push notifications in windows phone 7

Basics

There’s lots of information hiding within about 10 links on MSDN about how push notifications for WP7. The short of it is the phone opens a HttpNotificationChannel which gives it a unique URI for your applications to send notifications to it.

There are three types of notifications – tile, toast and raw. Tile notifications are used for changing the background, count and title of the application when it is pinned to the Start screen. Toast notifications provide unobtrusive notifications to users when they are outside the application, allowing them to step in easily to perform an action. Raw notifications are messages of any format that can be sent to the phone application and received while it is active.

The problem with the information out there is that it is slightly conflicting because of the recent changes to the APIs with different versions of the toolkit. As a result, I spent many hours trying to get this relatively simple piece of functionality working. At one point I decided that whenever I got something working I’d try shrink wrap it and publish it, so here we go…

DISCLAIMER: WOMM…

WARNING: There’s a lot of code here… Please read the Client Side and Server Side sections before believing you are qualified to download the sample. The sample has a thin WPF client implementation over the server side code to make it a little easier to get started. Remember to check the Debug output window for the phone application when you need a Uri to send a notification.

Client Side

My aim was to get the code required for subscribing to notifications to be as simple as possible. I got it down to the following few lines of code:

// in App.ctor
NotificationService notificationService = new NotificationService("some funky channel name");
notificationService.RawNotificationReceived += RawNotificationReceived;
notificationService.ToastNotificationReceived += ToastNotificationReceived;
notificationService.ChannelUriUpdated += ChannelUriUpdated;

// in Application_Launching & Application_Activated
notificationService.Subscribe();

// event handlers
void ToastNotificationReceived(object sender, ToastNotificationReceivedEventArgs e)
{    // example of handling a toast notification within the application
    MessageBox.Show(e.Message, e.Title, MessageBoxButton.OK);
}

void RawNotificationReceived(object sender, RawNotificationRecievedEventArgs e)
{
    MessageBox.Show(e.Message);
}

void ChannelUriUpdated(object sender, NotificationChannelUriEventArgs e)
{
    // call a webservice to report e.ChannelUri
}

There are a couple of things to note. Firstly, the Subscribe() method is called in the Application_Launching and Application_Activated events. This is due to the tombstoning nature of WP7.

Next, there are separate event handlers for Toast and Raw notifications. They are handled differently because toast notifications have a definite payload format that specifies the ability to send to pieces of text (a title and a message). A raw notification can be anything, which is why I have decided to simply surface the string representation of the payload. A toast must also be handled if the application is executing – i.e. it will not be displayed by the OS.

Also, there is no tile notification handler. This is because the OS handles this directly.

Lastly, the ChannelUriUpdated event handler. This is necessary for your phone application to let the server application know that there is a phone waiting for notifications. When this occurs, the phone application should call a web service to register the URI. The NotificationService class will write this information to the Debug console whenever the application is started, so it is not required for debugging purposes.

Server Side

While I was busy working on the client side, I realised that obviously I’d eventually need to have some server side code to send the notifications. Again, I wanted to simplify it as much as possible:

NotificationService service = new NotificationService();

// send a raw notification
service.SendRaw(clientUri, messageText);

// send a toast notification
service.SendToast(clientUri, titleText, messageText);

// send a tile notification
service.SendTile(clientUri, backgroundImageUri, countValue, titleText);

See… simple. Smile

The Real Code

As I mentioned earlier, you can download all this here. Otherwise, feel free to read through this (or just copy/paste it) to get a better understanding of how the HttpNotificationChannel works.

Client side NotificationService implementation:

public class NotificationService
{
    string channelName;
    HttpNotificationChannel channel;

    public NotificationService(string channelName)
    {
        this.channelName = channelName;
    }

    /// <summary>
    /// Subscribes to the notification events on the channel.
    /// If the channel doesn't already exist, it will be created
    /// and bound to shell tile and toasts.
    /// </summary>
    public void Subscribe()
    {
        if (channel == null) BindChannel();
    }

    /// <summary>
    /// Unubscribes from the notification events on the channel.
    /// </summary>
    public void Unsubscribe()
    {
        if (channel != null) UnsubscribeFromChannelEvents();
    }

    /// <summary>
    /// Finds or creates the notification channel and binds the shell tile
    /// and toast notifications as well as events.
    /// </summary>
    private void BindChannel()
    {
        channel = HttpNotificationChannel.Find(channelName);

        if (channel == null || channel.ChannelUri == null)
        {
            if (channel != null) DisposeChannel();

            channel = new HttpNotificationChannel(channelName);
            channel.ChannelUriUpdated += channel_ChannelUriUpdated;
            channel.Open();
        }
        else System.Diagnostics.Debug.WriteLine(channel.ChannelUri.AbsoluteUri);

