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What Is .NET?

.NET is an open-source platform for building desktop, web, and mobile applications that can run natively on any operating system. The .NET system includes tools, libraries, and languages that support modern, scalable, and high-performance software development. An active developer community maintains and supports the .NET platform.

 In simple terms, the .NET platform is a software that can do these tasks:

  • Translate .NET programming language code into instructions that a computing device can process.
  • Provide utilities for efficient software development. For example, it can find the current time or print text on the screen.
  • Define a set of data types to store information like text, numbers, and dates on the computer.

What is a .NET implementation?

Various implementations of .NET allow .NET code to execute on different operating systems like Linux, macOS, Windows, iOS, Android, and many others.

.NET Framework

.NET Framework is the original .NET implementation. It supports running websites, services, desktop apps, and more on Windows. Microsoft released .NET Framework in the early 1990s.

.NET Core

Microsoft launched .NET Core in late 2014 to enable cross-platform support for .NET developers. The company released the newest version of the .NET Core, .NET 5.0, in November 2020 and renamed it .NET. The term .NET in this article refers to .NET 5.0. .NET Core is open-source on GitHub.

.NET Standard

.NET Standard is a formal specification of different functions (called APIs). Different .NET implementations can reuse the same code and libraries. Each implementation uses both .NET standard APIs and unique APIs specific to the operating systems it runs on.

Why choose .NET

Ease of development
Developers like to use .NET because it includes many tools that make their work easier. For example, using the Visual Studio suite, developers can write code faster, collaborate efficiently, and test and fix their code efficiently.  The ability to reuse code between implementations reduces the cost of development.

High-performing applications

.NET applications provide faster response times and require less computing power. They have strong built in security measures and efficiently perform server-side tasks like database access.

Community support

.NET is open source, which means that anyone can get access to use, read, and modify it freely. An active community of developers maintains and improves the .NET software. The .NET Foundation is an independent nonprofit organization established to support the .NET community. It provides learning resources, open-source .NET projects, and various events for .NET developers.

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