The point of this chapter was to lay out the conceptual framework necessary for the remainder of this book. I began by examining a number of limitations and complexities found within the technologies prior to .NET, and followed up with an overview of how .NET and Visual Basic 2008 attempt to streamline the current state of affairs.

.NET basically boils down to a runtime execution engine (mscoree.dll) and base class library (mscorlib.dll and associates). The common language runtime (CLR) is able to host any .NET binary (aka assembly) that abides by the rules of managed code. As you have seen, assemblies contain CIL instructions (in addition to type metadata and the assembly manifest) that are compiled to platform-specific instructions using a just-in-time (JIT) compiler. In addition, you explored the role of the Common Language Specification (CLS) and Common Type System (CTS).

This was followed by an examination of the ildasm.exe and reflector.exe object browsing utilities, as well as coverage of how to configure a machine to host .NET applications using dotNetFx35setup.exe. I wrapped up by briefly addressing the platform-independent nature of the .NET platform using alternative open source .NET distributions such as Mono or Portable.NET.

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