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The open-source framework ASP.NET Core is one of the most popular web frameworks, developed by Microsoft and its community. The modular framework runs on both the full .NET Framework, on Windows, and the cross-platform .NET Core. One of the most captivating features of this framework is its performance. It is not only faster than other web frameworks but is also perfectly suited for Docker containers.

In November, Microsoft released the new version of ASP.NET Core with many exciting features. To understand the advances in ASP.NET Core, more closely, we interviewed Kenneth Y. Fukizi, the author of the book ‘Learn ASP.NET Core 3.0, Second edition’. 

Along with ASP.NET Core, Kenneth has also shared his thoughts on the latest version of .NET Core, and the now available Entity Framework Core 3.0 and Entity Framework 6.3. He says that he is personally most excited about the new Blazor framework as it allows him to avoid JavaScript. He also opines that Blazor will give developers a chance to specialize in Microsoft technologies. Kenneth also adds that ASP.Net Core users should be looking forward to the high performance and scalability that comes with gRPC in this new release.

Kenneth’s take on the features in ASP.NET Core 3.0

In your book, ‘Learning ASP.NET Core 3.0, Second edition’, you say that ‘Model View Controller’ and ‘Entity Framework Core 3’ are the most widely used frameworks in ASP.NET Core. Can you elaborate on this? How do these frameworks enhance web application performance?

Pretty much every worthwhile application out there will need to have some interface for user interaction and persist some form of data. 

The Model View Controller is almost a default choice for may web application developers, mainly for its tried and tested versatility and its ability to separate concerns, allowing front-end developers to work on the views while back end developers are busy with their part. This allows for fast application development. 

When persisting some data, Entity Framework core 3.0 is often the choice for most application developers on ASP.Net Core, because it is a safer option from a horde of other OR/M engines, since it is developed and maintained by Microsoft itself. Even though some time back it was found wanting in some areas compared to versatile OR/Ms like Nhibernate, Entity Framework Core has addressed its gaps quickly and effectively continues to grow in areas it was behind on. Its seamless integration with the rest of the framework makes it an easy choice for many application developers.

ASP.Net Core MVC supports asynchronous calls, thereby releasing unnecessarily held resources and in turn increasing application performance. Since everything is logically separated into groups, in other words, high cohesion and low coupling, it increases the application performance on the whole. 

If we talk about the advantages it gives to the application developer, there are many, and most of these allow for a developer to have code that does not repeat itself unnecessarily, code that has low coupling, allowing for everything to be tested individually. In general, it allows for an application to have efficient code more easily and in turn, makes the application more performant. (Read chapter 4 and 5 of my book for understanding all the basic concepts of ASP.NET Core 3.0).

ASP.NET Core 3.0 has introduced a new framework called Blazor for building interactive client-side web UI with .NET. What are your thoughts on it?

This is definitely a game-changer. I’m personally excited that I have an option to use Blazor instead of JavaScript. It gives a chance for a developer to specialize in Microsoft technologies and be truly full-stack, all within the MS tech stack. 

For a typical back end C# developer, when they get familiar with C# syntax, type safety, and the environment in general, it becomes easier to just work with one language across the stack, whether it is backend, or frontend. Client-side Blazor with its Ahead Of Time (AOT) Compilation directly to WebAssembly will make client applications super fast, and it’s something to definitely look out for. (Chapter 6 of my book gives a detailed explanation on Blazor).

The latest release of ASP.NET Core also supports gRPC and ships with templates and tools for building gRPC services. What are the advantages and disadvantages that gRPC will offer to ASP.NET Core 3 users? Also, what are your thoughts on the gRPC built-in security features?

ASP.Net Core users should be looking forward to the high performance and scalability that comes with gRPC. With gRPCs, a contract-first approach to API development is possible, documentation for projects will become easier, making it easier for different teams on the same project to be able to communicate better, with consistent API models as well. Reusability will be enhanced and encouraged by the gRPC templates.

For applications using Microservices, it will be advantageous in terms of security and performance to use gRPC mainly for communication. Since gRPC uses protocol buffers, as opposed to REST services, they need to be exposed to users in JSON or XML via HTTP.  The HTTP/2 protocol that gRPC uses is more efficient than its counterpart HTTP 1.1.

With gRPC templates, we are able to have messages that flow in a bi-directional way, increasing efficiency, and in case of an event, we can do cancellations of sent requests.

There are indeed some disadvantages to using gRPC templates including the fact that it now becomes a duty to maintain specification files, which are an integral part of the template. If you have different teams you will have to agree first on specifications before you even start to implement anything, and that can make things slow in terms of getting the application development done.

It is great to see that gRPC has visibly built-in considerations for TLS/ SSL and that it makes sure that all its communications are first authenticated and encrypted. This goes a long way in not only preventing but acts as a deterrent to intended attacks on application services.

Have you had a chance to explore .NET Core 3.0, and the now available Entity Framework Core 3.0 and Entity Framework 6.3? What are you most excited about this new release?

Yes, I have managed to explore .Net Core 3.0, and admittedly with great pleasure to do so.

Some of the most exciting features I have seen the introduction of support for Cosmos DB and C# 8, and that in itself makes a whole lot of development easier for global applications.

LINQ has always been quite handy to me and am sure many developers, but there have been scenarios where some queries have not been as efficient I’d want them, and to hear and see that it has been re-architected in many ways to produce more efficient queries, it is absolutely exciting, and I would love to uncover more of its query capabilities aimed to be improved upon in the future. 

Nullable reference types introduced for both C#8 and Entity Framework Core 3.0, will make my life simpler as a developer. I’m also excited that Entity Framework 6.3 is the first version of Entity Framework 6 that will be able to run on .Net Core, and this will make it simpler for migrating older applications that were using Entity Framework 6, onto the .Net Core platform. (Chapter 9 of the book gives details about accessing data using Entity Framework Core 3).

We also asked Kenneth about his preferred way of improving the speed and rendering performance of any web application. Bundling which combines multiple files into a single file reduces the size of the JavaScript or CSS file by removing white space and commented code without altering any functionality. On the other hand, minification can perform multiple varieties of different code optimizations to scripts and CSS, thus resulting in smaller payloads. 

When combined together, they both can improve the load time performance of an application by reducing the number of requests to the server and reducing the size of the requested assets. 

My personal way of doing things, when I need to use some functionality from a package, is first to look internally within the development framework. Only when an implementation of that functionality cannot be found, or when it is evident of its deficiencies with regards to the task at hand, do I go outside of the primary provider Microsoft. Therefore, it is only natural that I prefer to use the out of the box solution provided by both the MVC and Razor pages that makes use of bundleconfig.json

I have at times gone for the sophistication that is in Grunt, and in Webpack, but there being relatively a bit more complex naturally makes the inbuilt functionality as the first option, as long as it doesn’t horribly fail.

About the Book 

Learn ASP.NET Core 3.0, Second edition’ will help you become highly efficient in developing and maintaining powerful web applications. It will also guide you to deploy and monitor the applications using Microsoft Azure, AWS, and Docker.

About the Author

Kenneth Y. Fukizi is a solutions architect, consultant, software developer and engineer with more than 14 years of professional experience. He is a Microsoft Certified Trainer®, Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer®, Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate®, Microsoft Certified Professional®, among other professional and technical certifications. 

Kenneth also lectures and mentors computer science degree students in programming. He has spent most of his professional life working as a software engineering contractor/consultant on various projects for client organizations based in South Africa, Australia, U.S.A, and Canada.

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A born storyteller turned writer!