Microsoft .NET Terminologies at a Glance
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Published: 14 Jun 2006
Unedited - Community Contributed
This article defines many important terminologies that are related to Microsoft .NET so as to enable the reader to have a ready guide to the technical terms. Terminologies related to Microsoft .NET Framework, ASP.NET, ADO.NET, XML, Biztalk Server, etc. are covered. This will also help readers prepare themselves to go into interviews confidently.
by Joydip Kanjilal
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My objective in designing this article is to put an end to the arduous struggle of an IT professional seeking an understandable resource for the core terminologies of Microsoft.NET.  Let me save you valuable time and energy by providing you with an article that gives you many of the important terminologies in Microsoft .NET and its related technologies.  This article discusses most of the important terminologies related to Microsoft .NET Framework, ASP.NET, ADO.NET, Remoting and Web Services.  The terminologies are not organized in an alphabetical order, rather they are organized in the order of the categories that they belong to.

The Common Language Specification

This is a subset of the Common Type System (CTS) and defines a set of conventions that are targeted at language interoperability of all the languages that run within the .NET environment.

The Common Type System

The Common Type System (CTS) is a standard that defines the necessary rules for type interoperability for the languages targeting the .NET environment.  The common type system supports the following types.

·         Value Types

·         Reference Types

.NET Framework Class Library

The .NET Framework Class Library (FCL) is a set of managed classes that are responsible for providing access to the system services in the managed environment of Microsoft.NET.

The Common Language Runtime

The CLR is a runtime execution engine of .NET that provides an environment to execute programs that are targeted at the .NET platform.  It provides memory allocation, security, code verification, type verification, exception handling and garbage collection in the managed environment.

Common Language Infrastructure

The Common Language Infrastructure or the CLI provides support for language interoperability in the .NET managed environment.  It is comprised of the following features.

·         A File Format (PE)

·         Metadata

·         MSIL

·         Base Class Library


An assembly is a group of resources and types, along with the metadata about those resources and types, deployed as a single unit.

Just In Time Compiler

The Just In Time Compiler or the JIT is responsible for compiling units of code and caching them at runtime as and when they are needed.  Since the compilation occurs at runtime, it is known as a Just In Time Compilation.



A program compiled in the .NET managed environment generates an intermediate code to support platform independence.  This is called the MSIL or Microsoft Intermediate Language.

Strong Name

A Strong Name is a unique identifier given to an assembly using cryptography and a digital signature that is used to identify a particular assembly.  An assembly is provided a strong name using the utility called sn.exe.

A strong name consists of the following.

·         Name of the Assembly

·         Digital Signature

·         Version Number

·         Culture Information

Global Assembly Cache

The Global Assembly Cache is a system wide storage of shared assemblies.  Assemblies can be stored or moved to and from the Global Assembly Cache using a tool called GacUtil.

Managed Code

A managed code is one that provides restricted access to the system’s resources and can be executed only in a managed environment that is provided in Microsoft .NET by the Common Language Runtime.

Un-Managed Code

An Un-Managed code is one that executes outside of the Common Language Runtime environment and can perform unsafe operations.

Managed Data

Managed Data refers to the objects that are created by the Common Language Runtime environment and can be garbage collected implicitly by the Garbage Collector.

Shared Assembly

A Shared Assembly is one that can be referred by more that one application.  All shared assemblies should contain a strong name and should be located in the Global Assembly Cache (GAC).

Private Assembly

A Private Assembly is one that is private to one application.  In other words, it can be accessed by the containing application only.

Satellite Assembly

When you wish to localize the application, it can be written in culture-neutral code and can distribute the localized modules in separate assemblies called satellite assemblies.

Assembly Manifest

The Assembly Manifest contains the information about an assembly.  This includes the version number of the assembly, the list of the files that comprise the assembly, etc.  An assembly manifest is contained in the dll file or the exe file itself.


A resource refers to an addressable unit of data that is available for use by an application.  It consists of one or more of the following.

·         Texts

·         Files

·         Documents

·         Images

·         The .NET tool called resgen.exe is used to create resource files from the resource information that is stored in text or XML files.


Localization is the practice of designing and developing software that will properly use all of the conventions defined for a specific locale.  An assembly that is used to provide localization feature in ASP.NET applications is referred to as a Satellite Assembly.

Native Image Generator

This is a .NET tool that is used to compile a managed assembly to the native code and then store that in the local assembly cache.  The name of this tool is Ngen.exe.

