All you need to know about the .NET Foundation

DevToolsGuy / Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Microsoft’s .NET Foundation has now been running for around two years, after its initial announcement by Scott Guthrie at the Build 2014 conference (highlights of which can be found here). The .NET Foundation was created to foster the open development of the .NET ecosystem, and to use community participation and rapid innovation to help fortify it. But, for that to sound like any kind of impressive feat, we first need to understand what the .NET Framework is.

What is .NET?

The .NET Framework began its life as a proprietary framework for building Windows apps, but Microsoft changed the license model to more closely follow a contemporary community-developed open source type project.

Almost all .NET framework applications, components and controls are built using Microsoft’s Frame Class Library (FCL) as a basis. One of the big selling points of .NET  is its language interoperability – a feature which allows code to be written in different languages. The primary language used in .NET applications is C#, but other popular options include:

  • VB.NET
  • J#
  • F#

Microsoft has of course deeply accommodated .NET into their integrated development environment (IDE) Visual Studio. As with many of Microsoft products, if you go all in you get many benefits. Using C#, .NET and Visual Studio together offers a host of benefits.

The .NET Foundation

The .NET Foundation is an independent organization created to adopt the open development and collaboration around the Microsoft .NET Framework. It serves as a forum for both community and commercial developers to broaden and strengthen the future of the .NET environment by promoting openness and community participation to encourage innovation.

All contributions have standard open source licenses and a lack of platform restrictions means users have the ability to run it on any platform. Users are also able to integrate suggestions & submissions from other developers. It was heralded as the next step in terms of open source; the umbrella for all these projects to be contributed under, and the foundation on which projects and code can be contributed into open source.

Some of the founding contributions to be included under the .NET Foundation are:

  • Xamarin
  • “Roslyn”
  • Microsoft Azure SDK
  • Windows Phone Toolkit


Who’s in it?

Projects that are currently under the stewardship of the .NET Foundation include the .NET compiler platform (AKA “Roslyn”) – which includes hosting for C# and Visual Basic (VB) .NET languages. Both are available via the traditional command-line programs. Roslyn exposes modules for the syntactic analysis of code and code emission.

The ASP.NET family (along with Roslyn) were open sourced by MS Open Technologies. ASP.NET was founded in 2002 along with the first iteration of the .NET Framework, and is built on the Common Language Runtime (CLR). This means programmers can write for ASP.NET using any supported .NET language.

Xamarin has contributed several open source projects to the .NET Framework, including the Xamarin.Mobile and Xamarin.Auth APIs, as well as the very popular Mailkit and Mimekit projects.

How does it help?

The .NET Foundation supports .NET open source in a number of different ways. It offers the benefits of the .NET platform to the wider community of developers, and promotes the benefits of the open source model to developers already using .NET. The Foundation also provides administration and support for multiple .NET open source projects assigned to it. New .NET projects joining the foundation can receive mentorship and access to current developers working with .NET open source projects. The foundation also works with Microsoft and the broader industry in attempts to increase the exposure of open source projects in the community.

Services for .NET Foundation Projects include:

  • Project Guidance and Mentoring
  • IP and Legal
  • Technical Support
  • Marketing and Communications
  • Financial Support

Get involved!

The .NET Foundation is always looking for involvement from the community, whether it’s contributing to a project, new submissions or just simply spreading the word. Join in on community conversations regarding the Foundation on the community forum.

Interested in discovering more? Find out everything there is to know on the .NET Foundation - and how you can make a difference - on their website. You can also follow their blog and Twitter page, or check them out on GitHub.

Want to build your desktop, mobile or web applications with high-performance controls? Download Ultimate Free trial today or contact us and see what it can do for you.