The web development landscape is constantly changing, even as we speak. Numerous novel frameworks come into existence, usually branching out from the core of older languages to address a need or solve a problem more efficiently.
.NET hasn’t been a stranger to this development either. The only difference is that somewhere along the line, whoever was responsible for the naming conventions made matters more complicated than it needed to be.
For example, in the official Microsoft .NET documentation, the entire .NET project starts with the .NET standard (baseline set of APIs targeted at library developers), then proceeds to .NET Core 2.0, and goes all the way to .NET Core 3.1. At this point, the “Core” is dropped from the naming convention altogether.
After that, the project is reimagined as simply .NET 5 (skipping what probably should’ve been .NET Core 4) and its latest iteration and our subject of interest—.NET 6. Keep in mind that .NET 5 and 6 are still operating on the .NET Core basic principles, but improved to meet modern-day demand.
As you can tell, there is a lot going on. A seasoned .NET developer should know the differences between these versions, and know how to implement all tools from the .NET framework without much of a hassle.
In this guide, I will shed some light on how and where to find quality .NET 6 developers, explain the underlying technologies, and share additional tips to find the perfect hire.
What is .NET 6?
Let’s clear the misconceptions right out of the gate: .NET 6.0 is the latest .NET version that was released in 2021 (.NET 7.0 is expected to be released later this year). The 6.0 iteration of this framework is faster, more stable, and it introduces several interesting features that both seasoned and up-and-coming developers should be excited about.
Before .NET 5 and 6, there were two separate .NET entities: .NET Framework and .NET Core.
Here’s how they differ:
- .NET Framework: Only compatible with Windows and considered old by many. Today it’s replaced with .NET 6
- .NET Core: A newer cross-platform implementation of the .NET architecture. The naming convention has also been deprecated in favor of the newest .NET iteration (6.0)
- .NET Standard: This version allows cross-compatibility between the old .NET Framework and early .NET Core
- .NET 6: The newest version of .NET. The curators dropped the "Core" part from the name because there is no framework past 4 (i.e. no .NET Core 4!)
Additionally, .NET Framework (the older Windows-only version) was the original .NET, but the problem was that the framework wasn’t open source. Since Microsoft took over the reins, they developed .NET Core from scratch and made it open source.
The goal for .NET was to become a working framework for all major operating systems (Windows, Linux, Mac). Starting with .NET Core, all the way through the latest .NET versions (5 and 6), this dream has materialized and the framework has been successfully “churning away” for some time now.
Ultimately, with .NET 6 (and whatever comes next in the .NET department), there is only one .NET framework simply known as CODE: .NET.
In terms of what it can do, .NET is a powerful, robust, and truly unified development platform for building various applications, including web, IoT, gaming, cloud, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and mobile apps.
Developers working with .NET should be proficient in Visual Basic, Visual Studio, and a variety of .NET libraries—including the .NET Standard Class Library template.
Popularity of .NET 6
ASP.NET Core, the latest web framework from the .NET ecosystem (and successor to ASP.NET), has been voted the sixth most popular web framework by working developers in 2021.
More precisely, ASP.NET Core has an 18.1% market share, and together with its predecessor ASP.NET (eighth on the list with a 15.74% market share), they show a growing interest in the .NET working environment.
In terms of the entire .NET programming environment, we could say that one of the main strengths of said .NET environment is the community. Namely, it seems like any issue could be resolved regardless of the scale of the problem and whether it’s affecting enterprise-grade organizations, or simply individual engineers.
Interestingly enough, the .NET framework (including .NET Core and .NET 5) gets the most votes from developers in the “other frameworks” category. To rank a given technology in this section of the Stack Overflow survey, developers were asked which frameworks they’ve done extensive work in over the past year, and which frameworks they want to try working in over the next year.
This is good news for developers and employers alike, as it seems like .NET is widely recognized as an environment that most engineers are happy to be dabbling their talent in.
Where to find .NET 6 developers
There are conventional and unconventional ways of sourcing talented .NET developers, and both are equally good.
Here are some ideas for places where you can find quality .NET developers to work on your next project:
Quora: Quora is a forum based on the Q&A (questions and answers) model, where curious users ask questions, and other knowledgeable users try to give their best answers. It’s great as a hiring platform because it can often identify the best candidates, usually by means of self-selection as the most knowledgeable experts will give the most optimized answer to a given question (or, in our case, .NET inquiry).
GitHub: What better place to source developers than the version control system itself? Besides its obvious utility, GitHub also serves as the water cooler of really skilled software engineers. Logically, it’s a place where you can find quality .NET developers as well, granted if you know how to use the platform optimally.
Reddit: Reddit is an underrated resource but also a tough one to figure out since all the users operate under pseudonyms. The fact that it’s anonymous makes any job involving pointing out certain professionals from specific fields harder than it needs to be. But, if you go to some of the multiple developer job subreddits, threads, and comments, chances are you will stumble upon a breadcrumb that could lead you to hire the ideal .NET person just like that.