Value Type

A value type is one that contains the value rather than the reference and is stored in the stack memory.  Examples of value types are integers, floats, doubles, structures, etc.

Reference Type

A reference type contains a reference to the actual object in memory and is stored in the managed heap. Objects of classes are good examples of reference types.


Boxing refers to the conversion of a value type to a reference type.  Value types are stored in the stack and reference types are stored in the managed heap.


This refers to the conversion of a reference type to a value type.

Garbage Collection

Garbage Collection is a technique introduced in Microsoft .NET that manages memory cleanup implicitly.  This implicit reclaiming of memory in the .NET managed environment is handled by the Common Language Runtime.

Dispose Method

The Dispose method can be used in an unsealed class to cleanup resources explicitly.  It should be noted that both the Dispose and the Finalize methods should make a call to their parents' respective methods after they have disposed or finalized their own members.  A class that needs to have this method implemented should implement the IDisposable interface.

Finalize Method

The finalize method is a protected member of the Object class and is implicitly called at the runtime to cleanup unmanaged resources before the object is destroyed.

Code Verification

This is a feature that enforces type safety or type security by checking the code prior to its execution in the run time environment.  Therefore, it does not allow malicious code to get executed in the managed environment.

Authentication and Authorization

This is a security measure that is used to specify the user’s identity and authorization in ASP.NET. The process of authorization determines whether an authenticated user has access to a specific resource.  Authentication and Authorization details of an ASP.NET application are specified in the web.config file.  There can be three types of authentication in ASP.NET.

·         Forms Authentication

·         Windows Authentication

·         Passport Authentication

Web.Config File

The web.config file is the configuration file for an ASP.NET web application.  Typically, the following information is stored in a web.config file.

·         Database Connection Strings

·         Security

·         Session States

·         Impersonation

·         Error handling

Machine.Config File

The machine.config file contains the configuration settings for the entire application and is located in the Config sub-folder of the Microsoft .NET installation directory.


ASP.NET is a language neutral, interoperable, server-side technology that allows creation, execution and deployment of scalable Web Applications and Services.


Caching is a feature that stores the data in the memory for serving the incoming requests from the memory itself.  Caching in ASP.NET can be of three types.

·         Page Output Caching

·         Page Fragment Caching

·         Data Caching

Singleton Pattern

A singleton pattern states that we can have a singleton class that can be instantiated only once in the application domain and provides a global point of access to it.

Application Domain

An application domain refers to the logical and physical boundary created around every .NET application.  An application domain is created by the Common Language Runtime and supports execution of multiple .NET applications in the same process by isolating them in different application domains.

View State

This is a client-side state management technique that continues the state of server controls by maintaining the state of pages across postbacks.  The view state is an encoded hashed string and is stored in a hidden field called __VIEWSTATE.

Session State

A session is the period of a connection between a server and a client.  The Session State allows storage of objects in a user’s session.  A session can be stored in one of the following ways.

·         InProc

·         State Server

·         SQL Server

Application State

This is a state management technique that allows objects to be stored and then globally accessed or shared by multiple modules of the application.  In ASP.NET, application state is maintained by the class HttpApplicationState.

Interface Definition Language (IDL)

The Interface definition Language (IDL) defines a protocol between the server and the client so that they can communicate in heterogeneous environments.

Universal Description, Discovery and Integration (UDDI)

Universal Description, Discovery and Integration is a platform independent, XML based, distributed directory that allows the enterprises to list themselves over the internet.  The UDDI business registration contains the following features.

·         Green Pages

·         White Pages

·         Yellow Pages

Web Service Description Language (WSDL)

The Web Service Description Language (WSDL) defines XML based contract services for describing the network services as a collection of communication end points.  A WSDL document contains the following.

·         Messages

·         Operation

·         Types

·         Service

·         Port and its type

Simple Object Oriented Protocol (SOAP)

This is an XML-based protocol that is used to exchange structured data and type information in a distributed environment.

Web Services

A web service is SOAP based, platform–independent software component that exposes itself through open communication channels of the web applications running on potentially different platforms.


Remoting allows two processes, a Server and a Client, to inter-communicate in the same system, the same network or across networks.  In Remoting, a server and client communicate using a Channel.

Service Oriented Architecture

Service Oriented Architecture is an architecture that provides a seamless Enterprise Information Integration between loosely coupled distributed applications or services over the network.


A service is an implementation of a well-defined, self-contained, independent business functionality that accepts one or more requests and returns one or more responses through a well-defined, standard interface.