        SubscribeToChannelEvents();

        if (!channel.IsShellTileBound) channel.BindToShellTile();
        if (!channel.IsShellToastBound) channel.BindToShellToast();
    }

    /// <summary>
    /// Subscribes to the channel's events.
    /// </summary>
    private void SubscribeToChannelEvents()
    {
        channel.ShellToastNotificationReceived += channel_ShellToastNotificationReceived;
        channel.HttpNotificationReceived += channel_HttpNotificationReceived;
        channel.ErrorOccurred += channel_ErrorOccurred;
    }

    /// <summary>
    /// Unsubscribes from the channel's events
    /// </summary>
    private void UnsubscribeFromChannelEvents()
    {
        channel.ShellToastNotificationReceived -= channel_ShellToastNotificationReceived;
        channel.HttpNotificationReceived -= channel_HttpNotificationReceived;
        channel.ErrorOccurred -= channel_ErrorOccurred;
    }

    /// <summary>
    /// Closes the channel and disposes it.
    /// </summary>
    private void DisposeChannel()
    {
        channel.Close();
        channel.Dispose();
        channel = null;
    }

    /// <summary>
    /// Event handler for the ChannelUriUpdate event.
    /// </summary>
    /// <param name="sender"></param>
    /// <param name="e"></param>
    void channel_ChannelUriUpdated(object sender, NotificationChannelUriEventArgs e)
    {
        channel.ChannelUriUpdated -= channel_ChannelUriUpdated;
        System.Diagnostics.Debug.WriteLine(e.ChannelUri.AbsoluteUri);
        OnChannelUriUpdated(e);
    }

    /// <summary>
    /// Raised when the notification channel is given a URI.
    /// </summary>
    /// <remarks>
    /// This is when you would call a web service to tell it that a client is
    /// registered and what the notification URI is.
    /// </remarks>
    public event EventHandler<NotificationChannelUriEventArgs> ChannelUriUpdated;

    /// <summary>
    /// Raises the ChannelUriUpdated event.
    /// </summary>
    /// <param name="e"></param>
    protected virtual void OnChannelUriUpdated(NotificationChannelUriEventArgs e)
    {
        if (ChannelUriUpdated != null) ChannelUriUpdated(this, e);
    }

    /// <summary>
    /// Event handler for the HtppNotificationReceived event.
    /// This is called when a raw notification is received.
    /// </summary>
    /// <param name="sender"></param>
    /// <param name="e"></param>
    void channel_HttpNotificationReceived(object sender, HttpNotificationEventArgs e)
    {
        byte[] bytes;
        using (var stream = e.Notification.Body)
        {
            bytes = new byte[stream.Length];
            stream.Read(bytes, 0, (int)stream.Length);
        }
        var message = Encoding.UTF8.GetString(bytes, 0, bytes.Length);

        OnRawNotificationReceived(message);
    }

    /// <summary>
    /// Occurs when a raw notification is received.
    /// </summary>
    public event EventHandler<RawNotificationRecievedEventArgs> RawNotificationReceived;

    /// <summary>
    /// Raises the RawNotificationReceived event on the UI thread.
    /// </summary>
    /// <param name="message"></param>
    protected virtual void OnRawNotificationReceived(string message)
    {
        Deployment.Current.Dispatcher.BeginInvoke(() =>
        {
            if (RawNotificationReceived != null) 
                RawNotificationReceived(
                    this, 
                    new RawNotificationRecievedEventArgs(message)
                    );
        });
    }

    /// <summary>
    /// Event handler for the ShellToastNotificationReceived event.
    /// This occurs when a toast notification is received on the channel.
    /// </summary>
    /// <remarks>
    /// This must be handled by the application if it is running when a toast is received.
    /// </remarks>
    /// <param name="sender"></param>
    /// <param name="e"></param>
    void channel_ShellToastNotificationReceived(object sender, NotificationEventArgs e)
    {
        var title = e.Collection.Values.First();
        var message = e.Collection.Values.Skip(1).FirstOrDefault() ?? string.Empty;
        OnToastNotificationReceived(title, message);
    }

    /// <summary>
    /// Occurs when a toast notification is received.
    /// </summary>
    /// <remarks>
    /// This must be handled by the application if it is running when a toast is received.
    /// </remarks>
    public event EventHandler<ToastNotificationReceivedEventArgs> ToastNotificationReceived;

