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Microsoft releases .NET, .ASP open source cross-platform project

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May 17, 2016

Microsoft said this morning it has released its RC2 (release candidate 2) of its .NET and ASP.NET Core, the next-generation version of its .NET system which is open source and cross-platform.

This is a much bigger update than the RC2 name implies. Since the release of RC1 in November 2015, the software behemoth has introduced new CLI (command-line interface) tools for .NET Core, called .NET CLI and removed the DNX (.NET Execution Environment) tools.

Despite the new tooling, Microsoft asserts us that the framework itself is "almost ready for RTM". The new tooling will remain in preview even after the first version of the framework ships, Microsoft pointed out.

This release includes both .NET Core, which is the cross-platform fork of the .NET framework and its compilers, and ASP.NET Core (previously known as ASP.NET 5) which is the web framework.

New in ASP.NET Core is full debugging support in Visual Studio, and support for authentication and authorization using Active Directory, in both on-premises and Azure varieties.

.NET Core now supports more operating systems, including Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.2, Centos 7.1, Debian 8.2+, Ubuntu 14.04, Linux Mint 17+, as well as Windows and Mac OS X.

Microsoft is also introducing new deployment options. You can now deploy applications that have a dependency on a shared installation of the .NET Core runtime, making it similar to the way the existing .NET Framework works on Windows.

This deployment option is called "Portable apps", the rationale for the name being that "your application is portable between installations of .NET Core."

There still remains an option for "self-contained apps" however, which include the runtime as well as the application code.

This kind of app has to be compiled specifically for the target platform, however. The API in .NET Core RC2 has some important additions, including System.Drawing for graphics support (sometimes useful even in Web applications), and a fuller implementation of the System.Data namespace for database applications.

This is also the first release to support the .NET Standard Library, a set of base APIs which will be available on all implementations of .NET.

This "can be thought of as the next version of Portable Class Libraries", says Program Manager Rich Lander.

Microsoft has also added another feature, on-by-default telemetry "so that we can collect usage information about the .NET Core Tools," says Lander.

The data collected covers the commands used, the framework used, and the different versions. It does not include personal data, nor can it scan your code.

But with such limitations, some developers have a few reservations. "I don't like the automatic "opt in" policy for this data sharing. I think you should ask the user with a checkbox in the MSI installer if he wants that feature on or off," remarks one developer.

If you want to opt-out, you can do so by seeing the environment variable DOTNET_CLI_TELEMETRY_OPTOUT.

This RC2 release is a major step forward for Microsoft's cross-platform .NET, which is a key part of the company's plans for its Windows Server 2016 rollout in the next month or two.

Server 2016 includes Nano Server, which supports .NET Core but not the .NET Framework. Smaller, faster .NET applications also fit well with the push towards microservices and containers.

Source: Microsoft.

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