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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 - Meet Microsoft.NET
(Page 3 of 6 )

A lot of beginner programmers who learn C# don't care to understand what .NET is all about?  But, as we will see, they are setting themselves up for failure. 

I can't simply jump into a technical discussion about Microsoft.NET, as I'm assuming that you don't know much about programming. I will not use any technical expressions in this section, so when you finish the book please read appendix A -- "About Microsoft.NET".

Today there are more than 400 million computer users in the world, and most of them use the Internet daily for shopping, chatting, business, and many other things.  Still, there are a lot of things they can't do by using the Internet, such as comparing prices from various airlines to find the cheapest flight to Paris, or finding the nearest car rental companies and comparing their prices to find one that suits your budget, as well as many other tasks that will make our lives much easier (ie: sending a message to my car via .NET instructing it to unlock its doors in five minutes).

Before Microsoft.NET all these services were simply a dream, and did not exist as there were no platforms that were capable of dealing with these types of services.  Also vendors used various techniques for describing their information, and developing the code necessary to integrate such services was a very complex process.  Microsoft realized that the future for Internet -- especially these types of services - needed to be improved, so they spent three years creating the .NET platform and released it in July, 2000.

Microsoft considered creating these web services as the future of selling computer applications. For example, if your company specializes in creating services for car rental companies, they would be interested in your products for their own services.  Also of note is that there are also various free services offered by a number of companies.  You can think of these web services as a new way of executing business logic.  Here are some examples of these services:

  • Service for specifying the nearest Car Rental Companies in my area based on ZIP code.

  • Service for comparing books prices.

  • Service for providing times; for example, a service that will provide the local US time for other countries.

  • Service for comparing airline ticket prices based on the information entered by the user.

  • Service capable of searching for Internet users between specified intervals.

This is a very simple list of web services that companies can implement; this list can grow enormously in size. Microsoft and a number of other companies have already begun developing such services.  Some will be offered at no charge, while others will charge various fees (ie: subscriptions, one-time, etc.). 

Applications will be produced that will make use of these services to further extend their capabilities. For example, we have a service that will retrieve the car rental companies based on a ZIP code, so we must develop an application that will use this service and return the results to the user of the application.  With thousands of these services and applications to use, users will have rich and powerful applications at their fingertips.

In order to create these powerful applications there must be a programming platform capable of using these services through a powerful international network, such as the Internet, and make the world an integrated unit.  This is what Microsoft.NET is about.

NOTE  The concept of Microsoft.NET may not be clear right now, but when you learn more about C# and when you work with Web services you will see the big picture.  Do not worry as we've only started wetting our fingers.

In the.NET world these services are known as Web Services.  Web Services are connected through the Internet in order for multiple applications to make use of them.  There is a part of the .NET puzzle known as the .NET Framework, which provides developers with an easy way to access Web Services.  The .NET Framework is the development platform that we will use to develop .NET applications.  In a few words we can say that the Microsoft.NET platform is the group of technologies and products that Microsoft spent the last few years, and about 80% of its budget, in research and development. I think you will understand much more after we talk about the components of this gigantic platform.

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