Professional .NET Framework / Edition 1

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Overview

Professional .NET Framework has been designed as a practical guide to the .NET Framework. It covers the Common Language Runtime environment in which .NET applications are deployed and managed along with the fundamental structure of the base class libraries upon which Microsoft's .NET platform relies. It has been written using beta 2, a feature complete version of the .NET Framework.

This book provides the essential aerial view of the framework, placing .NET in a meaningful context with current programming frameworks, before delving into detail with a thorough, practical, example-led approach to exploring and working with the constituent parts of the framework. It systematically covers namespaces and their extended classes, which professionals will need to work with to build distributed, scaleable, applications. It also covers the techniques required to expose or consume code over the Internet as Web Services.

Professional .NET Framework also examines best practice for designing and constructing applications, engineering .NET components, and utilizing COM interoperability. The final section of the book provides a chapter and case study dedicated to approaching migration to .NET.

The book drills down to a level which scopes specific classes in detail yet retains a focus on imparting information in the most practical, relevant and useful way, to make the transition to .NET as smooth and clear as possible.

This book covers:

  • An introduction to the .NET Framework
  • The Common Language Runtime and execution
  • The .NET class library
  • The System namespace
  • Working with data
  • Engineering applications and Web Services
  • Remoting
  • Migrating to the .Net Framework
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Editorial Reviews

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The Barnes & Noble Review
Wouldn't it be great if you could rely on the same book for a high-level understanding of what Microsoft's .NET Framework means to you as a developer, and detailed guidance for making the most of it? Wouldn't it be great if the same book covered everything from migration to web services? Now, there's a book like that: Wrox's new Professional .NET Framework.

To write this book, Wrox has assembled an all-star team of specialists in advanced Microsoft technologies. To name a few, there's Jeffrey Hasan, author of ADO.NET Programmer's Reference and regular contributor to Visual Basic Web Magazine. There's Ed Musters, whose writings on Microsoft Transaction Server may be familiar to readers of Visual C++ Developer. Denise Gosnell now consults for Microsoft's MCS National Retail Consulting Group. Thiru Thangarathinam specializes in the design and construction of distributed n-tier apps with VB, ASP, XML, COM+, and SQL Server 2000. Collectively, these writers share an exceptional understanding of .NET, the technologies it's evolved from, the problems it's trying to solve, and the challenges Microsoft developers face in using it.

Professional .NET Framework begins with an "aerial view" of .NET, placing Microsoft's framework in context, and comparing it to alternative Web development approaches. Next, the authors present a more detailed overview of the .NET Framework itself, as well as Microsoft's Common Language Runtime, .NET's execution environment for managing running code and providing services that simplify software development. In particular, there's a full chapter on the CLR's automatic memory management and garbage collection -- including .NET's interesting "weak references," which allow you to free up memory used by large objects while still enabling applications to access those objects quickly.

Next, you'll find detailed coverage of .NET's wide array of system classes, which haven't gotten nearly the publicity of the CLR, but give you relatively easy access to an enormous amount of functionality -- regardless of the .NET language you choose to use. There's a full chapter on .NET components and controls, as well as practical techniques for accessing databases and working with data using ADO.NET and its base classes.

Nothing's hotter right now than Web services -- reusable Web components that can be invoked from any platform capable of communicating across the Internet, and make it possible for diverse systems to communicate and interoperate far more simply than ever before. Professional .NET Framework covers Web services in some detail. It introduces the Web Services wire formats HTTP-GET, HTTP-POST, and SOAP; and shows how to describe a Web Service with WSDL (that's the Web Service Description Language, of course).

You'll learn how systems can discover Web services using the UDDI protocol and Microsoft's brand-spankin' new DISCO specification, which may provide a standard way for service providers to publish Web Service contracts and developers to find them.

The authors walk you through designing, creating, and testing Web services; building both transactional and asynchronous web services; and extending Web services using SOAP extensions. There's a full case-study chapter on building a Web application that consumes the functionality of a Web Service. And if you're not impressed yet, there's even a comprehensible explanation of Hailstorm, Microsoft's controversial "off-the-shelf" Web services. Bet you've been waiting for that.

Of course, all this slick new stuff isn't much good if you can't migrate smoothly from where you are, and interoperate with the systems and code you already have. Professional .NET Framework includes a detailed chapter on migrating to .NET, and a case study -- nearly 60 pages in length -- walking through the migration of a Visual Basic 6 application. (And they said it couldn't be done! Well, it can, but there are some things you'd better know before you try.) Tip: Wrox has posted a bonus chapter on the Web covering migration from Java -- and, in particular, Microsoft's orphaned J++.

