C# – asp.net asmx web service returning xml instead of json


Why does this simple web service refuse to return JSON to the client?

Here is my client code:

        var params = { };
            url: "/Services/SessionServices.asmx/HelloWorld",
            type: "POST",
            contentType: "application/json; charset=utf-8",
            dataType: "json",
            timeout: 10000,
            data: JSON.stringify(params),
            success: function (response) {

And the service:

namespace myproject.frontend.Services
    [WebService(Namespace = "http://tempuri.org/")]
    [WebServiceBinding(ConformsTo = WsiProfiles.BasicProfile1_1)]
    public class SessionServices : System.Web.Services.WebService
        [ScriptMethod(ResponseFormat = ResponseFormat.Json)]
        public string HelloWorld()
            return "Hello World";


        <compilation debug="true" targetFramework="4.0" />

And the response:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<string xmlns="http://tempuri.org/">Hello World</string>

No matter what I do, the response always comes back as XML. How do I get the web service to return Json?


Here is the Fiddler HTTP trace:

POST http://myproject.local/Services/SessionServices.asmx/HelloWorld HTTP/1.1
Host: myproject.local
User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 6.1; WOW64; rv:13.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/13.0.1
Accept: application/json, text/javascript, */*; q=0.01
Accept-Language: en-gb,en;q=0.5
Accept-Encoding: gzip, deflate
Connection: keep-alive
Content-Type: application/json; charset=utf-8
X-Requested-With: XMLHttpRequest
Referer: http://myproject.local/Pages/Test.aspx
Content-Length: 2
Cookie: ASP.NET_SessionId=5tvpx1ph1uiie2o1c5wzx0bz
Pragma: no-cache
Cache-Control: no-cache


HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Cache-Control: private, max-age=0
Content-Type: text/xml; charset=utf-8
Server: Microsoft-IIS/7.5
X-AspNet-Version: 4.0.30319
X-Powered-By: ASP.NET
Date: Tue, 19 Jun 2012 16:33:40 GMT
Content-Length: 96

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<string xmlns="http://tempuri.org/">Hello World</string>

I have lost count of how many articles I have read now trying to fix this. The instructions are either incomplete or do not solve my issue for some reason.
Some of the more relevant ones include (all without success):

Plus several other general articles.

Best Solution

Finally figured it out.

The app code is correct as posted. The problem is with the configuration. The correct web.config is:

        <compilation debug="true" targetFramework="4.0" />
            <add name="ScriptHandlerFactory"
                 verb="*" path="*.asmx"
                 type="System.Web.Script.Services.ScriptHandlerFactory, System.Web.Extensions, Version=, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=31bf3856ad364e35"
                 resourceType="Unspecified" />

According to the docs, registering the handler should be unnecessary from .NET 4 upwards as it has been moved to the machine.config. For whatever reason, this isn't working for me. But adding the registration to the web.config for my app resolved the problem.

A lot of the articles on this problem instruct to add the handler to the <system.web> section. This does NOT work and causes a whole load of other problems. I tried adding the handler to both sections and this generates a set of other migration errors which completely misdirected my troubleshooting.

In case it helps anyone else, if I had ther same problem again, here is the checklist I would review:

  1. Did you specify type: "POST" in the ajax request?
  2. Did you specify contentType: "application/json; charset=utf-8" in the ajax request?
  3. Did you specify dataType: "json"in the ajax request?
  4. Does your .asmx web service include the [ScriptService] attribute?
  5. Does your web method include the [ScriptMethod(ResponseFormat = ResponseFormat.Json)] attribute? (My code works even without this attribute, but a lot of articles say that it is required)
  6. Have you added the ScriptHandlerFactory to the web.config file in <system.webServer><handlers>?
  7. Have you removed all handlers from the the web.config file in in <system.web><httpHandlers>?

Hope this helps anyone with the same problem. and thanks to posters for suggestions.