Chapter 1 The .NET Foundation A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplate s it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral. Saint Exupery, Flight to Arras (1942) Welcome to XML Web services for ASP.NET. The Web services movement of to day has been referred to as a technology that is heralding a new era of application d esign. You can think of Web services as a component or a method that can be called across the We b. Even though many companies are offering solutions to implement and consume Web servi ces, this book focuses on Microsoft s solution. In this chapter, I will be reviewing  the foundation of the .NET Framework and what you need to understand about this new platform in ord er to see how XML Web services fit into the whole picture. This chapter emphasizes the  following topics:  Grasping the idea of .NET  Learning about the CLR  Understanding the Base Class Libraries What Is .NET? This is a loaded question, but what it really comes down to is that .NET means different  things to different people. Much of what Microsoft is now offering has the .NET  name somewhere in its title, but what .NET means really depends on whom you ask. The offic ial one-line answer is that .NET is Microsoft s platform for XML Web services. Microsoft s .NET Framework is a new computing platform built with the  Internet in mind, but without sacrificing the traditional desktop application platform. The In ternet has been around for a number of years now, and Microsoft has been busy developing techno logies and tools that are totally focused on it. These earlier technologies, however, wer e built on Windows DNA (Distributed interNet Applications Architecture), which was based on COM (Component Object Model). Microsoft s COM was in development many years before the Internet became the force that we know today. Consequently, the COM model has been built  upon and added to in order to adapt it to the changes brought about by the Internet. With the .NET Framework, Microsoft built everything from the ground up w ith Internet integration as the goal. Building a platform from the ground up also all owed the .NET Framework developers to look at the problems and limitations that inhibi ted application development in the past and to provide the solutions that were needed to  quickly speed past these barriers.