Everything fledgling programmers need to know about .NET

12 January 2015

If you're new to programming, or the IT industry in general, becoming familiar with Microsoft's .NET framework will provide you with a solid idea of how much of Microsoft's software (particularly Windows) was built. 

What is the .NET Framework? 
According to the Microsoft Developer Network, the .NET Framework is a platform for developing applications for Windows, Azure and other Microsoft technologies. The source noted the purpose of the .NET Framework is to provide developers with a programming environment that:

  • Is consistent across local, remote or Web-based executions 
  • Promotes code execution security, regardless of the party who originally created the program
  • Creates a developer experience that is consistent across different tasks, such as creating Windows- and Web-based apps
  • Allows programmers to create apps that can integrate with software built in other languages

The .NET Framework is comprised of the .NET Framework class library and the common language runtime. While the runtime provides developers with code management services, the class library is a comprehensive collection of object-oriented classes.

Object-oriented programming refers to a practice in which programmers define the information type of a data structure and then list operations that can be applied to the data structure. The "object" is a certain kind of data and the functions that it can enable and interact with. Therefore, coders can identify similarities between different objects, allowing them to integrate these items with one another, which can improve an engineer's ability to establish relationships between two different solutions. 

Essentially, .NET can provide programmers interested in developing enterprise- or consumer-focused apps which will be delivered through the Windows OS as well as XML Web Services. 

Why bother learning it? 
In the past proprietary software reigned supreme. Now, with so many open-source programs dominating the arena (just consider the impact Hadoop has made on big data management), Microsoft made the .NET Framework open source. Redmond Magazine's Jeffrey Schwartz acknowledged Microsoft's intentions, citing Microsoft Developer Division Corporate VP S. Somasegar's assertion that this move will allow a wide array of developers to access the .NET Framework and make it more robust. 

This move effectively created the .NET Foundation, which describes itself as an organization dedicated to encouraging open development and collaboration regarding the .NET Framework and its associated technologies. The Foundation provides developers with a forum and other community tools that allow software engineers to share ideas on how .NET can become more robust and innovative on a rolling basis. The association noted four benefits of joining the .NET Foundation:

  • Professionals can connect with other specialists working on projects that seek to advance the .NET Framework in various ways. 
  • Developers have an established medium through which they can collaborate with others on targeted initiatives. 
  • Members have the opportunity to influence the .NET Foundation community.
  • The .NET Foundation has commercial-friendly copyright terms and licenses that make it easy to enter the foundation. 

Overall, becoming familiar with the .NET Fram​ework and taking advantage of the open source community connected to it may result in huge long-term benefits for budding developers. 

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