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InfoQ Homepage News Microsoft .NET Conf 2020: .NET 5, C# 9.0, F# 5.0, and More

Microsoft .NET Conf 2020: .NET 5, C# 9.0, F# 5.0, and More

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At the 2020 edition of .NET Conf, streamed online last week, Microsoft released the much-awaited .NET 5, along with new major .NET language versions (C# 9 and F# 5), ASP.NET Core 5, and Entity Framework Core 5.0. New versions of Visual Studio 2019 were also released (for Windows and Mac), with support for .NET 5 and improved Git tooling. This year's event also featured sessions from teams at Microsoft covering other tools and frameworks released or significantly improved in the last year, such as Blazor and Project Tye.

The conference started with the official release of .NET 5. During the opening keynote, Scott Hunter, director of program management for the .NET team at Microsoft, talked about the significant growth in the .NET ecosystem. Similarly to last year, he stressed the increased adoption of .NET over the previous year (there are currently 5M active .NET developers in all platforms). After that, Hunter went back to the .NET 5, highlighting the performance improvements in the new release and short-demoing topics discussed in the next sessions.

(Image source: Scott Hunter's presentation)

Each of the topics covered in the keynote was presented by a different speaker, all chaired by Scott Hunter. The hands-on demos started with creating a windows desktop app, followed by demos on mobile application development with Xamarin, Visual Studio productivity tools, Blazor, ASP.NET web APIs, and Project Tye (for microservices). Although .NET 5 is not yet the expected unifying platform for all things .NET, at the end of his keynote presentation, Hunter reaffirmed the continued mission of achieving a unified platform:

We continue the journey of unifying the .NET platform. Our vision for one .NET is a unified set of libraries, tools, SDKs, and runtimes. .NET 5 begins this journey by taking everything available at .NET Core and adding several cloud and web investments [...].

Following the keynote, the rest of three-day the conference was divided into sessions broadcast from Microsoft studios (first and second days) and community sessions in local time zones worldwide (third day), from 9 am to 5 pm. All sessions were technical, revolving around the main releases related to .NET 5 and other products and tools released in the past year. The sessions following the opening keynote (first day) focused on the major releases: the .NET 5 SDK, C# 9, F# 5, ASP.NET Core 5.0, and Entity Framework Core 5.0. Other noteworthy sessions of the day included the performance improvements of gRPC in .NET 5, the new features of Xamarin.Forms 5 (expected to be released at the end of the year), mobile development with Blazor, and Project Tye.

Project Tye, released earlier this year, is an experimental developer tool for developing, testing, and deploying microservices and distributed applications. Presented by David Fowler and Glenn Condron, both from the Microsoft .NET team, this session was particularly interesting. It showed the motivation behind the project and how Microsoft is trying to make it easier for .NET developers to build microservices and use Kubernetes. The reasons behind the project being an experiment - understanding the actual problems, pain points, and limitations/potential of the existing technology - are an essential indicator of how much the latest Microsoft efforts have been tied to the community.

The second day of the event also included sessions related to the major releases (such as C# 9 and Visual Studio features). Still, the focus of the day was on DevOps and Azure: Azure SDK, GitHub Actions for Azure, and cloud-native applications were among the themes explored in these sessions. Another exciting session presented this day was related to game development with .NET and Unity. While game development is usually a niche topic, this industry has undoubtedly boomed in the last few years. In particular, there was an increased offer in specialized managed service providers such as Improbable and Multiplay. Microsoft is also part of this list: the current Microsoft Game Stack includes Azure PlayFab (for managed services), Azure (for custom services development), and GitHub (for DevOps). From a cloud provider perspective, gaming - especially distributed, multiplayer gaming - represents yet another trending opportunity in terms of services and tools, which is why it was not surprising to see this session among the other Azure-related presentations.

The last 24h hours of the conference featured speakers from the community talking about many different topics, including Blazor and mobile development (comprising the majority of the sessions), new .NET 5 features, IoT, and Machine Learning. A particularly interesting session (presented by Giovani Bassi, Microsoft MVP) covered the basic techniques and tools used in memory dump analysis of .NET applications.

Even though most of the .NET 5 improvements and features were related to performance, the conference's key takeaway was the strong commitment of Microsoft in expanding and strengthening .NET as a unifying platform for all applications. There was a clear trend related to DevOps tooling and Azure development, and specific improvements and features in .NET 5 that significantly improved the current state of mobile and cross-platform development. With .NET 6 expected at the end of 2021 as the de-facto unifying platform for .NET, the next year will probably be exciting for the .NET community.

Recordings of all the conference sessions are available in a curated playlist on YouTube.


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