Sunday, August 23, 2009

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 exampleexception 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. All C# and Visual Basic.NET code is managed by default. VS7 C++ code is not managed by default, but the compiler can produce managed code by specifying a command-line switch (/com+).Managed data: This is data that is allocated and de-allocated by the .NET runtime's garbage collector. C# and VB.NET data is always managed. VS7 C++ data is unmanaged by default, even when using the /com+ switch, but it can be marked as managed using the __gc keyword.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.

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