At its TechEd event in Houston today, Microsoft talked about the future of its .NET and ASP.NET frameworks. While the company isn’t quite ready to announced .NET 5 just yet, it’s clear that Microsoft is pretty close to launching the next version of its standard development framework.
As Microsoft’s Brian Harry, the corporate vice president in its Developer Division, told me last week, the team has realized that the framework had to evolve in order to stay relevant in a world where developers now have to target multiple platforms. “We had the same framework that ran everywhere, but we were seeing very different requirements for the different platforms,” Harry told me. “More than large monolithic libraries, developer now want small packages that they can pick and choose.”
As Microsoft noted today, it also wants to make .NET more agile on the server and in the cloud. To do this, it will launch optimized .NET runtimes for the cloud that are faster and need fewer resources than today’s standard .NET runtime. These cloud-optimized .NET runtimes will only feature the libraries you would typically need in the cloud — without weighing down the framework with tools like Windows Form or Windows Presentation Foundation libraries.
Harry told me that one major advantage of this is that developers can package their apps with the libraries and more easily run apps that use different versions of .NET side-by-side.
Through its partnership with Xamarin (at some point, Microsoft should just buy Xamarin given how deeply it is integrating its services into its developer ecosystem…), developers will also be able to run their .NET applications on Unix or OS X on top of the Mono runtime.
As part of today’ announcement, Microsoft also announced a preview of the next version of its web development framework ASP.NET, dubbed ASP.NET vNEXT. The focus here is on allowing developer to select which libraries and packages they want to use for their apps.
Developers will be able to take all of their existing ASP.NET skills, but with vNEXT, they will also be able to use the dynamic compilation available in the new open-source Roslyn .NET compiler platform, so they won’t have to recompile their apps to see the changes they made in their browser.
ASP.NET vNEXT will be an open-source project and become part of the Microsoft’s recently announced .NET Foundation.
So far, this is all Microsoft is sharing about the next version of .NET, but chances are we will hear quite a bit more about it in the months to come.