Chapter 5. Framework Class Library Overview

Almost all the capabilities of the .NET Framework are exposed via a set of managed types known as the Framework Class Library (FCL). Because these types are CLS-compliant, they are accessible from almost any .NET language. FCL types are grouped logically by namespace and are packaged in a set of assemblies that are part of the .NET platform. Using these types in a C# application requires you to reference the appropriate assembly when compiling (most essential assemblies are referenced by default; see Appendix E). In order to work effectively in C# on the .NET platform, it is important to understand the general capabilities in the predefined class library. However, the library is far too large to cover completely in this book, as it encompasses 3,744 types grouped into 124 namespaces and packaged in 34 different assemblies.

Instead, in this chapter, we give an overview of the entire FCL (broken down by logical area) and provide references to relevant types and namespaces so that you can explore their details in the .NET Framework SDK on your own.

The specific types and namespaces mentioned in this overview are based on the 1.1 version of the .NET Framework.

Useful tools for exploring the FCL include the .NET Framework SDK documentation, the Visual Studio .NET documentation, the WinCV.exe class browser, and the ILDasm.exe disassembler (see Chapter 23).

    Part II: Programming with the .NET Framework
    Part IV: API Quick Reference