Some of the best tools you can use as a .NET developer

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The .NET framework is one of the most popular open-source frameworks that is used by millions of software developers. According to the latest estimates, there are over 6 million .NET engineers worldwide. This has spurred the growth of various third-party development tools. To get a first-hand opinion on the most valuable and useful developer tools out there. Today, we presented a compiled list of essential .NET developer tools. Let’s have a look at the 10+ most valuable tools every .NET developer should use.

Best Tools for .NET Developers

Visual Studio Gallery

This is an essential tool that offers quick access to Visual Studio extensions, controls, and templates. The marketplace integrates with the IDE, allowing you to access over 7,000 products currently available. The Visual Studio Gallery is critical in how you locate the right extension for your needs. Without the VS Gallery, clicking on Extensions in VS wouldn’t work.

GitHub Extension for Visual Studio

With version control being so popular, Microsoft couldn’t ignore GitHub by NOT including it within Visual Studio. For developers, GitHub is vital. This extension helps us to connect our IDE directly to our GitHub repositories. This means that one can create, clone, and publish your projects, and create or view pull requests right within Visual Studio.

ReSharper

A developer who wants to become more productive when writing C# code should run, not walk, to purchase this tool. This is a Visual Studio extension by JetBrains. ReSharper adds the power to analyze code quality, then to find and fix the errors quickly. It also has several shortcuts for quick and easy refactoring and navigation.

NDepend

NDepend is also a Visual Studio extension for static code analysis. For optimizing and refactoring code at a high level, NDepend is one of the best. It essentially allows developers to see the “wood for the trees”, giving a wide view of your application and how is your code organized. The tool helps us measure our code quality using various metrics, to visualize its design, and to accurately estimate your technical depth, right within the IDE.

NuGet

NuGet is a package manager for .NET that allows you to access various third-party libraries, or to create and share your tools. With over 98 thousand packages currently available, it is the largest database of third-party components for .NET. NuGet streamlines the delivery of third-party components directly into your Visual Studio project at design time and contains a command line for CI/CD automated deploys.

Web Essentials for Visual Studio

This Visual Studio extension augments the core VS functionality with more powerful and useful features, including task shortcuts and improved Intellisense for CSS/HTML/JavaScript, etc. This is a handy tool for web developers using Visual Studio that can be a real productivity booster. In this one extension, you receive custom editors, a Browser Link to immediately see changes in the browser, TypeScript, Less, Markdown, and CoffeeScript support.

Novi Builder

Novi Builder is a visual HTML editor that allows changing texts, images, links, backgrounds, and other elements effortlessly. There are 200+ useful elements that make it possible to create different pages. Novi also provides a code editor to work with HTML, CSS, and JS code for your online projects.

.NET Reflector

.NET Reflector is a decompiler and static analyzer for the .NET framework. It helps you understand and debug your .NET code, including third-party components, even if you don’t have any documentation or comments. It also gives us a solid insight into what an assembly contains and what code is actually doing when decompiled.

SQLComplete

SQLComplete is a productivity tool that augments the SQL Server Management Studio with several useful features, including tab coloring, script generation, navigation, and more. Full-stack developers always get their hands dirty with SQL. This freemium tool is the equivalent of Intellisense in C# and plugs into SQL Server Query Analyzer and Visual Studio. Along with its exceptional Intellisense capabilities, it also has a handful of features to assist with snippets, templating, and SQL formatting.

LINQPAD

This is a safe playground where you can test your LINQ queries or any C#/F#/Visual Basic program. The tool has a built-in debugger and autocomplete features, and is a perfect platform for prototyping with instant feedback. LIt is simply a Notepad for LINQ and also an essential tool for experimenting with LINQ and testing code snippets before they are introduced into code.

ELMAH

ELMAH stands for Error Logging Modules and Handlers. It is an open-source debugging and error logging tool for ASP.NET, and is provided by Google. It really stands in comparison to some other paid .NET logging solutions that you can find online.

Microsoft Web Platform Installer

This free package management software makes it easy to access the latest components of the Microsoft Web Platform, including IIS, SQL Server Express, .NET Framework, Visual Web Developer, and much more. The system keeps you up to date by automatically installing the latest versions of each component.

Conclusion

The choice of .Net tool varies greatly on the specific task or situation. Using additional instruments can free you from routine tasks and automate many processes, thus optimizing your performance and eliminating errors. Some of them have some similar as well as some unique features that can be very helpful on a specific situation.