Last but not least, Professional .NET Framework presents a thoughtful set of best practices for .NET development: techniques that can help you build more reliable, high-performance software, whether you're creating Web services or Windows applications. Don't move to .NET without the practical assistance this book can deliver. (Bill Camarda)

Bill Camarda is a consultant, writer, and web/multimedia content developer with nearly 20 years' experience in helping technology companies deploy and market advanced software, computing, and networking products and services. He served for nearly ten years as vice president of a New Jersey–based marketing company, where he supervised a wide range of graphics and web design projects. His 15 books include Special Edition Using Word 2000 and Upgrading & Fixing Networks For Dummies®, Second Edition.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781861005564
  • Publisher: Wrox Press, Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/1/2001
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 1000
  • Product dimensions: 7.20 (w) x 8.97 (h) x 1.56 (d)

Meet the Author

Denise GosnellR is a consultant in the Microsoft Consulting Services Public Sector Practice at Microsoft (dgosnell@microsoft.com). Denise has a unique background in both law and technology and uses her background to help federal, state and local governments implement hi-tech solutions.

Kevin Hoffman is currently employed as a Software Engineer and "Web Product Line Manager" for a company that provides software and services for total chemical management. He's written applications in everything from Assembly and Scheme to Pascal, C++, VB, Python, PHP, Java, Delphi and his new favourite toy, C#.

Jeffrey Hasan is a technical architect specializing in Microsoft technology at LiveMarket, Inc., an e-business solutions provider. He has extensive experience developing N-Tier applications with Visual Studio, SQL Server, Internet Information Server, Commerce Server and BizTalk Server. Email Jeff at: JHasan85@hotmail.com.

Jan D. Narkiewicz is Chief Technical Officer at Software Pronto, Inc (jann@softwarepronto.com). In his spare time Jan is Academic Coordinator for the Windows curriculum at U.C. Berkeley Extension, teaches at U.C. Santa Cruz Extension and writes for ASP Today.

Thiru Thangarathinam works as a Consultant at Spherion Technology Architects, an international technology consulting company. During the last two years, he has been developing Distributed N-Tier architecture solutions for various companies. He can be reached at ThiruThangarathinam@spherion.com.

Jeff Gabriel is currently Lead Architect for Active Technologies Group, Inc. where he works on e-commerce websites. Jeff has been studying and working with .Net since before beta 1 arrived, and worked with Microsoft in their .Net Enterprise Early Adopters program.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1: .NET in Context

The .NET initiative encompasses a suite of tools and technologies that represent Microsoft's next generation platform for Windows and Internet development. For developers, Microsoft seeks, with .NET, to simplify application development and deployment (especially for Internet applications), and to promote web services as the best way to design and deploy distributed applications.

Microsoft has redesigned the Windows development platform into the new .NET Framework, which encompasses the execution platform, updated languages, and a large number of extensible class libraries. Those readers who are familiar with the original Microsoft Foundation Classes paradigm will likely recognize elements of MFC in the .NET Framework, because, like MFC, the Framework encapsulates system functionality into a set of classes and interfaces that are easy to use and easy to extend into custom classes.

Unlike MFC, the Framework provides a complete environment for executing code in a type-safe manner and the other important feature is that the Framework Classes are more highly available than MFC, because developers may use the same set of classes from multiple languages; including VB.NET, C#.NET, and C++.NET. MFC was restricted to C++.

Microsoft is also pitching the business benefits of the .NET Framework to non-technical, business consumers. They are promoting the concept of "software as a service", where software becomes a set of distributed services that you can access from a variety of platforms, from PCs to handheld devices. The thrust of this concept is web services and .NET is conceived as the platform for delivering them. These are highly distributed components that respond to requests over the Internet using the Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP), which is a protocol for delivering XML over HTTP.

The vision behind web services is that they will change the way that applications are designed and deployed. Applications built with .NET may be made up of distributed web services components that collaborate together to provide a set of services. Microsoft is touting the benefits by saying that .NET applications will collaborate more easily, and will be easily accessible from a variety of devices, from the desktop PC to handheld PDAs. These are common concerns for business consumers who often an not access their information in the same way from different devices.

The HailStorm initiative represents the consumer side of the .NET initiative. With HailStorm, Microsoft is promoting on-demand consumer services that are available on centralized servers, and available from; any device. The services would be available to consumers for a monthly subscription fee. From a technical perspective, HailStorm services are consumer-oriented web services that may leverage abase set of services provided by Microsoft, including authentication and messaging. These are services that are common to consumer-oriented, distributed applications. Microsoft's approach is to make these services available to developers, and allow them to focus on specialized functionality. Of course, Microsoft's intentions are not entirely altruistic. They are hoping to generate significant revenue by charging a monthly subscription fee for consumers to access centralized services such as on-demand authentication from whichever device they happen to be using. For developers, Microsoft is hoping to engage the independent software vendor (ISV) community into developing web services, much as the ISVs embraced ActiveX Component technology several years ago.

