8 Part I:The .NET Framework One of the main objectives of the framework is to provide a simplified d evelopment model so that a lot of the plumbing that was required to develop in the past is e liminated. The .NET Framework is a simpler development environment and will give developers  more power over their applications. This framework uses the latest in Internet standards  such as XML, SOAP, and HTTP. You will also find the applications that you build on this pla tform are easy to deploy and maintain. The .NET IDE Instead of a multitude of tools for development, the .NET team created a  single tool for developing Windows Forms, ASP.NET Web Applications, and XML Web services . This tool is Visual Studio .NET. As a developer, you will find Visual Studio .NET an indispensable tool.  It is finely interwoven within the .NET Framework and will give you full and complete access to  everything that .NET has to offer. Visual Studio .NET is discussed further in the next c hapter. The .NET languages In the past, you chose the development language for an application based upon the functionality that you were trying to perform. Some languages were more  powerful than others, but at the same time they might have required a higher level of  understanding and were, in most cases, more difficult to program in. Now the .NET Framework provides you with a language-independent programm ing platform. You do not have to decide which language would provide a better solution . All languages are now on a level playing field. In .NET, no one language is superior to any of the other languages. They  all have equal access to everything that .NET offers. To be part of the .NET Framework, a language only has to follow certain  rules. The biggest and most important rule for inclusion is that the language needs to be a n object-oriented language. Microsoft provides four languages with the .NET Framework: Vis ual Basic .NET, C#, C++.NET, and JScript .NET. Microsoft also provides J# (pronounced J -sharp), but in order to use this new language that is basically Java for .NET, you need  to download the language to install it on your server. You can find this download at http://msdn.microsoft.com. The .NET Enterprise Servers The marketing folks at Microsoft made things a little more confusing whe n they started naming everything with a .NET suffix. Shortly after the introduction of  .NET, all the forthcoming .NET Enterprise Servers rebranded themselves as part of the  .NET platform. The problem is that they really aren t part of the .NET platform at all. Yes, it is true that you can interact with some of these applications in an indirect way through  the framework, but the first true .NET server will be the next version of Microsoft SQL Server following  SQL Server 2000. There has been no indication of how this next version will be fold ed into the .NET platform. However, it has been stated that these servers will be deeply  integrated and that, for instance, you will be able to write your stored procedures in any of the  .NET languages.