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Programming Visual Basic 2008 by Tim Patrick

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Windows Communication Foundation

Have you ever wanted to extract one piece of data from a web site for use in your Visual Basic application? No? Well let me tell you: it's called "screen scraping," and it's a pain in the neck. Most web sites with valuable content are designed by selfish people, programmers who think only about their own company's needs and nothing about other developers who need to pilfer essential data from—I mean, who need to add value to their own applications by enhancing it with content from a trusted third party.

Screen scraping is generally a bad thing. Not only is the HTML content ludicrously difficult to parse, but you never know when the web site owner is going to up and change the content without the courtesy of contacting you first. Fortunately, Windows Communication Foundation provides a solution to this problem. This core Microsoft technology, formerly code-named Indigo, exists to transport meaningful data between applications and systems, local or remote.

Windows Communication Foundation, usually abbreviated as WCF, joins several previously distinct technologies into a unified whole: message queues (such as MSMQ), web services (see the upcoming note), distributed transactions (such as MSDTC), and .NET Remoting. Since each of these technologies involved moving information from one application to another, it was a no-brainer for Microsoft to spend more money than you'll ever see on a merged service.

If a site has content or processes that need to be used ...

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