My surprisingly positive take on .Net Core’s current direction

I’m not nearly as upset about the recent changes and churn in the direction of .Net Core as many of the folks I follow online. Mostly it’s because I was refusing to invest very much into it during the early stages and therefore, didn’t really lose much when the direction shifted. Honestly, my main thought after the changes in direction is how much less rework it’s going to take to move some of the tools I support to .Net Core and less work for me is always a win.

My thoughts, such as they are:

  • True cross platform .Net? As soon as JetBrains Rider has a test runner and supports .Net Core, my plan is to switch almost all of my day to day development work to the Mac side of things and keep my Windows VM off. Yes I know about Mono, but it never worked out very well for any project where I tried to use it.
  • Strong naming is going to have much less negative impact on day to day development (maybe none) with the changes to how .Net Core will resolve assemblies. As some of you may know, I feel like strong naming is a huge source of friction and holds back the .Net OSS ecosystem by adding extra cost to development through binding conflicts and all the extra work OSS developers have to do to (hopefully) shield their downstream users from potential binding conflict issues. In other words, the author of Newtonsoft.Json will no longer be the most hated person in the entire .Net world once binding conflicts go away. The OSS signing option and the VS.Net or Nuget kinda, sorta being able to write binding redirects for you were not sufficient solutions for the strong naming pain.
  • Finally getting working wildcard includes in whatever the CsProj file replacement is. I just finished resolving a merge conflict with a *.csproj file after rebasing an older branch and it’s such a pain in the neck. Another common source of friction in .Net development gone.
  • On the subject of AppDomain’s getting put back in for .Net Core, I have mixed feelings. Taking out AppDomain’s and Remoting was going to almost completely denude .Net of working automated testing tools. I know there’s some talk and work toward a lightweight AssemblyLoadContext that might be a replacement, but I’ve found very, very little information about it and most of that has been contradictory. I don’t really like messing with .Net Remoting and separate AppDomain’s, but I wasn’t looking forward to making some kind of .Net Core alternative from scratch.
  • I’ve seen other folks making the point that .Net is now going to avoid the nasty Python 2/3 style bifurcation of its entire ecosystem. I don’t think all the common OSS tools are going to be quickly moved to .Net Core because of people waiting for it to be stable, but now the mechanics of doing that is going to be much less.
  • On the demise of project.json and the new, hopefully cutdown csproj file, I suspect that there’s some pretty seriously harmful coupling in MSBuild itself. It should have been possible to use project.json as just a new configuration mechanism for the underlying MSBuild engine. Hopefully for all our sakes, they get those structural issues resolved in the new project file system. I definitely approve of their plans to decouple much more of the project system from Visual Studio.Net.
  • I would hope that the fallback to csproj files means that Paket development continues. I personally think that Paket does a better job from the command line than OOTB Nuget.
  • I like some of the new mechanics around the new “dotnet” CLI support. I think they did a nice job of taking some of the things I like about the Node.js/NPM ecosystem. I’ve never thought that the .Net teams at Redmond were all that great at innovating minus huge hits like Linq or Roslyn, but they are pretty good at adapting ideas from other communities.
  • On the communication and mismanaged expectation front? Yeah, I think they blew that one pretty badly, but it’s not the end of the world for most of us. I suspect the problem was due to the organization structure in Microsoft and the lack of collaboration between some of the groups — but that seems to be better now.
  • The static linker sounds cool, and having far easier mechanisms for supporting multiple versions of the .Net runtime is going to be great for the OSS projects that try to support everything. I’m not all that wild about microservices, but I think that the .Net Core/static linker/Kestrel combination would make .Net a lot more attractive for developing microservice architectures.

For my part, StructureMap already supports .Net Core. Marten is going to get .Net Core soon, except we’re going to punt on running unit tests in .Net Core for awhile due to our usage of NSubstitute and that not supporting .Net Core yet. Storyteller is a lot more complicated and I want things to settle down before I even think of doing that one. Since .Net Core is no longer all that different from existing .Net 4.5/6, our current thinking is to just restart FubuMVC work and slowly morph that into a new, much more efficient and far smaller framework.



6 thoughts on “My surprisingly positive take on .Net Core’s current direction

  1. I’ve been heavily invested into working with ASP.NET Core since beta4 and building fairly large projects that I’ve migrated through all the changes along the way. While the ride has been a bit bumpy with changes and some surprise changes, I’ve found the reasoning behind the changes to make sense and much of the uproar has seemed like noise to me. I too am very happy and excited about the direction of .NET Core and ASP.NET Core. For me it is a delight to work with it and I’m having more enjoyment from my work than I have in years. These are exciting times for .NET developers.

  2. My problem with MS is not that they adapt things from other communities, it’s that they copy them so closely that they copy the mistakes as well.

    I saw this happen with Silverlight, and it took awhile before they stopped copying Adobe’s mistakes with Flash. Now it’s Node.js, and while I like most of it, they need to innovate while they copy and adapt it closer to their platform.

    They’ll get it right eventually, but this time, they have little time as people are moving on!

    As always, I looked at Core, but mostly left it alone, MS’s version 1 stuff has always been shaky, workable, but shaky!

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