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Visual C#.NET, Part 1: Introduction to Programming Languages

Learn today what you need to get started with Visual C#.NET. We'll be taking a look at the .NET Platform, the .NET Framework, as well as a quick look at Visual Studio.NET. We'll also take a brief look at the history of programming languages, including machine code, assembly language, as well as high-level languages, such as C#. This is the first chapter of Michael Youssef's book Visual C#.NET (The Absolute Power), printed here with the permission of the author.

Author Info:
By: Michael Youssef
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April 28, 2004
  1. · Visual C#.NET, Part 1: Introduction to Programming Languages
  2. · Types of Programming Languages
  3. · Meet Microsoft.NET
  4. · Microsoft.NET Platform Components
  5. · .NET Framework Central Components
  6. · Visual Studio.NET

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Visual C#.NET, Part 1: Introduction to Programming Languages
(Page 1 of 6 )

Welcome to the first chapter of my book Visual C#.NET (The Absolute Power). I hope that I will add something to your knowledge of Microsoft technologies.

Before we begin with programming languages we must talk about our spoken languages (ie: English, French, etc.).  Any language is a set of keywords or symbols (words) that mean something understandable by the people who speak the language. For example the following sentence:

I need a cup of Tea.

When I say this to any one of my friends they will bring me a cup of Tea.  What we understand here is that this sentence contains 5 keywords (Keyword meaning a word preserved by a language that has meaning) and because my friends speak English their brain will compile and compute the sentence into something it can understand and execute.

If we convert this example to the computer programming languages world we can say that any programming language contains keywords and that we use these keywords to create a computer program.  We can call this set of keywords that we will write to form a program "The Program Code".  So, programmers write code to form a program.

Let's complete our human-computer languages analogy again. Any human can understand his own native language and the same applies with a computer.  A computer can only understand its own machine language.

NOTE  There are 3 major types for programming languages: Machine, Assembly, High-level languages. Machine language for any computer is created by the hardware designers so it's considered to be the natural language of the computer.

But life is not so easy; English people have to communicate with others who speak different languages, and if we relate this in terms of computer languages we can say that the natural language of the computer, machine language, is very complicated, tedious, and error prone.  So languages such as C# were developed to overcome the downfalls of machine language -- it also makes our lives a lot easier!

Let's take for example two people -- one English; the other German.  If they want to understand each other the German-speaking person will write a sentence in German and attempt to translate it into English.  After the translation is complete, he/she will send it to the English-speaking person. In our human languages analogy we will assume that we write a program in C#. As was mentioned earlier that computers only understand their own machine code language the C# code must be compiled into machine code. At this point the computer will understand and execute the program.

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