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    The Top 12 .NET Programming Languages for Web Development

    5 min read

    Whether you're new to .NET or a .NET expert, it's worth it to understand some of the different languages that are used throughout the .NET software development process. Many believe that .NET is simultaneous with Visual Basic, but it's not. .NET is an open-source development platform—and there are a lot of languages used.

    What is MSIL in the .NET Framework?

    The .NET Framework takes a multitude of languages and utilizes them in different environments. This is made possible with the Microsoft Intermediate Language (MSIL) or Common Language Infrastructure (CLI), which makes it easier to transform any language into CPU-independent instructions and native code. Through MSIL, developers are able to program in any language they desire and have this language then compiled into MSIL. Then the MSIL will be compiled again into machine code that can operate natively in a different environment.

    When it comes to web application development, the .NET programming languages are particularly interesting and useful. Some of the .NET development languages were not classically used for web development; VB.NET and C# were originally used for desktop applications but are now among the popular languages that are most commonly used for web-based applications. .NET makes it possible to use languages like C++, C#, and Visual Basic to create fully featured web applications.

    Much of this programming is done through the ASP.NET web development platform. Now, programmers with any type of programming strength can use the .NET web development portal to create a web application.


    What are .NET languages?

    There are many popular .NET languages with benefits and negatives to each:

    Visual Basic .NET (VB.NET). Once Microsoft's flagship programming language product, Visual Basic .NET is a redesigned version of the original Visual Basic that came out back in the 1990s. It's easy to program with and frequently taught in college. Visual Basic has always been a very common and very popular language, which means there are many tools, code snippets, and libraries available for its use. You can go through Github and find code to match practically any project, which also makes it an ideal solution. At the same time, Visual Basic can be difficult to optimize and improve on.

    C++. Many programmers already know C++ and can easily transition their knowledge to the .NET environment rather than learning a new language entirely. C++ is one of the most popular languages in the world. Many programmers will learn C++ because it makes it easier for them to get hired; C++ programmers have always been in demand, even though the language is now a few decades old. C++ programmers also have many of the advantages of VB programmers; there's a lot of code and a strong community. At the same time, C++ is a little more difficult to learn.

    C#. C# is rapidly becoming Microsoft's most popular language; a mix between Java and C++ (minus many of the problems in Java and C++). C# development is popular for everything from IoT programming to mobile application development. Many find C# easier to learn than the other C and Java languages. C# is also lightweight, scalable, and very easy to optimize and improve upon. Since C# is also newer than many other general-purpose languages, it has better memory allocation and load balancing.

    Ada. Ada is a structured, object-oriented high-level programming language, derived from Pascal. Ada was originally designed for the US Department of Defense. The language was named after Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace (1815-1852) who is considered by many to be the first programmer.

    F#. F# gives an application simplicity and succinctness like Python but with robustness and performance better than Java or C#. F# is most often used as a cross-platform language on .NET, but it can also be used to for graphics processing and to generate JavaScript. F# is great for specialties like scientific programming or data analysis.

    IronPython. For Python programmers, IronPython provides an all-around implementation of Python for .NET. Python is one of the most popular and most-used languages in the world.

    IronRuby. Ruby can also be accessed through .NET through IronRuby, ideal for those who are already Ruby on Rails experts.

    JScript .NET. A compiled version of the JScript language, JScript.NET is a good option for those who want to produce code quickly and easily.

    PHP through Phalanger. PHP is one of the most-known web-based languages; Phalanger makes it possible to do PHP development through .NET.

    Perl through Active Perl. With Active Perl, Perl programmers can transition their code into the .NET framework.

    Visual COBOL .NET.  Visual COBOL can be used to compile directly to Microsoft intermediate language for use in a Microsoft .NET project. Believe it or not, many large insurance companies are still running old COBOL programs written in the 1980s. Visual COBOL can be used to modernize them.

    VBx. A variant of Visual Basic .NET, VBx is a dynamic version of Visual Basic that uses a Dynamic Language Runtime.

    Those are just the top 12 languages that you can use for .NET; there are others. Of these, C# and VB.NET were those most commonly used for web development. JScript has a relationship to, but is not, JavaScript. 


    How many languages is .NET supporting now?

    .NET supports 11 programming languages natively, which means that those languages have been expressly introduced to the .NET environment by Microsoft. There are an additional 50 programming languages that are non-Microsoft languages and are supported by other entities. Using languages that are supported by Microsoft's ASP.NET web development team is usually ideal, as these .NET languages are more likely to have robust and consistent development.

    What are the main components of the .NET framework?

    The .NET framework is composed of the .NET class library, Common Language Runtime, Dynamic Language Runtime, Application Domains, .NET Framework Security, Cross Language Interoperability, Side by Side Execution, and Common Type System. Within .NET, developers can work with Windows Applications, Console Applications, Web Applications, and XML Services. Learning how to use the .NET framework is a separate (and intricate) lesson from learning its major programming languages.

    What is our favorite .NET programming language?

    Our favorite (and the most popular) .NET programming language is C#. C# is a robust general-purpose language that is growing in popularity, with a strong community and many use cases. If you're looking for a good all-around language to learn, C# is a great choice. Not only is it a scalable, high-performance language for .NET development, but it can easily be transferred into development outside of the .NET framework as well.  C# is the best choice for those of us who used C and C++ during the 1980s and 1990s to develop applications.

    Our second pick is VB.NET. Visual Basic is a very popular programming language that most people learn in college; consequently, there's a very low barrier to entry. Nevertheless, it's a strong general-purpose language. You can use it to do pretty much anything, and you can get started fast. The downside to Visual Basic and any variants is that many people feel that these languages are somewhat unstructured and messy, which can lead to poor code hygiene.

    ASP.NET is an excellent infrastructure for companies that are developing corporate web development projects. With ASP.NET web development, web development can occur through any popular programming language. Rather than having to get a programmer who is an expert in CGI/Perl, companies can instead get a programmer who might know C# or Visual Basic. And now with the advent of .NET Core Development, Microsoft is taking ASP.NET to the next level.

    There are many other advantages to using .NET for web development, too. .NET web development is faster and more streamlined, because you already have the classes, libraries, and tools available. It's part of the Microsoft ecosystem, which means you can take advantage of a lot of features and functionality of the Microsoft ecosystem. And it has a significant amount of product support and community backing because it's so popular.

    Still, there are intricacies to .NET development too, and companies will need to learn more about how .NET development can create a fully robust web application.

    To find out more information about the best free ASP.NET development tools that you can leverage for your next big project, or to get answers to any other important questions you might have, please contact Keene Systems today. You can also download our great new eBook - Why ASP.NET Development Services Fuels Business Growth - to learn more about this essential topic. 

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