What is .NET used for - blog cover

Would you like to know how .NET can help you create modern and secure applications? Which industries rely on .NET to power their software? And what is .NET used for? This article will explore .NET technologies, common use cases, and why it’s become such a popular choice for developers worldwide.

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WHAT IS .NET?

.NET is a free, open-source, cross-platform framework developed by Microsoft that is used to build various types of applications, including desktop, web, mobile, gaming, and other applications. This technology was first introduced in 2002 and has since undergone diverse updates and improvements.

The .NET framework provides a common set of programming languages, libraries, and tools that developers can use to create applications that run on Windows, Linux, and macOS. Microsoft offers several programming languages on the .NET platform, including C#, Visual Basic, and F#. The framework also provides a runtime environment known as the Common Language Runtime (CLR) that manages the execution of code written in any .NET language.

Once started as a framework, now it’s more often referred to as an independent developer platform with a versatile environment. The platform offers an array of tools and libraries that enable the creation of various types of applications, such as web, mobile, desktop, games, IoT, cloud-based, and microservices. .NET has become a mature ecosystem for implementing modern and powerful solutions. Therefore, in this article, our main focus will be on answering the question, “What is .NET used for?”.

It’s worth saying that .NET has gone through a complicated versioning history over the years. For instance, Microsoft has also released several other versions of the .NET framework, including .NET Core. .NET Core was primarily developed to enable the .NET framework to be compatible with operating systems other than Windows and to become an open-source platform. In November 2020, a new version of .NET was introduced, named .NET 5, which did not utilize the Core naming. Therefore, .NET Core is often considered as the transitional period. 

Moving forward, Microsoft’s strategy for .NET involves releasing a significant new version of the framework annually, with each alternate year designated as an LTS (Long-Term Support) release. For the LTS release, Microsoft guarantees support for that specific version of .NET for three years from the launch date. The current roadmap outlines the following schedule.

.NET LTS release schedule .NET offers many advantages, such as improved performance, better memory management, and enhanced security. It also goes with a comprehensive set of class libraries that developers can use to implement common programming tasks, such as database connectivity, file I/O, and networking. Additionally, it’s highly extensible, allowing developers to create their own class libraries and add-ons that can be easily integrated into their applications.

WHAT IS .NET USED FOR?

Today, the .NET ecosystem includes a variety of tools, frameworks, and technologies that are used by millions of developers around the world. The framework has come a long way since its inception. It has become a key part of the Microsoft developer ecosystem, powering a wide range of applications from small-scale desktop utilities to enterprise-level cloud and web app development services.

.NET ecosystem

Coming to the main question, “What is .NET used for?”, let’s discover all the main areas where .NET can be applied. What’s more, it’s worth saying choosing .NET allows developers always to stay up-to-date and develop powerful and modern solutions.

Web development: what is .NET used for?

Web development is one of the most common use cases for .NET, with a wide range of tools and frameworks available for building web applications.

ASP.NET is one of the most popular frameworks for web development with .NET. It supports building web applications, including support for web forms, MVC (Model-View-Controller) architecture, and Web API.

With ASP.NET, developers can build web applications that are secure, scalable, and easy to maintain. ASP.NET also provides a rich set of libraries for common web development tasks, like data access, authentication, and caching.

Another popular framework for web development with .NET is Blazor, a new UI framework for building web applications using C# and .NET. Blazor allows developers to start custom web application development with a component-based architecture, similar to popular front-end frameworks like React and Vue.js. With Blazor, developers can write both the front-end and back-end logic of their application using C# to build and maintain web applications.

.NET also provides a wide range of tools and libraries for working with web technologies like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. For example, developers can use the .NET JavaScript Services to run Node.js applications within a .NET application or use the popular jQuery library for client-side scripting.

.NET provides a great set of tools and frameworks for web development. Whether you build a small web application or a large-scale enterprise system, this technology has the capabilities you need to get the job done. With frameworks like ASP.NET and Blazor, developers can build web applications that are secure, scalable, and easy to maintain while leveraging the power and flexibility of the .NET Framework.

Mobile development: what is .NET used for?

Mobile app development is another area where .NET has gained improved traction over recent years. Especially the recent announcement that Xamarin projects will have to undergo the transition to .NET MAUI through May 1, 2024.

Therefore, .NET MAUI is one of the latest Microsoft releases based on Xamarin.Forms. That is not only the repackaged version but a Multi-platform App User Interface. It uses the latest approaches to simplify the process of writing cross-platform mobile apps using C# and XAML.

