.NET Framework

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Description

The .Net framework Microsoft, aims to make it easier for developers to create applications which will work across different Microsoft platforms. This is achieved by having developers create their applications for the .Net environment itself. They are then executed via a virtual machine called the Common Language Runtime environment.

Features

The services provided by the .Net framework are: memory management, common typing, development frameworks, class libraries and language interoperability. Memory management refers to the fact that all computers are equipped with a fixed amount of memory. This is divided into Read Only Memory (ROM), which is memory which can not be over-written and Random Access Memory (RAM), which is available for active use. Because there is a limit to the amount of memory any computer can physically hold, software developers typically need to specify how each of their programmes will manage the portion of it which is allocated to them by the operating system. In the .Net framework however, this is all managed by the CLR.
A type is a property assign to a programming construct. Types are usually created by means of a collection of rules called a type system. In essence they are broad descriptions of what any given part of a computer programme can do or be. Usually type sets are written in different ways depending on the programming language being used, but in the .Net framework, there is one common type system, which can be used by all languages. Development frameworks are computing libraries created by Microsoft to help developers work more effectively and easily. They are targeted at specific development areas such as data access or service-orientated applications.

If programming can be thought of as the art and science of turning complex human language into simpler language that computers can understand, then class libraries can be thought of as hugely useful phrase-books, which spare developers the need to translate common terms each and every time they want to use them. Language interoperability goes one step further and means that developers can write in their preferred computer language and use the .Net framework essentially to translate it, so that it can be taken forward by developers who prefer to use other languages.

Comparison

The main alternative to the .Net framework is Java, which also uses the idea of a virtual machine to allow developers to create one programme which will work across a variety of platforms. Java has two key advantages over Microsoft’s .Net framework. Firstly it is a much smaller download. Although this may be of no direct impact to developers, both the .Net framework and Java rely on end users downloading the software to their machines. Even in today’s world of broadband, there is a significant difference in the download speeds for .Net and Java. More importantly, the download size directly relates to the size of the application. Java has a much smaller footprint than .Net, which means it makes fewer demands of the hardware. This is a great advantage in today’s world of mobile devices. Secondly, .Net supports only Microsoft platforms, whereas Java is designed to support any platform, including Android and iOS, which is again a key benefit in today’s environment.

Conclusion

While Microsoft’s .Net is an impressive work of software engineering, it’s size and the fact that it only supports Microsoft’s platforms means that overall Java arguably is the better choice.

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