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Where .NET Core 2.1 is Headed

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Microsoft's Scott Hunter has presented the roadmap for what Microsoft expects to include in the release of .NET Core 2.1. Hunter announced that Microsoft is able to observe active usage of approximately 500k developers daily. The usage of .NET Core 2 surpassed .NET Core 1.X in September 2017 according to Microsoft's telemetry.

With that successful launch in hand, Microsoft is focusing on a few themes for .NET Core 2.1: faster build performance, faster internal engineering system, and improved compatibility with the .NET Framework. All .NET Core project should have faster build times in 2.1, with larger projects showing large gains according to Microsoft’s preliminary benchmarks.

.NET Core 2.1 will debut an approach to framework compatibility called "minor-version roll-forward". This reduces the need to match an application to its runtime. This means an application targeting Core 2.1 can run without modification on future minor versions (2.2, 2.3, etc.).

Ready to run (R2R) precompiled assemblies are being slated for reductions in their install size. The approach taken in .NET Core 2 lends itself to faster startup times, but provides minimal benefit once the assembly is running. Since most customers usually launch an application and let it run, a fast startup time is of minimal value versus a reduction in storage space.

The command-line tooling supporting .NET Core is also slated for improvement. For greater developer convenience, several new commands will be included in .NET Core 2.1 to support the packaging and installation of developer tools. The command dotnet pack will package up assemblies for distribution while dotnet install tool exampleApp will install it to a user's .dotnet\tools folder. This location will be automatically added to the path so it is then possible to make use of the new executable regardless of the local directory.

Joining these additions is an improvement for self-contained apps to correctly be packaged with the dotnet publish command. In 2.1, the resulting package will include the latest patched runtime by default.

While a formal schedule has not been released, Hunter says his team is anticipating a preview release of .NET Core 2.1 to be made public in February. A second preview will be released in March, with a release candidate slated for April. At some point in the first half of 2018, the formal release-to-manufacturing build will be released.

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