Jason De Oliveira works as a CTO for MEGA International, a software company in Paris (France), providing modeling tools for business transformation, enterprise architecture, and enterprise governance, risk, and compliance management. He is an experienced manager and senior solutions architect, with high skills in software architecture and enterprise architecture. He has been awarded him MVP C#/.NET by Microsoft for over 6 years for his numerous contributions to the Microsoft community.
In this interview, Jason talks about the newly introduced features of .NET Core 2.0 and how they empower effective cross-platform application development. He also gives us a sneak-peek of his recently released book Learning ASP.NET Core 2.0
Packt: Let’s start with a very basic question. What is .NET Core? How is it different from the .NET Framework?
Jason De Oliveira: In the last 20 years, Microsoft has focused mainly on Windows and built many technologies around it. You can see that easily when looking at the ASP.NET and the .NET Framework in general. They provide a very good integration and extend the operating system for building great desktop and web applications, but only on the Windows platform.
In the last 5 years, we have seen some major changes in the overall strategy and vision of Microsoft due to major changes in the IT market. The cloud-first as well as the mobile-first strategy coupled with the support for other operating systems has lead Microsoft to completely rethink most of the existing frameworks – including the .NET Framework. That is one of the major reasons why the .NET Core framework came into existence. It incorporates a new way of building applications, fully embracing multi-platform development and the latest standards and technologies – and what a great framework it has turned out to be!
ASP .Net Core 2.0 was recently announced in August 2017. What are the new features and updates introduced in this release to make the development of web apps easier?
The latest version of ASP.NET Core is 2.0, which, provides much better performance than the other versions before it. It has been open-sourced, so developers can understand how it works internally and adapt it easily to specific needs if necessary. Furthermore, the integration between .NET Core and Visual Studio has been improved. Some other important features of this new release are:
- The Meta-Package which includes everything necessary to develop great web applications has been added to the framework
- An improved NuGet compatibility has been added. This leads to much better developer productivity and efficiency.
Web development can be fun and using .NET Core in conjunction with the latest version of Visual Studio proves it!
What benefits does Entity Framework Core 2 offer while building a robust MVC web app?
When you are building web applications, you need to store your data somewhere. Today, most of the time the data is stored in relational databases (Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle and so on). While there are multiple ways of connecting to a database using ASP.NET Core, we advise using Entity Framework Core 2, because of its simplicity and because it contains all necessary features already built-in. Another big advantage is that it abstracts the database structure from the object-oriented structure within your code (also commonly called ORM). It furthermore supports nearly all databases you can find on the market either directly or via additional providers.
When it comes to .NET Core, do you think there is any scope for improvement? What can Microsoft do in the future to improve the suite?
To be honest ASP.NET Core 2.0 has achieved a very high level of feature coverage. Nearly everything you can think of is included by default, which is quite remarkable. Nevertheless, Microsoft has already shipped an updated version called ASP.NET Core 2.1 and we can expect that it will further support and evolve the framework.
However, an area of improvement could be Artificial Intelligence (AI). As you might know, Microsoft is currently investing very strongly in this area and we think that we might see some features getting included with the next versions of ASP.NET Core. Also in terms of testability of code and especially live unit testing, we hope to see some improvements in the future. Unit tests are important for building high quality application with less bugs, so having a thorough integration of ASP.NET Core with the Visual Studio Testing tools would be a big advantage for any developer.
Tell us something about your book. What makes it unique?
With this book, you will learn and have fun at the same time. The book is very easy to read, while containing basic and advanced concepts of ASP.NET Core 2.0 web development. It is not only about the development, though. You will also see how to apply agile methodologies and use tools such as Visual Studio and Visual Studio Code.
The examples in the book are real world examples, which have been added to build a real application at the end. Not just stripped down sample examples, but instead examples that you can adapt to your own application needs quickly. From the start to the end of the book we have applied a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) approach, meaning that at the end of each chapter you will have evolved the overall sample application a little bit more. This is motivating and interesting and will keep you hooked. You will see how to work in different environments such as on-premises and in the cloud. We explain how to deploy, manage and supervise your ASP.NET Core 2.0 web application in Microsoft Azure, Amazon and Docker, for example.
For someone new to web development, what learning path in terms of technologies would you recommend? What is the choice of tools he/she should make to build the best possible web applications? Where does .NET Core 2.0 fit into the picture?
In our book, we show the readers how to build views and controllers, while using the latest frontend technologies to provide a modern look and feel. We then explain how to use the built-in features of ASP.NET Core 2.0 for building Web APIs and how to connect them via Entity Framework 2 with the database or provide a whole host of other services (such as sending emails, for example).