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Next, I am going to talk about two languages at once. C# and Visual Basic.NET. These are the two flagship languages if you're developing on the Microsoft platform. I talk about them at the same time because although they do look different, what you do with them and how you approach them is almost identical. Now, these two languages were released in 2003 by Microsoft. Although Visual Basic had a longer history than that, it was really reinvented at that time, and this was when Microsoft released something called the .NET framework.
We can think of this as an enormous library of prewritten code, huge amounts of functionality that we can tap into if we use either of these two languages. Now, actually there are other .NET languages as well, but these are by far the most popular. Both of them are object oriented. They are all about using classes and objects, and both of them share the same characteristics. They are high-level, they are strongly typed, they use garbage collection so we don't have to worry too much about memory management, and they both use the hybrid compilation model like Java does.
They are neither strictly compiled, nor strictly interpreted. They go halfway. When you compile a C# or a VB.NET application, it compiles to something called Intermediate Language or Microsoft Intermediate Language. That then can be distributed across a whole range of different machines with different CPUs and each machine takes it the final step to go down to machine code. Just as Java requires something called the Java Virtual Machine on every computer that's going to run a Java program, .NET languages require something called the .NET Runtime to be installed on every machine.
Now, of course they're classically associated with developing on the Microsoft platform, whether that means Windows server or a Windows desktop system, or even a Windows phone. All of it can be done with these .NET languages. They both have the same capabilities for building desktop applications. You can build dynamic websites using these languages. Now, when we talk about building a website on the Microsoft platform, it's usually lumped under the term ASP.NET. It's easy to think, well, that must be another language, but it isn't.
ASP.NET is really just a useful phrase that means you're building a dynamic, smart, interactive website using Microsoft technology, and if you're doing it, you are almost certainly using either C# or VB.NET. And these languages can both be used for developing mobile applications that work on the Windows phone operating system. So while they are closely associated with the Microsoft world, they are up and down that entire stack of the Microsoft world. So what do they look like? Well, C# not surprisingly is a C- based language. It probably looks closer to Java than anything.
We have the curly braces. We have the semicolons to end the statement. We also have another use of Main. This is how we're telling the .NET Runtime where this program begins. What's the first line that should be executed? Well, in this case it's System.Console.WriteLine. And again, don't worry about the syntax. This is just a way of getting the text Hello World out to the console, just outputting a message. Like Java, we can see that the whole thing is wrapped up with this phrase public class Hello1.
That's because C# is a thoroughly object oriented language and everything is a class in it, and that means to create even the simplest application, we have to say, here's our class, here's our section called Main, this is the line that I want to execute. Now, you might have noticed that the use of curly braces is a little different here and that's because in C#, the common usage of them is to line them up to have them each on their own line matching the opening and closing curly braces.
This is what sometimes referred to as Pascal or Allman style. It's just become the accepted style in the C# world. Like other C-based languages, C# is whitespace insensitive. It doesn't matter where you put them but this is the way you are likely to see them. Well, what about Visual Basic.NET? Well, this is not a C-based language, so we don't see the semicolons at the end of a statement, we don't see the curly braces. We do still see the use of Main. Now, once again this is how we say what's the actual code that I want to run when this program begins, and we see this would end being used a lot.
Because we can't mark out where blocks of code begin and end with curly braces, we have to say if there is an If, we need an End If. If there is a Sub, which is kind of our way of doing a subroutine like a function, we have an End Sub, or a Module has End Module. By themselves, they don't actually cause anything to happen; they're just mocking out a logical area of our program. We also have this System.Console.WriteLine. This line is exactly the same as it was in C# except for the semicolon at the end of the line, which is required in C#, and that's because although the overall format of the language is different, the things that you do, the statements that you execute in a .NET language are often almost identical to each other because you have the same libraries available to you, the same functionality available to you.
Most people who can code in C# can read VB.NET just fine and the other way is true as well. So how might you get started with this? Well, Microsoft make it fairly easy to do this. You can go and download Visual Studio. That is their flagship integrated development environment and you'll find there are several different versions of it including versions that are completely free, what are called the Visual Studio Express editions. Visual Studio includes a great text editor, a compiler, a debugging tool, all the things that you need to actually get started with any of these languages.
Although, there are versions of Visual Studio that are commercial and even cost several thousand dollars, you can get started and experiment and play around with these languages and even create websites and desktop applications without spending anything. So if you're interested in this, take a look at microsoft.com/express.
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