When it comes to technicalities, .NET (previously known as .NET Core) is a younger sibling of the .NET Framework, also created by Microsoft. In November 2020, .NET Core evolved into .NET 5, a significant milestone that unified the various .NET implementations into a single framework. This version aimed to provide a better performance, more APIs, and improved language support, among other enhancements.
With .NET, it’s possible to create desktop and web applications running on Windows, Linux, and macOS operating systems. .NET can also be used to develop the backend of mobile Flutter applications. All aspects of .NET are open-source, including runtime, class libraries, languages, compilers, and application frameworks.
Initially, .NET was a proprietary technology primarily used by Microsoft for the development of their operating system. Those days are long gone, as in 2014, they decided to open-source the framework and continue developing it under the .NET Foundation - an independent organization to foster open development and collaboration around the .NET ecosystem.
Today, it’s also used by widely known companies such as Accenture, StackOverflow, Cisco, Dell, and Intel.
Microsoft is investing in improving the .NET security and delivers a few years of support for each newly released version, which is definitely an asset that impacts its stability. The current .NET 8.0 version was released in November 2023.
.NET 8 delivers a unified platform for browser, desktop, mobile apps, cloud, and IoT and makes it easy to reuse code across all platforms. Moreover, the code running in the cloud or on a mobile device behaves the same way and has the same benefits. Along with Visual Studio 2022, it provides new git tooling, intelligent code editing, robust diagnostics, testing tools, and better team collaboration.
.NET is often compared with Java because both are object-oriented, support modular programming, and share a similar level of popularity. However, as Microsoft stated about one of the previous releases, ".NET 6 is the fastest full-stack web framework, which lowers compute costs if running in the cloud."
Indeed, .NET is faster and less memory-consuming than Java, mainly because Microsoft spends a lot of time optimizing the entire framework. They represent a performance-first approach to its development and the huge amount of further performance improvements provided in the 8.0 release proves that clearly.
Applications built in .NET can run on macOS, Linux, and Windows without the need for rewriting the code - the same code is used for the entire backend. So, as an example, you can build your app on Windows and then easily run it in a Linux container.
All aspects of .NET are open source, including class libraries, runtime, compilers, languages, etc. Due to the .NET Community engagement, you can take advantage of ample support, fast release cycles, and modern tooling. Moreover, the community also helps to solve issues that can be encountered.
A significant advantage is that .NET has a large number of libraries and solutions created by Microsoft and the community. One of them is NuGet - the Microsoft-supported mechanism for sharing code, which defines how packages for .NET are created, hosted, and consumed and provides the tools for each of those roles.
.NET, as the web framework, makes it easy to create the APIs that become microservices. Each microservice can be developed, maintained, and deployed independently by any developer from the team. .NET is also easily scalable because it promotes creating applications in a way that allows you to scale horizontally.
According to TechEmpower Web Framework Benchmark, .NET provides better response times and requires less computing power in overall score compared to other frameworks. It means that applications developed in .NET will run smoothly, which is an asset for user experience.
The .NET ecosystem provides a wide range of pre-built libraries, frameworks, and tools that leverage object-oriented programming principles. These libraries contain ready-made components, functionalities, and utilities, enabling developers to expedite their coding process by utilizing these resources rather than building everything from scratch.
The need for a battle-tested solution
.NET application development is a battle-proven solution that integrates well with many languages, editors, libraries, Microsoft platforms (Windows), and various other ecosystems and services (Azure). It is also a stable solution supported by Microsoft.
The requirement is cross-platform
The evolution of .NET has been pivotal in enabling developers to create applications that can run seamlessly on various operating systems, including Windows, macOS, and Linux. .NET allows you to write code once and run it on multiple platforms without significant changes.
The system needs to be based on microservices
If you're developing cloud-based applications or microservices, .NET supports modern cloud architectures, containerization (using Docker), and serverless computing models. .NET, in general, promotes service-oriented architecture. The application consists of a series of subroutines (microservices) designed to deliver a specific business case.
The need for Web Development and Desktop Apps
.NET offers frameworks like Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) and the newly developed .NET MAUI (Multi-platform App UI), allowing you to create powerful cross-platform desktop applications. Also, for developing web applications, APIs, or services, ASP.NET Core within the .NET ecosystem offers high-performance web frameworks and tools.
The need for high performance
The performance of .NET can vary based on factors such as the specific workload, hardware, optimizations implemented in the code, and the version of .NET being used. However, .NET was designed with cross-platform compatibility in mind. This allows applications to run efficiently across various operating systems, benefiting from performance improvements tailored to different platforms.