A Beginner’s Guide to Understanding the .Net Framework

Created by tech industry colossus, Microsoft, the .Net Framework serves as the foundation for the creation of a hugely flexible range of applications, primarily for the Microsoft Windows operating systems and the major mobile operating systems of iOS, Android, and Windows Mobile.  Since its official release in 2002, the .Net Framework has proven to be vital to the creation of some of the most popular applications, video games, and toolsets of the last fifteen years.  The framework itself is fascinating, and what has been done with it is nothing short of exciting.  In this blog, we’ll explore the history, function, and a handful of the incredible products that have been made using Microsoft’s .Net Framework.

  1.  The History of the .Net Framework

The development of .Net started in the 1990s, originally included in a larger Microsoft strategy that was to be implemented in the coming years.  It was originally known as Next Generation Windows Services, but quickly became known by the name of the strategy it had been provisioned by, .Net.

Starting in 2000, users plugged into Microsoft’s network of beta testers were able to get their hands on the earliest versions of the framework.  From 2002 onward, the .Net Framework grew rapidly through multiple versions, reaching version 4.7.1 near the end of 2017.  The framework was included in the Windows Server operating system versions starting with Windows Server 2003.

The primary development tool that is used to code in .Net has always been Microsoft Visual Studio, except for a one-year stretch on Windows Vista in which the .Net Framework’s primary development tool was “Expression Blend,” a product that was shortly rolled back into Visual Studio.

  1.  Framework Strengths

.Net was designed to bring increased security, portability, language independence, and faster runtimes for programs created using .Net.  Interestingly, the only system to ever fully implement the .Net Framework has been the Windows operating systems.  In terms of language independence, .Net was developed partially in tandem with the Common Language Infrastructure specifications, a system which would allow many languages to be interpreted universally by following certain rules.

.Net largely succeeded in introducing security features, largely by implementing internal security features, one of which is the now-ubiquitous source-based prompts; if a program is not installed directly to the device running the .Net Framework (has been downloaded from a location external to the local device,) .Net will flag it as a potentially risky program.  Many operating systems now include a similar feature.

.Net also succeeded in improving the performance of applications on the framework by utilizing effective caching, which allows executions of a program subsequent to the first to run faster as the .Net Framework organizes and saves the necessary files to run the application.

  1.  Notable Tools, Applications, and Programs

Possibly the most publically well-known tool that works with .Net is the Unity Game Development Platform.  This platform is famous (arguably infamous) due to the fact that its base version requires displaying a short Unity-logo intro video on any application created with the free, base version.  This resulted in many iPhone, PC, Android, and Mac users becoming incredibly familiar with Unity, seeing the logo splash before many of their favorite apps (and perhaps some of their least favorite.)  Unity’s accessibility and portability using .Net and C# means that applications created on the Game Development Platform can be quickly ported to many different operating systems compatible with Unity.

Unity is the tool behind worldwide hits like pop-culture phenomenon Angry Birds, competitive card game Hearthstone, and the light-hearted rocket-simulator known as Kerbal Space Program, so its influence is not to be taken lightly.

In addition to entertainment purposes, though, Unity (and .Net by extension) has become remarkably influential on the development of VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality) applications and experiments.  With the potential of VR and AR being so great, .Net could become even more widespread in the coming years.

.Net also has extensive applications in STEM fields including data recording and management and machine learning.  The Microsoft Cognitive Toolkit is built to function natively with .Net, making the implementation of machine learning algorithms into .Net apps considerably easier than otherwise.  Another Microsoft service that works well with .Net apps is Azure Machine Learning, which is a cloud-based, software-as-a-service tool allowing users to tap into remote, cloud resources for their machine learning needs.

In recent years, the .Net Framework has seen more and more exciting use.  Understanding its value, history, and function can open the doors of possibility and opportunity for your business, especially as VR and AR become more important to tech companies.  In addition, with many new models of phone including built-in machine learning and artificial intelligence engines, .Net is poised to be even more relevant in the coming years.

If you’d like to learn more or have questions about how your company can implement .Net solutions, please contact us today at www.nixa.ca.  Our team of expert developers is ready and waiting to help your company make the most of the technology available to all of us.

At Nixa, we are passionate about design and new technologies. We would be glad to share our passion with you.

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