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Introducing Web Programming with .NET

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In this sample chapter, Peter Aitken and Phil Syme discuss how to create simple .NET Web programs using Visual Basic, and provide a good foundation that you can use in order to understand the concepts of future lessons.
This sample chapter is excerpted from Sams Teach Yourself VB .NET Web Programming in 24 Hours (Sams Publishing; ISBN 0672322366), by Peter Aitken and Phil Syme.
This chapter is from the book

For the past few months, you've been hearing all the hoopla and marketing buzz surrounding .NET. You've heard claims that .NET will totally change the way all programming is done, that .NET will revolutionize the Internet. Like many major new technologies, .NET is a significant improvement from the current state of the art and makes Web programming a much easier task than many current technologies that you can choose from.

Today's lesson will focus on the basics, including an explanation of the fundamental concepts that you will use throughout the rest of this book. By reading today's lesson, you will see how to create simple .NET Web programs using Visual Basic, and you will have a good foundation that you can use to understand the concepts of future lessons.

Today you will learn the following:

  • What is the .NET Framework?

  • Fundamental concepts in .NET programming, such as the Common Language Runtime, assemblies, and namespaces

  • How to configure your development environment so that you can develop .NET Web applications

  • How to write a basic Web service and dynamic Web page

What is the .NET Framework?

Over the past few years, the importance of the Internet has grown enormously for almost all areas of computing and information processing. A direct result of this growth is that programmers are asked to create applications that take advantage of the Internet's capabilities, whether for order processing, broadband content delivery, online collaboration, or any of a host of uses. Unfortunately, the development tools previously available to developers, such as Visual C++ 6 and Visual Basic 6, had their origins in the pre-Internet world. Any Internet capabilities they had were afterthoughts, tacked on to meet developer demands. Some earlier Internet programming technologies were actually quite impressive, and many terrific applications have been created with them. Even so, that Internet capabilities weren't built into these programming tools from the ground up led to unavoidable problems with development efficiency, bugs, and program maintenance.

Microsoft's answer to this dilemma was to start essentially from scratch, creating a new framework of developer tools that was designed from day 1 with fully integrated Internet support. The .NET Framework is not only about Internet programming; it also provides for more traditional desktop application development. However, there's no doubt that the excitement about .NET is mostly about its Internet capabilities—and we can tell you from experience, they are really great!

.NET has two main parts:

  • The .NET Framework Software Development Kit, an extensive set of classes and interfaces, along with various supporting elements, are designed to work together to meet just about any imaginable development need. The .NET Framework must be installed on any system that will be used to run .NET applications or to develop them. The .NET SDK includes compilers for three languages: the venerable C++, a new language called C# (C sharp), and—most relevant to this book—a vastly improved Visual Basic.

  • The Visual Studio development environment. This sophisticated tool provides a comprehensive set of programmer tools, such as code editors, interface designers, and debuggers that greatly simplifies the task of creating .NET applications. Strictly speaking, you don't need Visual Studio to develop .NET programs, but few programmers will want to do without its time- and effort-saving capabilities.

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