Intermediate Language (IL)

In software engineering, the concept of abstraction is extremely important. We often use abstraction to hide the complexity of system or application services, providing instead a simple interface to the consumer. As long as we can keep the interface the same, we can change the hideous internals, and different consumers can use the same interface.

In language advances, scientists introduced different incarnations of language-abstraction layers, such as p-code and bytecode . Produced by the Pascal-P compiler, p-code is an intermediate language that supports procedural programming. Generated by Java compilers, bytecode is an intermediate language that supports object-oriented programming. Bytecode is a language abstraction that allows Java code to run on different operating platforms, as long as the platforms have a Java Virtual Machine (JVM) to execute bytecode.

Microsoft calls its own language-abstraction layer the Common Intermediate Language (CIL). Similar to bytecode, IL supports all object-oriented features, including data abstraction, inheritance, polymorphism, and useful concepts such as exceptions and events. In addition to these features, IL supports other concepts, such as properties, fields, and enumeration. Any .NET language may be converted into IL, so .NET supports multiple languages and perhaps multiple platforms in the future (as long as the target platforms have a CLR).

Shipped with the .NET SDK, the MSIL Instruction Set Specification ...

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