In the ever-changing world of software development, technologies come and go. Some fade into the past, while others continue to thrive and shape the industry for years to come.
The .NET framework falls under the second category. A preferred choice for software developers since its birth in 2002, it has stood the test of time and is still going strong. In fact, according to Statista, it was the most widely used framework in the world last year.
In this article, we’re going to take a look at what the future holds. We sat down with our .NET engineers and gathered their thoughts on the matter. We’ll explore upcoming trends, look at the framework’s current(and expected) state, and find out what you can expect from .NET in 2023.
.NET 6 and beyond
A few years ago, .NET’s future was uncertain. Then, in November 2021, Microsoft set the stage for that same future by releasing .NET 6. Complete with LTS(long-term support), the version restored our faith in the framework.
At .NET Conf 2022, a series of highlights were unveiled. One of them was the quick adoption of .NET 6. With close to 6 million active users, the tech stack evidently grew 1.8 times faster than its predecessor. Considering its improved performance, increased productivity and enhanced security features, that’s hardly surprising.
The newer version, .NET 7, comes with STS – short-term support, which lasts about 18 months after release. But it also came with an even more significant upgrade. Reduced resource consumption, better optimization opportunities and several new APIs are just some of the 1000 performance changes the .NET release offers. If you’d like to learn more about them, take a look at our .NET 7 overview.
And just this year, on February 21st, Microsoft announced the first .NET 8 downloadable preview. Unlike its predecessor, it’s going to be a long-term-support release, meaning it will be supported for three years after its release. While it’s too early to know the full details of the framework’s latest version, it seems to come with various improvements, many of which focus on cloud computing and cross-platform development.
With all of that in mind, it’s likely that the .NET 2023 landscape revolves around newer versions. Microsoft even released an open-source tool to help you migrate any legacy .NET applications.
C# 11 is the latest iteration of Microsoft’s signature programming language. Released in November 2022 as part of .NET 7, it gave developers access to various new features.
In addition to the .NET 7 performance enhancements we discussed in the section above, C# 11 comes with certain quality-of-life improvements. Features like Required Members may not bring any new functionality to the table, but they make existing ones that much more convenient.
Other basic features, such as raw and UTF-8 string literals, are also attention-worthy. It might not be game-changing, but not worrying about backslashes and special symbols in your string is a nice QoL bonus.
Of course, C# 11 doesn’t just introduce minor convenience changes. Generic Attributes are an example of a long-awaited feature that significantly streamlines the development process by allowing for much more flexible, reusable code.
Overall, between new functionalities and pure convenience, Microsoft’s latest language version has a lot to offer. And, considering that it’s part of .NET Core 6 and above, it’s likely to see increased adoption in the near future.
Machine learning is a hot topic among developers and non-developers alike. With models such as ChatGPT, Midjourney and Dall-E on the rise, it’s clear that the technology is here to stay.
ML.NET is an open-source, cross-platform machine learning framework for .NET developers. One of its main goals is to make machine learning more accessible to developers without a data science/ ML background. As such, it provides a simplified API that abstracts away many lower-level details of data processing and model training.
Of course, it still requires a certain level of understanding. It’s good at simplifying some of the more complex aspects, but it doesn’t completely eliminate the need for expertise in the field.
At the end of last year, Microsoft announced ML.NET 2.0, bringing the framework an abundance of improvements. The fact that they’re continuously improving the platform, combined with ML’s current popularity, strongly indicates that we’ll see more of ML.NET in the coming year.
The rise of .NET MAUI
Microsoft recently released.NET Multi-platform App UI(MAUI), a successor of Xamarin. The framework lets you write a single UI that can deploy to Windows, Android, Mac and iOS.
Admittedly, MAUI had a somewhat underwhelming launch. Initial users had trouble navigating it, encountering bugs and a lack of features. But the team has been working on it. And, aside from the initial issues that are standard for many new software releases, it does have significant potential. For example, MAUI’s performance offers 51% faster page rendering.
Last but not least, the rise of MAUI coincides with the sun setting on Xamarin. While a major version of .NET MAUI will ship with each .NET going forward, support for Xamarin SDKs will end in May 2024.
With all of that in mind, there’s a strong likelihood that MAUI.NET will be a big part of .NET in 2023 and beyond.
Ultimately, the future of .NET in 2023 seems bright, full of promise, new releases and improved functionalities. In the last 20 years, the .NET framework has proven itself to be a reliable, powerful and versatile one. And that isn’t going to change any time soon.