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Welcome to the world of Dot Net

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CIOL Bureau
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Touted as the next revolution not only for the company that was responsible for creating it but also for the Internet, the .Net framework consists of a suite of products, whose various features will be meshed with the vast capabilities of the Internet. Thus, it successfully breaks the barriers of the varying needs of different devices, so that information can be accessed from any desktop, laptop, cell phone and PDA, formatted to make sense irrespective of the nature of the device being used for the purpose. All this will be made possible by another service which manages a user's identity and data and make it available to the user from a range of devices.



The whole concept of .Net can be thought of as a service where you pay for the service much like how you currently do for cable TV, rather than as software installed from a CD. The key to making all this possible is the eXtensible Markup Language (XML). The .Net framework provides a development and execution environment for building and running Web services using technologies such as Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) and eXtensible Markup Language (XML). SOAP is an interoperability protocol that uses XML to link together applications and services across the Internet.



The whole concept of .Net at present can be defined in one word - confusing. There is a lot of jargon being bandied about which talk of the user experience, user environments, programming infrastructure, developer experience and so on, sufficient to muddle your already confused mind. Here, we have attempted to offer an overview of the .Net framework.



The .NET framework



Enterprise Servers



The .Net framework consists of a host of the supposedly new .Net Enterprise Servers that integrate, manage and Web enable the enterprise. Built using open Web standards such as XML, they allow software to be delivered as a service now called "Webservices". The .Net Enterprise Server range can be used to deliver scalable applications and store data on the Web, build an online business, clustering Web servers. Security being a major issue (and who should be more concerned than Microsoft) the Microsoft Internet Security and Acceleration Server integrates the firewall and Web cache server to make the Web enabled enterprise safer, faster and manageable.

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Web services



Web services comprise of the .Net building block services and third party Web services. Web services according to Microsoft represents the next evolution of application development. A Web service is an application that uses existing Internet protocols like HTTP along with XML for this purpose. The .Net building block services include calendar, messaging, authentication, storage, personalization, validation, notification, search and directory. The third party Web services comprise of those services that are built by other partners and developers.

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Programming language



You've heard of or learnt C, C++. Well, here's one more to be mastered in the list of C's, C# pronounced as C sharp. It's basically a hash of C, C++ and Java, to be more precise, derived from C, C++ borrowing keywords and syntax from Java. C# is an object oriented language that can be used to develop applications which can in turn be converted to a Web service that can be invoked over the Internet-from any application running on any platform.

The borrowing from Java is not just restricted to syntax and keywords. The Common Language Runtime (CLR), the new executable environment for all Microsoft programming and scripting languages, is very similar to the Java Virtual Machine (JVM). Although it's not an interpreter like the JVM, it is similar to it in that it provides garbage collection, type validation, assignment-checking etc. The CLR plays a role in a component's development time and run-time experiences. While the component is running, the runtime is responsible for managing memory allocation, starting up and killing threads and processes and enforcing security policy. The runtime makes the developer's experience very simple, especially when compared to COM. It also has certain features such as reflection, which reduces the amount of code written by developers.

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SOAP



SOAP or Simple Object Access Protocol along with Soap Contract Language (SCL) which describes the capabilities of Web services and XLANG forms another part of the .Net framework. SOAP adds transparent method-call capabilities to XML. XML and SOAP run on Windows, UNIX, Linux and other platforms. SOAP can be used to create distributed objects that interact over the Internet using the existing Internet infrastructure such as HTTP and XML.

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The 1.0 release of Windows.Net that will offer the infrastructure and base for .Net services has been code named Whistler. Based on Windows2000, it will be released in late 2001 while the future version of Windows.Net, the 2.0 version codenamed Blackcomb, will be released in 2-3 years.

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