If you need a free, open-source development platform for building applications, including web apps, cloud-native apps, mobile apps, desktop apps, games, IoT, machine learning, console apps, windows services, or more, .NET might be your answer. Many developers and non-techies alike use the terms .NET and .NET Framework interchangeably, but that is not accurate. There are two main implementations: .NET Core and .NET Framework.
“.NET is the umbrella term for the entire development platform, including all .NET implementations. More recently, the term .NET can also refer specifically to the implementation of .NET that includes all the .NET Core versions (1.0 – 3.1) and the later versions that drop “Core” from the name, for example, .NET 5 and 6.” – Microsoft
Both share the same components and code, but they should be chosen according to what you need to accomplish. They work on operating systems (OS) like Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, tvOS, and watchOS. Microsoft supports both releases with monthly security and quality updates. They also support programming languages like C#, F#, and Visual Basic. Integrated development environments (IDEs) for .NET are Visual Studio, Visual Studio Code, Visual Studio for Mac, and GitHub Codespaces. If you’re wondering about the main differences, we have a quick outline below.
- Older and been around since 2002
- .NET Framework Versions range from 1.0-4.8
- Faster to learn
- Better for Windows-based applications
- Easier for maintaining and upgrading .NET apps
- Better for UI web apps (until Core catches up)
- Stable environment
- Possible to port .NET to .NET Core
- Newer and been around since 2014
- Managed by the .NET Foundation
- .NET Core 1.0-3.1, .NET 5, and later versions
- Includes a steep learning curve
- Modular, lightweight nature is better for containers and microservices
- Cross-platform applications
- High-performance, scalable, but no UI
Choosing the right platform for your software can be the difference between success and failure. If you are unsure which .NET implementation is best suited for your project, feel free to ask our team!