In the early 2000s, .NET (DotNet) came in as a revolutionary product with a promising future. However, in the world of technology, nothing lasts forever. It's entirely logical that the popularity of some technologies wanes, making way for newer ones. Nevertheless, in our case, this doesn't mean that .NET is dead.
At EXB Soft, we have extensive experience with this platform and know it inside out. In this article, we share firsthand insights on the advantages, disadvantages, current rankings, and future prospects of .NET compared to other development tools of today.
What is .NET?
.NET is Microsoft's open-source software platform for creating dynamic web pages and various types of applications. Essentially, it's a suite of products that includes tools, libraries, and languages. This technology is chosen by a variety of companies from different sections, we reviewed .NET in fintech projects on our blog.
.NET developers are proficient in working with the following components:
Active Server Page is a technology that makes it relatively easy to develop web applications that interact with databases. It's based on the Common Language Runtime (CLR) and boasts superior speed compared to scripting technologies. Products created with ASP.NET tend to perform better and offer enhanced security.
An extension of ASP.NET, MVC is used to create web services. Its concept of separating and assigning responsibilities to each component (Model, View, Controller) simplifies development dramatically.
This is the environment for creating high-quality modern web applications. However, it's not merely an updated technology; its release signifies a substantial transformation of the entire platform. Key features include:
- open-source availability on GitHub
- cross-platform compatibility
- the ability to leverage cloud technologies
In a nutshell, .NET Core has significantly expanded the application domain of ASP.NET.
Benefits of .NET
The .NET platform offers a readymade toolkit that allows any developer to write, test, and deploy applications quickly. It brings forth a range of advantages, the main of which include this trifecta:
- Open source with powerful package managers: .NET offers open-source capabilities and robust package managers like NuGet and Paket. It supports various languages, all compiled for seamless native interaction, including C#, F#, and IronPython.
- Stable SDKs and runtimes: .NET provides versions of SDKs and runtimes that contain almost no incompatible changes. This ensures continuity and reduces the chances of code-breaking alterations.
- Balance between security and performance: .NET maintains a delicate balance between code security and performance. Developers can, in most cases, focus on coding without worrying much about memory consumption or intricate interactions with the OS resources. It's like having the portability of C with all the advantages of a managed code environment. Such a scenario allows almost any developer in the team to switch between different codebases. You can also share the same code across various system components if necessary.
Other noteworthy advantages include:
- Robust support: .NET offers one of the most solid technical foundations, significantly expanding development possibilities. Cross-platform support is a key feature, providing flexibility and widening the user base while reducing time and resource requirements.
- Unified structure: The platform allows integrating multiple models into a single environment. Programmers can develop various types of applications using a standard set of API requirements and tools.
- High performance: Achieved through a JIT compiler and development environment, .NET optimizes code generation and libraries, resulting in superior execution speed.
- Support for multiple languages: You have the freedom to choose a programming language that best suits the developer's skills and project requirements. The most universal choice in this environment is C#.
- Extensive library base: .NET offers developers a ton of capabilities that accelerate application development. Access to interface outlines and a multitude of tools enhances functionality and streamlines development.
- High reliability: A fundamental advantage lies in security, thanks to features that grant secure access and information processing. On top of that, the platform supports encryption algorithms and multi-faceted identification means.
- Thriving community: While it might not be the largest community, it's certainly the most active. This is a testament to the platform's sustainability.
- Innovations: Programmers can use .NET to create groundbreaking solutions in areas such as Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and the Internet of Things. The platform certainly can keep afloat in the ever-evolving tech landscape.
Weak Sides of .NET
There is always a flip side to all the goodies. In our case, these include:
- Inflexibility and verbosity of C#: The C# language can be somewhat inflexible and verbose, leading to more code structures compared to some other languages.
- Limited integrations with data stream processing products: .NET doesn't offer a wide range of integrations with data stream processing products, which might restrict its capabilities in this field.
- Potential overreliance on standard libraries and tools: Relying too much on standard libraries and tools might lead developers to overlook alternative approaches that could better address their specific needs.
- Lack of advanced code analysis tools for third-party libraries: The platform could benefit from more advanced tools for exploring third-party library source code.
This brings us to the question: "Is .NET framework still used?" In general, the platform has a promising future, both for web and mobile development. Its mature ecosystem offers a vast array of features and integrations out of the box. However, when considered from the perspective of budding developers, it might seem that Python, Node.js, and Go appear to be more competitive options.
Objectively, .NET deserves more popularity, but some of Microsoft's decisions were implemented relatively late. For instance, the shift towards open-source and the move towards modularity and unification with .NET Core.
So does .NET gradually turn obsolete?
It's not going anywhere anytime soon, even though over two decades have passed since the advent of DotNet technology. It still remains a major player in enterprise software development.
However, the lack of updates has led many to question its future. Microsoft itself has made it clear that in its current form, the platform is reaching the end of its journey. Industry experts have speculated that the product development cycle for .NET is coming to a close.
In reality, .NET has evolved. ASP.NET MVC and Web API have proven to be so good that they are still in use and actively supported, albeit with a Core extension. They've provided these technologies with a new lease on life. The release of .NET Core 3.0 marked the beginning of a new era for the .NET Framework. Subsequently, the fifth, sixth, and seventh versions emerged.
And many outdated systems and components of the original platform have been replaced or discontinued. For instance, .NET Web Forms and Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) are no longer in use. This has compelled many developers to turn to technologies like Blazor, gRPC, or CoreWCF, as they can no longer utilize the key features of the original platform. In this sense, it might seem like .NET is fading away. But not completely.
