Now let's turn our attention toward understanding the .NET Framework in just a minute here. To understand the .NET Framework means to understand the underlying functionality, the platform that C# is running on and it will in turn make you a better C# Programmer. Now let's go back and do just a little history here. When the .NET Framework first appeared, it marked a fundamental changing or adjustment in how programming was carried out on the Microsoft platform. Now this created cat calls and howls from the developers at the time who had invested a lot of time and money in the old COM environment. And so this major departure from that COM environment, really scared a bunch of folks, made them mad. All kind of things were being said but the original concept, keep in mind, was really aimed at web development, interestingly enough. Because at the time, web development was just really taking off, the web servers had some irritating aspects about how they managed memory. On the Client Side we were writing CGI Script, everything was running as script, an interpreted language on the web server and it just wasn't very efficient. But the .NET Framework idea kind of grew and developed and it ended up being this massive collection of classes and that fundamentally is what the .NET Framework is. It is this massive collection of classes that exposes functionality for programmers. Good example, I want to add some functionality to an application that I'm writing in C# and I want that application to reach across a network and pass some data via TCP/IP to another computer. Well there's a class for that. I can go out into System.Network and I don't know the rest of it of the top of my head. But I can find a class that will allow me to, to basically package data into TCP/IP Packets and send it across a network. I don't have to know how to do that. I just have to know what class to grab, instantiate an object off, of that class and pass the proper parameters to the proper methods, and boom the magic happens. Now another advantage of this is that, that functionality is now consistent. Because if you're writing an application in VB.NET and you're trying to carry out the same functionality, you're going to grab that same class, and you're going to pass on information in the same way. Make it very easy for us to troubleshoot each others programs, add functionalities later, extend it and that sort of thing. Now speaking of Extended, most of the classes in the .NET Framework can be extended or Subclassed if you know what that is, if you don't, not to worry, we're going to talk about it later. But the entire .NET Framework is organized into Namespaces. I've already mentioned System.Network but just keep in mind that if I want to do something with a database, I'm going to look for classes in the System.Data Namespaces. If I want to work with Input Output, I'm going to look in System.IO. So the Namespace is simply collects the classes into organized groups so that we know where to go and how to start looking for the functionality we need. Now the NET Framework actually began development in the late 1990's and it was at that time, under the codename or they even mention this as the marketing name, Next Generation Window Services or NGWS. Apparently that wasn't cool and sexy enough for Microsoft, because by the time this was actually introduced in the late 2000, it had been named the .NET Framework. Now .NET 1.0 was the first version that was released. We are currently at .NET 4.0. There's already rumblings out there about .NET 4.5, don't worry about that right now, it's a long way off. But I'll spare you all the history between 1.0 and 4.0 just suffice to say that 4.0 is really cool, it's picked up a lot of really neat functionalities and you can do an awful, awful lot with this platform. Now the advantages that you get, along with all those classes in the .NET Framework are first of all, something called the Common Language Runtime. Now this is not a .NET Framework Class so I'm not going to go too deep here. But this is kind of like the policeman who oversees everybody that's running any language that's .NET compliant runs under the control of the Common Language Runtime. Now it's also language independence built into the .NET Framework. You can code in any kind of language that is .NET compliant and there's over 40 of them and they all adhere to a common type system. Which means any type or object that I build in any .NET compliant language can be easily shared and utilized by any other .NET language. This is really cool. So you might want to go out and read up on that a little bit. And then of course, Security, you have to mention Security. It is a fundamental part of the design and implementation of the .NET Framework and again, won't go too deep here, you can go out and read about that. Portability, this is something you will read about in all the marketing material. You'll hear it but just understand, kind of the rest of the story here. The .NET Framework is engineered to be platform agnostic, meaning you can run on multiple types of processors, multiple environments. However, Microsoft has not chosen to actually implement that functionality. Right now we're running on the Windows Intel Platform and that's the only place it's really been used. So, but do keep in mind, this is in Microsoft's pocket they can pull this out at any time, the .NET Framework's ready to go for this. Now what you need to do, is to go out to Microsoft.com, just do a quick search for the .NET Framework. If you're not familiar with the .NET Framework, I'd strongly, strongly encourage you to get more familiar with the .NET Framework. It is the foundation that C Sharp is running on, it is what makes C# function. So the more you understand about the .NET Framework, the better you're going to be at designing and actually implementing and developing your apps in C#. So that's just a little quick overview of understanding the .NET Framework.
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