If you’re looking for a tech stack for app development, Dot Net (or simply .Net) is probably something you’ve heard of a lot. This technology has a rich ecosystem and it often becomes a programmers’ main choice when it comes to building different types of digital products. According to the 2019 Stackoverflow survey, .Net and .Net Core took the second and the third places among the frameworks, libraries, and tools beyond web development.
We prepared this article to help you figure out if .Net is a good fit for your project. Besides outlining the key .Net advantages and disadvantages, it provides some useful recommendations on when to select this technology for software development.
What is the .NET Framework?
The .Net development family consists of multiple components. All of them are currently supported by the Microsoft corporation and allow for the development of various software solutions. To give you a clear understanding of different tools under the .Net umbrella, we’ll briefly describe each of them.
The .Net Framework is a relatively mature technology. Microsoft released it in 2002 as an attempt to create a standard technology for products aimed at Windows-based computers. Naturally, the framework has changed a lot since that time. Now, it comes with a variety of features and capabilities that can satisfy even the most sophisticated business needs. In particular, the .Net Framework allows for the development, deployment, and running of complex services, desktop and web applications. That’s why it’s often used as the core technology for enterprise-wide solutions.
Another aspect that makes the .Net Framework convenient for developers is that it supports several programming languages: C#, F#, and Visual Basic Code. The language interoperability allows programmers to pick the option that they prefer or that fits project requirements best.
In general, the .Net Framework’s architecture consists of the following components:
- Common Language Runtime. It’s a software environment in which a program is executed.
- Framework Class Library. It’s a set of common functionalities offered by the .Net Framework.
- WinForms, ASP.NET, and ADO.NET. These are tools for building apps with C# and .Net, as well as for manipulating data.
Many people wonder if there are any .Net Framework vs .Net Core differences, or they are the same technology. The truth is that these terms are not interchangeable. .Net Core was released by Microsoft not so long ago, in 2016, and it was meant to be a more versatile platform than its ‘elder brother’, the .Net Framework. That’s why .Net Core was created as a cross-platform technology, meaning that you can use it for building websites not only for Windows but also for Linux and macOS. The downside is that .Net Core doesn’t support the development of desktop applications yet. So you’ll need to use .Net Framework for that.
Although the .Net Framework and .Net Core are different platforms, they still have a lot in common. .Net Standard is a set of API specifications shared by both of them (as well as by some other .Net implementations). According to Microsoft, it was created to improve a uniformity level within the .Net ecosystem.
Xamarin is another implementation of .Net technology but aimed at mobile development. Like .Net Core, it’s cross-platform: with Xamarin, you can build apps for Android, iOS, and Windows. The biggest advantage of this technology is that it allows you to share up to 90% of the codebase across different platforms. At the same time, Xamarin provides programmers with all tools they need to create near-native performance and native UX for all applications.
In this review, we’ll mostly focus on the pros and cons of the .Net Framework. But we’ll also cover some essential strengths and weaknesses of other .Net technologies if we believe that they are important for your decision-making.
Pros of .NET development
Choosing .Net development for your project can bring you many benefits. Here are the main advantages of the .Net Framework.
Less coding with OOP
The .Net Framework is based on the object-oriented programming model (OOP). This model divides software into small pieces, making them easier to manage, test, and fix if any issues occur. In addition, OPP allows for creating reusable components, which means less programming, faster work, and cleaner code.
Simple caching system
A subtle yet reliable caching system is also one of the most significant .Net Framework benefits. Caching means the temporary storage of data. It’s required to call the necessary information quicker when it’s needed. In .Net Framework, the caching system is easy-to-use and scalable since programmers can make a custom cache implementation for an application.
Visual Studio is a Microsoft integrated development environment (IDE) that allows for building, testing, and launching software products on different platforms. Since it’s integrated with the .Net Framework, .Net programmers have all tools they need to create different applications. Besides, Visual Studio has some advanced compilation, debugging, and collaboration features, which also are considerable .Net pros.
Cross-platform development (.Net Core)
Cross-platform development belongs to .Net Core advantages. But we couldn’t ignore it because .Net Core is also one of the implementations of the .Net technology. It’s a perfect choice if you need to build a web application for multiple operating systems (macOS, Windows, and Linux) but want to stay within the .NET ecosystem.
Simplified deployment and post-development
The .Net Framework has a lot of features that make the deployment and maintenance of products much easier. For instance, the modular design lets programmers take separate parts of an application, fix or update them, and then put them back. It means that a bug or error in one part of a solution won’t cause the failure of the entire system. Besides, side-by-side versioning enables using several .Net versions simultaneously.
Reliability and Microsoft support
Another big advantage of .Net development is that this technology is supported by Microsoft. Since Microsoft is one of the largest tech corporations in the world, it always keeps its products relevant. All .Net implementations are regularly updated and are continuously evolving. So, you don’t have to worry that the framework will become outdated or be abandoned one day.
Statistics show that about 9.5% of all the websites are based on the ASP.NET framework. It’s every tenth website in the world. But .Net technology is popular not only among businesses but also among developers. Since it has a huge professional community all over the globe, it’s rarely a challenge to find a .Net programmer for a project. Another important aspect is that .Net Core is open-source with thousands of developers who contribute to its development.
Cons of .NET development
.Net technology holds a top position in its category. But it also has some disadvantages that you may want to consider.
The support of object-oriented programming in .Net Framework and .Net Core is enabled by the Entity Framework. Basically, it connects .Net implementations to different databases. However, some developers believe that the flexibility of Entity Framework is limited since it doesn’t support some new database designs. The good news is that there are a number of alternatives that can replace Entity Framework. So, it isn’t a substantial constraint.
Although .Net Foundation has a lot of open-source products, there are still some costs you have to factor in. For example, the Visual Studio license may cost you from $799 to $5,999 per year, depending on the subscription year (the first one is always more expensive than renewal) and the package you choose. Also, you will have to pay the licensing fee if you select Windows for development. However, this pricing can be an issue only for businesses that want to keep the development in-house. If you hire an outsourcing company, it’ll probably have all costs covered, and they will not impact your project budget much.
When to use .NET
Now, as we discussed .Net framework advantages and disadvantages, it’s time to talk about the types of projects in which this technology fits best. Here are the most crucial criteria that will help you make the right decision:
- large-scale enterprise applications
- other web solutions (incl., websites and XML web services)
- desktop applications
- cross-platform products (based on .Net Core)
In general, .Net technology perfectly meet the requirements and expectations of various enterprises, from SMEs to large corporations. So, you can’t go wrong with its implementations.
Putting it all together
.Net technology brings a lot of benefits to the development process. Object-oriented programming makes the coding part easier and faster, which usually means lower development costs for a client. Besides, the .Net Framework and .Net Core are supported by the Microsoft corporation, so there can be no doubts about their reliability. Although different .Net implementations have some minor drawbacks, they are rather insignificant and cannot affect the development process or product performance.
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