C# FAQ 2 - About .NET Framework And Visual Studio

The .NET Framework is one of the powerful technologies developed by Microsoft. It comprises several programming languages such as C#, Visual Basic, C++, F#. The framework also includes database platforms such as ADO.NET and web based languages such as ASP.NET and MVC.

Microsoft did not included MVC when they originally released .NET Framework in 2002 but was added later as per the feedback of the developers. The .NET Framework infrastructure comprises of Common Language Runtime (CLR), .NET Framework class libraries and Visual Studio.

Common Language Runtime is called CLR and provides a universal execution engine for .NET applications. The runtime has a capability to manage objects with the help of Automatic Garbage Collection system. The objects that are not used are destroyed instantly. This facilitates simplified memory allocation. The compilers included with .NET Framework languages generate Meta code upon compilation that contains information about code types, its members and references used. CLR also provides support for Managed Code, Effective Memory Management, Type Safety Verification, Conversion of IL to native code, Structured Exception Handling, effective Interoperability between COM components and Unmanaged Code.

The .NET Framework class libraries consists of around 4000 classes classified logically into namespaces. I will discuss about namespaces in an upcoming FAQ.

Build .NET Applications Manually with SDK

You can also build .NET based applications with the help of Software Development Kit (SDK). However, you have to write your own code, compile and run it from within the DOS command prompt. The SDK ships with compilers and run time engines for all .NET languages. Microsoft releases new build of SDK with each major release of .NET Framework.

Visual Studio

Microsoft.NET has evolved and grown bigger over the last several years. Visual Studio helps you to build software/web applications in a faster way. It is an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) which includes all required tools to build .NET/ASP.NET applications.

Microsoft has packed the required .NET controls into the IDE. As a developer, you just need to either double click or drag and drop to the design view. If you double click design view, coding editor will be displayed. The Properties window enables you to provide required values to the controls.


Visual Studio has all the essential tools to design, code, debug, build and deploy Windows or Web based applications. Previously .NET suffix was included with Visual Studio. But it was removed with the release of Visual Studio 2005.

Visual Studio also enables you to build Windows Phone apps. The IDE includes an emulator which helps you to view the output.

You can take advantage of free preview builds of Visual Studio which will be available when a new version is to be released by Microsoft.

Visual Studio Community

If you had worked with .NET, you should have heard about the free Express Editions of Visual Studio. Microsoft has replaced express with Community version, which is a refined version of full blown Visual Studio. Visual Studio Community is sufficient for beginners.

Visual Studio Community is a powerful, fully featured and extensible IDE which enables you to create applications for Windows, Android, iOS, ASP.NET, Azure and MVC.

Visual Studio Community is an ideal and excellent choice for beginners who don’t have sufficient resources to purchase the full edition.

Know about Visual Studio Online

Visual Studio Online enables you to build applications without any download or installation. The VSO provides all the required services for project teams to share code, track work and ultimately deploy the final product. The platform will be useful for companies which employ several developers for software development task.

Visual Studio Online includes code repositories, continuous integration, bug and task tracking in addition to tools for agile planning. You will be able to work in multiple languages such as Java, Python, HTML5, JavaScript, C# and much more. The service is available free of cost for up to 5 users with unlimited private repos.

As discussed above, you have several tools to build .NET application. The online MSDN library provides comprehensive documentation and Application Programming Interface (API) reference which enable you to develop powerful software/web applications. The API manual provides exhaustive coverage of various methods, functions and syntax formats.

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