Dice.com: Dice is an online job board aimed at sourcing, finding, and hiring tech professionals from a variety of fields, .NET included. It’s a little too corporate for my taste, but hey, if it gets the job done, then who am I to argue against it?
Proxify.io: A little self-promotion never hurts anybody, right? At Proxify, we offer elite-level software engineers, web developers and .NET professionals with multiple years of experience in the field, great communication skills and impeccable English. On top of that, our developers are pre-vetted, meaning that only the top 2% of each applicant gets to become part of the Proxify network of developers each cycle.
Other notable places to find .NET developers include LinkedIn, Upwork, Mogul, TalentBin, direct referrals, and more.
How to interview .NET 6 developers
Interviewing developers is much of a skill as it is an art. There are a lot of nuances that a hiring manager should be familiar with if they want to get the best out of their candidates, to make them show their best version on the evaluation call.
These nuances include setting up the candidate with all necessary information for the interviewing process. This could mean how it’ll go once it starts, the duration of the video call or in-person interview, the location, what to expect, and how to prepare as well.
This shows that the hiring manager understands the process and will conduct the interview professionally, diligently, and in a neutral fashion (i.e. they won’t be taking sides).
The rest is up to the candidate; their job is to leave a positive impression on the hiring manager or potential future employers if they are present on the call.
Top technical skills .NET 6 developers should come with
A skilled .NET developer will usually understand the underlying mechanisms of, generally speaking, computer science and computer programming, software development, information technology, and possibly cybernetics. Having a bachelor’s degree in any of these fields is recommended, but not a deal-breaker if the candidate, for example, is self-taught.
In terms of more specific technical skills, .NET developers should know:
Coding: An elite developer will be able to write optimized, compatible and easy-to-read code that works as intended (i.e. no “accidental features”). They should understand the purpose of each line, which will determine the next step in the coding process. They will analyze their code, make adjustments where necessary, and update the code accordingly.
Programming languages: To readily perform their job duties, .NET developers have to be proficient in C#, F#, Visual Basic .NET, as well as understand applications such as Visual Studio, SQL, and Oracle among other working environments.
Azure: Since .NET is inextricably linked to Microsoft’s own cloud-based platform, Azure, an up-to-date .NET developer will have to understand how to operate within this environment and use Azure’s functions. Not to mention that careless implementation could lead to poor performance and increased costs down the road. Within the more granular context of Azure applications, .NET developers should be familiar with (or open to learn) serverless functions, Cosmos DB, containers and microservices.
Alexandra Tigau-Almasan, one of Proxify’s top .NET specialists, agreed to answer some of my questions.
And I had a couple:
What is the best way to differentiate between
- .NET 6
- .NET Core
- .NET Framework
What is .NET 6 best used for?
First, she started on a more general note. “One of the nicest improvements added in .NET 6 was the performance since it became even faster than its predecessors and the fact that it makes all types of applications possible”, she said.
Alexandra didn't hold back regarding the differences between these 3 .NET instances.
“The main difference between .NET Core and .NET Framework is that the applications in .NET Framework work only on Windows, while the .NET Core applications are cross-platform. Also, .NET is highly wanted to be used in applications when you need a high-performance and scalable system. A difference between .NET Core and .NET 6 is that it comes with a lot of great language simplifications to make the code easier to write.”
“In terms of HTTP”, she continued, “I think only .NET 6 supports HTTP/3 that eliminates a lot of the issues with the blocking that the HTTP/2 has”.
What about general use; what is .NET best used for?
Alexandra described it in a single word: “everything”.
Top soft skills .NET 6 developers should have
Besides being technically prepared to face any software-related challenge, developers also need to have a clinical understanding of project development, project management, and a variety of other non-technical skills.
Communication skills: .NET developers should be able to communicate clearly and effectively in order to convey important information to their coworkers and clients at any point in the application development cycle. They should know how to explain complex .NET topics to people who don’t necessarily know the technical language or have limited understanding of the framework.
Budget considerations: Knowledge of how to operate within the confines of a set budget allows .NET developers to produce new applications effectively, efficiently, and on time. During production, developers should know how to reassess their spending habits (time, money and prioritization), and update the budget accordingly. They should also be diligent in explaining their spending to the upper management in the business.
Ability to collaborate effectively: To finish projects on time, .NET developers should be able to collaborate with other developers, UX designers, system administrators, software engineers, and graphic designers, to name a few. As project leads, they should know how to delegate tasks to other team members and give neutral, fair, and constructive feedback.
Interview questions for .NET 6 developers
To find the best .NET candidates, the recruiting manager has to ask relevant questions and keep a detailed tab on the expected answers.
