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What is the .NET Framework?

Instructor: David Gloag

David has over 40 years of industry experience in software development and information technology and a bachelor of computer science

Software development is an important topic these days. In this lesson, we'll take a look at the .NET framework, what it is, some of its features, and the environments where it can be used.

Something for Nothing

We live in a world where we want to create something once and use it in as many situations as possible. We build our vehicles to work on many terrains, we create clothing that will cover us in many environmental situations, and we construct our homes to withstand whatever Mother Nature can throw at them. It makes sense then that we would do the same for computer systems, and create an entity that would allow us to write once and use in many places. And in fact, we have. A number of years ago, a company named Microsoft developed something for just that purpose. It is called .NET.

What is .NET?

In simple terms, .NET is a tool, specifically, a software tool that developers can use to create applications. It is cross-platform, meaning that it supports a variety of operating environments. And it is consistent, as it provides the same look and organizational structure regardless of the platform. Think of it like a model kit that you purchase for a child. It provides the structure and parts needed to construct the model. But, the touches that make the finished product unique are supplied by the child (color choices immediately come to mind). Like a model kit, .NET is meant to save a developer time and energy on the mundane things, while allowing them to add their own creative touches.

What are Some Features Provided by the .NET Framework?

The .NET framework is the embodiment of the .NET idea. It is a set of tools and classes (objects), designed to provide cross-platform development capabilities to anyone wishing to create meaningful applications on a wide variety of devices. In particular, it provides:

  • A robust development environment - It provides all of the bells and whistles you could imagine from a development perspective. As an example, consider Visual Studio.
  • A consistent look and approach - This applies to many aspects, including environment support, visual elements like windows and buttons, tools, and programming interfaces.
  • Multiple programming language support - This feature is somewhat unique in the industry. Languages like C, C++, C#, and Visual Basic, are supported. In addition, all can be used in the same application if desired.
  • A layered approach - If you want to directly access the hardware and handle all of the intricacies, you can. If you want .NET to handle these details, you can do that too. The .NET framework can provide you with as little or as much control as you through the use of layers.

What Environments Does the .NET Framework Support?

The .NET framework was originally designed for Windows. But today, in addition to Windows, it provides support for several environments (operating systems) including:

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