    /// <summary>
    /// Raises the ToastNotificationReceived event on the UI thread.
    /// </summary>
    /// <param name="title"></param>
    /// <param name="message"></param>
    protected virtual void OnToastNotificationReceived(string title, string message)
    {
        Deployment.Current.Dispatcher.BeginInvoke(() =>
        {
            if (ToastNotificationReceived != null) 
                ToastNotificationReceived(
                    this, 
                    new ToastNotificationReceivedEventArgs(title, message)
                    );
        });
    }

    /// <summary>
    /// Event handler for the ErrorOccurred event.
    /// Handles different events according to ErrorType.
    /// </summary>
    /// <remarks>
    /// Needs more work... ;-(
    /// </remarks>
    /// <param name="sender"></param>
    /// <param name="e"></param>
    void channel_ErrorOccurred(object sender, NotificationChannelErrorEventArgs e)
    {
        switch (e.ErrorType)
        {
            // something went severely wrong. lets wait a while before trying again.
            case ChannelErrorType.ChannelOpenFailed:
                DisposeChannel();
                System.Threading.Thread.Sleep(60000);
                BindChannel();
                break;
            // an image uri has been referenced in a notification that was
            // not bound to the shell tile.
            case ChannelErrorType.MessageBadContent:
                break;
            // too many notifications have been received in too short a time span.
            case ChannelErrorType.NotificationRateTooHigh:
                break;
            // a bad payload was received. re-establish the connection to overcome this.
            case ChannelErrorType.PayloadFormatError:
                DisposeChannel();
                BindChannel();
                break;
            // the type notifications we're receiving is going to change.
            case ChannelErrorType.PowerLevelChanged:
                break;
            default:
                break;
        }
    }
}

public class RawNotificationRecievedEventArgs : EventArgs
{
    public string Message { get; private set; }
    public RawNotificationRecievedEventArgs(string message)
    {
        Message = message;
    }
}

public class ToastNotificationReceivedEventArgs : EventArgs
{
    public string Title { get; private set; }
    public string Message { get; private set; }
    public ToastNotificationReceivedEventArgs(string title, string message)
    {
        Title = title;
        Message = message;
    }
}

Server side code:

public interface INotificationService
{
    NotificationResponse SendTile(string uri, string backgroundImageUri, int count, 
                                  string title, [Optional] Guid messageId);
    NotificationResponse SendToast(string uri, string text1, [Optional] string text2, 
                                   [Optional] Guid messageId);
    NotificationResponse SendRaw(string uri, string message, [Optional] Guid messageId);
}

public class NotificationService : INotificationService
{
    const int maxPayloadLength = 1024;

    const string targetHeader = "X-WindowsPhone-Target";
    const string notificationClassHeader = "X-NotificationClass";
    const string messageIdHeader = "X-MessageID";
    const string notificationStatusHeader = "X-NotificationStatus";
    const string subscriptionStatusHeader = "X-SubscriptionStatus";
    const string deviceConnectionStatusHeader = "X-DeviceConnectionStatus";

    const string tileMessageFormat =
        "<?xml version=\"1.0\" encoding=\"utf-8\"?>" +
        "<wp:Notification xmlns:wp=\"WPNotification\">" +
            "<wp:Tile>" +
                "<wp:BackgroundImage>{0}</wp:BackgroundImage>" +
                "<wp:Count>{1}</wp:Count>" +
                "<wp:Title>{2}</wp:Title>" +
            "</wp:Tile>" +
        "</wp:Notification>";
    /// <summary>
    /// X-WindowsPhone-Target: token
    /// </summary>
    const string tileTarget = "token";
    /// <summary>
    /// X-NotificationClass: 1
    /// </summary>
    const string tileNotificationClass = "1";

    const string toastMessageFormat =
        "<?xml version=\"1.0\" encoding=\"utf-8\"?>" +
        "<wp:Notification xmlns:wp=\"WPNotification\">" +
            "<wp:Toast>" +
                "<wp:Text1>{0}</wp:Text1>" +
                "<wp:Text2>{1}</wp:Text2>" +
            "</wp:Toast>" +
        "</wp:Notification>";
    /// <summary>
    /// X-WindowsPhone-Target: toast
    /// </summary>
    const string toastTarget = "toast";
    /// <summary>
    /// X-NotificationClass: 2
    /// </summary>
    const string toastNotificationClass = "2";

