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Consideration for Migration

Microsoft .NET Framework interoperability features encourage developers and organizations to continue using existing COM applications, Win32 DLL's, and ASP applications. Further, the interoperability features also allow the use of existing unmanaged code, which usually is in the form of COM components and Win32 DLLs to be used by the .NET applications.

In many of the scenarios where application code is packed into COM components, the existing code base is interoperable with the .NET applications. It means that developers can enhance applications using .NET while making use of the existing code base by utilizing the COM interoperability options provided by .NET Framework. For new projects, they should consider developing the entire project using .NET Framework. On the other hand, if an existing application addresses the business needs of an organization and is stable, it's better not to consider those applications for migration. Developers often have a tough time opting between a migration and interoperability and more importantly when to choose interoperability options and when to go in for migration.

We have seen in earlier sections of this chapter that Microsoft .NET is definitely a decent improvement over COM technology and is considered more compact. It brings us nearer to true code reusability. However, many organizations have probably invested huge amounts in building COM components in the last decade. COM has been in the market for almost 8 years now. Also, the last decade saw a substantial growth of the information technology (IT) industry in various segments, which means that there has been a lot of code packed in the form of components. So, it is impracticable to rewrite the entire code into .NET components, however good the components may be for designing more robust applications. Existing applications using COM components have already been been tested, and a shift to .NET components would mean that this testing would have to be performed against the newly developed applications again. So, there is a great need for interoperability between the COM and .NET components.

However, there are scenarios wherein we need to consider existing applications to be moved to .NET. Let's presume that a method call in our applications only sets a value of a certain property or does reasonably a small amount of work; then the overhead of interoperability would be bit heavy. Usually, the overhead of calling from managed code to unmanaged code via .NET COM interoperability options is insignificant. In cases where there is an intensive usage of Get and Set methods it's better considering rewriting of the application using any of the .NET compliant languages rather than choosing interoperability; otherwise there would heavy performance penalties.

With Visual Studio .NET the development, maintenance, and deployment of applications becomes much easier and faster. As such, the .NET development environment is a notable improvement over the COM-based development model for writing distributed applications. If most clients of your existing components will be written in managed code, you should consider either migrating your component to managed code or writing a managed wrapper around it.

There are certain other things that you need to take into consideration while migrating applications to .NET. Most of these things vary from case to case. However, there are obvious things that can be discussed in general. One is choosing an operating system. The choice of an operating system will affect the migration strategy to be followed. Choosing an operating system like Win 2000, Win XP, or Windows .NET can reap maximum benefits of the .NET Framework. Although the .NET Framework works on Windows 98, Windows NT, and Windows ME, these platforms don't offer complete access .NET features. So the choice of operating systems should go along with the migration plan.

The object-oriented features available in .NET also make it a favorite choice of many designers to consider moving their existing applications to .NET. The reliance of .NET on open standards such as CLI, XML, and SOAP and rich enhancement to the ASP model also makes it a good candidate for migrating existing applications to .NET. Knowing about code reusability and COM interoperability for migration to .NET is of special importance because it not only helps developers decide how to migrate, but it also helps designers and architects deliver better extensible, integral, and interoperable systems.

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