What is ASP.NET Core?

ASP.NET Core is an open-source web development framework that was designed for building modern cloud-based applications. It offers a number of advantages over the original ASP.NET framework, including improved performance, cross-platform support, and simplified development. Contrary to prior versions which were Windows-only, ASP.NET Core is cross-platform and can now also run on macOS and Linux.

The first version of ASP.NET Core was released in 2016 as a complete redesign of Microsoft's popular web development framework, ASP.NET. The goal of the new version was to create a leaner and more modular framework that could be used to build modern applications for the cloud.

In November 2020, Microsoft simplified the name and removed Core from the name. This means that new releases will simply be called .NET followed by a version number. The first version using this naming convention was .NET 5 which was released in November 2020. A new version of .NET Core (now simply .NET) is released in November every year.

Due to the name changes, there can sometimes be a bit of confusion about the name, and different names - like ASP.NET Core or .NET Core - will be used interchangeably. 

Key features of ASP.NET Core:

  • A modern, cross-platform runtime that can be developed and run on Windows, Linux, Docker, and macOS
  • Improved performance thanks to a new modular design that allows for better caching and optimization
  • Simplified development with a unified framework that combines MVC and Web API into a single pipeline
  • A new Razor Pages programming model that makes it easier to build page-focused applications

In this article, we'll take a look at what makes ASP.NET Core different from the original ASP.NET framework and why you should consider using it for your next project. We’ll also look at which content management systems you can use to build .NET Core websites.

What are the advantages of using ASP.NET Core over the original ASP.NET framework?

ASP.NET Core offers a number of advantages over the original ASP.NET framework, including improved performance, cross-platform support, supported platform, and simplified development. If you're looking to build a web application that is high-performing and can be deployed across multiple platforms, then ASP.NET Core is the framework for you.


Improved performance

One of the biggest advantages of ASP.NET Core is its performance. Thanks to its smaller footprint and improved architecture, ASP.NET Core applications are able to handle more requests per second and have faster startup times. The great performance of ASP.NET Core was evident in the TechEmpower Round 20 benchmark test.


Cross-platform support

Another major benefit of ASP.NET Core is its cross-platform support. Unlike the original ASP.NET framework, which could only be used on Windows, ASP.NET Core applications can also be developed and run on macOS, Linux, and Docker. This makes it a great choice for companies that want to deploy their applications across multiple platforms.

To help developers across different operating systems, Visual Studio products now includes tools for building .NET applications on any operating system.


Supported and innovative platform

ASP.NET Core replaces ASP.NET and thus is the version to be used if you want to ensure that your applications run on a supported platform that is continuously developed upon.

Some versions of ASP.NET do still receive minor updates, patch releases, and bug fixes, but will no longer receive any major new features. All innovation and further development only happen in ASP.NET Core, and thus it’s the version to use if you want to take advantage of the newest technologies and features available for .NET applications.


Simplified development experience

Finally, ASP.NET Core offers a simplified development experience. The new framework is easier to learn and use than the older version, making it a good choice for developers who are new to web development.

If you need help choosing between ASP.NET and ASP.NET Core, here is an official comparison from Microsoft.

What are some of the best resources for learning more about ASP.NET Core?

While ASP.NET Core offers a number of advantages over the original ASP.NET framework and is more streamlined, you will need to learn how to use it effectively. If you're already familiar with the original ASP.NET framework, you'll be familiar with many concepts. But since it has been streamlined, and new features have been added, you can expect a learning curve once you make the switch to ASP.NET Core. 

Luckily, there are many different resources available to you, so you can learn more about ASP.NET Core and its features.


The Microsoft learning center

One of the key resources for learning more about ASP.NET Core is the Microsoft Learning center. In there you will find a mix of videos, articles, and step-by-step tutorials on everything from ASP.NET Core for Beginners to a video series on how you can make an ASP.NET Core website.


Microsoft Learn

As an extension to the learning center mentioned above, there is Microsoft Learn. Microsoft Learn replaced Microsoft Virtual Academy at the start of 2019 and is a free, interactive, hands-on training platform for Microsoft products.

With Microsoft Learn you can choose between more than 700 different learning paths, among which more than 15 are directly related to .NET development.

If you want to start from scratch, you can try the Build web apps with ASP.NET Core for beginners learning path.


The ASP.NET documentation

To support the learning center, you’ll also find the ASP.NET documentation. This is a valuable resource for you, if you’re looking to get started with ASP.NET Core, and need documentation to support you along the way.

The documentation includes tutorials, sample code, fundamentals, API references, and more.


Online courses

Besides relying on the official resources from Microsoft, there are a ton of other resources available online. Many websites offer online courses and tutorials that you can use to learn more about specific use-cases for ASP.NET Core.

Can you use any CMS for .NET Core websites?

The short answer is no, you can’t use any CMS for .NET Core websites.

More and more ASP.NET content management systems are making the move towards ASP.NET Core, but not all have made the move yet.

If you want to build a .NET Core website, you’ll need to check which versions of .NET and ASP.NET Core it supports. This information can typically be found by looking a the documentation for the CMS or the official website.

Most content management systems that support .NET Core, will only have it supported in newer versions of the CMS. Note that some content management systems might only have partial support for .NET Core, where parts of the application are not fully supporting .NET Core.

An example of a .NET Core CMS is Umbraco.

Since Umbraco 9, which was released in 2021, the Umbraco CMS has been running fully on .NET and ASP.NET Core. This means you can take advantage of the newest features and improvements in .NET as well as C#.

Is Umbraco a .NET Core CMS?

Yes, Umbraco is an open-source ASP.NET Core CMS.

Since Umbraco 9 was released in 2021, the Umbraco CMS has been running fully on .NET and ASP.NET Core. This means that you can use the Umbraco CMS to develop .NET Core websites and applications.

Umbraco has aligned itself with the .NET release cadence and will release a version running on the newest .NET technology once every year, shortly after the November release of the .NET version. 

This means that the first ASP.NET Core version of Umbraco, Umbraco 9, was running on .NET 5. Umbraco 10, which was released in 2022, runs on .NET 6 - the latest available version of .NET. 


If you want to try a .NET Core CMS, you can install it locally by following this guide or take a free 14-day trial where we’ll host the Umbraco site for you.

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