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The .NET framework is a well-established Microsoft ecosystem for building web-based services, desktop software and cloud applications. To meet changing demands over time, .NET expanded to include .NET Core, a cloud-compatible and open source development platform.
Since the release of the .NET Core platform in 2016, Microsoft has ensured easy integration with the Universal Windows Platform API, ASP.NET Core for mobile back-end engineering, and the mobile application framework Xamarin. As a result, .NET Core received a surge of interest from developers.
In this article, we explore the capabilities of .NET Core that keep developers interested, including the NuGet package manager and the .NET Standard specification.
Cross-platform potential of .NET Core
Earlier versions of the .NET Core platform focused on microservices and API access. The release of .NET Core 3.0 aimed to make it easier to port desktop applications, and it offers key development features such as NuGet.
NuGet is a package management tool that enables dynamic-link library (DLL) version tracking and updating. As projects evolve, developers can use NuGet to save multiple versions of the same DLL, and then apply those packages to projects as needed.
Due to .NET Core's modular design, developers can run dependencies through multiple instances and deploy them independently. Developers can also install compatible .NET modules and access their related libraries as necessary.
Advantages of .NET Standard
The .NET Standard provides API specifications that simplify cross-platform development. This enables developers to specify required base class libraries and ensure the same feature set across all supported platforms.
The most recent version of .NET Standard offers more than 32,000 APIs, allowing developers to work with both Windows and non-Windows platforms, including Linux and MacOS. In addition, .NET Standard uses additive versioning to make it backward compatible. Each new version retains the APIs from the previous version.
Visual Studio IDE
The Visual Studio IDE is a key .NET component, and it significantly eases development by integrating building, debugging and publishing across multiple platforms and devices. The .NET library simplifies development tasks -- from graphics rendering and database interactions to XML manipulations -- by offering programmers large predefined class libraries that support either simple or complex data structures.
.NET Core and containers
Another key aspect of the .NET Core 3.0 release is more diverse container capabilities. Microsoft recently introduced an upgraded Nano Server and customizable runtimes.
This stripped-down version of Windows Server helps simplify containerized application builds. Through .NET Core's expanded Docker capabilities, such as image optimization and extensive debugging, developers gain more options for deploying and running cloud-based applications.
.NET Core: Attracting new developers
Considering the range of possible development scenarios, from web and desktop applications to IoT and AI-enabled devices, .NET Core offers the necessary versatility. This partly explains the surge of interest in .NET Core for cloud-based application deployment. The .NET Standard also provides a single source that combines cross-platform APIs to both unify and simplify the build process.