One of the key advantages of using .NET MAUI is the ability to share code between different platforms. It provides a shared C# codebase that allows developers to write their application logic once and deploy it to multiple platforms like iOS, Android, macOS, and Windows. This can save time and reduce development costs, making it easier for developers to build high-quality mobile apps.

Another advantage of using .NET MAUI is the ability to leverage the entire power of the .NET Framework. .NET provides a rich set of libraries and tools for building mobile apps, including support for data access, networking, and file I/O. This makes it easier for developers to focus on building their application logic instead of worrying about low-level details. .NET MAUI also supports hot-reloading, allowing developers to see changes to their app’s UI in real-time as they make them.

With .NET MAUI, developers can create cross-platform mobile apps that run on iOS, Android, macOS, and Windows. It enables leveraging the power and flexibility of the .NET Framework. Developers can integrate the power of Visual Studio with .NET MAUI. Besides, it might be useful to draw a comparison with other cross-platform technologies like .NET MAUI vs Flutter.

Would you like to find out more about .NET MAUI?

We recommend checking our latest article on the comparison of .NET MAUI vs Flutter as the strong competitors for cross-platform development.

Read the article

Desktop development: what is .NET used for?

Desktop development with .NET is another popular use case. It offers several options for desktop application development, including Windows Forms and Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF).

Windows Forms is a framework for building Windows desktop apps. It offers a drag-and-drop interface for creating user interfaces and supports data binding, which allows developers to easily connect UI elements to data sources. Windows Forms is a mature technology that has been around since the early days of .NET and is widely used for building business applications.

WPF is another framework designed to help developers build modern, visually appealing desktop applications. It provides a powerful set of UI controls and supports advanced features like 3D graphics and animation. WPF also uses XAML, a markup language that allows developers to separate the UI from the app logic, making it easier to modify and maintain.

One of the key advantages of using .NET for desktop development is its ability to leverage the power of the .NET Framework. .NET provides a rich set of libraries and tools for building desktop applications, including support for data access, networking, and file I/O. That makes it easier for developers to focus on building their application logic instead of worrying about low-level details.

Another advantage of using .NET for desktop development is its cross-platform capabilities. With .NET MAUI, developers can build desktop applications that run on Windows and macOS. This makes it simpler to reach a wider audience and reduces the amount of platform-specific code that needs to be written. 

Overall, .NET provides powerful tools and libraries for desktop application development. Whether you’re building a business application with Windows Forms or a modern, visually appealing app with WPF, .NET has the capabilities you need to get the job done.

Cloud computing: what is .NET used for?

Cloud computing has rocketed in recent years, and .NET provides a range of tools and services for building cloud-based applications.

Microsoft Azure is one of the popular cloud computing platforms, and it provides a range of services for hosting and scaling .NET applications. With Azure, developers can host .NET applications in the cloud, use cloud-based storage and databases, and leverage a range of other cloud-based services, such as machine learning and analytics.

In addition to Azure, .NET provides a range of other tools and libraries for building cloud-based applications. For example, the Azure SDK for .NET provides a range of APIs and tools for working with Azure services, such as storage, messaging, and authentication.

Another popular tool for cloud development with .NET is Docker, a platform for building, shipping, and running applications in containers. With Docker, developers can build and deploy .NET applications in a scalable and efficient way without worrying about the underlying infrastructure.

With Azure and other cloud-based tools, developers can build scalable and efficient cloud-based applications while leveraging the power and flexibility of the .NET Framework. Whether you’re building a simple web application or a complex enterprise system, .NET has the capabilities you need to build and scale cloud-based applications.

What is .NET used for?

Machine learning and AI: what is .NET used for?

It’s worth saying that .NET is also applied for machine learning and artificial intelligence app development.

ML.NET is a popular open-source framework for building machine learning applications. It goes with a range of libraries and tools for building and training machine learning models, as well as tools for evaluating and deploying these models. With ML.NET, developers can build machine learning applications using C# or F# programming languages without requiring extensive knowledge of machine learning algorithms or libraries.

In addition to ML.NET, .NET provides a range of other tools and libraries for machine learning and AI. For example, Microsoft Cognitive Services offers a range of pre-built machine learning models and APIs for natural language processing, computer vision, and other AI tasks. These services can be integrated into .NET applications using simple REST APIs, making it easy to add AI capabilities to any application.

