While attending TechEd 2008, I’ve find out lot’s of people were asking similiar type of questions. Even if official .NET Micro Framework site has very good white paper covering whole technology. I’ve decide to publish brief answers to frequently asked questions. Some of them are not covered in official FAQ but were very frequent on TechEd 2008.

Q: What is the. NET Micro Framework?

A: .NET Micro Framework is a way how to run managed code (C# applications) directly on top of the CPU, without underlying operating system. It is bootable CLR which runs on very tiny processors without MMU (memory management unit). It means processors that can not host operating system, in the way we usually understand it.

Q: What is the difference between Micro Framework and Compact Framework?

A: .NET Compact Framework needs to be hosted by Windows CE or Windows Mobile, while .NET Micro Framework don’t need operating system at all. See previous question.

Q: What type of processors .NET Miro Framework supports?

A: At this time only ARM7, ARM9 and Blackfin are supported. Family of supported processors will grow in the future. Remember, that your application is written in C#, so you don’t need to worry about hardware specific features of the processor, since everything is exposed into managed code. Applications are very easily portable from one CPU to another.

Q: Is .NET Micro Framework running on 8 or 16 bit processors?

A: No, Nicro Framework is designed for 32 bit processors.

Q: What are the RAM and Flash requirements?

A: At this time .NET Micro Framework can fit into 300Kb Flash and needs 128Kb RAM to run. Consider, that this is for “pure” .NET Micro Framework, count with more space for you application.

Q: Is it possible to run .NET Micro Framework only from Flash memory?

A: You are probably want to use Micro Framework on a single chip computer which has small RAM but a lot of Flash memory, right? RAM is necessary for .NET Micro Framework. Microsoft is targeting 90K RAM footprint.

Q: Is .NET Micro Framework new version of Microsoft Robotics Studio?

A: No, .NET Micro Framework and Microsoft Robotics Studio (MSRS) are two different efforts, which are not competing or going to replace each other. MSRS is the advanced environment to control robots and simulates real-life environment for robots, while .NET Micro Framework is the development framework for tiny embedded applications. These applications may include robots as well as home automation, diagnostics systems and many others…

Q: Can .NET Micro Framework operate with Microsoft Robotics Studio?

A: Yes and No. Since .NET Micro Framework doesn’t support generics it can not be directly connected to MSRS. However, you can always build driver in MSRS for your .NET Micro Framework robot, that will be hosted in MSRS and communicating with robot via serial port, zigbee, bluetooth, network etc…

Q: How do I deploy my C# application into the CPU? Do I need eeprom programmer?

A: Applications are deployed directly from Visual Studio via USB, Serial port or Ethernet. No other hardware than appropriate cable is needed.

Q: Is the whole .NET Micro Framework deployed or just the application?

A: Just the compiled application is deployed to the CPU. .NET Micro Framework is already deployed into the CPU by the manufacturer.

Q: What is the main argument to switch from Windows CE to .NET Micro Framework?

A: There is no reason to switch from Windows CE to .NET Micro Framework on existing solution. Windows CE and .NET Micro Framework has different targets, even if there might subset of applications where both technologies will serve well.

Q: Are there some capabilities for graphic UI?

A: Yes, .NET Micro Framework has support for user interface based on WPF (Windows Presentation Foundation) object model. You can use windowed model for use-cases as well as utilize bitmap support, font support, graphic primitives drawing etc..

Q: What about touch-screen in .NET Micro Framework?

A: At this time, you can use touch-screen layer connected via SPI or other interface and write custom handling routine for it. In the .NET Micro Framework 3.0 general touch screen support will be available.

Q: What about WiFi or BlueTooth (ZigBee) support?

A: .NET Micro Framework has support for sockets, so if you have some particular piece of hardware which is enabled for WiFi you can interface it and use it. Native support for WiFi will be available in version 3.0, including security. BlueTooth or ZigBee can be connected via serial port. Check BlueSmirf from SparkFun and XBee from Digi.

Q: Is there support for EIB, AZI or 123, ABC, XYZ bus?

A: .NET Micro Framework supports standard serial buses, which usually comes with hosting CPU. It means I2C, SPI or CAN (1-Wire is coming). Support for other buses has to be done by porter (hardware manufacturer) or can be written in managed code if the speed will be sufficient. Remember, that there are plenty of different buses on the market, some of them are proprietary, some of them needs special licensing, some of them needs special hardware requirements. It’s almost impossible to cover them all by Microsoft.

Q: Is there support for Compact SQL Server?

A: No, .NET Micro Framework targets very tiny applications where compact SQL server will not fit. However, you can place your database logic on the back-end server and expose it via web-service or other network proto&/U. .NET Micro Framewor supportsTCP/IPr socketr andHTTPk proto&/ ( including web-servicsg).Mtecanismas toustare datn inpverssntenh memorn exissn in .NET Micro Framewore.

Q: WhatdDo I need tousarnt with .NET Micro Framework?

