviorExtensions>          ...        <add name="errorHandler" type="Microsoft.BizTalk.CAT.Samples.PublishTypedFaults.ErrorHandler.CustomErrorBehaviorExtensionElement,                                        Microsoft.BizTalk.CAT.Samples.PublishTypedFaults.ErrorHandler, Version=, Culture=neutral,                                        PublicKeyToken=d7f63d8d08d8f3a2" />        <add name="wsdlExport" type="Microsoft.BizTalk.CAT.Samples.PublishTypedFaults.WsdlExportExtensions.WsdlExportBehaviorExtensionElement,                                     Microsoft.BizTalk.CAT.Samples.PublishTypedFaults.WsdlExportExtensions, Version=, Culture=neutral,                                     PublicKeyToken=d7f63d8d08d8f3a2" />      </behaviorExtensions>    </extensions>  </system.serviceModel></configuration>


The Include exception detail in faults option must be set on the Messages tab to enable the WCF Receive Location to return the error detail in fault messages. Below you can see the code of the CustomErrorHandler component. The constructor retrieves configuration data from the Receive Port configuration, while the IErrorHandler.ProvideFault method allows, in case of error, to generate a typed fault exception using the configuration data.

CustomErrorHandler Class

 namespace Microsoft.BizTalk.CAT.Samples.PublishTypedFaults.ErrorHandler{    /// <summary>    /// This class can be customized to create a message inspector.    /// </summary>    public class CustomErrorHandler : IErrorHandler    {        #region Private Constants        private const string Source = "CustomErrorHandler";        private const string SoapActionFormat = "[CustomErrorHandler]: SOAP Fault Action = [{0}]";        private const string SoapFaultCodeFormat = "[CustomErrorHandler]: SOAP Fault Code = [{0}]";        private const string SoapFaultReasonFormat = "[CustomErrorHandler]: SOAP Fault Reason = [{0}]";        private const string SoapFaultDetailFormat = "[CustomErrorHandler]: SOAP Fault Detail:";        private const string MessageTypeFormat = "{0}#{1}";        private const string DefaultAction = "CustomError";        private const string DefaultFaultCode = "CustomError";        private const string DefaultFaultReason = "CustomError";        #endregion        #region Private Fields        private bool enabled = true;        private bool traceEnabled = false;        private int maxBufferSize = 2097152;        private string typedFaults = null;        private Dictionary<string, CustomErrorFaultInfo> faults = new Dictionary<string, CustomErrorFaultInfo>();        #endregion        #region Public Constructors        public CustomErrorHandler(bool enabled,                                  bool traceEnabled,                                  int maxBufferSize,                                  string typedFaults)        {            this.enabled = enabled;            this.traceEnabled = traceEnabled;            this.maxBufferSize = maxBufferSize;            this.typedFaults = typedFaults;            try            {                if (!string.IsNullOrEmpty(typedFaults))                {                    TypedFaults faultData = SerializationHelper.XmlDeserialize(typedFaults, typeof(TypedFaults)) as TypedFaults;                    if (faultData != null &&                        faultData.FaultList != null &&                        faultData.FaultList.Count > 0)                    {                        for (int i = 0; i < faultData.FaultList.Count; i++)                        {                            if (!string.IsNullOrEmpty(faultData.FaultList[i].Name))                            {                                faults.Add(string.Format(MessageTypeFormat, faultData.FaultList[i].Namespace, faultData.FaultList[i].Name ?? string.Empty),                                           new CustomErrorFaultInfo(faultData.FaultList[i].Action,                                                                     faultData.FaultList[i].Code,                                                                     faultData.FaultList[i].Reason));                            }                        }                    }                }            }            catch (Exception ex)            {                EventLog.WriteEntry(Source, ex.Message, EventLogEntryType.Error);            }        }        #endregion        #region IErrorHandler Members        public bool HandleError(Exception error)        {            return true;        }        public void ProvideFault(Exception error, MessageVersion version, ref Message fault)        {            try            {                if (error != null)                {                    string action = null;                    FaultCode faultCode = null;                    FaultReason faultReason = null;                    XPathNavigator details = null;                    RetrieveErrorData(error.Message, out action, out faultCode, out faultReason);                    XPathDocument document = new XPathDocument(new StringReader(error.Message));                    details = document.CreateNavigator();                    MessageFault messageFault = MessageFault.CreateFault(faultCode, faultReason, details, new CustomErrorSerializer());                    fault = Message.CreateMessage(version, messageFault, action);                }            }            catch (Exception ex)            {                EventLog.WriteEntry(Source, ex.Message, EventLogEntryType.Error);                throw ex;            }            return;        }        #endregion        #region Private Methods        private void RetrieveErrorData(string message,                                        out string action,                                        out FaultCode faultCode,                                       out FaultReason faultReason)        {            action = DefaultAction;            faultCode = new FaultCode(DefaultFaultCode);            faultReason = new FaultReason(DefaultFaultReason);            if (string.IsNullOrEmpty(message))            {                return;            }            if (traceEnabled)            {                TraceHelper.WriteLine(SoapFaultDetailFormat);                TraceHelper.WriteLine(message);            }            string rootElement = null;            string targetNamespace = null;            using (StringReader stringReader = new StringReader(message))            {                XmlReader xmlReader = null;                try                {                    xmlReader = XmlReader.Create(stringReader);                    bool ok = true;                    while (xmlReader.Read() && ok)                    {                        if (xmlReader.NodeType == XmlNodeType.Element)                        {                            rootElement = xmlReader.LocalName;                            targetNamespace = xmlReader.NamespaceURI;                            ok = false;                        }                    }                }                catch (Exception)                {                }                finally                {                    if (xmlReader != null)                    {                        xmlReader.Close();                    }                }            }            if (!string.IsNullOrEmpty(rootElement))            {                if (targetNamespace == null)                {                    targetNamespace = string.Empty;                }                string messageType = string.Format(MessageTypeFormat, targetNamespace, rootElement);                if (faults != null &&                    faults.ContainsKey(messageType))                {                    if (!string.IsNullOrEmpty(faults[messageType].Action))                    {                        action = faults[messageType].Action;                    }                    if (!string.IsNullOrEmpty(faults[messageType].Code))                    {                        faultCode = new FaultCode(faults[messageType].Code);                    }                    if (!string.IsNullOrEmpty(faults[messageType].Reason))                    {                        faultReason = new FaultReason(faults[messageType].Reason);                    }                }                if (traceEnabled)                {                    TraceHelper.WriteLine(string.Format(SoapActionFormat, action));                    TraceHelper.WriteLine(string.Format(SoapFaultCodeFormat, faultCode));                    TraceHelper.WriteLine(string.Format(SoapFaultReasonFormat, faultReason));                }            }        }        #endregion    }}