Another popular tool for machine learning and AI with .NET is the TensorFlow.NET library. TensorFlow.NET provides a .NET interface for the popular TensorFlow machine learning framework, allowing developers to build and train machine learning models using the TensorFlow library within a .NET application.

With frameworks like ML.NET, developers can build machine learning applications with the simplicity and ease of use of .NET, while leveraging the power and flexibility of machine learning algorithms and libraries. Whether you’re building a simple chatbot or a complex image recognition system, .NET has the capabilities you need to build and deploy machine learning and AI applications.

IoT development: what is .NET used for?

.NET provides a powerful and flexible platform for building IoT applications, with a range of tools and technologies that can be used to meet a wide range of development needs.

.NET IoT libraries are a collection of software libraries designed to help developers create IoT applications using the .NET framework. These libraries are composed of two NuGet packages. 

  • System.Device.Gpio – This library provides a set of APIs for controlling GPIO (General Purpose Input/Output) pins on devices running .NET Core. It allows developers to read and write to GPIO pins, which can be used to interface with sensors, LEDs, and other hardware components.

  • Iot.Device.Bindings – This package offers a set of Device Bindings that use System.Device.Gpio package to communicate with a microcontroller.

Also, .NET nanoFramework is an open-source platform designed to enable the development of .NET applications on resource-constrained devices such as microcontrollers. It is a complete and modern .NET implementation that includes a subset of the .NET class libraries and runtime and is optimized for small, memory-constrained devices.

Developers can use the C# language and Visual Studio or Visual Studio Code to write applications for devices such as wearables, IoT sensors, and small embedded systems. .NET nanoFramework supports a wide range of devices and architectures, including ARM Cortex-M, ESP32, and STM32. It also includes a range of drivers and libraries that simplify the development process.

Microservices: what is .NET used for?

Microservices are a software development approach that goes with creating small, independent services that communicate with each other to form a larger application. This approach has become increasingly popular for its scalability and agility.

.NET is widely used to develop microservices due to its support for multiple programming languages, its rich set of libraries and frameworks, and its cross-platform compatibility. .NET provides a powerful and flexible platform for building microservices, and there are many resources and tools available to help developers get started with building microservices using .NET.

ASP.NET simplifies the creation of APIs that can be used as microservices. It also includes native support for developing and deploying microservices using Docker containers.

Furthermore, .NET provides APIs that allow for seamless integration with microservices from any type of application, such as mobile, desktop, web, games, and more. This feature ensures that the microservices developed using .NET can be consumed by a wide range of applications with ease. Microservices developed using .NET are capable of running on all major cloud platforms, making them a versatile and flexible option for cloud-based microservice development.

Game development: what is .NET used for?

Game development is another area where .NET has gained traction in recent years. One of the key tools for game development with .NET is Unity, a popular game engine that supports .NET scripting.

Unity provides a powerful set of tools for building games, including support for 2D and 3D graphics, physics, and animation. With Unity, developers can create games for a variety of platforms, including desktop, mobile, and consoles.

One of the advantages of using .NET with Unity is the ability to write game logic in C#. C# is a powerful and flexible programming language that is widely used in the industry, making it easier for developers to find help and resources. Additionally, C# supports many modern programming features, such as asynchronous programming, that can help make game development more efficient.

Another advantage of using .NET with Unity is the ability to use .NET libraries and tools for game development. For example, developers can use the MonoGame framework. Being a multi-platform and open-source framework, MonoGame provides tools and libraries for creating 2D and 3D games with .NET.

Whether you’re building a 2D mobile game or a 3D console game, .NET has the capabilities you need to get the job done. With tools like Unity and MonoGame, developers can take advantage of .NET’s capabilities while building high-quality games for a variety of platforms.

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WHAT IS .NET USED FOR, AND NET. ADVANTAGES?

Since .NET is a popular framework for developing modern software applications, it’s important to address the key advantages of this technology:

