.NET Core vs .NET Framework: The ultimate guide for Net core and Net Framework
Everything You Wanted to Know About .NET Core vs .NET Framework
Software developers have a diverse choice of setups like python vs .NET Core vs .NET Framework to use when building applications. As new technologies emerge, it’s essential to remain updated and understand the differences in these tools to grow and provide quality systems.
Choosing between .NET Core and .NET Framework can be challenging, but here’s how they compare to help you pick the most suitable for your project.
Frequently Asked Questions About .NET Core vs .NET Framework
What’s .NET Core?
According to Microsoft (1):
“.NET is a free, cross-platform, open-source developer platform for building many kinds of applications.”
It’s a new version of the .NET Framework for multiple platforms that runs on macOS, Linux, and Windows operating systems.
This platform, developed and maintained by Microsoft from scratch, is a lightweight, fast, modular, and cross-platform framework. The integrated core features are required to run basic .NET Core apps. Other notable features included are NuGet packages.
.NET Core speeds up the performance, lowers memory footprint, and makes it easy to maintain.
What’s .NET Framework?
.NET Framework is a Microsoft-developed platform for creating and running Windows applications. This software development framework consists of programming languages, libraries to develop web and desktop applications, and other developer tools.
The first version was released in 2002 to build applications that run on the Windows Platform. It is used to develop both Web-based and Form-based services. You can also create Web services using .NET Framework. To learn more in-depth information about what .NET framework is, click here!
What’s the Difference between .NET Core and .NET Framework?
.NET Core focuses mainly on Windows Mobile and stores with ASP.NET, Windows universal applications, and web apps. It does not support desktop app creation with a user interface.
On the other hand, .NET Framework is mainly used for desktop and web applications because of the WinForms, ASP.NET, and WPF features included inside.
Other key differences between .NET Core and .NET Framework according to Educba (2):
“.Net Core is designed, keeping in mind the need of the future. It is cross-platform compatible, light-weight, comes in small bundles with no extra baggage, and easy to upgrade over time. .Net Framework is more focused on providing a complete bundle to use and create applications…”
.NET Core is an open-source developer platform used in creating a high-scale application. In contrast, the .NET Framework is not an open source but more of a community-built software project. However, certain components are open source.
Platform or Framework
.NET Core is mainly a platform where frameworks like ASP.NET Core and Universal Windows Platform leverage and extend the .NET Core platforms’ functionalities. On the other hand, .NET Framework is a full-fledged development framework.
It provides all the necessities for building apps like DB connectivity, services, APIs, and UI.
.NET Core application models primarily include ASP.NET and Windows universal apps, while .NET Framework models include WinForms, ASP.NET, and WPF. .NET Core mainly focuses on Windows Mobile, Web, and Windows Store applications but doesn’t support Desktop app creation.
.NET Framework supports Web and Desktop app development.
While .NET Core is based on the concept of build-once-run-anywhere, .NET Framework is only compatible with the Windows operating system.
.NET Core is a cross-platform tool because it’s compatible with various operating systems, including MacOS, Windows, and Linux.
Since .NET Core is a cross-platform tool, it is installed independently. In contrast, .NET Framework comes with a Windows single-packaged installation and runtime environment
.NET Framework does not allow deployment or creation of microservices in multiple languages. In contrast, .NET Core supports microservices. It allows the integration of various technologies that can be minimalized for every microservices.
REST Services Support
.NET Framework supports REST services and is an excellent choice for Windows Communication Foundation (WFC). .NET Core, on the other hand, does not support WCF services and always requires the creation of REST API.
Shipping and Packaging
.NET Core is packaged and shipped as NuGet packages. This is because it’s modularized, factored, and delivered as multiple NuGet packs. While the runtime libraries are still part of the package, the developer can selectively include other libraries as needed. This aspect makes .NET Core lightweight.
In contrast, .NET Framework is bundled as a whole. The libraries are packaged together and delivered. Whether needed or not, every library comes as part of the whole package.
.NET Core does not have some key features, such as Code Access, while .NET Framework has the Code Access security feature, which gives it an edge over .NET Core.
.NET Framework is very heavy for the Command Line Interface (CLI), and some developers prefer building on CLI instead of IDE. .NET Core is lightweight, so it supports CLI for any platform. Still, there’s an option to switch to IDE for developers who prefer working on it.
