The Big Picture

Hello.exe is a far cry from a full-blown Web service or an eBay-style Web app, but it鈥檚 an important beginning. Why? Because at the CLR level, all applications are created equal. Once you know how to write code that leverages the CLR, learning to write GUI applications, Web applications, and other .NET Framework application types is simply a matter of learning the programming models and getting to know your way around the FCL鈥攚hich is precisely what the remainder of this book is about.

To summarize what you鈥檝e learned so far: the .NET Framework is a platform for Web services and other kinds of applications. Applications that target the .NET Framework are managed applications. They鈥檙e made of CIL and metadata, and they鈥檙e JIT compiled at run time and executed by the CLR. Languages such as C# and Visual Basic .NET are syntactic tools for generating CIL. For the first time in programming history, language is unimportant because, at the end of the day, all languages exercise the same set of features in the CLR and FCL.

Ironically, the .NET Framework grew out of an effort by a lot of smart people at Microsoft to make COM programming easier. Little did they know that the solution they鈥檇 come up with wasn鈥檛 to fix what was broken, but to tear it down and start over again. That鈥檚 what the .NET Framework is: a new beginning. The sooner you can let go of the old ways of writing and executing code, the more quickly you鈥檒l adapt to the .NET way.