What is .NET used for: advantages

  • Simplified development process: .NET allows developers to write code in a variety of languages, such as C#, F#, and Visual Basic, and provides a range of tools and frameworks to streamline the development process. This results in faster development and deployment times.
  • Cross-platform compatibility: Initially, .NET was not a cross-platform implementation, but it has now evolved into one that enables the development of applications on multiple operating systems. It’s also compatible with various programming languages, making it accessible for developers with different language preferences. Furthermore, as an open-source platform, it focuses on greater flexibility and reach.
  • Great UI and architecture: This open-source platform provides a superior user interface and architecture. When developing applications, you can take advantage of a dynamic and efficient Integrated Development Environment (IDE). By utilizing the best-in-class Model-View-Controller (MVC) architecture, intuitive user interface, and top-notch UI controls, you can create an impressive application.
  • Security: Developers can leverage numerous beneficial classes and services offered by the .NET platform and its common language runtime. These resources facilitate the development of secure code, implementation of role-based security, and utilization of cryptography. This helps to protect against common security threats such as SQL injection and cross-site scripting.
  • Language interoperability: .NET allows developers to write code in a variety of languages and also provides the ability to integrate with existing code written in other languages. This makes it easier to reuse existing code and build upon existing software solutions.
  • Robust tooling and frameworks: .NET provides a wide range of tools and frameworks for developers to build and deploy applications. This includes development environments like Visual Studio with automatically installed tools that simplify the process of building web applications and interacting with databases.
  • Large developer community: .NET has a large and active developer community, which provides a wealth of resources and support for developers. This includes open-source libraries, forums, user groups, meetups, and events. The number of .NET developers reaches the point of 8 million.

Overall, the advantages of .NET make it a popular choice for building modern software applications, particularly in enterprise environments where security, scalability, and cross-platform compatibility are important factors.

WHO CHOOSES .NET?

Many organizations and companies use .NET to build applications, both for internal use and for customer-facing products. While this technology has been a popular choice for enterprise-level companies in industries such as finance and healthcare for many years, more and more industries are now adopting .NET due to its advantages. Let’s consider a few examples:

  • Microsoft itself uses .NET for developing many of its own products, including Visual Studio and OneDrive.
  • Many financial institutions, like banks and insurance companies, leverage .NET to develop their internal systems and customer-facing applications. For example, JP Morgan Chase, American Express, and Morgan Stanley all use .NET for their applications.
  • Some government agencies use .NET for developing their systems and applications. For example, the United States Air Force applies .NET for their financial management system, while the United States Postal Service uses it for its shipping and tracking system.
  • Many healthcare companies and organizations use .NET for their applications, such as electronic health record systems and medical billing software. For instance, McKesson, one of the largest healthcare companies in the world, chooses .NET for several of its applications.
  • Manufacturing companies use .NET to build systems that track inventory, manage production, and monitor supply chain activities. . NET’s ability to handle complex data structures and business logic, and its interoperability with other technologies, such as IoT devices, make it an excellent choice for manufacturing applications

Would you like to check some projects implemented with .NET in more detail?

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  • Universities and educational institutions also apply .NET for their systems and applications. For example, Harvard University uses .NET for its student portal and learning management system.
  • Media and entertainment companies use .NET to build content management systems, streaming platforms, and digital asset management systems. .NET is efficient for handling large volumes of data, and its interoperability with other technologies, such as AWS and Azure, makes it a suitable choice.
  • .NET is popular among startups and small businesses, as it provides a powerful and flexible framework for building web, desktop, and mobile applications.

It’s important to note that these industries are just a few examples of where .NET can be used effectively. Ultimately, the decision to use .NET will depend on the specific needs of each individual organization. Therefore, industries that benefit from .NET development are diverse and varied. By considering factors such as cross-platform capabilities, interoperability, and security, companies can make an informed decision about whether .NET is the right choice for their development needs.

CONCLUSION

.NET is a versatile and comprehensive developer platform that offers a multitude of tools and libraries for creating a broad range of applications. Its cross-platform compatibility, support for multiple programming languages, and an extensive class library make it an attractive choice for developers across various industries. With its security features, database connectivity options, and robust performance capabilities, .NET remains popular among developers looking to build modern, dynamic, and secure applications.

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Frequently asked questions

Why choose .NET?

The .NET developer platform is equipped with a diverse set of tools and libraries that can be utilized to develop a broad range of applications, including but not limited to web, mobile, desktop, games, IoT, cloud-based, and microservices applications.

What is .NET used for?

.NET can be leveraged for:

  • Web development

  • Mobile development

  • Desktop development

  • Cloud computing

  • Machine learning & AI

  • IoT app development

  • Microservices

  • Game development

What are the main advantages of choosing .NET for your projects?

The main advantages of development with .NET include a broad range of tools and solutions, cross-platform compatibility, security features, an extensive class library, and an active developer community.

Who uses .NET?

Custom .NET development is leveraged across a wide range of industries, including finance, healthcare, e-commerce, government, and entertainment, among others.

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