20 .Net Interview Question with Answers Part 1

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1 . When was .NET announced?

Bill Gates delivered a keynote at Forum 2000, held June 22, 2000, outlining the .NET ‘vision’. The July 2000 PDC had a number of sessions on .NET technology, and delegates were given CDs containing a pre-release version of the .NET framework/SDK and Visual Studio.NET.
2 . What versions of .NET are there?

The final versions of the 1.0 SDK and runtime were made publicly available around &6pm PST on 15-Jan-2002. At the same time, the final version of Visual Studio.NET was made available to MSDN subscribers.

.NET 1.1 was released in April 2003, and was mostly bug fixes for 1.0.

.NET 2.0 was released to MSDN subscribers in late October 2005, and was officially launched in early November.

3 . What operating systems does the .NET Framework run on?

The runtime supports Windows Server 2003, Windows XP, Windows 2000, NT4 SP6a and Windows ME/98. Windows 95 is not supported. Some parts of the framework do not work on all platforms – for example, ASP.NET is only supported on XP and Windows 2000/2003. Windows 98/ME cannot be used for development

IIS is not supported on Windows XP Home Edition, and so cannot be used to host ASP.NET. However, the ASP.NET Web Matrix web server does run on XP Home

The .NET Compact Framework is a version of the .NET Framework for mobile devices, running Windows CE or Windows Mobile.

The Mono project has a version of the .NET Framework that runs on Linux.
4 . What tools can I use to develop .NET applications?

There are a number of tools, described here in ascending order of cost:

The .NET Framework SDK is free and includes command-line compilers for C++, C#, and VB.NET and various other utilities to aid development.
SharpDevelop is a free IDE for C# and VB.NET.
Microsoft Visual Studio Express editions are cut-down versions of Visual Studio, for hobbyist or novice developers.There are different versions for C#, VB, web development etc. Originally the plan was to charge $49, but MS has decided to offer them as free downloads instead, at least until November 2006.
Microsoft Visual Studio Standard 2005 is around $300, or $200 for the upgrade.
Microsoft VIsual Studio Professional 2005 is around $800, or $550 for the upgrade
At the top end of the price range are the Microsoft Visual Studio Team Edition for Software Developers 2005 with MSDN Premium and Team Suite editions.

You can see the differences between the various Visual Studio versions here.
5 . Why did they call it .NET?

I don’t know what they were thinking. They certainly weren’t thinking of people using search tools. It’s meaningless marketing nonsense.
6 . What is the CLI? Is it the same as the CLR?

The CLI (Common Language Infrastructure) is the definiton of the fundamentals of the .NET framework – the Common Type System (CTS), metadata, the Virtual Execution Environment (VES) and its use of intermediate language (IL), and the support of multiple programming languages via the Common Language Specification (CLS). The CLI is documented through ECMA – see http://msdn.microsoft.com/net/ecma/ for more details.

The CLR (Common Language Runtime) is Microsoft’s primary implementation of the CLI. Microsoft also have a shared source implementation known as ROTOR, for educational purposes, as well as the .NET Compact Framework for mobile devices. Non-Microsoft CLI implementations include Mono and DotGNU Portable.NET.
7 . What is IL?

IL = Intermediate Language. Also known as MSIL (Microsoft Intermediate Language) or CIL (Common Intermediate Language). All .NET source code (of any language) is compiled to IL during development. The IL is then converted to machine code at the point where the software is installed, or (more commonly) at run-time by a Just-In-Time (JIT) compiler.
8 . What is C#?

C# is a new language designed by Microsoft to work with the .NET framework. In their “Introduction to C#” whitepaper, Microsoft describe C# as follows:

“C# is a simple, modern, object oriented, and type-safe programming language derived from C and C++. C# (pronounced “C sharp”) is firmly planted in the C and C++ family tree of languages, and will immediately be familiar to C and C++ programmers. C# aims to combine the high productivity of Visual Basic and the raw power of C++.”

Substitute ‘Java’ for ‘C#’ in the quote above, and you’ll see that the statement still works pretty well :-).
9 . What does ‘managed’ mean in the .NET context?


The term ‘managed’ is the cause of much confusion. It is used in various places within .NET, meaning slightly different things.

Managed code: The .NET framework provides several core run-time services to the programs that run within it – for example exception handling and security. For these services to work, the code must provide a minimum level of information to the runtime. Such code is called managed code.

Managed data: This is data that is allocated and freed by the .NET runtime’s garbage collector.

Managed classes: This is usually referred to in the context of Managed Extensions (ME) for C++. When using ME C++, a class can be marked with the __gc keyword. As the name suggests, this means that the memory for instances of the class is managed by the garbage collector, but it also means more than that. The class becomes a fully paid-up member of the .NET community with the benefits and restrictions that brings. An example of a benefit is proper interop with classes written in other languages – for example, a managed C++ class can inherit from a VB class. An example of a restriction is that a managed class can only inherit from one base class.

10 . What is an assembly?

An assembly is sometimes described as a logical .EXE or .DLL, and can be an application (with a main entry point) or a library. An assembly consists of one or more files (dlls, exes, html files etc), and represents a group of resources, type definitions, and implementations of those types. An assembly may also contain references to other assemblies. These resources, types and references are described in a block of data called a manifest. The manifest is part of the assembly, thus making the assembly self-describing.

An important aspect of assemblies is that they are part of the identity of a type. The identity of a type is the assembly that houses it combined with the type name. This means, for example, that if assembly A exports a type called T, and assembly B exports a type called T, the .NET runtime sees these as two completely different types. Furthermore, don’t get confused between assemblies and namespaces – namespaces are merely a hierarchical way of organising type names. To the runtime, type names are type names, regardless of whether namespaces are used to organise the names. It’s the assembly plus the typename (regardless of whether the type name belongs to a namespace) that uniquely indentifies a type to the runtime.

