When you begin developing new software, one of the first decisions to make is where to develop it. .NET Core and .NET Framework are two of the best framework options to facilitate the efficient development of your next application or program. But to know which one ideally suits your particular project, you have to know the strengths and weaknesses of each.

.NET was first developed in the late ’90s as an internal project by Microsoft to help developers and engineers. Since its initial rollout in 2002, .NET Framework has enabled greater unification of coding languages and helped streamline the process of creating applications and software for the Windows OS. However, in 2014 Microsoft introduced .NET Core, a cloud-friendly and cross-platform competitor to .NET Framework.

While .NET Core and .NET Framework share many of the same components—and can even share code between the two—there are some fundamental differences. When deciding between .NET Core vs .NET Framework, the choice ultimately hinges upon what you want to accomplish and where you want to publish your software.

What Is .NET Framework?

.NET Framework is a framework for building applications, websites, and services for Windows applications, devices, and programs. It utilizes a common language runtime that provides functionality including garbage collection, type-safety, thread management, and exception handling.

The biggest drawback to using .NET Framework is that it is only compatible with Windows OS and provides no cross-platform support. However, because of this limited platform support, it is more focused on creating desktop applications and has the functionalities needed to perform that task exceptionally well.

What Is .NET Core?

.NET Core—also known as ASP.NET Core or just Core—is a newer version of .NET Framework. It is a framework based on the belief of developing code once and publishing it anywhere. An open-source version of .NET Framework for developing and building applications across all platforms, it is not limited to just Windows devices and applications. .NET Core boasts flexible deployment that can be launched as part of an application or installed on a web server.

A significant difference between .NET Core and .NET Framework is that .NET Core can run across all devices. There was a need for a single framework that worked everywhere, not just on Windows devices. Core became that cross-platform solution. Compared to .NET Framework, .NET Core is often considered more effective and provides more scalability.

When Should I Choose .NET Core?

.NET Core has been updated from .NET Framework with more functionality and across-the-board upgrades to a wide variety of optimizations.

You should choose .NET Core when you want to:

  • Develop a cross-platform application
  • Use Docker containers
  • Target microservices
  • Have cross-platform support
  • Have cross-development between UWP, WPF, and Windows Forms
  • Leverage command-line interface control
  • Deploy cloud-based solutions

For a wide range of reasons (including the active and recent support directly from Microsoft) in almost every circumstance, if you are building a new application, .NET Core will likely be the best choice.

When Should I Choose .NET Framework?

While .NET Core is a powerful tool for developing applications, some functionalities are still missing. These absent functions (listed below) can be found in .NET Framework. That means the best time to choose .NET Framework is when you are specifically looking to implement some of the particular functionalities not available in .NET Core.

You should choose .NET Framework when you need:

  • Type and memory safety
  • Memory management
  • Secure managed code system

However, if you are choosing to employ .NET Framework, remember everything designed therein will only run through Windows programs and devices, as there is no cross-platform support available.

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