The .NET framework has consistently stood as a bedrock in web development, shaping a vast segment of the digital world. Considering that 34.2% of all websites and web applications tap into its powerful features, it’s clear why it remains the top pick for many global giants, including a significant number of Fortune 500 companies.
As the world of technology keeps moving forward, so does .NET. Wondering what makes .NET 8 different from the earlier versions? You are not alone! Everyone’s enthusiastic to see what’s new. In this article, we’ll explore .NET 8’s features, its release date, and what to expect from this powerhouse of a framework in its newest version.
What Is .NET 8, and When Will it be Released?
.NET 8 is the latest advancement in Microsoft’s integrated software development journey, merging the best of both the .NET Framework and .NET Core worlds. As the platform matures, it offers enhanced features and boasts improved performance, providing developers with a richer toolkit to create robust applications.
While many in the tech community might come across the term “.NET Core 8,” it’s essential to note that this designation was retired after .NET Core 3.1. The subsequent versions, starting with .NET 5, have followed a streamlined naming convention, simply using “.NET” followed by the version number.
.NET 8, with its much-anticipated features and enhancements, is scheduled to be officially released on November 14, 2023. Before its official launch, developers and tech enthusiasts can glimpse its capabilities through the .NET 8 preview. This version is not just another update; it’s an LTS (Long Term Support) release.
This LTS designation ensures that .NET 8 will receive consistent support, updates, and bug fixes for an extended duration, making it a reliable choice for long-term projects. The .NET 8 release date marks a significant milestone in the .NET journey, promising stability and innovation for developers worldwide.
.NET 8: What’s New and Enhanced?
Here is what to expect in .NET 8:
Predictable Release Cycle
The .NET platform has undergone a significant transformation in its release cycle. Previously characterized by irregular release patterns during the .NET Framework era, it has adopted a consistent annual release schedule. This shift was initiated with the open-source development of .NET Core and the .NET Standard base classes, eventually leading to the unified .NET platform.
LTS and STS Releases
.NET has introduced a structured release pattern. Odd-numbered versions are designated Standard Term Support (STS) releases with 18 months of support. In contrast, even-numbered versions are long-term support (LTS) releases, offering three years of support. For instance, .NET 8, an even-numbered version, qualifies as an LTS release. Let’s look into the features.
.NET 8 New Features:
- Garbage Collector Improvements: For cloud-native applications, especially those running on platforms like Kubernetes, the .NET garbage collector now allows dynamic adjustment of an application’s memory limit.
- JSON Enhancements: .NET’s JSON serialization and deserialization have been enhanced. This includes support for new numeric types like the half struct, which aligns with the floating-point hardware used in hardware accelerators and NPUs.
- Randomness Tools: New tools that provide randomness in code have been introduced, allowing for direct use of randomness as a selector. This is especially useful for machine learning applications.
- Cryptography Enhancements: With cyber threats evolving rapidly, the addition of SHA-3 support ensures that .NET applications remain secure, providing an alternative to the widely used SHA-2.
- Silicon-Specific Features: Leveraging the power of modern hardware, features built on the Intel AVX-512 instruction set offer significant performance boosts, especially for applications that rely heavily on data processing.
- Time Abstraction: Time-related bugs can be elusive. The new time abstraction feature, which allows local time providers to operate across different time zones, is a boon for developers building global applications.
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Windows Forms Changes
Significant changes have been made to how Windows Forms handles pixel scaling, primarily to support high DPI screens. It’s crucial to test UIs before deploying new builds.
Container Image Updates
As .NET is platform-agnostic, changes have been made to the bundled container images, especially in the Alpine images. These changes are mainly due to upgraded versions of the host Linux distributions.
.NET 8 introduces features to build pre-compiled applications and improve performance on Apple’s silicon. Overall, .NET 8 is a substantial update for an LTS release, ensuring developers have the tools to keep their code competitive and secure for the next three years.
.NET 8 introduces changes resulting from planned deprecations or infrastructure support changes. Microsoft provides a regularly updated list of these changes in its .NET 8 preview documentation.
Comparing .NET 6, .NET 7 vs .NET 8
How to Migrate to .NET 8?
To migrate to .NET 8 is to align with the forefront of technological evolution. This move often requires both strategic insight and thorough planning. While many seamlessly navigate this change, preparing for potential challenges is critical, especially when intertwined with specific technologies and dependencies.
Here’s a condensed guide:
1. Understand the Porting Process
The complexity of your project determines the work needed after migration. Simple components like libraries may need a few tweaks, but shifting from ASP.NET to ASP.NET Core could require more adjustments.
2. Evaluate Windows Desktop Technologies
Windows Forms or WPF, ported to .NET, are Windows-exclusive. Before migration, remember:
- .NET project files differ from .NET Framework.
- Some APIs might be unavailable in .NET.
- Certain third-party controls may be exclusive to the .NET Framework.
- Some technologies might be absent in .NET.
3. Address Windows-specific APIs
For applications anchored to Windows libraries, such as user32.dll, their functionality is confined to Windows. It’s pivotal to either scout for cross-platform alternatives or recalibrate your code to fit the broader spectrum.
4. Identify Unavailable Technologies in .NET
Some stalwarts of .NET Framework, like Application domains and Remoting, don’t feature in .NET. This calls for a strategic overhaul, where you might need to find substitutes or restructure your code to work without them.
5. Ensure Cross-platform Compatibility
One of .NET’s crowning glories is its versatility across platforms. But a word of caution: if your code is steeped in Windows-centric technologies, its functionality in .NET will be restricted to Windows. Ensure you’re aware of this demarcation to avoid surprises.
6. Utilize Migration Tools
- .NET Upgrade Assistant: Automates migration aspects;
- try-convert: Converts projects to .NET SDK format;
- .NET Portability Analyzer: Highlights missing .NET APIs;
- Platform compatibility analyzer: Checks for APIs causing PlatformNotSupportedException.
7. Porting Considerations
- Use the .NET Upgrade Assistant.
- Check dependencies.
- Migrate from NuGet packages.config to PackageReference.
- Upgrade to the latest project format.
- Retarget to .NET Framework 4.7.2 or higher.
- For Windows Forms and WPF, consider .NET 6.
- For libraries, target .NET Standard 2.0 or multitarget.
- For missing API errors, reference Microsoft.Windows.Compatibility NuGet package.
8. Get Expert Help
Considering the complexities, seeking expert assistance can simplify the migration journey. Enter ModLogix, a leading legacy system modernization firm that helps with .NET Core migration services. With a diverse suite of services, from software evaluations to cloud migrations and advanced re-engineering, ModLogix is an exemplary solution for effortless .NET 8 migrations. We have over two decades in the software modernization domain and comprise a team of 100+ professionals ready to tap into the full potential of .NET 8.
In one of our projects, we helped a client with a .NET Framework to .NET Core migration process. Due to the failure to provide regular updates, the client encountered system lags and integration challenges. Our agile methodology, blending iterative and incremental development, enabled phased rollouts and adaptability. Further, our comprehensive risk management strategy ensured a smooth and efficient migration process.
Considering a move to .NET 8? Trust ModLogix’s proven track record.
To Sum Up
.NET 8 roadmap offers a promising glimpse into the future of software development, with a slew of new features and enhancements on the horizon. As we anticipate its official release, it’s clear that .NET 8 is set to redefine performance, versatility, and innovation benchmarks. For developers and enterprises alike, staying informed and prepared for this next chapter is crucial.