MAUI lets you create a cross-platform mobile app with .NET and C# from a single codebase

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What if we could create native mobile apps and desktop apps using .NET C# and XAML from a single code base? How cool would that be? Yes, now we can create native Android, iOS, macOS, and Windows applications from a single code base. This is possible using .NET’s new feature called Multi-platform App UI (MAUI). .NET Multi-platform App UI (.NET MAUI) is a cross-platform framework for creating native mobile and desktop apps with C# and XAML. Microsoft Build 2020 announced that Microsoft has evolved Xamarin.Forms and taken the next step in the .NET unification to give us a cross-platform mobile-first framework for Android, iOS, macOS, and Windows. .NET MAUI will introduce new ways to build applications – available in .NET 6 and in preview now!

What is .NET MAUI?

.NET Multi-platform App UI (MAUI) is the evolution of Xamarin. Forms extended from mobile to desktop scenarios with UI controls rebuilt from the ground up for performance and extensibility. – Maddy Leger, Program Manager Xamarin/.NET MAUI Team. is an open-source cross-platform framework which can be used to develop and build native Android, iOS, macOS, and Windows applications from a single code base.

What are Xamarin and Xamarin.Forms?

Xamarin is an open-source .NET platform for building iOS, Andriod, macOS, and Windows applications. It was introduced in 2011. It allows us to share business logic across platforms, using .NET, while creating a native UI for each. Xamarin allows developers to share an average of 90% of their application across platforms. To help with the overhead of creating native UI’s for each platform, we have Xamarin.Forms.

Xamarin.Forms is an open-source UI framework that allows us to combine the code for Xamarin.Android, Xamarin.iOS, Xamarin.Mac, and Windows applications into a single shared codebase.

Microsoft is now thinking about creating a unified .NET platform that can replace .NET Framework, .NET Core, and Xamarin. .NET MAUI is the next step in unifying .NET by replacing Xamarin.Forms. It addresses some of the issues and downsides of Xamarin.Forms, while providing an updated architecture on top of the new generation of .NET and project system.

Difference between MAUI and Xamarin.Forms

Microsoft is rebuilding the core of Xamarin.Forms, bringing us performance improvements, consistent design systems, and an extension from mobile to desktop. Now you may ask if we use Xamarin.Forms then why should we move to MAUI? Why is so special about MAUI?

.NET MAUI provides cross-platform APIs for native device features. It has some major Improvements like a Single project experience across platforms and .NET hot reload. It MAUI allows us to have a single project experience instead of one project for each target platform. We can use one language across our application to target all the supported platforms and easily share resources across them while maintaining an option for platform-specific code. Also the Model-View-ViewModel (MVVM) and XAML pattern used in existing Xamarin.Forms applications will continue to be supported and improved with the evolution. .NET MAUI will introduce further support for the Model-View-Update (MVU) development pattern, popular in C#, enabling developers to write fluent C# UI and create a code-first development experience.

How .NET MAUI works?

.NET MAUI unifies Android, iOS, macOS, and Windows APIs into a single API that allows a write-once run-anywhere developer experience, while additionally providing deep access to every aspect of each native platform.

.NET 6 provides a series of platform-specific frameworks for creating apps: .NET for Android, .NET for iOS, .NET for macOS, and Windows UI 3 (WinUI 3) library. These frameworks all have access to the same .NET 6 Base Class Library (BCL). This library abstracts the details of the underlying platform away from your code. The BCL depends on the .NET runtime to provide the execution environment for your code. For Android, iOS, and macOS, the environment is implemented by Mono, an implementation of the .NET runtime. On Windows, Win32 provides the execution environment.

.NET MAUI provides a single framework for building the UIs for mobile and desktop apps. The following diagram shows a high-level view of the architecture of a .NET MAUI app:

.NET MAUI architecture diagram.

In a .NET MAUI app, you write code that primarily interacts with the .NET MAUI API (1). .NET MAUI then directly consumes the native platform APIs (3). In addition, app code may directly exercise platform APIs (2), if required.

About .NET hot reload

.NET MAUI includes support for .NET hot reload, which enables you to modify your managed source code while the app is running, without the need to manually pause or hit a breakpoint. Hot reload increases productivity for .NET developers, allowing instant updates to running applications with new code changes. .NET MAUI includes support for XAML hot reload, which enables you to save your XAML files and see the changes reflected in your running app without recompilation. In addition, your navigation state and data will be maintained, enabling you to quickly iterate on your UI without losing your place in the app.

During Microsoft Build 2021, Microsoft announced the availability of .NET MAUI Preview 4. Each preview provides us with more features and tools with general availability scheduled for November 2021 at .NET Conf. With the release of Preview 4, we can now create functional applications across all supported platforms using .NET MAUI. In addition, they have added new capabilities to support running Blazor on desktop using .NET MAUI, allowing the reuse of Blazor UI components across native desktop and web applications. Alongside Preview 4 is the release of Visual Studio 2019 version 16.11 Preview. The Visual Studio 2019 16.11 Preview enables .NET Hot Reload for MAUI and provides productivity features for developing .NET MAUI projects. To see what is coming in future releases, visit the MAUI product roadmap.