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 Friday, April 5, 2019
« Migrating from .NET to .NET Standard | Main | The "Pit of Success" »

How can a .NET developer remain relevant in the industry?

Over my career I've noticed that all technologies require developers to work to stay relevant. Sometimes that means updating your skills within the technology, sometimes it means shifting to a whole new technology (which is much harder).

Fortunately for .NET developers, the .NET platform is advancing rapidly, keeping up with new software models around containers, cloud-native, and cross-platform client development.

First it is important to recognize that the .NET Framework is not the same as .NET Core. The .NET Framework is effectively now in maintenance mode, and all innovation is occurring in the open source .NET Core now and into the future. So step one to remaining relevant is to understand .NET Core (and the closely related .NET Standard).

Effectively, you should plan for .NET Framework 4.8 to become stable and essentially unchanging for decades to come, while all new features and capabilities are built into .NET Core.

Right now, you should be working to have as much of your code as possible target .NET Standard 2.0, because that makes your code compatible with .NET Framework, .NET Core, and mono. See Migrating from .NET to .NET Standard.

Second, if you are a client-side developer (Windows Forms, WPF, Xamarin) you need to watch .NET Core 3, which is slated to support Windows Forms and WPF. This will require migration of existing apps, but is a way forward for Windows client developers. Xamarin is a cross-platform client technology, and in this space you should learn Xamarin.Forms because it lets you write a single app that can run on iOS, Android, Mac, Linux desktop, and Windows.

Third, if you are a client-side developer (web or smart client) you should be watching WebAssembly. Right now .NET has experimental support for WebAssembly via the open source mono runtime. And also a wasm UI framework called Blazor, and another XAML-based UI framework called the Uno Platform. This is an evolving space, but in my opinion WebAssembly has great promise and is something I’m watching closely.

Fourth, if you are a server-side developer it is important to understand the major industry trends around containers and container orchestration. Kubernetes, Microsoft Azure, Amazon AWS, and others all have support for containers, and containers are rapidly becoming the defacto deployment model for server-side code. Fortunately .NET Core and ASP.NET both have very good support for cloud-native development.

Finally, that’s all from a technology perspective. In a more general sense, regardless of technology, modern developers need good written and verbal communication skills, the ability to understand business and user requirements, at least a basic understanding of agile workflows, and a good understanding of devops.

I follow my own guidance, by the way. CSLA .NET 4.10 (the current version) targets .NET Standard 2.0, supports WebAssembly, and has a bunch of cool new features to help you leverage container-based cloud-native server environments.

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