    /// <summary>
    /// X-NotificationClass: 3
    /// </summary>
    const string rawNotificationClass = "3";

    public NotificationResponse SendTile(string uri, string backgroundImageUri, int count, 
                                         string title, [Optional] Guid messageId)
    {
        var str = string.Format(tileMessageFormat, backgroundImageUri, count, title);
        return SendNotification(uri, str, tileNotificationClass, tileTarget, messageId);
    }

    public NotificationResponse SendToast(string uri, string text1, [Optional] string text2, 
                                          [Optional] Guid messageId)
    {
        var str = string.Format(toastMessageFormat, text1, text2);
        return SendNotification(uri, str, toastNotificationClass, toastTarget, messageId);
    }

    public NotificationResponse SendRaw(string uri, string message, 
                                        [Optional] Guid messageId)
    {
        return SendNotification(uri, message, rawNotificationClass, messageId: messageId);
    }

    private NotificationResponse SendNotification(string uri, string message, 
                                                  string notificationClass, 
                                                  [Optional] string target, 
                                                  [Optional] Guid messageId)
    {
        var payload = Encoding.UTF8.GetBytes(message);
        if (payload.Length > maxPayloadLength) 
            throw new ArgumentException(
                "The message provided is longer than the maximum payload length (1024B).",
                message
                );

        var sendNotificationRequest = WebRequest.Create(uri) as HttpWebRequest;
            
        sendNotificationRequest.Method = WebRequestMethods.Http.Post;
        sendNotificationRequest.ContentLength = payload.Length;
        sendNotificationRequest.ContentType = "text/xml";

        // X-NotificationClass: 1, 2, 3
        sendNotificationRequest.Headers.Add(notificationClassHeader, notificationClass);
        // X-WindowsPhone-Target: token, toast
        if (!string.IsNullOrWhiteSpace(target)) 
            sendNotificationRequest.Headers.Add(targetHeader, target);
        // X-MessageId: 00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000
        if (messageId != null && messageId != Guid.Empty) 
            sendNotificationRequest.Headers.Add(messageIdHeader, messageId.ToString());

        using (var requestStream = sendNotificationRequest.GetRequestStream())
            requestStream.Write(payload, 0, payload.Length);

        HttpWebResponse response;
        string errorMessage = null;
        try
        {
            response = sendNotificationRequest.GetResponse() as HttpWebResponse;
        }
        catch (WebException ex)
        {
            response = ex.Response as HttpWebResponse;
            errorMessage = ex.Message;
        }
        return new NotificationResponse
        {
            MessageId = response.Headers[messageIdHeader],
            ErrorMessage = errorMessage,
            NotificationStatus = response.Headers[notificationStatusHeader],
            SubscriptionStatus = response.Headers[subscriptionStatusHeader],
            DeviceConnectionStatus = response.Headers[deviceConnectionStatusHeader],
            StatusCode = response.StatusCode
        };
    }
}

public class NotificationResponse
{
    public string ErrorMessage { get; set; }
    public DateTimeOffset Timestamp { get; set; }
    public string MessageId { get; set; }
    public HttpStatusCode StatusCode { get; set; }
    public string NotificationStatus { get; set; }
    public string DeviceConnectionStatus { get; set; }
    public string SubscriptionStatus { get; set; }
}

DOWNLOAD IT NOW!

Remember, to get the Uri just watch the Debug output window when your WP7 application starts up.

Good luck Smile

[Update 2010-08-27] Added extra check to Client.NotificationService.BindChannel() so that a channel that already exists but does not have a URI is disposed and a new one is created.

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Posted on 13 August, 2010, in Dev Stuff, Windows Phone 7 and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. I’ve tried these notification samples over and over again (others on the web too) and I can never get a URI back from the MS servers. Is there something I am missing before just using your sample code? Any help is greatly appreciated!

    • Hi Geoff,

      Are you behind a firewall or do you use a proxy?

      You may need to use wireshark or netmon to figure out what is blocking the emulator from connecting to the servers.

      Let me know if you need any more advise on this or if you solve the problem.

      Cheers,
      Ducas

  2. I want to thank you, seriously. I have been banging my head against a wall for two days having error after error because of all the changes the push api has gone through. I just wanted you to know that you are a gentleman and a scholar.

  3. I think this line:
    OnChannelUriUpdated(e);
    is missing from line 90 of the client code? seemed to be the only way I could get the urichanged event to bounce back into app.xaml.cs?

    Great article – as someone else mentioned, a lot of mis-information out there and the msdn “documentation” around this is extremely poor.

    Regards,
    Matt

  1. Pingback: Windows Phone 7 Developer Links « C Is For Coder

  2. Pingback: 超快递 beta版 » Windows Phone 7 资源汇总(超全)

  3. Pingback: Pushing to Windows Phone 7 devices using MetroPimp « Ducas’ World

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