The Future of .NET Languages

Friday Jun 17th 2016 by Hannes DuPreez
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.NET continues to grow exponentially as a programming framework. Peek into the future of its languages.

Introduction

Have you ever wondered where .NET is going? Well, this article will hopefully shed a bit of light on your concerns.

I am a Visual Basic guy. I always have been. I always will be. Yes, currently I am working in C# mostly these days, but this is not because C# is 'better' than Visual Basic. Each language has its own strengths and weaknesses and, unfortunately, Visual Basic has received a lot of unnecessary flack, in my opinion.

.NET Has Come a Long Way Since Its Introduction in 2002

Who would have thought we would have had terms such as Functional Programming, Meta Programming, Async, and Open Source as part of our everyday vocabulary? No one. I would hazard a guess to say that not even Microsoft knew back in 2002 what .NET would become.

The .NET monster has grown so much, and by the sound of it, it will keep on growing not only to improve our day-to-day performance but to compensate for whichever future technology comes out next.

C#, C++, VB.NET, and F# are the most supported and used languages to build .NET applications. But, there are actually a lot more languages that are supported by the .NET Framework. You have to remember, the .NET Framework is much larger than a few languages. Some of the languages that are supported by the .NET Framework are:

  • Ada
  • APL
  • AsmL
  • BETA
  • COBOL
  • CULE
  • Eiffel
  • FORTRAN
  • Haskell
  • Java
  • JavaScript
  • LISP
  • Mercury
  • Oberon
  • Pascal
  • Perl
  • PHP
  • Prolog
  • Python
  • RPG
  • Ruby
  • Smalltalk
  • XAML

C# Language Enhancements

Let's face it; C# has always been the favorite child in the .NET family. So be it. Some C# language enhancements are coming our way soon:

  • You will be able to write C# in any editor you want.
  • C# will be open source.
  • C# will run on Windows, Mac, and Linux
  • C# can be used to build Windows client apps, Windows Store apps, iOS apps, and Android apps.
  • It supports all IDEs and editors.
  • C# 7 comes with new features including tuples, record types, and pattern matching.

Microsoft talked about some of the enhancements coming to C# at the Microsoft Build conference earlier this year. Here is the video of that presentation:

Visual Basic Language Enhancements

Sorry, haters, but it seems as if Microsoft has no plans of forgetting about Visual Basic completely. On the contrary, it seems as if Microsoft's plan for Visual Basic is to become a more distinguished language. Microsoft has concentrated on it a lot, and spent a lot of time to give VB features that C# and even F# has, and vice versa. But, it seems as if C# and VB are set to diverge. Microsoft wants to quicken the pace of C# feature releases instead of holding off until a complete feature set is ready.

"We are realizing that this approach of doing everything to Visual Basic that we're doing to C# just sort of automatically doesn't seem like the right approach," Mads Torgerson, Microsoft's program manager for C# said.

Microsoft talked about the future of the .NET Languages at their Build conference earlier this year. Here is the video with Dustin Campbell, David Stephens, Mads Torgersen, and Seth Juarez talking about the futures.

Another article you might find interesting is "What's New for C# and VB in Visual Studio."

Conclusion

Visual Basic is still hanging in there! Even though C# is getting more new features, it does not mean that Visual Basic will die. Yes, it may not get all the same features as quickly as C#, but I personally think allowing the two major languages of the .NET Framework some breathing space might actually be good.

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