.NET Framework Overview

The .NET Framework is Microsoft's platform for building applications that have visually stunning user experiences, seamless and secure communication, and the ability to model a range of business processes. The .Net Framework consists of:

  • Common Language Runtime – provides an abstraction layer over the operating system
  • Base Class Libraries – pre-built code for common low-level programming tasks
  • Development frameworks and technologies – reusable, customizable solutions for larger programming tasks

By providing you with a comprehensive and consistent programming model and a common set of APIs, the .NET Framework helps you to build applications that work the way you want, in the programming language you prefer, across software, services, and devices.

Secure, Multi-Language Development Platform

Developers and IT professionals can count on .NET as a powerful and robust software development technology that provides the security advancements, management tools, and updates you need to build, test, and deploy highly reliable and secure software. .NET provides a multi-language development platform, so you can work in the programming language you prefer. The Common Language Runtime (CLR) provides support for powerful, static languages like Visual Basic© and Visual C#©, and the advent of the Dynamic Language Runtime (DLR) means that dynamic languages, such as Managed Jscript, IronRuby and IronPython, are also supported.

The .NET Compact Framework is a hardware-independent environment that supports building and running managed applications on resource-constrained computing devices. The .NET Compact Framework inherits the full .NET Framework architecture of the common language runtime and managed code execution, supports a subset of the .NET Framework class library, and contains classes designed exclusively for the .NET Compact Framework.

The .NET Micro Framework provides support for smaller devices as a new part of the entire .NET offering. You can now extend uniformly from very small devices to servers to the cloud using the same programming model and tool chain throughout. Small devices are increasingly part of larger solutions and now with .NET, there is no need to maintain separate staff and resources for the device-related portions of your projects. .NET provides the productivity and standardization that can greatly reduce your time to market. The .NET Micro Framework was built from the start as a solution for the embedded space, so it brings the power of modern computing with the low-level access that is needed to get the job done.

Next-Generation User Experiences

Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) provides a unified framework for building applications and high-fidelity experiences in Windows that blend together application UI, documents, and media content, while exploiting the full power of the computer. WPF offers developers support for both 2D and 3D graphics, hardware accelerated effects, scalability to different form factors, interactive data visualization, and superior content readability. Further, with a common file format (XAML), designers can become an integral part of the development process by working alongside developers in a workflow that promotes creativity while maintaining full fidelity.

Silverlight, a runtime that contains a subset of the .NET Framework, helps developers expand their reach by providing a cross-browser, cross-platform, and cross-device plug-in for delivering the next generation of .NET-based media experiences, advertising and rich interactive applications (RIAs).

Cutting-Edge Web Application Development

ASP.NET is a free technology that enables Web developers to create anything from small, personal Web sites through to large, enterprise-class dynamic Web applications. Microsoft's free AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) framework – ASP.NET AJAX – enables developers to quickly create more efficient, more interactive, and highly personalized Web experiences that work across all of the most popular browsers.

Secure, Reliable Web Services

For service-oriented programming Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) unifies a broad array of distributed systems capabilities in a composable and extensible architecture, spanning transports, security systems, messaging patterns, encodings, network topologies, and hosting models.

Mission-Critical Business Processes

With .NET, developers can use Windows Workflow Foundation (WF) to model a business process with code, enabling closer collaboration between developers and business process owners, and providing end users with better access to data, thereby improving productivity.

Flexible Data Access Options

ADO.NET is a set of classes that expose data access services to the .NET programmer. ADO.NET provides a rich set of components for creating distributed, data-sharing applications. It is an integral part of the .NET Framework, providing access to relational, XML, and application data. ADO.NET supports a variety of development needs, including the creation of front-end database clients and middle-tier business objects used by applications, tools, languages, or Internet browsers.

ADO.NET Entity Framework simplifies application data access by providing an extensible, conceptual model for data from any database and enables this model to closely reflect business requirements.

ADO.NET Data Services provides a first-class infrastructure for the next wave of dynamic internet applications by enabling Web applications to expose data as REST-based data services that can be consumed by client applications in corporate networks and across the internet.