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ASP.NET vNext - Some of the Things I Look Forward To

I like to try to keep up with new technologies.  Being a developer who has used Microsoft development tools all my career I’m always interested in seeing what is coming next.  Recently Microsoft unveiled ASP.NET vNext and it seems to be their most ambitious version of ASP.NET yet.


Here are some of the things I’m looking forward to in ASP.NET vNext


Build Not Needed

Developers will no longer need to manually build and compile ASP.NET applications.  The new .NET compiler will build projects in memory.  A developer will be able to change a file, hit refresh in the browser and see the changes.  ASP.NET could always do something like this for certain project types, but not with MVC.  Now all ASP.NET projects will have this ability to not require a build to disk as a prerequisite for deployment.  This also opens up the possibility of developing entirely in the cloud in a more streamlined manner than what is possible now.


New Project System

The new project system is not Visual Studio specific.  No longer are all your project files listed in a .proj file.  For anyone who has experienced version and merge conflicts in Visual Studio’s project files this should be a welcome change.  I believe every Microsoft developer has been caught adding files to a project, but not pushing the project changes to source control, causing compile errors when your Continuous Delivery system (or another developer) tries to compile the project.  Now the project file is used more for keeping track of dependencies and more general project settings.


Ability to Deploy Side-by-Side Versions

Currently if you want to use .net 4.5.x you need to install it on the server for the entire server.  With ASP.NET vNext you can run your web sites with different versions of the framework.  This also means web sites will be more insulated from changes on the server and should not break as many things if an errant patch is deployed to the server.


Cloud Optimized Runtime

vNext will allow web applications to only require the libraries it needs in order to run.  Previously you needed to install the entire .NET framework for ASP.NET applications (about 200MB).  Now you can isolate a web site so it only contains the assemblies needed (about 11MB).


Develop Anywhere, Cross Platform

Developers will be able to develop ASP.NET application on Windows, Mac and Linux.  Visual Studio will no longer be required to run an ASP.NET application.  There is already a Sublime Text 3 extension for ASP.NET vNext and example on Mac OSX and an example video:  Warning, do not install the CTP bits on a machine you rely on.  Everything is all still early in development.


MVC, WebAPI and WebPages = MVC6

These 3 frameworks are very similar, but different enough that it’s not a seamless experience if you want to use them all together.  In ASP.NET vNext they will all be part of MVC6.  In vNext with these 3 combined we will hopefully have a smoother development experience with more uniform code and less confusion as to what goes where.


What Happened to WebForms?

I don’t dislike WebForms, but there is no denying that while it is still useful as an intranet LOB web application framework, it's not the best choice for building public facing web sites.  While WebForms will probably still be around in vNext it’s interesting to note that everything about vNext so far has focused on ASP.NET MVC.  It’s not clear how WebForms will be handled, but it is clear that ASP.NET MVC is the primary focus at the moment.


Along with previous announcements of a new open source .NET compiler, a new JIT compiler RyuJIT and updates to Visual Studio to support things like NPM, Grunt, solid Git integration and the increasingly numerous packages that can be had from NuGet there are a lot of things for an ASP.NET developer to look forward to.  

ASP.NET vNext is in the "Community Technology Preview" (CTP) stage with a RTM sometime in 2015.


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Comment by Joseph Lui on September 5, 2014 at 10:21am

Good post! Nice refresher.


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