Scalability and Performance
.NET Framework has low scalability and provides less performance than .NET Core. Meanwhile, .NET Core is highly scalable and performs better than .NET Framework due to its architecture.
.NET Framework is primarily limited to Windows operating system applications. .NET Core mainly focuses on developing applications in various domains such as mobile, IoT, gaming, AI, and more.
.NET Core has a solid adaptable deployment model because it’s updated on one machine at a time when installed. This creates new folders or directories in the program without interference. .NET Framework presents a different model.
When a new or updated version is released, it’s deployed on the internet first as an information service only.
.NET Framework does not support mobile app development, while .NET Core supports it. This is because it’s compatible with Xamarin and various other open-source mobile application platforms.
Microsoft sustains both runtimes for developing applications with .NET as they share most of the same APIs. Software developers can write apps and libraries in F#, VB.NET, and C# runtimes.
When to Use .NET Core
.NET Core is an open-source and cross-platform framework. This makes it suitable for building apps on any platform. It’s also used for refactoring large enterprise or cloud applications into microservices since it supports it.
Generally, .NET Core is used,
For Cross-Platform Needs
.NET Core should be used when an app needs to operate across various platforms like MacOS, Linux, and Windows. These systems are supported as development workstations (3).
“Microsoft’s popular open-source code editor, Visual Studio Code, is supported on Windows, Linux, and macOS. VS Code supports the modern needs of code editors including IntelliSense and debugging.”
– C-Sharp Corner
When Using Microservices
Microservices are software apps made up of small, modular business services. The services can run, be deployed independently, and be developed in various programming apps. Since .NET Core is lightweight, scalable, and allows a mix of technologies, it supports Microservices.
When Working with Dockers Containers
Microservices and container architecture are commonly utilized together. Due to its modular and lightweight, it’s excellent for containers. While .NET Framework also works with containers, the image size is larger, making .NET Core the most suitable.
When you have High-Performance and Scalable System Needs
It’s recommended to run .NET Core with ASP.NET Core for the best scale and performance. This is essential, especially when working with many Microservices.
When utilized in fewer servers and virtual machines, it gains efficiency and scalability, translating to better user experience and cost savings.
When running multiple .NET Versions Side-by-Side
.NET developers installing apps depending on various framework versions should use .NET Core. This is because it enables the execution of multiple services on the same server with diverse .NET versions.
When you want to Control Command Line (CLI) Interface
If you prefer working with lightweight editors and CLI control .NET Core has a command line interface for all supported platforms and needs minimal machine installation. You still have the option to switch to an IDE like Visual Studio IDE.
When Not to Use .NET Core
While .NET Core is a cross-platform tool, it does not have some features or support for all libraries or extensions. Therefore you may encounter some limitations and situations where it’s not applicable in development.
Here are some scenarios where .NET Core is applicable.
When Creating a WCF Service
You cannot use .NET Core when developing WCF service. It’s not supported. Instead, make REST API with ASP.NET Core MVC.
When a 3rd-Party Library Support is Missing
A compatibility shim exists between .NET Core and .NET Framework provided by .NET Core. However, you will have compatibility issues if the class library uses unsupported .NET Framework APIs.
If you Need Access to Windows-Specific APIs
Applications that require to work with WMI or Windows-specific APIs (Windows Registry) will not function with .NET Core due to incompatibility with such registries.
Where Windows Forms and WPF Apps are Unsupported
If you work on projects where Windows Forms and WPF are unsupported, .NET Core will not work. For instance, you will need to use Mono to develop .NET desktop apps for macOS.
When Should You Use .NET Framework?
.NET Framework is a Microsoft creation distributed with Windows. This makes it suitable for most Windows applications. It’s primarily used to develop Windows desktops and large-scale enterprise apps. Such projects use .NET data connection and workflow tools.
Because this setup is compatible with Windows and Dockers Containers, it’s most suitable when,
Using 3rd-Party Libraries or NuGet Packages Unavailable in .NET Core
If you are working with libraries incompatible with .NET Core, you will need .NET Framework. NuGet systems consist of tools that can create and consume packages. However, if they are incompatible with .NET Core, .NET Framework will be required.