Many developers welcome the release of a major new technology, especially one that promises to make application development easier. But with this anticipation comes the natural trepidation that leads to questions such as "What problem does this new platform fix?", "How do I use it?", and "What was wrong with what we had before?". The aim of this chapter is to address these concerns, by explaining the wider goals of .NET and how it evolved from previous development platforms in response to today's software development challenges.

We will discuss:

  • What the .NET initiative encompasses: a new development platform; a managed execution environment; a choice of new application types, including web services
  • How .NET is designed to address limitations with developing and deploying COM-based applications
  • What. NET has to offer us

The Vision and Goals of .NET

The vision behind the .NET Framework is to provide a feature-rich application development platform and a managed, protected execution environment. The .NET Framework is intended to provide an environment that simplifies the development, deployment, and execution of distributed applications. This is the vision as it relates to developers: you and me. And, of course, on the consumer side, Microsoft is presenting .NET as the platform for XML Web Services, which they envision will enable applications to collaborate and to exchange data more easily. In the broadest sense, the .NET initiative represents Microsoft's realignment and total focus on Internet-enabled, distributed application technology.

The goals of .NET are to:

  • Provide a new development platform for Internet and distributed applications
  • Simplify application development and deployment
  • Provide a platform for building web services
  • Improve interoperability and integration between systems and applications
  • Enable "universal access" of applications from any device
We will discuss each of these points in great detail in this chapter. But first, there is a history that led up to the .NET initiative, and the story is one of developing a new platform to meet the challenges of creating applications for today's Internet-enabled world. So let's dig deeper into the .NET initiative, in the context of the challenges that today's developers and software consumers face.

What Are Today's Challenges?

Developers today are faced with a "patchwork quilt" of tools and technologies for building Internet applications. Microsoft has made a significant push over the last several years towards making Internet development easier. The Windows 2000 platform today provides a powerful set of services that support Internet development, including Internet Information Services (IIS) and Component Services (COM+).

However, the Windows API is not easy to program with, largely because it does not provide a consistent, object-oriented hook into the operating system. The API model is plagued by inconsistencies and bugs that make it difficult to call some of the functions, particularly for Visual Basic developers, who don't always have access to the same data types that Windows API functions require. Developers often get around this problem by substituting analogous data types into the function calls, which may make their application unstable. C++ developers are slightly better off, because they have access to the Microsoft Foundation Classes, which do provide object-oriented wrappers to Windows API functions. The basic challenge here is that Windows system functionality is not exposed as a uniform, consistent programming model to developers using different languages.

Consider the following Windows API function, CreateWindowEx, which creates a new window, and returns the handle:

HWND CreatewindowEx(
        DWORD dwExStyle,        //      extended window style
        LPCTSTR 1pClassName,    //      registered class name
        LPCTSTR 1pwindowName,   //      window name
DWORD dwStyle,  //      window style
int x,  //              horizontal position of window
int y,  //              vertical position of window
int nWidth,     !/      window width
int nHeight,    //      window height
HWND hWndParent,        //      handle to parent or owner window
HMENU hMenu,    //      menu handle or child identifier
HINSTANCE hInstance,    //      handle to application instance
LPVOID 1pParam  //      window-creation data

Now look at the function declaration for creating a new window in .NET, using C#:

public virtual void CreateHandle(
        CreateParams cp
);

The CreateParams class represents the properties of the new window. Its members include: Caption, ExStyle, Height, Width, X, Y, and Parent. This is just a single example, but it illustrates how.NET encapsulates familiar Windows API functions inside object-oriented wrappers. And the best part is that these base classes are uniformly available across all .NET-compliant languages, including VB.NET, C#, and Managed C++.

Another of today's challenges includes limited toolset support for working with XML, which is becoming a critical technology for data exchange in Internet and distributed applications. XML is text-based, portable, and based on industry standards. It promotes data sharing and interoperability between applications that can communicate using the common language of XML. Yet current Microsoft support for working with XML is really quite limited, although you could point to specific examples such as SQL Server 2000 (which can generate both raw and formatted XML from stored procedures); in addition, Microsoft provides an object-oriented implementation of the Document Object Model. But while it is true that there are a number of XML tools and capabilities available today, they are not designed to work together, and they don't plug into Visual Studio's integrated development environment. VS.NET, on the other hand, provides an integrated XML Data Designer.