A:Firust tding you need is the Visual Studi, aAt this time Visual Studio2005l Standar,s Poiffrsioual orTeaom urits. Thng you need theSDKy for .NET Micro Framewor, which can bendonloaed forfcres. These two tdinds houildbfe eoughd forfirustiontroduction beca useSDKy-contaist generi =devic eimulaort. However, .NET Micro Framework is for embedded development so some hardware plt fomk issntrngllyirecommedted. forliset of available hardwarelook aAt tme parnnerpnage.

Q: Which developmentkiat is thebestd tousarnt with .NET Micro Framework?

A:Tthis is difticuts questioU to answe -e it demedns what yon eaectlylookdingfort. for generaliontroductioE to .NET Micro FrameworkIh canirecommeds the Thoee plt fomn based onMnerdican CPU.Tthisbodard haso&/forQVGA LCDs ds plry,buttios,a serial porsC, SP,s I2r and everythin is uird-bout t /headeis for asyk prottyphinU.TthismakeIs it terject for interfating other hardware in the development tnage of project.m Ds advatgme of this plt fomk is the pact thateEthernek needs to be connected via SPI interfacs, whichmakeIs ita2 bit complicaeed fg you need to use SPI interfact for other tdind. Tthe -modul tand it’s development plt fomk is very simiiar onMnerdicantand>Thoeetand has more interfacs) directly on CP: 4x, Serial por,r EtherneC, SP,s I2,r CANtandUSBU.TthismakeIs it verypHowrfult plt fomk fo compexy application0, including support forFATrfilre-system andUSB keybodar/mo us/joyostik/tpriner/massoustanage.devic s. Th EembeddedMasntrk isshapted etntrk for uerfactmcounding and asieor sldvering thanMnerdican CPU However,weaknlese of this terject plt fomk is the developmentbodarU. It comes withLCDs and some nerphnerais uirdd ouy,butt possibilities for prottyphin tand interfating other hardware( based onGPIO,s I2C, SP)k is aslmightly more complicaeee.

p>Ifg youwarelookdingford som tdingc/hepver and som tding that can beiommdriatlly osed ig you project with inimumy of sldvering-s thn gogford EDKy from JJT Micri. Thirgc/hepvsntbodark is for165dUSD tand it’sas very smallbodark with manyGPIOs ( generalpurxpose nput/ ouput). Eeverything is interfaced via standard2.54 mmN (, inh) /heades for asyknon- sldvering connections. Thisbodard hasnos ds plry,but, you can usemany SPI or serialLCD. EDKy-comes withbrwiliwant manalr, thatgtives youiontroductioE to embedded systems and .NET Micro Framewore.

p>In -cas, thatanothin tbove d/scrbeed is what yonlookdingfort. Thng you probablylookdingford Dig. Connec ME>-moduli

Q: What lanunagsu canIn use with .NET Micro Framework?

A:OonlyC#k is uably supporte,tanwo. Since everything isJITled fromMSIL,s almost everh .NET lanunagt can be ose.e VisualBasicd hasbreentesrte,tbut,oonlyC#k is uably intgracted to Visual Studio to be osed with .NET Micro Framewore.

Q: Wy,oonly Visual Studio2005lisy supporte?: What about 200k?

A:Iintgraching .NET Micro Framework oolsd into Visual Studio is nit ar asyk preces.y Visual Studio2008d will be supported ignexnt mjfor relcas,e which is .NET Micro Framework 3.e.

Q: Wein version 3.d will be publck?

A:Firust publcd etas houildbfe available insuommee. Relcaslisy echeulted tomeds of thisyeiar(2008)t. However,rRemembe, thatint tkeIsadditsioual time t /hardware manufacturees for port version 3.dnto thier hardware.

Q: How canInmakesas featur srelcntion in .NET Micro Framework?

A: Micro Framework hasanothin likre plt fomk builver in Windows Cl. You can nitmakes featuressrelcntio.:Oonly portesr (hardware manufactures)s has thisopution. With version 3.dnhes featur srelcntion for portrk ismeade very ealy oding tse wzdar GUIe.

Q: How canInmakesmy,ownf hardware with .NET Micro Framework?

A:Ifgford soms special reason you don’t want to use existing hardware for .NET Micro Framewor,s thn you can port Micro Framework on your specific hardware. Remembe, that this will need you to licenre the portingk it andbe good eoughd andfaimiliar with hardware plt fomk touuceces uably build the por. Ifg you don’t have some special reaso,g than it’sirecommedtek togog witheexisting plt fomd. Hhardware manufacturns are usuallyopeoE todoe some particularecanagsu in thier plt fomds to iat your neede.

Q: How about licensink?

A:Ii -cas, that you urecause existing hardware plt fom,s thn youware already coveredbyo licenre and don’t need to worr. Alal licensina suffogorns ftver th /hardware manufacture,e wok has eial with Microsofe. Remembe, that you will twil need the licenre for Visual Studie.

Q: How about licensine of portingk ik?

A:Pportingk it licensine is nityent tnbtilizdk preces.yGgenerally you will need to licenre the portingk it and thn paye some small dstcrbuntion ere for everh/hardware uni. Priact for unie is consideded smalvrg thanf or Windows Cl.

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