Smart Client Architecture

The Smart Client Architecture is a deployable, multi-platform architecture that allows local application to connect to a server based application using web services.  It provides an adaptive and rich user interactive experience by using local resources.  A Smart Client application can work in both connected and disconnected modes.


ADO.NET is an object oriented data access technology that enables you to access data from a managed environment.  It is essentially a collection of some classes used to communicate between an application and a database.

Connection Pool

A Connection Pool is a pool of available or ready-to-use connections.  When a new connection is requested it is served from the connection pool if one exists.  If not, a new connection is created. Connection Pooling improves the performance of applications to a large extent.


A DataProvider encapsulates the protocols that ADO.NET uses to interact with different types of databases.


The DataSet is an in–memory, disconnected, XML compliant representation of the data.  Data in a DataSet can be changed, unlike a DataReader which is read only.


A DataReader is a connected, forward only, read only stream of data that is retrieved from the database.


The DataAdapter is a bridge between the DataSet and the underlying database. It provides a set of methods and properties to move data between a database and its in-memory representation, the DataSet.


A DataView is a class that provides a customized view of the DataSet.  It is typically used to sort or filter the rows.


The Command object is used to send the SQL Statements to the database.  Commands are used to insert data, retrieve data and execute stored procedures in the database.


The Connection object establishes a connection to the database using the user name, password and the database name as parameters.


A transaction is a block of statements that guarantees that all or none of the statements in the block are executed.  In ADO.NET, a transaction can be started by using the BeginTransaction() method on the currently active Connection.  To commit the transaction, the method CommitTransaction() is used.  In order to abandon the transaction, the method Rollback() is executed.


This refers to the storage of an object into a persistent storage medium in a stream of bytes.  The opposite is de-serialization and is used to retrieve a serialized object from a storage medium.


This is a feature that allows us to inspect the metadata of an assembly at runtime.  Reflection can be used to retrieve metadata information, such as the following.

·         Classes

·         Methods

·         Properties

·         Events

Biztalk Server

This is a set of Microsoft Server Applications that allow integration, automation and management of different server applications.

Exchange Server

This is a set of Microsoft Server Applications that are responsible for integrating messaging and data storage technologies.

Commerce Server

This is Microsoft’s Business Server that is used for managing and developing business web sites.


An array is a collection of homogenous objects.  It is a group of elements of the same type that share a common name.  The size of an array is fixed and cannot be changed at runtime.


An ArrayList is a collection of heterogeneous elements- elements of different types.   Unlike an array, its size can be changed dynamically.


A HashTable is a collection of heterogeneous objects that can be referred using either an index or a key.  Elements of an ArrayList can be referred to using an index only.


COM+ or COM Plus is a distributed, transactional, component-based technology that can be used in a multi-tiered architecture and provides support for Object Pooling.


A delegate is a managed function pointer that refers to a method.  A multi-cast delegate is one that points to and can eventually fire off different methods.  A delegate is used to implement event handling in Microsoft .NET.

Event Handler

An event handler is a method that is executed in response to an event.


An exception is an event that is generated as a result of a runtime error.  An exception is handled using the exception blocks.  An exception that cannot be handled is referred to as a fatal exception and causes the flow of execution of the current program to terminate unexpectedly.

Try/Catch Block

A try/catch block is used in exception handling and provides a mechanism to trap runtime errors that can occur on execution of the application.  A try block contains the code that can generate a runtime error.  The catch block contains statements that are executed once the appropriate exception has occurred.  A try block can contain one or more catch blocks or a finally block.

Finally Block

A finally block is one that is executed irrespective of whether an exception occurs or not.  Typically, it is used in Exception Handling mechanism to release resources.


A namespace refers to a logical grouping of types or identifiers used in a program.

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User Comments

Title: Thanx   
Name: mansur saeed
Date: 2006-10-10 3:44:23 PM
think you very much sir
Title: Dr   
Name: Ben Efflek
Date: 2006-07-31 8:17:50 PM
This is nothing more than a rehash /reprint from Microsoft's Documentation. Please,, come up with better material ! Thank You. BE.
Title: Best   
Name: RamaKrishna
Date: 2006-07-05 7:55:09 AM
You were explained all most topic of the is realy useful for all the beginer.You should explain detailed with example.
Title: AK   
Name: AKR
Date: 2006-06-14 12:25:34 PM
Good Collection, Thanks to author

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