Introducing Microsoft .NET
Ever since Microsoft released the Windows 95 Operating System, customers have made a high demand for more and more reliable products. Taking this into consideration, Microsoft introduced a plethora of new products within a span of six years. The products include a range of operating systems to Office-based applications, programming tools and environments, and so forth. In the meantime, Sun Microsystems' Java language and the Solaris operating system became much more popular among developers. Hence, many of the developers and companies began shifting their platforms to these powerful ranges of products. One more reason for this shift was attributed to the strong stability of Sun's products. In these circumstances, developers at Microsoft began to think of introducing a set of technologies that caters to all needs. In early 2000, Microsoft released its first beta product of its new .NET initiative. The product evoked added response and in 2001 they released Beta 2 of the same; the final release of the whole range of stuff culminated with the VSLive conference in early 2002. In this first article, you will be introduced with this new Microsoft .NET technology.
Microsoft .NET is one of the latest and newest technologies introduced by Microsoft Corporation. We now use them to connect to the Internet using a computer; the remote computer responds via a Web page and a collection of Web pages called Web sites. The concept in .NET is that these Web sites can integrate with other sites and services using standard protocols such as HTTP.
The Microsoft .NET Platform is comprised of four core components such as:
- .NET building block services such as file storage, and calendar under the banner of Passport .NET.
- .NET device software that will run on the latest Internet devices such as mobile phones, pagers, and so on.
- .NET user experience such as integrating this technology to user-created documents (such as XML). For example, if you write a code snippet via XML using a .NET Language like C#, it will automatically create relevant XML documents.
- .NET infrastructure, which includes:
- .NET Framework, which is comprised of the Common Language Runtime (CLR) and .NET Framework class libraries. You will learn more about CLR in Article 3.
- Microsoft Visual Studio.NET, such as Visual Basic .NET, Visual C# .NET, Visual C++ .NET with managed extensions, Visual FoxPro, and so forth.
- Highly reliable servers, called .NET Enterprise Servers and Microsoft Windows NET.
We can build robust, scalable, distributed applications with the help of .NET; the part that helps us to develop these applications is called the .NET Framework. The .NET Framework contains the CLR and the .NET Framework class libraries, also called base-class libraries.
All the .NET languages such as C-Sharp, Visual Basic .NET, and Visual C++ .NET have the .NET Framework class libraries built into them. The .NET class libraries also support file input and output, database operations, XML (eXtensible Markup Language), and SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol). For example, you can develop XML pages by using C-Sharp language.
When someone talks about .NET development, you should understand that they are talking about the .NET Framework. It includes a runtime environment and a set of class libraries, which is being used by a new language called C-Sharp, abbreviated as C#. C# is more or less similar to C++, Java, and all other .NET languages. If you learn one language, it's easy to grasp others. Simply speaking, C-Sharp is a new language for developing custom solutions for Microsoft's .NET platform.
The runtime component that we discussed just now is also used by Visual Studio .NET. Visual Studio .NET provides us with a visual environment to design and develop .NET applications. Every language in Visual Studio .NET uses this runtime to execute its applications. Moreover, these languages convert their source code into an Intermediate Language (IL) upon compilation. We will discuss more about Intermediate Language in another article. Hence, you can use a module written using C-Sharp in a Visual Basic application. For example, you can design a user interface with Visual Basic .NET and write a DLL function using C-Sharp.