As professional developers, we are primarily concerned with the challenges that are directly facing us. However, some mention must be made of another important audience for the .NET initiative, namely, the business consumers of software applications. This audience works with data all the time, and needs to be able to share information between applications and across different devices. Consumers today have a lot of technology to work with. There are, for example, database-driven web applications to store information, and spreadsheet applications to crunch that information. But how do you get the web application to talk to the spreadsheet application? If you're lucky, the web application will provide an export utility to the spreadsheet application. If you're unlucky, you could find yourself pulling the numbers up on your browser, and typing them by hand into a new spreadsheet. This is a simple, and perhaps very obvious example, but it illustrates how getting different technologies to work together can be a difficult and frustrating challenge. Difficult, that is, unless the applications are designed to work together, and can collaborate seamlessly. The implications to businesses are staggering in terms of productivity loss and efficiency loss. Every hour that you spend struggling to get information from one device to another is an hour that you could instead have been focusing on the real business task at hand....

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
What Does This Book Cover? 1
Who Is This Book For? 2
What You Need To Use This Book 3
Conventions 3
Customer Support 4
Chapter 1 .NET in Context 9
The Vision and Goals of .NET 10
The Building Blocks of .NET 15
Overview of .NET Applications 21
XML and .NET 28
Interoperability between .NET and COM+ 32
Competing Platforms: How does .NET Measure Up? 33
Summary 36
Chapter 2 Overview of the .NET Framework 39
Highlights of the .NET Framework 40
The .NET Evolution 43
Does Windows DNA Still Apply in .NET? 50
Design Goals of the .NET Framework 51
The .NET Framework Architecture 52
The Common Type System 53
Meta Data 56
The Common Language Specification 58
The Common Language Runtime 59
The .NET Class Framework 64
Summary 68
Chapter 3 Memory Management under the CLR 71
Details of the Common Runtime System 72
Data Storage: By Reference or By Value 74
Managed, Unmanaged, and Unsafe 84
Garbage Collection (GC) 90
Summary 102
Chapter 4 Working with the Runtime 105
What is MSIL? 106
CLR - Common Language Runtime 106
What is an Assembly? 108
Common Type System 112
Meta Data 116
Common Language System (CLS) 120
Reflection API 122
Versions 134
Namespaces 144
Summary 146
Chapter 5 Execution Under .NET 149
Intermediate Language (IL) 150
JIT Compilation 155
Memory Type Safety 159
Runtime Hosts 162
Using Application Domains 169
IL Disassembler (ildasm.exe) 170
Summary 176
Chapter 6 System Classes 179
Applications of the System Namespace 180
Chapter 7 Engineering Applications 251
OOP in Practice 252
Windows Forms and the .NET Framework 278
WebForms, ASP .NET, and the .NET Framework 285
Deployment 293
Summary 294
Chapter 8 .NET Components and Controls 297
Components versus Controls 298
Building Components in .NET 298
COM and .NET 318
Creating .NET Controls 329
Summary 344
Chapter 9 Working with Data in .NET 347
System.Data 348
System.Xml 380
Summary 389
Chapter 10 Engineering Web Services 391
What are Web Services? 392
The Building Blocks of a Web Service 392
Creating a Web Service 398
Consuming a Web Service 412
Beyond the Basics 419
What is Hallstorm? 425
Summary 426
Chapter 11 .NET Remoting: the New Infrastructure for Distributed Systems 429
What is Remoting? 430
Overview of the Remoting Architecture 434
Remoting Activation 444
Distributed Application Example 450
Summary 466
Chapter 12 Best Engineering Practices with the .NET Framework 469
Planning Your Application 471
The Code 485
Testing Your Code 499
Summary 504
Chapter 13 Migrating to .NET 507
Summary 546
Chapter 14 Migrating a VB 6 Application to VB.NET 549
Introducing UFixIT Software 550
Migration Scenario 550
Installing the Samples 551
BugScope Classic 552
BugScope .NET 570
Summary 605
Chapter 15 Building a Web Application that Consumes the Functionality of a Web Service 607
Introduction to the Case Study 608
Definition of our Business Problem 608
Proposed Solution 608
Goals of Application Design 609
Business Processes 609
Implementation 610
Summary 648
Appendix A The .NET Class Library Namespaces 651
The Microsoft Namespace 652
The System Namespace 653
Summary 670
Appendix B Object-Oriented Programming 673
Concepts of Object-Oriented Programming 674
Benefits of Using Object-Orientation 675
Object Orientation in .NET 676
More Information 686
Index 689
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