One Language to Bind Them All

C# is more-much more-than a Java clone. It's the battlefield for a new type of programming.

Larry O Brien
March 1, 2006 —  (Page 1 of 6)
Why is C# the most successful of the languages running on the .NET Framework? Surveys done by BZ Media and others consistently show that C# is the most popular of the languages running on the .NET Framework, an observation that is bolstered by a review of training resources on the Web or at the local bookstore. Yet the language that publicly debuted in 2002 was seen by many as a “Java clone” and had little to mark it as particularly innovative.

Certainly, the programming community has voted repeatedly to embrace languages that derive from C. This preference is a combination of an appealing syntax (explicit typing is appealing for programming in the large), professionalism by association (real programmers use curly braces) and performance (all popular C-derived languages have rejected “everything is an object” for at least some primitive types).

Two things only now coming into focus make it clear, though, that C# is not just a winner by default, but also the field on which the battle for a new type of programming will be waged. WinFX, the next-generation API for Windows operating systems, is Microsoft’s gamble that managed code can handle the burden, not just of rapid application development or Web back ends, but for critical, distributed and public-facing applications.

While Microsoft has backed off the original premise of WinFX representing managed code all the way down to the level of device drivers, there is still the expectation that applications ranging from those heavily integrated with operating-system capabilities to those dealing with business-domain abstractions to those manipulating horizontal abstractions such as document flow will all be written in managed code. That managed code is appropriate across that range has sneaked up on the industry, which has spent the past decade paying attention to the successes (and challenges) of systems centered on network and Web services.

The other thing being seen now publicly is Language Integrated Query (LINQ). It is impossible to look at LINQ without wondering if language designer Anders Hejlsberg has had this facility in mind since joining Microsoft in 1996 and beginning work on the language that would evolve into C#.

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