Technology / .NET
"Microsoft .NET is a set of software technologies for connecting information, people, systems, and devices. This new generation of technology is based on Web services—small building-block applications that can connect to each other as well as to other, larger applications over the Internet."

The Microsoft .NET Framework provides a new infrastructure for managing application execution. Central to the .NET Framework is the Common Language Runtime (CLR), which provides a number of operating system services like memory management, garbage collection and structured error handling. These services improve the reliability of .NET applications, and address a number of the shortcomings of Windows applications based on the Component Object Model (COM).

.NET applications can be written using a number of languages, including Visual Basic, managed C++, C# and JScript. All of these languages conform to a Common Language Specification and Common Type System (CTS), which makes it possible to share .NET functionality in a consistent and reliable way. MicroMac have taken advantage of this improved interoperability to integrate a generic security component developed using VB.NET with a DNC Machine Tool application developed using C#.

The .NET architecture moves much of the functionality from the programming language to the .NET Framework class library. The .NET Framework class library exposes a massive collection of classes for accessing the operating system, the network, databases, the file system and other resources. Although these resources were generally accessible in the past, they were often based on disparate Applicaton Programming Interfaces (API) with specific calling mechanisms and protocols. The .NET Framework organises all of these classes into a cohesive, logical namespace structure.

An important feature of .NET is ASP.NET, which is the successor to Active Server Pages (ASP). ASP applications are developed using a scripting language and interpreted at runtime, whereas ASP.NET uses a standard .NET language which is deployed as a compiled assembly. As well as improving performance, the .NET languages provide the application with full access to the .NET Framework class library and strongly typed variable declaration, helping to reduce run-time errors.

ASP.NET is designed to meet the challanges of internet development through the use of web services and server-based controls. Server-based controls generate HTML based on the capabilities of the requesting browser or device. Web services are applications which respond to an HTTP query in the form of a structured XML packet. Web services allow data to be exchanged across the internet using established protocols and technologies. The web service can implement a simple function like a currency converter, or provide a complete set of functions to support a web-based application.

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