The following table contains the XML snippet used as configuration data by the CustomErrorHandler component. As you can see, the convention I used allows defining multiple typed faults in a declarative way. At runtime the CustomErrorHandler component will read and store configuration data in a dictionary. In particular the value of the Name and Namespace elements of each TypedFault will be concatenated (Namespace#Name) to form the  message type of the corresponding error message. If the orchestration returns a typed fault, the CustomErrorHandler component will determine the message type of the typed fault (targetNamespace#RootElementName) and it will retrieve the corresponding information (Action, Code, and Reason) from the dictionary.

 <TypedFaults xmlns="">  <TypedFault>    <Action>SayHello</Action>    <Name>CustomError</Name>    <Namespace></Namespace>    <Code>SayHello Error Code</Code>    <Reason>SayHello Orchestration Error</Reason>  </TypedFault></TypedFaults>


If you set the TraceEnabled property to true, at runtime the CustomErrorHandler component will produce a trace that you can intercept and review with a tool such as Debug as shown in the picture below.


The WCF-Receive Location can be created using the BizTalk WCF Service Publishing Wizard. In particular,  this allows to create a WCF Receive Location to expose the HelloWorld orchestration as a WCF service. Moreover, setting the Enable metadata endpoint option it’s possible to enable the  WCF Receive Location to expose a Metadata Endpoint.



This allows a developer to use Visual Studio or a tool such as svcutil to generate a proxy class to invoke  the WCF Receive Location. Now, let’s say that you want to create a WCF client application to invoke the WCF Receive Location. Within Visual Studio you can create a new Windows Application, right-click the project inside the Solution Explorer and then select Add Service Reference. If the WCF Receive Location exposes a Metadata Endpoint, this operation will create a proxy class to invoke the corresponding WCF web service. However, if you review the code and in particular the contract interface, you’ll realize that the SayHello method is not decorated with a FaultContractAttribute. This is due to the fact, that since BizTalk Server does not support throwing typed fault exceptions, the native wsdl returned by the Metadata Endpoint exposed by the WCF Receive location does not contain any soap fault message. In order to sort out this problem, you can adopt one of the following techniques:

  • Create and expose a custom wsdl that contains the definition of your typed soap faults.
  • Create a custom endpoint behavior to dynamically  modify the wsdl produced by BizTalk.

The first technique is quite straightforward:

  • You manually define a custom wsdl using a text or xml editor.
  • You publish the resulting wsdl file to IIS (e.g. http://localhost/samples/service.wsdl)
  • You configure your WCF-Custom or WCF-CustomIsolated Receive Location to expose metadata and in particular the newly created wsdl file.