Assemblies are also important in .NET with respect to security – many of the security restrictions are enforced at the assembly boundary.


Finally, assemblies are the unit of versioning in .NET – more on this below.
11 . How can I produce an assembly?

The simplest way to produce an assembly is directly from a .NET compiler. For example, the following C# program:

public class CTest
{
public CTest() { System.Console.WriteLine( “Hello from CTest” ); }
}

can be compiled into a library assembly (dll) like this:

csc /t:library ctest.cs

You can then view the contents of the assembly by running the “IL Disassembler” tool that comes with the .NET SDK.

Alternatively you can compile your source into modules, and then combine the modules into an assembly using the assembly linker (al.exe). For the C# compiler, the /target:module switch is used to generate a module instead of an assembly.

 
12 . What is the difference between a private assembly and a shared assembly?

The terms ‘private’ and ‘shared’ refer to how an assembly is deployed, not any intrinsic attributes of the assembly.

A private assembly is normally used by a single application, and is stored in the application’s directory, or a sub-directory beneath. A shared assembly is intended to be used by multiple applications, and is normally stored in the global assembly cache (GAC), which is a central repository for assemblies. (A shared assembly can also be stored outside the GAC, in which case each application must be pointed to its location via a codebase entry in the application’s configuration file.) The main advantage of deploying assemblies to the GAC is that the GAC can support multiple versions of the same assembly side-by-side.

Assemblies deployed to the GAC must be strong-named. Outside the GAC, strong-naming is optional.
13 . How do assemblies find each other?

By searching directory paths. There are several factors that can affect the path (such as the AppDomain host, and application configuration files), but for weakly named assemblies the search path is normally the application’s directory and its sub-directories. For strongly named assemblies, the search path is the GAC followed by the private assembly path.
14 . How does assembly versioning work?

An assembly has a version number consisting of four parts, e.g. 1.0.350.1. These are typically interpreted as Major.Minor.Build.Revision, but this is just a convention.&

The CLR applies no version constraints on weakly named assemblies, so the assembly version has no real significance.

For strongly named assemblies, the version of a referenced assembly is stored in the referring assembly, and by default only this exact version will be loaded at run-time. If the exact version is not available, the referring assembly will fail to load. It is possible to override this behaviour in the config file for the referring assembly – references to a single version or a range of versions of the referenced assembly can be redirected to a specific version. For example, versions 1.0.0.0 to 2.0.0.0 can be redirected to version 3.0.125.3. However note that there is no way to specify a range of versions to be redirected to. Publisher policy files offer an alternative mechanism for redirecting to a different version for assemblies deployed to the GAC – a publisher policy file allows the publisher of the assembly to redirect all applications to a new version of an assembly in one operation, rather than having to modify all of the application configuration files.

The restrictions on version policy for strongly named assemblies can cause problems when providing patches or ‘hot fixes’ for individual assemblies within an application. To avoid having to deploy config file changes or publisher policy files along with the hot fix, it makes sense to reuse the same assembly version for the hot fix. If desired, the assemblies can be distinguised by altering the assembly file version, which is not used at all by the CLR for applying version policy. For more discussion, see Suzanne Cook’s When to Change File/Assembly Versions blog entry.

Note that the versioning of strongly named assemblies applies whether the assemblies are deployed privately or to the GAC.
15 . How can I develop an application that automatically updates itself from the web?

For .NET 1.x, use the Updater Application Block. For .NET 2.x, use ClickOnce.
16 . What is an application domain?

An AppDomain can be thought of as a lightweight process. Multiple AppDomains can exist inside a Win32 process. The primary purpose of the AppDomain is to isolate applications from each other, and so it is particularly useful in hosting scenarios such as ASP.NET. An AppDomain can be destroyed by the host without affecting other AppDomains in the process.

Win32 processes provide isolation by having distinct memory address spaces. This is effective, but expensive. The .NET runtime enforces AppDomain isolation by keeping control over the use of memory – all memory in the AppDomain is managed by the .NET runtime, so the runtime can ensure that AppDomains do not access each other’s memory.

One non-obvious use of AppDomains is for unloading types. Currently the only way to unload a .NET type is to destroy the AppDomain it is loaded into. This is particularly useful if you create and destroy types on-the-fly via reflection.
17 . Can I write my own .NET host?
Yes. For an example of how to do this, take a look at the source for the dm.net moniker developed by Jason Whittington and Don Box. There is also a code sample in the .NET SDK called CorHost.
18 . What is garbage collection?

Garbage collection is a heap-management strategy where a run-time component takes responsibility for managing the lifetime of the memory used by objects. This concept is not new to .NET – Java and many other languages/runtimes have used garbage collection for some time.
19 . Is it true that objects don’t always get destroyed immediately when the last reference goes away?

Yes. The garbage collector offers no guarantees about the time when an object will be destroyed and its memory reclaimed.&

There was an interesting thread on the DOTNET list, started by Chris Sells, about the implications of non-deterministic destruction of objects in C#. In October 2000, Microsoft’s Brian Harry posted a lengthy analysis of the problem. Chris Sells’ response to Brian’s posting is here
20 . Why doesn’t the .NET runtime offer deterministic destruction?

Because of the garbage collection algorithm. The .NET garbage collector works by periodically running through a list of all the objects that are currently being referenced by an application. All the objects that it doesn’t find during this search are ready to be destroyed and the memory reclaimed. The implication of this algorithm is that the runtime doesn’t get notified immediately when the final reference on an object goes away – it only finds out during the next ‘sweep’ of the heap

Futhermore, this type of algorithm works best by performing the garbage collection sweep as rarely as possible. Normally heap exhaustion is the trigger for a collection sweep.

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