The Standard Libraries is a set of libraries included into the Common Language Infrastructure (CLI) in order to encapsulate many common functions, such as file reading and writing, XML document manipulation, exception handling, application globalization, network communication, threading and reflection, which makes the programmer's job easier. It is much larger in scope than standard libraries for most other languages, including C++, and is comparable in scope and coverage to the standard libraries of Java.
The list of standard libraries is Base Class Library (BCL), Runtime Infrastructure Library (both part of the kernel profile) Network Library, Reflexion Library, XML Library (which with the two first listed library are part of the compact profile and the Extended Array Library, Parallel Library, Floating Point Library.
The Framework Class Library (FCL) is the origin of the Standard Libraries as the .NET Framework, which includes the FCL, is the first implementation of the CLI.
The main standard libraries are organized into two Standard Profiles, the Kernel Profile and the Compact Profile. The following standard libraries do not belong to any profile: the Extended Array Library, the Extended Numerics Library, the Parallel Library and the Vararg Library.
The Kernel Profile is a subset of the Compact Profile. The Kernel Profile contains the Base Class Library (BCL) and Runtime Infrastructure Library.
The Compact Profile contains those libraries in the Kernel Profile as well as the Network Library, the Reflection Library and the XML Library.
Base Class Library
The Base Class Library is a simple runtime library for modern programming languages. It serves as the Standard for the runtime library for the language C# as well as one of the CLI Standard Libraries. It provides types to represent the built-in data types of the CLI, simple file access, custom attributes, security attributes, string manipulation, formatting, streams, collections, among other things. It defines types in the following namespaces:
- Defines the Object class which all reference type objects derive from (including value-type objects) and the ValueType class which all value type objects derive from. It also defines the base data types like integers, floating point numbers, character, strings, Boolean, enumeration and more. Support for the environment and platform and a command-line interface is provided along with base classes for exceptions and attributes. It defines arrays and delegates, mathematical functions and many other types.
- Defines many common container types used in programming, such as dictionaries, hashtables, lists, queues and stacks.
- Defines generic types of the container types in the System.Collections namespace.
- Defines types that provide the ability to diagnose applications. It includes event logging, performance counters, tracing and interaction with system processes.
- Defines types that define culture-related information, including language, country/region, calendars in use, format patterns for dates, currency and numbers and sort order for strings.
- Defines type that enable reading from and writing to different streams, such as files or other data streams. Also provides a connection to the file system.
- Defines types that represent the security system and permissions.
- Defines types that control access to operations and resources based on policy.
- Defines types that support various character encodings, regular expressions and a more efficient mechanism for manipulating strings.
- Defines types that enable multithreaded programming.
Runtime Infrastructure Library
The Runtime Infrastructure Library provides the services needed by a compiler to target the CLI and the facilities needed to dynamically load types from a stream in a specified file format. It defines types in the following namespaces:
- Defines types for the application domain, pointers, handles and more.
- Defines types that provide a managed view of loaded types, methods and fields, and that can dynamically create and invoke types. These types are relevant to the program runtime.
- Defines types that provide functionality for compiler writers who use managed code to specify attributes in metadata that affect the run-time behavior of the Virtual Execution System.
- Defines types that support Platform Invocation Services (P/Invoke).
The Network Library provides simple networking services including direct access to network ports as well as HTTP support. It defines types in the following namespaces:
- Defines types that provide an object representation of a uniform resource identifier (URI) and easy access to the parts of the URI.
- Defines specialized and strongly-typed collections; for example, a linked list dictionary, a bit vector, and collections that contain only strings.
- Defines types that provide a simple programming interface for a number of network protocols.
- Defines type that provide a managed implementation of the Windows Sockets (Winsock) interface for developers who need to tightly control access to the network.
The Reflection Library provides the ability to examine the structure of types, create instances of types and invoke methods on types, all based on a description of the type. It defines types in the following namespaces:
- Defines the void type, a return value type for a method that does not return a value.
- Defines type that provide information about a specific culture (called a locale for unmanaged code development). The information includes the names for the culture, the writing system, the calendar used and formatting for dates and sort strings.
- Defines types that provide a managed view of loaded types, methods and fields, and that can dynamically create and invoke types.
- Defines types that control access to operations and resources based on policy. These types are relevant to the reflection.
The XML Library provides a simple "pull-style" parser for XML. It is designed for resource-constrained devices, yet provides a simple user model. It defines types in the following namespace.
- Defines types for processing XML.
Extended Array Library
The Extended Array Library provides support for non-vector arrays. That is, arrays that have more than one dimension or
arrays that have non-zero lower bounds. The Extended Array Library doesn't add any extra types, but it does extend the array-handling mechanism.
Extended Numerics Library
The Extended Numerics Library provides support for floating-point (System.Single, System.Double) and extended-precision (System.Decimal) data types. Like the Base Class Library, this library is directly referenced by the C# standard.
The Parallel Library provides easy parallelism for non-expert programmers, so that multithreaded CPUs can be exploited.
The Vararg Library provides support for dealing with variable-length argument lists.