Let’s see where it can grow, still.
.NET’s Growth Trajectories
There's a good chance that DotNet could become even more popular than it is today. We believe that its cross-platform capabilities, machine learning potential, and peripheral computing applications won't escape the notice of developers. Meanwhile, let's answer the question: "What is .NET used for right now?"
The future lies in cloud computing, and that's a widely acknowledged fact. Especially considering that digitization is penetrating every aspect of our lives. Some have long been using the cloud, while for others, it's a recent adaptation. Azure Cloud's capabilities will truly shine in this context.
This platform offers a wide range of cloud services, making it easy to develop, debug, deploy, and monitor cloud applications. Furthermore, it boasts multi-layered security, which is a top priority for many companies and services, given the importance of data privacy today.
The built-in mechanism for application verification and data encryption will keep the platform dominant in the software development market for a long time. Security is a critical factor, and a platform backed by a renowned brand like Microsoft will not be forgotten by developers for many years.
Machine Learning (ML)
Machine learning is one of the hottest topics today. Many organizations are optimizing their workflow processes, which require the automated processing of large volumes of data. Developers will find the cross-platform, open-source .NET platform useful for developing their machine learning models.
At present, ML.NET has added support for deep learning, reinforcement learning, and other advanced methods. Furthermore, this promising technology is becoming even better with each new release. Its capabilities are growing, its performance is increasing, and this is drawing the attention of developers.
Internet of Things (IoT)
.NET nanoFramework is a free, open-source platform designed for microcontrollers. It enables the development of various devices for the Internet of Things, wearables, scientific instruments, robotics, and more.
Essentially, it's a smaller version of the "big" framework designed for desktop systems. Application development is done in the C# language in the Visual Studio environment. The platform itself is a .NET runtime environment, which allows code to be transferred from one microcontroller to another.
In conclusion, .NET has gained significant popularity in the 20 years since its release. It's constantly evolving and enjoys broad support on various platforms and operating systems. We expect it to stay trendy for a long time to come.
To understand whether .NET is still in use, we must look at the statistics. Of course, this platform has never been at the top of the developers rankings. However, it has been used by many. So it has many advantages, but not enough to make it the leader. But that doesn't mean it has completely lost its relevance.
On the other hand, developers get several worthy alternatives, like:
- Java - a language that has gained incredible popularity due to its unique portability and scalability. It's an excellent choice for creating enterprise-level applications.
- Python - a simple and readable language that has become widely sought after in web and AI application development.
- Go - a very straightforward language known for its support of parallelism and performance. It is typically used for creating network systems.
- Ruby - a simple and flexible language well-optimized for web applications. It also has a large and active community of developers.
But, again, according to a recent survey , the platform is more alive than dead. And it's doing quite well. In 2022, about 25% of respondents used .NET 5+, and around 17% used older versions. This says a lot.
The .NET ecosystem has never been stagnant, and in recent years, it has expanded significantly. This process continues even now. There are already several languages, libraries, and tools that allow for an optimized development process. And we expect to see even more in the future.
You might ask, why is that? Because Microsoft constantly modernizes the platform, sometimes to the point of being unrecognizable. How exactly?
Through transformation and innovation
The platform has been evolving from the very get-go. First, new frameworks emerged, followed by portable class libraries (PCL). Then came the unification of APIs and so on.
In our view, the most significant changes occurred with the advent of .NET Core. The unified platform for all types of applications brought new advantages. Developers gained more capabilities to ensure the efficiency and performance of their solutions.
It didn’t take long for .NET to turn into a set of platforms independently managed and supported by different teams. A modular implementation, open-source and suitable for a wide range of verticals, came in as a game-changer. These new solutions simplified the packaging and deployment of products created for different platforms.
The next step forward was .NET 5, which provided a unified runtime and platform that could be used anywhere with consistent development capabilities. It expanded the platform's capabilities, incorporating the best features of .NET Core, .NET Framework, Xamarin, and Mono.
Subsequently, .NET 6 and .NET 7 appeared, improving reliability and performance, and introducing new APIs and language features. And now, we are eagerly awaiting the release of the 8th version. So the framework continues to evolve, and there is no doubt about its relevance.
What is the Future of .NET?
It's quite possible that the framework will fade away at some point (we believe not too soon), but .NET Core will become a notably more flexible and powerful tool. Lowering entry barriers will help it earn a good reputation. It will become more beginner-friendly, aided by the idea of creating a .NET educational open-source computer science curriculum that can run entirely online, right in your browser.
Applications written in .NET from the past will continue to function seamlessly without any additional manipulations. Development and bug fixes for them can be shifted, for example, to Xamarin.
According to Microsoft, Blazor has a bright future in desktop application interface development. The technology will execute .NET code in all browsers without the need for plugins and such. Regardless of form, bridging the gap in implementing various types of applications will be overcome, and the increased reliability of the platform will have a positive impact on network development service providers.
Developers have been awaiting improvements like hot reload in ASP.NET and precompilation for Blazor for a long time, and they have been delivered. With the new updates, project build speed and code compilation will increase. But perhaps this is just the beginning, as Microsoft has never announced the total closure of the project.
The recent updates may have disappointed some developers who encountered the inability to use the core functions of the original platform. However, the benefits provided by .NET Core 3.0 and subsequent versions make it a sought-after solution. So, it's too early to count it out.
Is Dot Net still used? It certainly is, and all the above info should give you a pretty good idea why you need to use .net, too. Let the experts at EXB Soft help find your way around. Contact us to discuss your next corporate or custom software solution to drive business and boost sales.