In recent years, .NET technology has become more popular among developers across niches and there is increasing demand for developers skilled in this technology. Obviously, .NET technology refers to both .NET Framework and .NET Core. With such growing popularity of the .NET ecosystem for quality web development projects, the timing is right for these two languages.
Ever since it came into existence, .NET Framework has mainly worked on the Windows systems and plays a crucial role by providing language interoperability for mobile devices and across other OS systems like macOS, Linux, and frameworks like Xamarin. On the other hand, .NET Core comes with a standard base that allows utilisation as a standard library across a variety of OS platforms such as Windows, Linux, macOS, and mobile OS platforms.
Before going into the differences between .NET Framework and .NET Core and their respective advantages, let us have a look at the four key components of the .NET architecture:
- .NET architecture offers Common Language Specification (CLS) that helps to define the implementation of the objects that can run everywhere. CLS is basically a subset of Common Type System (CTS), which is nothing but a common way to describe all types.
- Another key component of the .NET architecture is the Framework Class Library (FCL), which is basically a standard library capable of collecting the reusable interface classes and different value types.
- Another component is the virtual machine known as Common Language Runtime (CLR). CLR is used for running the framework and taking care of the execution of all .NET programs.
- Lastly, .NET architecture also comes loaded with Visual Studio to help develop independent applications, websites with interactive elements, dynamic web applications and various web services.
.NET Core vs .NET Framework
Let us remember that both .NET Framework and .NET Core are maintained by Microsoft and built on same runtime for developing .NET applications. They share the same API called .NET Standard.
.NET framework is mainly used by developers to build applications on a Windows desktop and Windows server. Such application types also include ASP.NET web apps. On the other hand, mainly the server applications built on Windows, Linux and Mac use .NET Core. At present, .NET Core doesn’t support building desktop applications equipped with a user interface. Both the .NET Framework and .NET Core runtimes can be utilised by developers to build applications and libraries in C#, F# and VB.NET.
C# is very similar to the other C languages and is a purely object-oriented programming language. Consequently, any developer skilled with and versed on the intricacies of C, will not have a problem working with C#.
On the other hand, F# is a fully equipped cross-platform language. F# is also an object-oriented programming language and is easier to adopt by developers who have some prior experience working with C languages.
Visual Basic is another key framework that comes packed with the .NET Framework, along with limited support for .NET Core and .NET Core 2.0.
Key Advantages of the .NET Framework
Now, let us concentrate on the key benefits of the .NET Framework. Suppose as a .NET developer you are running short of time and have to develop an app quickly. In that case .NET Framework should be your ideal choice. Keep in mind, however, that .NET Core comes with an ascending learning curve.
For maintenance and upgrading existing .NET apps, .NET Framework is a great choice. But porting an existing .NET app to the .NET Core, multiple tasks are required. When it comes to job opportunities for a developer, .NET Core offers very little compared to .NET Framework.
.NET Core Advantages
In spite of the higher learning curve, .NET Core comes with an array of advantages for developers and projects. In any case, for building a new application .NET Core is the ideal technology option. Microsoft latest .NET Core update is called .NET Core v 3.0, and is a much advanced version of the earlier .NET Core. If you want to be well-equipped with a future-ready technology, .NET Core is ideal.
WPF and Windows Forms have the support of .NET 3.0. The new .NET Core 3.0 comes with extensive support for cross development of apps utilising UWP, WPF, and Windows Forms. This boosts the flexibility and ease of incorporating modern interfaces like that of UWP right into the Windows Forms and WPF.
When it comes to cross-platform development needs, .NET Core is a much more appropriate technology. The best thing is the apps built with .NET Core are supported on multiple OS platforms including Windows, Linux, and macOS. .NET Core developers can also utilise the open source code editor of Microsoft called Visual Studio (VS) code, which is supported across all leading OS systems such as Windows, Linux and macOS. VS Code is preferred by developers and code editors particularly because of the latest editing tools such as IntelliSense and debugging. Apart from this, a plethora of third-party code editors like Sublime, Emacs, and VI, supports .NET Core.
.NET Core is ideal for building highly sophisticated and future-ready applications for other reasons as well. .NET Core supports Microservices architecture and a wide array of cross-platform services built with .NET Framework, Java, Ruby and some other languages.
Last but not least of all the advantages for which .NET Core is recognized by modern developers is its lightweight architecture, modularity, and unmatched flexibility. These qualities make it very easy to deploy the .NET Core apps in containers.
When to choose .NET Core?
Now that we have a clear idea about the core advantages of .NET Framework and .NET Core, we need to understand for which development tasks they are ideal. Here are the key scenarios where .NET Core is as an ideal technology.
- Cross-platform needs: If you are building a new application that needs to run across several leading OS platforms including Windows, Linux, and macOS, .NET Core is the appropriate technology.
- Flexibility to use tools: .NET Core is a cross-platform technology and has the support of Visual Basic, which runs on macOS, Linux, and Windows and offers editing tools like IntelliSense and debugging. Apart from this, you have an array of third-party editors like Sublime, Emacs, and VI that will work with .NET Core. You can skip any of these code editors and use the .NET Core CLI tools directly on all OS platforms.
- Microservices architecture: If your application needs support for microservices architecture, .NET Core is the way to go. .NET Core allows you to work with all microservices built with various languages such as Java, Ruby, .NET Framework and others.
- Performance and scalability are the priorities: When you need to build a highly scalable application with minimal performance glitches, .NET Core is the ideal technology. .NET Core offers extremely fast-paced and high-performance server runtime for both Windows server and Linux.
- Building apps with .NET dependencies: Apart from all the above instances when you need to build an app with dependencies on various .NET versions, .NET core comes as the right technology choice. It addresses the performance issues while lowering risks and saving money for app upgrades as well as IT operations.
When to choose .NET Framework?
In spite of the long list of benefits that .NET Core offers for application developers, .NET Framework is the natural choice for various development scenarios. Still, most developers are reluctant to replace the .NET Framework with .NET Core for all the server-side application development projects.
Let us explain some scenarios and contexts where .NET Framework is the ideal choice.
- Using Third-Party Libraries: When your app needs to use third-party .NET libraries or the NuGet packages that are not yet available for .NET Core, .NET Framework is an ideal choice.
- Larger API surface: .NET Framework compatibility mode can utilise .NET Standard/.NET Core projects as reference .NET Framework libraries. This helps the .NET Framework application take advantage of a larger API surface.
- Use of .NET technologies not available with .NET Core: There are several .NET technologies that are still not available for .NET Core, and your project may find them essential. Some of these technologies include ASP.NET Web Forms applications, ASP.NET Web Pages applications, Workflow-related services, WCF services implementation, etc. These technologies are available with the .NET Framework applications.
.NET Core is a more powerful and well-equipped technology that is not yet ready for all use cases and scenarios of development. On the other hand, .NET Framework as the existing and most popular framework has a larger presence across a multitude of apps. It is up to your specific development needs to decide on which of these two .NET technologies is best for you.
Bio: Atman Rathod is the Co-founder at CMARIX TechnoLabs Pvt. Ltd., a leading ASP.NET development company with 13+ years of experience. He loves to write about technology, startups, entrepreneurship and business. His creative abilities, academic track record and leadership skills made him one of the key industry influencers, as well.