With the introduction of .NET, a unified software framework introduced by Microsoft, it has become possible to use one platform that integrates many programming languages. This disruptive innovation has gone down well with the organizations and developers, who were keen on developing server-side applications.
With .NET being the umbrella term, the two frameworks that Microsoft supports, include — .NET Core and .NET Framework. While, the .NET Framework is the traditional and aging version, .NET Core has stepped in to address its limitations, thus aligning with technological advancements. But that nowhere means that .NET Framework is losing its fan base.
According to the StackOverflow survey, .NET and .NET Core are commonly used frameworks for application development, which makes it a safe bet for your business application endeavor.
The struggle to choose between .NET Core vs .NET Framework continues to persist in the tech industry. Whereas, 2020 is going to change it with the advent of .NET 5. We will get back to it, but before that lets’ understand the difference between .NET vs .NET Core.
Decoding the .NET (Dot Net) Family
Microsoft’s .NET is a free, open-source developer’s platform for building server-side applications. With .NET, you can make use of multiple languages (C#, F#, or Visual Basic), libraries, and editors to build web, mobile, desktop, gaming, and IoT applications.
For building server-side applications, the .NET development framework has two supported implementations,i.e., .NET Framework, which has existed for a few years now, and .NET Core, a very recent offering.
Here’s an overview of the two frameworks in question.
The .NET Framework
This was the first software framework introduced by Microsoft, and it was built only for Windows.The.NET Framework helps develop and run software applications. The framework’s performance is ideal and source code is readily available, but it does not support active contribution from the developer’s community.
This is a newer version of the .NET domain that addresses the limitation of the .NET Framework to an extent. The .NET Core is a cross-platform app development frameworks that can be run for Windows, macOS, and Linux. Moreover, it is open-source and accepts contributions from the developer’s community.
The good thing about the two frameworks is their ability to share many components and code when requested. Yet, there exist differences that need to be analyzed before you choose a .NET development partner for your next project.
.NET Core vs .NET Framework — Highlighting the Differences that Matter
Here are some parameters that draw the line between the two Microsoft frameworks.
1.) .NET Framework vs .NET Core — Compatibility
The best thing that makes .NET Core the number one in its league is its compatibility with various operating systems — Windows, Linux, and macOS. The .NET’s structure was fully re-architected to give birth to .NET Core to help businesses develop applications on all platforms.
When it comes to .NET web development services for enterprises, deploying .NET Core that supports primarily used platforms besides Windows, can be suitable. The .NET Core performance is quite impressive, and an added perk is its open-source attribute that makes it the most popular framework in the application development space.
.NET Core is the foundation of all future .NET platforms — Immo Landwerth, Principal Program Manager, Microsoft
On the other hand, the .NET Framework supports a restrictive model, which allows running websites, apps, and web services only on the Windows operating system. Within the cross-platform framework space, the .NET Framework is recommended only when an organization has been deploying the framework for a long time.
A note for organizations and the developers — Microsoft has parceled out the source code for WPF, Windows Forms, and WinUI.
.NET is open source, you can join the 60,000 developers and 3,700 companies already contributing to the .NET platform – Microsoft
2.) .NET Core vs .NET Framework — Performance
With .NET Core 3 ending and .NET Core 3.1 taking over, organizations have new features and enhancements to make their applications stand out. The .NET Core performance has shown better results as compared to its counterpart. But, minor performance regressions and startup performance issues have been reported with .NET Core 3.1 as compared to .NET Framework 4.8.
The GitHub performance test conducted by developers, draws the following inferences:
The .NET Core app uses 2 to 3x more CPU time when triggered, which is about 400-500ms more time. However, improvement with the render time is noticed.
The regression performance for .NET Core was slightly lower when moving from .NET Framework 4.8 to .NET Core 3.1. It was found that .NET Framework 4.8 performed 10-20% better than .NET Core 3.1. The reason being the overhead of the extra nop at the beginning of each method.
Here’s the .NET Core vs .NET Framework performance benchmark report:
3.) .NET Framework vs .NET Core — Deployment Model
One of the essential features available in .NET Core is its flexible deployment model. It means whenever the latest version of .NET Core gets launched; it can be instantly updated on one machine at a time, thereby getting uploaded in new directories without affecting the existing app.
Moreover, .NET Core can also be deployed for apps that need more isolation using the new app bundling tools integrated into it.
When it comes to the .NET Framework, the web application needs to be deployed only on the Internet Information Server. However, .NET Core’s advantage over .NET Framework lies in the fact that it can be hosted in more than one ways, in turn making it more flexible.
IMG and its Successful Journey with Net Solutions
Net Solutions helped IMG, a global leader in sports, events, media, and fashion develop a web application that would automate the merchandise approval and licensing processes with vendors. IMG wanted a B2B web app that would be compatible with all the operating systems and devices.
The result – IMG was able to roll out an internal application that helped its staff become more efficient with their vendors. This feature in turn brought transparency throughout the process of licensing and approvals.
Here’s the case study for a more in-depth insight:
.NET Core vs .NET Framework — Which one to Choose?
Any organization that runs applications on the .NET Framework might not feel the urgency to migrate to .NET Core. But, for those who are entering the unchartered territory of creating web services, progressive web applications, web applications, or even mobile applications, there is a choice to make. So, what should it be?
Prefer .NET Core in the following cases:
- The project demands cross-platform integration
- Your project focuses on building microservices
- If docker containers are used
And, prefer the .NET Framework in the following cases:
- Your applications are already running on .NET Framework
- The application uses technologies like WorkFlow, WebForms, or WCF
- The application deploys third-party .NET libraries and NuGet packages
- Your application is built to run on Windows alone
But wait! Would the differences even matter down the line? There is some bad news and some good news that Microsoft has shared with its community of developers and companies.
Bad News — .NET Framework 4.8 will be the last official release of .NET Framework in the series. The same goes for .NET Core 3.1! They are not planning to release an upgrade in the long run but will continue the support for the existing versions. But, Microsoft has a plan to make up for it, which brings us to the good news.
Good News — Microsoft will be releasing .NET 5 in 2020, which is a unified framework. It brings the best features of .NET Framework and .NET Core, thus breaking the chain of the “Framework” and the “Core” domain.
The first preview of .NET 5 is already available for download.
.NET 5 — The Next Step on the Microsoft Roadmap
The .NET 5 (no “core”, no “framework”) takes the best from .NET Framework, .NET Core, and Xamarin Development models to create an all-in-one framework. It will be simpler to use and brings a broad spectrum of capabilities to the table. Therefore, one can say that there would be no .NET Framework vs .NET Core battle in the coming times as the gap between the two will be bridged.
All set to be released in November 2020, .NET 5 Framework will be the monolith structure supporting all the modern .NET code. It will not only offer uniform runtime behaviors but will also make way for unified developer experiences. Moreover, it will have a low footprint, will consume less memory, and will lead to high productivity in the development process.
The .NET 5 project is an important and exciting new direction for .NET. You will see .NET become simpler but also have broader and more expansive capability and utility – Microsoft
You can try the preview version right away. And, as far as the full launch is concerned, wait for it!
Choosing a .NET Framework for building applications is one important decision to take. Initially, with the default .NET Framework, there was not much choice to make. But, with the advent of .NET Core, the application development has seen an upturn. Its open-source and cross-platform capability adds flexibility and shareability that helps in building robust applications.
However, the futuristic plans of Microsoft have a different story to tell. Well, with .NET 5, it is only .NET going forward, with no cognomens at all. So, with these three Microsoft frameworks available, it is time for you to decide which will suit your business requirements best.