In-Depth

From VSLive! Austin: What's New, What's Next for .NET in 2017

Microsoft's developers have been churning through code and delivering a dizzying array of tools and services. But there's still more to come this year, as Microsoft's Jeffrey T. Fritz explained at Visual Studio Live! this week.

For all the changes that have happened in the .NET world, 2017 promises more of the same. Thankfully, the net effect all those sweeping changes is .NET being more flexible and more accessible to more developers than ever before. Jeffrey T. Fritz, Senior Program Manager with the Developer Outreach Group at Microsoft presented the general session keynote entitled, ".NET in 2017" on Wednesday, May 17 at the Visual Studio Live! event in Austin, TX.

"What a year it has been for us. A lot has changed, a lot is coming, and we've got a bunch of announcements to make," said Fritz, setting the stage for his keynote. "Open source and .NET has taken off. We've got strong partners working with us in the .NET foundation … like RedHat, Samsung, Jetbrains, Google--even Google is one of our partners advocating for .NET everywhere."

The.NET world does come with a healthy ecosystem. "What do folks actually think about this? .NET is active and growing," said Fritz. "In the most recent Stack Overflow survey, .NET appeared as number three most loved framework in its first time on survey."

And people seem to be talking about .NET in places one would not expect. "Hacker News is one place you don't typically see Microsoft," said Fritz. "But people were talking about Microsoft on Hacker News, and a steady trend coming up talking about .NET and Visual Studio 2017."

Fritz then moved into demonstrating some of Microsoft's development platform. "First let's take a look at C#. We had an update this year C# 7," said Fritz. Of particular interest to Fritz were the pattern matching, local function, and digit separator features.

Fritz described pattern matching as a way to use statements in an IF clause. Local functions are another critical factor. "We also have local functions. You can write a function within a function. That's kind of mind-bending," he said. "You can control scope of function."

A digit separator is used to separate a number when you declare your numbers within C# code. "You can use an underscore separator and the compiler just ignores it," he said. "It's there for us to read our code."

After covering the notable new features in C#7, he described some of the feedback he's heard so far this year. "The first thing we've heard is, 'I want guidance. How do I use these new features, put them together, and make my new application?'" he said.

In response to that, Microsoft has started a new series of architecture guides. "These tell you all sorts of things about how to use .NET to build web services, how to use containers, how to build web apps, mobile apps, build features to deploy to cloud," he said. "There are eBooks and containers; and more books and content coming."

Microsoft has also heard developers' desire to share code across all .NET flavors. "If you're supporting legacy apps on Silverlight and Windows phone, those are different .NETs," said Fritz. "So we released the .NET Standard Library-- one library to rule them all. You can learn one API that applies to all .NET platforms." .NET Standard One actually covers seven different versions of .NET: 1.0 through 1.6. It includes all different combos of APIs and platforms you can target with .NET, he said.

"Write in .NET Standard; then run it on a Windows desktop as a UWP, Android, take your pick," he said. "The .NET Standard Library is like a contract. You program your class library to that contract." Fritz then did a brief demo of the .NET Standard Library.

Following on that, Microsoft released the .NET Standard 2.0, which the company just announced and released in preview last week. "This is a direct reference .NET framework library. There's no compilation needed. Reference those libraries and they just work."

Fritz also covered the latest in .NET Core. ".NET Core 2.0 is the latest one available," he said. "We simplified it. Now I can add in extra packages I need." And moving on from .NET Cire 2.0, he introduced another version of .NET.

"Now there's .NET Core CLI," he said, referring to the command line edition.

"You can truly have multiple versions of .NET Core and the .NET SDK and bounce back and forth between them. It gives you the flexibility to use whatever version suits you best." He followed this with a brief demo.

Fritz closed his overview of the .NET advancements with a brief run-through of some of the new features in Visual Studio 2017, focusing on unit testing, the improved installation options and the ability to using different editions. He also promised "a ton more" coming throughout 2017.

The next Visual Studio Live! event is scheduled for Washington, DC this June 12-15. Check here for more details, or check here for information on all Visual Studio Live! events.

About the Author

Lafe Low has been a technology editor and writer for more than 25 years. Most recently, he was the editor in chief of TechNet magazine. He has also held various editorial positions with Redmond magazine, CIO magazine and InfoWorld. He also launched his own magazine entitled Explore New England, and has published four editions of his guidebook The Best in Tent Camping: New England.

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