Use the WCF Web Service Reference Provider Tool

Over the years, many Visual Studio developers have enjoyed the productivity that the Add Service Reference tool provided when their .NET Framework projects needed to access web services. The WCF Web Service Reference tool is a Visual Studio connected service extension that provides an experience like the Add Service Reference functionality for .NET Core and ASP.NET Core projects. This tool retrieves metadata from a web service in the current solution, on a network location, or from a WSDL file, and generates a .NET Core compatible source file containing Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) client proxy code that you can use to access the web service.


You should only reference services from a trusted source. Adding references from an untrusted source may compromise security.


How to use the extension


The WCF Web Service Reference option is applicable to projects created using the following project templates:

  • Visual C# > .NET Core
  • Visual C# > .NET Standard
  • Visual C# > Web > ASP.NET Core Web Application

Using the ASP.NET Core Web Application project template as an example, this article walks you through adding a WCF service reference to the project:

  1. In Solution Explorer, double-click the Connected Services node of the project (for a .NET Core or .NET Standard project this option is available when you right-click on the Dependencies node of the project in Solution Explorer).

    The Connected Services page appears as shown in the following image:

    Visual Studio Connected Services tab for .NET Core

  2. On the Connected Services page, click Microsoft WCF Web Service Reference Provider. This brings up the Configure WCF Web Service Reference wizard:

    Visual Studio Service Endpoint tab for .NET Core

  3. Select a service.

    3a. There are several services search options available within the Configure WCF Web Service Reference wizard:

    • To search for services defined in the current solution, click the Discover button.
    • To search for services hosted at a specified address, enter a service URL in the Address box and click the Go button.
    • To select a WSDL file that contains the web service metadata information, click the Browse button.

    3b. Select the service from the search results list in the Services box. If needed, enter the namespace for the generated code in the corresponding Namespace text box.

    3c. Click the Next button to open the Data Type Options and the Client Options pages. Alternatively, click the Finish button to use the default options.

  4. The Data Type Options formĀ enables you to refine the generated service reference configuration settings:

    Visual Studio Data type options tab for .NET Core


    The Reuse types in referenced assemblies check box option is useful when data types needed for service reference code generation are defined in one of your project's referenced assemblies. It's important to reuse those existing data types to avoid compile-time type clash or runtime issues.

    There may be a delay while type information is loaded, depending on the number of project dependencies and other system performance factors. The Finish button is disabled during loading unless the Reuse types in referenced assemblies check box is unchecked.

  5. Click Finish when you are done.

While displaying progress, the tool:

  • Downloads metadata from the WCF service.
  • Generates the service reference code in a file named reference.cs, and adds it to your project under the Connected Services node.
  • Updates the project file (.csproj) with NuGet package references required to compile and run on the target platform.

Visual Studio Progress window

When these processes complete, you can create an instance of the generated WCF client type and invoke the service operations.

See also

Feedback & questions

If you have any product feedback, report it at Developer Community using the Report a problem tool.

Release notes

  • Refer to the Release notes for updated release information, including known issues.