The .NET Framework

The .NET Framework is a development and execution environment that allows different programming languages & libraries to work together seamlessly to create Windows-based applications that are easier to build, manage, deploy, and integrate with other networked systems.

The .NET Framework consists of:

* The Common Language Runtime (CLR)
A language-neutral development & execution environment that provides services to help "manage" application execution
* The Framework Class Libraries (FCL)
A consistent, object-oriented library of prepackaged functionality

ADO.NET is a data-access technology that enables applications to connect to data stores and manipulate data contained in them in various ways. It is based on the .NET Framework and it is highly integrated with the rest of the Framework class library.

The ADO.NET stack has two major parts: providers and services.

ADO.NET "providers" are the components that know how to talk to specific data stores (for example, there is a provider to talk to SQL Server databases, and another one to talk to Oracle databases). All providers surface a unified API on top of which other layers can be built.

ADO.NET also includes services built on top of the providers that are designed to facilitate writing applications. One such service is support for an in-memory cache that retains the relational shape of the data, and does change-tracking and constraint validation among other things; this service surfaces through the ADO.NET DataSet, and includes components to interact with the provider layer.

Quick Technology Finder
Links to various components of the .NET Framework