Understanding Connectivity Offerings for Web and Data Services for the Windows Phone Platform


Most of the Windows Phone
applications today interact with the web. There are hardly any applications that are purely local in nature; they interact with the web for functionality,
data synchronization or at the least, application updates.

Developers should be aware of the connectivity
offerings the Windows Phone platform provides so that they can choose the
optimal way of interacting with the Internet via their application.

The Windows Phone platform supports three main
connectivity options:

  • HTTP
    based requests
  • Web
  • Data

In this article, we will explore more about HTTP
based requests.

HTTP Based Requests

Hypertext Transfer Protocol or HTTP in short, is
the simplest networking protocol that all web browsers currently use for

Windows Phone platform provides a variety of
built-in classes, which can be used in
your application code.

WebClient Class: This class is
used for sending and receiving data based on URI addresses.

HttpWebRequest class:
This class is used for making HTTP based web requests. It is derived from the
generic WebRequest class.

Let us take a look at an example of how we use the
WebClient class in our Windows Phone application.

Start Visual Studio
2010 and create a C#
project of type “Silverlight for Windows
Phone” and choose the Windows Phone template.

Add a button and a textbox on the default page.
Name the button as “WebClient Demo” and clear the context of the textbox.

Now wire up the click event of the button and add
the following code to the click event handler function.

        private void button1_Click(object sender, RoutedEventArgs e)
           Uri serviceUri = new Uri("http://www.developer.com/icom_includes/feeds/developer/dev-open-10.xml");
           WebClient webClientInstance = new WebClient();
           webClientInstance.OpenReadCompleted += new OpenReadCompletedEventHandler(webClientInstance_OpenReadCompleted


In the above snippet we are creating a URI to the
RSS feed for www.developer.com

We are also creating an instance of the web-client
and wiring the event handler for the OnReadCompleteEvent of the WebClient

We now have to create an event handler for
OnReadCompleteEvent event.

       void webClientInstance_OpenReadCompleted(object sender, OpenReadCompletedEventArgs e)
            if (e.Error == null) // check for error
                Stream responseStream = e.Result;
                if (responseStream.CanSeek)
                    long a = responseStream.Length;
                    byte[] buffer = new byte[a];

                    responseStream.Read(buffer, 0, (int) a);
                    string str = System.Text.Encoding.UTF8.GetString(buffer, 0, (int)a);
                    textBox1.Text = str;


In the event hander function, we check to see if
there was an error and if there was none, we can process the result. The result
of the WebClient read request is a response stream,
which can be read from to see the response.

We read the responseStream into a buffer and then
at the end, we update the textbox with the contents of the response stream.

We find that the response is an HTTP GET response to our Web request.

----- HTTP Response
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="iso-8859-1"?>
<rss version="2.0">
<title><![CDATA[Developer.com Open Source]]></title>
<description><![CDATA[Developer.com Open Source]]></description>
<copyright>Copyright 1996-2011 Quin Street Corporation</copyright>
                     <title><![CDATA[Oracle Commits to Open Source Hudson at Eclipse]]></title>
                     <description><![CDATA[<p>Fork? What fork? Oracle re-affirms its open source commitment to the Hudson continuous integration project, moving it to Eclipse with multi-vendor support.</p>]]></description>
                     <pubDate>Wed, 04 May 2011 12:50:00 -0700</pubDate>
                     <title><![CDATA[Oracle Advances NetBeans for Java 7]]></title>
                     <description><![CDATA[<p>The NetBeans 7 release adds Java 7 and HTML 5 support, as well as new integration with WebLogic to the open source IDE.</p>]]></description>
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                     <description><![CDATA[<p>Adobe updates Flex and Flash Builder with new releases that enable developers to develop for multiple mobile platforms including Android, Blackberry and even iOS.</p>]]></description>
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Now that we have a response, we can go about doing
something meaningful with it.


In this article, we saw how to use the WebClient
class to make HTTP Requests on the Windows Phone platform. I hope you have
found the information useful and can use it to make better Windows Phone

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