Working with Technologies Unavailable in .NET Core
While .NET Core is popular, it does not support all .NET Framework technologies. When working with these unsupported or unavailable technologies, you will need .NET Framework. The unavailable technologies include,
- ASP.NET Web Pages apps
- WCF Services Implementation
- ASP.NET Web Forms apps
- ASP.NET SignalR server or client Implementation
- Workflow related services
- WPF (Windows Presentation Foundation) and Windows Forms
Platforms that Don’t Support .NET Core
Not all Microsoft 3rd-Party platforms support .NET Core like some Azure services. Even with some supported setups, you may sometimes face some issues. In such situations, you will need to use .NET Framework.
When Not to Use .NET Framework
In a few and mainly isolated incidences, .NET Framework may fail and shouldn’t be used to prevent incompatibility errors and other issues.
.NET Framework will not run and shouldn’t be used under the following situations or scenarios.
- When high performance and scalability are needed
- Open source framework is needed
- In most .NET Core works
- Where Multiple OS platforms are required
.NET Framework Advantages
.NET Framework presents a comprehensive and consistent programming model for creating applications. This setup provides developers several advantages that include,
You can use .NET Framework to build apps that operate on different operating systems like macOS, Linux, and Windows. This compatibility makes it easy for developers who don’t have to re-write their codes.
Reliable and Robust
.NET Framework has in-built support for handling errors and managing memory. This way, it’s less vulnerable to crashes and other related issues, thus making it highly stable and reliable for developing applications (4).
“Performs type-safety through a type-and-code verification infrastructure called the common type system (CTS) to ensure code robustness”
.NET Framework is built to support multiple programming languages, including Visual Basic, F#, and C#. Developers can work comfortably with their preferred language without compromising performance and compatibility issues.
This Framework supports multiple web protocols and standards, making it suitable and easy to integrate with other technologies and systems.
With .NET Framework, installing and distributing apps on end-user systems is simple. This is because it has several tools for easy deployments, such as MSI and Click-Once installers.
Rapid App Development
.NET Framework has several pre-built components and libraries that enable developers to build complex apps quickly. It improves productivity and reduces development time.
This Framework has several in-built security features like role-based security and code access. Developers can create applications without any security issues.
.NET Core Advantages
While .NET Framework presents several advantages to developer .NET Core also offers a range of benefits. The tool also builds applications that can run on Linux, macOS, and Windows.
Here are some benefits it offers to software developers.
Primarily, .NET Core is an open-source framework. This means a developer can access source code and make changes as needed. The community can also contribute to the platform, which improves stability and functionality.
The modular architecture of .NET Core enables developers to integrate only the necessary library components. This allows you to reduce the app’s size and enhance performance. It also makes most of them lightweight.
.NET Core can easily handle high-traffic apps because it’s optimized for performance. It includes a Just-In-Time (JIT) compiler that compiles code quickly, thus reducing app startup times.
This platform is designed to function efficiently with cloud-based services like Azure. Its features make it easy to develop cloud applications such as Dockers containers and Microservices. For instance, it supports asynchronous programming and load balancing, improving app performance and responsiveness.
With .NET Core cross-platform compatibility, developers can create applications that run on various operating systems. This makes it easier to target and reach a wider audience.
Like .NET Framework, .NET Core has tools that make deploying apps to different environments, servers, cloud-based servers, and containerized setups easy.
Which is better, .NET Framework or .NET Core?
Picking the best platform for your project depends on what setup closely meets your application’s requirements. To pick the best, you need to consider your project’s outcome and the following factors,
Choose or Use .NET Core if
- You are using microservices because .NET Core is lightweight, allows a mix of technologies, and can be minimized for each microservice.
- Your project demands scalability and performance. It’s recommended to run this platform with ASP.NET Core
- Your creation requires running different versions of .NET side-by-side
- Your project relies heavily on Command Line Interface
- It demands cross-platform integration
Choose or Use .NET Framework if
- Your apps require functionalities such as web forms, workflow, or WCF, that are unavailable in .NET Core
- You want a functionality available in .NET Core but is unsupported by Visual COBOL. Deploying to macOS and Linux/Windows containers running in Dockers is not supported. So you will need .NET Framework
- Your apps are already running on .NET Framework
- Your applications are developed to run on Windows alone
Why is .NET Core Considered faster than the .NET framework?
This platform was initially developed with a keen focus on building a lightweight, modular framework that changes the features and the compilation method while focusing on performance. The Framework can also work with more and the latest libraries and languages.
Its cross-platform ability and open-source make many developers consider it faster and more efficient compared to .NET Framework.
Is the .NET core replacing the .NET framework?
