Common Language Infrastructure


Common Language Infrastructure (CLI) is a specification developed by Microsoft that describes a computing environment designed to execute code, regardless of the programming language it was written in. Its main components include Common Type System, Metadata, Common Language Runtime, and a variety of standard libraries. It’s predominantly used in Microsoft’s .NET framework and it aims to improve code interoperability and boost software efficiency.


The phonetic pronunciation for “Common Language Infrastructure” is: “KAH-muhn LANG-gwij IN-fra-STRUHK-cher”

Key Takeaways

Common Language Infrastructure or CLI is a framework developed by Microsoft that allows the execution of code written in different programming languages on any operating system without rewriting it.

It provides a Runtime Environment that manages the execution of codes and provides services such as memory management, exception handling, and garbage collection. This makes the development process easier and more efficient.

It works on the principle of Managed Code, meaning CLI ensures that a loaded application does not access memory that is not authorized to, that it does not perform illegal operations, and that it continues to run without crashing.


Common Language Infrastructure (CLI) is an important technology term because it serves as a cornerstone in the creation and execution of programming languages. Developed as an open standard by Microsoft and then standardized by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), CLI helps different programming languages to interoperate and share code. Through its framework, CLI allows for a language-agnostic runtime environment for executing programs, thereby promoting code reusability, security, and interoperability.

It forms the basis of Microsoft’s .NET framework, enabling multiple high-level languages to be used on different computer platforms without being rewritten for specific architectures. This makes CLI an integral part of modern software development.


Common Language Infrastructure (CLI) performs a vital role in the world of programming by serving the purpose of a language-agnostic platform for developing applications. Fundamentally, it enables an environment where applications written in multiple high-level languages can be executed in different system environments without needing to be rewritten. It is an open specification developed by Microsoft that describes the executable code and runtime environment allowing multiple high-level languages to be used on different computer platforms without being rewritten for specific architectures.

One of the main uses of CLI is to provide a robust, flexible framework for creating and running programs irrespective of the language used for writing the code. This technology is designed to enable innovative language and tool innovation, enhancing efficiency and developer productivity. Microsoft’s .NET framework implementation of the CLI standards is a notable example of CLI in use.

It allows developers to write applications in various languages and run them on the .NET framework. Thus, CLI introduces language independence, a significant advantage in software development by bridging the gap among various programming languages.


1. Microsoft .NET Framework: It is a key example of Common Language Infrastructure (CLI). The .NET Framework provides tools, libraries and languages (including C#, VB.NET and F#) that abide by the CLI specification, enabling developers to build a variety of applications that are platform-agnostic and can be written in multiple programming languages.

2. Mono Project: It is an open-source implementation of Microsoft’s .NET Framework based on the CLI and C#. The Mono project allows developers to build cross-platform applications, demonstrating the ability of CLIs to run applications on different types of computer systems while being developed in a variety of programming languages.

3. Xamarin: Xamarin, now owned by Microsoft, is a set of tools and libraries for building cross-platform applications. It extends the .NET developer platform with tools and libraries specifically for building apps for Android, iOS, tvOS, watchOS, macOS, and Windows. The cross-platform capabilities of Xamarin can be largely attributed to its use of the CLI standards.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

Q1: What is Common Language Infrastructure (CLI)?

A1: The Common Language Infrastructure (CLI) is an open specification developed by Microsoft that describes the executable code and runtime environment which form the core of the Microsoft .NET Framework. CLI allows the use of multiple high-level languages on different computer platforms without being rewritten for specific architectures.

Q2: Who developed the Common Language Infrastructure?

A2: CLI was developed by Microsoft.

Q3: Is CLI limited to Windows platforms only?

A3: No, CLI is not limited to Windows. It’s designed as an open specification which can run on different computer platforms without needing to rewrite the entire system architecture.

Q4: Which languages can be used with Common Language Infrastructure?

A4: Various languages can be used with CLI such as C#, F#, Visual Basic .NET, Python, and many others since it supports multiple high-level languages across different platforms.

Q5: What is the purpose of Common Language Infrastructure?

A5: CLI is designed to make it easier to develop software that is interoperable and scalable across multiple operating systems and hardware platforms. It also promotes language independence and helps ensure that applications perform securely and efficiently.

Q6: Is Common Language Infrastructure an industry standard?

A6: Yes, the Common Language Infrastructure (CLI) has been standardized by the European Computer Manufacturers Association (ECMA) and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

Q7: Can Common Language Infrastructure be used for cross-platform development?

A7: Yes, CLI is intended for and enables cross-platform development. This means that developers can build an application using CLI on a specific platform and then run it on any other platform without any changes.

Q8: What are the main components of Common Language Infrastructure?

A8: The major components of CLI are: – Common Type System (CTS): defines all possible data types and programming constructs supported by the runtime.- Metadata: provides a way for CLI languages to interoperate by defining a common set of data types.- Common Language Specification (CLS): a set of rules and constrains ensuring the interoperability between CLI-compatible programming languages.- Virtual Execution System (VES): provides a runtime environment that manages the execution of code and provides services like garbage collection and exception handling.

Related Finance Terms

  • Managed Code
  • Common Type System (CTS)
  • Metadata
  • Microsoft Intermediate Language (MSIL)
  • .NET Framework

Sources for More Information


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