Here are several questions to determine how well the candidate knows .NET:
1. What programming languages are supported by .NET?
Expected answer: .NET supports many Microsoft and non-MS languages, including C#, F#, Perl, VB.NET, Cobol, and C++. I prefer working with C# and Visual Basic, but I’ve also built applications in F# and Perl.
2. Explain the difference between managed and unmanaged code
Expected answer: Unmanaged code runs in the OS, irrespective of the CLR. Managed code, on the other hand, runs inside the CLR and requires the .NET framework to execute. This enables developers to create unmanaged code from a language that is not dependent on the .NET framework, thus separating the managed code from the execution environment.
3. How does garbage collection work in .NET?
Expected answer: The garbage collection in .NET removes any unused code floating in the memory. The code is stored in three generations: Generation 0, 1, and 2. Usually, code objects in Generation 0 are the first ones that go, followed by 1 and 2, respectively.
4. What are some of the most important aspects of .NET?
Expected answer: Class Library and Common Language Runtime (CLR) are the two most important aspects of .NET. The class library is an engine that helps run a variety of programs and tools within the framework. CLR includes a variety of tools, applications, and other resources that help developers set the building blocks of future projects in the .NET framework.
5. How do you execute managed code?
Expected answer: You start by writing the code. The act of coding creates managed code. A suitable compiler allows you to convert the managed code into a language, usually an intermediate one. The CLR picks the intermediate language and converts it into native code inside the .NET framework. The entirety of this process is one way to compile and execute managed code.
Why should you hire a .NET 6 developer?
.NET 5 and 6 are the languages of the future, and the .NET environment is the framework of choice for building fast and optimized applications. Given the latest performance improvements these two .NET versions have seen, a quality .NET developer will be able to leverage that into performant code across all their applications within the .NET working environment.
For your business, it’s great for reducing the cost of future development projects, including web-based applications, mobile apps, and desktop software.
Talented .NET developers available now
What is .NET?
.NET is an open-source, cross-platform development platform used to create a variety of different applications, including websites, games, and other software for desktop, mobile, and web.
What is .NET used for?
The .NET software framework (sometimes abridged to Microsoft NET framework) is used to develop a variety of applications, including both web-based applications and services, form-based applications, and more. In terms of applicability, .NET is famous for being very powerful, flexible, and robust. Developers can utilize the many angles of .NET to build a powerful software architecture, or even add or edit certain layers of an existing program without disrupting other parts of the web application to boot. Another use of .NET can be found in gaming, mostly thanks to its responsiveness and the ability to provide excellent performance on multiple operating systems (Windows, Linux and Mac), platforms, and other media.
The difference between C# and .NET
C# is considered a programming language, while the .NET term usually refers to two different things: the .NET application framework library and the .NET common language runtime. In .NET, you can write applications in three programming languages: C#, F# and Visual Basic (VB). Additionally, C# is heavily involved in the functionality of .NET—especially the workings of the .NET framework assembly. As C# becomes more intertwined with Microsoft and .NET, it becomes very difficult to use one without the other.
Common applications of the .NET framework
The .NET framework allows developers to approach a variety of common programming tasks in a very intuitive, albeit somewhat complex manner. Application development becomes second nature to those well-versed in the multitude of .NET functionalities (like types), enabling a wide range of solutions using the same .NET coding paradigm. Things like data collection, database connectivity, file access, and string management can now be easily manageable with the leverage of the .NET class-library. Other common applications that you can develop using .NET include Windows Forms and WPF apps, ASP.NET apps, Windows GUI apps, console applications, and more.
Good websites built on .NET
The main pros of building a website with the .NET stack can be found in its performance and scalability, consistent API, ease of use, and the possibility to benefit from using the highly advanced mix of technologies (Microsoft .NET-related tools) today. Some of the most famous websites built on the .NET platform include: Microsoft, StackOverflow, Dell, GoDaddy, W3Schools and Outlook—among countless others.
Differences between .NET and .NET Core
.NET Core is an open-source, cross-platform, high-performant and free development environment for building fast and reliable modern web applications, compatible with all major platforms, including Windows, Linux, and macOS. The .NET framework is not open-source (certain components are) and is somewhat less effective than .NET Core in certain aspects of application speed, performance, and scalability. Comparing them side-by-side, you can conclude that .NET framework is meant more for desktop development, while .NET Core is primarily used to develop web applications and other cloud-based solutions that find their home online. Finally, .NET Core supports the implementation of microservices, while .NET framework does not. However, the latter provides full support for integrating its REST API services both with your existing and new projects. Needless to say, the Core and .NET frameworks are quite different in how they operate.
Recent .NET updates
The latest updates from the Microsoft .NET development team have addressed and patched several existing issues from multiple categories, including general framework security, SQL connectivity, as well as some minor mishaps in the Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) and Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) parts of .NET. Needless to say, .NET is getting better and better with each iteration, and new updates will continue to roll out whenever needed.