While both are developed and maintained by Microsoft, the .NET Framework is primarily developed to create Windows desktop apps, web applications, and services. Microsoft shifted its focus to .NET Core, a more modular cross-platform development framework.
Generally, .NET Core is an open-source, cross-platform, and modular framework for developing apps compatible with Windows, Linux, and macOS. It’s lightweight and flexible, with only the required components in applications.
For this reason, Microsoft encourages developers to migrate to .NET Core with guide steps such as the porting from .NET Framework to .NET Core.
After the release of .Net 5, the developer has unified the .NET Core and .NET Framework codebases into a single platform, seemingly solidifying the shift towards .NET Core. Still, .NET Framework is supported and used for compatible applications.
How to Port from .NET Framework to .NET Core
You can migrate for a change, or if your project demands a shift to an open-source cross-platform, there are specific steps you should follow. First, consider using the .NET Upgrade assistant, but not all .NET Framework can be shifted using this feature. You can also turn to us for assistance as we have the knowledge and resources to help you seamlessly transition from .NET framework to .NET core (https://sonatafy.com/net-developers/)
According to Microsoft (5):
“Porting to .NET from .NET Framework for many projects is relatively straightforward. The complexity of your projects dictates how much work you’ll do after the initial migration of the project files.”
Here are steps to follow and consider when porting.
Analyze Third Party Dependencies
Understand how your app functions with the 3rd-party dependencies on .NET Core and consider what to do if they do not work. Most NuGet packages are easy to assess since each platform has a set of folders.
The ApiPort tool can assess the dependency portability if the dependencies are not NuGet packages. Ensure you test the packages comprehensively since they still may have issues if unsupported APIs are used.
Target the .NET Standard Library
The best way to create a cross-platform class library is to target the .NET Standard library. The library is meant to be available on all .NET runtimes. However, there are multiple versions to consider that vary across eight platforms.
For instance, if your project requires a lower version, it cannot reference one that targets a higher version. It’s recommended to use the lowest .NET Standard version on all projects.
To ensure all API alternatives for .NET Framework can be used for unsupported APIs, you should target .NET Framework 4.6.2 for projects to be ported. The Visual Studio will help you do this easily with a Target Framework command and recompiling projects.
- Port Tests Code
It’s recommended to test code using an appropriate testing framework. This is because porting code to .NET Core is a critical change in the process. You can use testing frameworks such as xUnit, NUnit, and MS Test.
XUnit, for example, makes it possible to edit using templates to write .NET Core tests.
- Implementing the Porting Plan
It’s important first to understand how the Framework is structured to port the code. You can also break the code base into layers and steps. To break the code, you should,
- Identify the library base, either the classes or data models
- Copy it to the new .NET Core project
- Make all the necessary changes required to compile the code
- Copy and repeat another layer of code
Overall, the .NET Framework is primarily Windows-based and runs on Windows devices. This software development framework is an essential tool in creating standalone applications for the desktop and the web.
It provides all basic components like UI, DB connectivity, APIs, Services, and more for building applications.
.NET Core is an open-source designed to meet various needs and purposes, especially Web Development, Windows Store Apps, creation, and Mobile Phone development. It’s also made with the future in mind. That’s why it’s lightweight, cross-platform, easy to upgrade over time, and comes in small packages to upgrade with no additional baggage.
Still, .NET Core and .NET Framework share a common base of libraries critical for any app to function. This set of libraries includes compiler libraries, data types, and runtime libraries. This makes the base for all .NET stack frameworks.
- .NET is a free, cross-platform, open-source developer platform for building many kinds of applications. – Microsoft Quote
- .Net Core is designed, keeping in mind the need of the future. It is cross-platform compatible, light-weight, comes in small bundles with no extra baggage, and easy to upgrade over time. .Net Framework is more focused on providing a complete bundle to use and create applications… – Educba Quote
- Microsoft’s popular open-source code editor, Visual Studio Code, is supported on Windows, Linux, and macOS. VS Code supports the modern needs of code editors including IntelliSense and debugging. – C-Sharp Corner Quote
- Performs type-safety through a type-and-code verification infrastructure called the common type system (CTS) to ensure code robustness – Indeed Quote
- Porting to .NET from .NET Framework for many projects is relatively straightforward. The complexity of your projects dictates how much work you’ll do after the initial migration of the project files.– Microsoft Quote