In order to accomplish the finale step, you can proceed as follows:

  • Start the BizTalk Server Administration Console.
  • Open your WCF-Custom/WCF-CustomIsolated Receive Location.
  • Click the Configure button in the Transport section.
  • Click the Behavior tab.
  • Right-click the Service Behavior node and choose to Add Extension.
  • In the Select Behavior Extension window, choose the serviceMetadata component.
  • Set the value of the httpGetEnabled property of the serviceMetadata behavior to True (see the picture below).
  • Set the value of the externalMetadataLocation property of the serviceMetadata behavior to the url of your hand-built wsdl (see the picture below).



The second technique consists in creating a custom component called WsdlExtensions to modify at run-time the wsdl returned by the the Metadata Endpoint exposed by a WCF-Custom/WCF-CustomIsolated Receive location. This component is implemented as an a custom endpoint behavior and it can be used along with any WCF-Custom or WCF-CustomIsolated Receive Location, as shown in the picture below.



The WsdlExtensions property exposed by the component accepts an XML snippet that allows to specify how the wsdl has to be customized at runtime.

 <WsdlExtensions xmlns="">    <Prefix>bts</Prefix>    <XmlSchemas>        <XmlSchema>            <Name>CustomError</Name>            <Namespace></Namespace>        </XmlSchema>    </XmlSchemas>    <Messages>        <Message>            <Name>HelloWorld_SayHello_CustomErrorFault_FaultMessage</Name>            <Namespace></Namespace>            <Parts>                <Part>                    <Name>detail</Name>                    <Element>CustomError</Element>                </Part>            </Parts>        </Message>    </Messages>    <PortTypes>        <PortType>            <Name>HelloWorld</Name>            <Operations>                <Operation>                    <Name>SayHello</Name>                    <Faults>                        <Fault>                            <Name>CustomErrorFault</Name>                            <Message>HelloWorld_SayHello_CustomErrorFault_FaultMessage</Message>                        </Fault>                    </Faults>                </Operation>            </Operations>        </PortType>    </PortTypes></WsdlExtensions>


As shown in the picture above, the components allows to define the following information:

  • The prefix for the namespace of new messages created inside the wsdl.
  • One or multiple Xml Schemas each defining a different typed fault. These schemas must be deployed to BizTalk. At runtime, the component is able to retrieve the content of each schema from the BizTalkMgmtDb that  subsequently is inserted in the outbound wsdl.
  • One or multiple fault messages, each containing one or multiple parts.
  • One or multiple operation-fault associations. At runtime the component search through the original wsdl structure and creates faults accordingly.

At runtime the WsdlExtensions component validates the XML configuration specified on the port and if the TraceEnabled property is set to true, it produces a trace with a tool such as Debug as shown in the picture below.



The following picture shows the wsdl produced by the WsdlExtensions component at runtime. In particular, the parts added by the component are highlighted by a red frame.


Note: Flattening the wsdl  to include the XML schemas used to define messages allows to make the wsdl document compatible with non-Microsoft development environments. In fact, Visual Studio supports import and include directives in a wsdl, but some non-Microsoft development environments are not able to consume the wsdl exposed by a WCF web service.

Note: the XML Schemas defining the structure of the XML configuration data consumed at runtime respectively by the CustomErrorMessageInspector and by the WsdlExportEndpointBehavior can be found inside the BehaviorSchemas project. The corresponding assembly doesn’t need to be deployed to BizTalk Server.

Proof Of Concept in Action

In order to test the WCF custom components, I created a WinForms application. In particular, when I leave the Name textbox blank and press the Call button, the HelloWorld orchestration returns a fault message. The client application intercepts the error with a catch (FaultException<HelloWorldBizTalk.CustomError> ex) block and opens a MessageBox to show the detail of the exception.


I created 3 different Receive Locations to test my ErrorHandler component with different WCF settings:

  • PublishTypedFaults.HelloWorld.WCF-CustomIsolated.NoSecurity.ReceiveLocation

    • Adapter: WCF-CustomIsolated
    • Binding: WsHttpBinding
    • Security Mode: None
    • ClientCredentialType: N/A
  • PublishTypedFaults.HelloWorld.WCF-CustomIsolated.TransportSecurity.ReceiveLocation

    • Adapter: WCF-CustomIsolated
    • Binding: WsHttpBinding
    • Security Mode: Transport
    • ClientCredentialType: Windows
  • PublishTypedFaults.HelloWorld.WCF-Custom.MessageSecurity.ReceiveLocation

    • Adapter: WCF-Custom
    • Binding: NetTcpBinding
    • Security Mode: Message
    • ClientCredentialType: Windows


Show me the code!

At this point, you are probably saying:

- ok, cool, where’s the code?

Well, you can find the code for BizTalk Server 2009 here, but its should work fine also on BizTalk Server 2006 R2. Obviously, in this latter case you need to readapt the projects for Visual Studio 2005.

Obviously, everything there are many ways to implement the same functionalities, so I’d be glad if you could leave a message on my blog and let me know how you used/customized/improved my code. Enjoy! ;-)