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How to Learn .NET

Karen Schwarze - February 26, 2021


If you’re looking for a developer platform that can help you create anything, from apps and games to Internet of Things applications, look no further than Microsoft’s .NET.

.NET is a developer platform with tools, programming languages, and libraries for building many types of applications. It is used in many industries and is a very valuable skill to learn if you want to become a developer. In this article, we’ll explore how to get started with learning this technology.

What Is .NET?

Created by Microsoft, .NET (pronounced “dot net”), is a platform of collected technologies for building apps on Windows, Linux, macOS, iOS, Android, and other operating systems.

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These technologies include .NET Framework, a software development framework for running websites on a Windows operating system; .NET Core, a cross-platform implementation for running apps and services on other operating systems besides Windows; and Xamarin/Mono, a .NET implementation for running apps on all major operating systems, including mobile.

When you are building applications with .NET, you will need to use C#, C++/CLI (a version of C++), Cobol, F#, or Visual Basic. C# , a programming language created by Microsoft, is a great beginning language to learn. Learning both C# and .NET is a great idea if you are transitioning into a tech career.

What Is .NET Used For?

.NET has many features. With .NET, you can:

  • Build web and desktop apps and games. .NET is a flexible platform. Projects by users who posted on BuiltWithDot.Net include a YouTube downloader, an online pet adoption community, a desktop space adventure game, and an app for tracking invoices.
  • Cloud services. Combined with Microsoft’s Azure , a cloud services platform, you can host your .NET applications in the cloud. And with .NET Core, you can quickly build and deploy .NET Core applications on Google Cloud .
  • Machine Learning. You can easily integrate machine learning functionality into your .NET apps with Microsoft’s ML.NET . Add vision algorithms, speech processing, and predictive models to your apps. Companies that use ML.NET include SigParser, which predicts whether an email sender is a person or an automated system; Williams Mullen, a law firm that uses ML.NET for document classification; and Scancam, a device that detects fuel theft.
  • Internet of Things (IoT) . .NET supports hundreds of sensors, displays, and input devices. Some of these devices include temperature and humidity sensors, accelerometers, and gas sensors. With Microsoft’s open source library for IoT , you can build applications that can run on platforms like Raspberry Pi.

There are many companies that use .NET. These include Accenture, Stack Overflow, Trustpilot (a customer reviews website), and Paralect (a digital product engineering company).

Learning .NET

Learning .NET is a great idea if you want to build software. .NET is a popular platform. According to Stack Overflow’s 2020 Developer Survey , .NET came in second in the category Other Frameworks, Libraries and Tools. Moreover, .NET Core came in third.

As of this writing, on Glassdoor there are over 21,000 jobs in the United States that mention .NET . Roles that call for this skill include .NET developer, mobile application developer, software architect, IT developer, and full stack developer.

LinkedIn features over 38,000 jobs that mention .NET . Clearly, there are many opportunities for developers who want to use .NET in their work. According to Glassdoor, the average annual base salary for .NET developers is $68,524 .

C# is a common language to use with .NET, so you will need to learn it. There are many resources available to learn this programming language, like this short tutorial from Microsoft for building .NET applications with C# .

How Long Does It Take to Learn .NET?

If you already know one of the languages compatible with .NET—such as C#, F#, or Visual Basic—it will take you two to three months to learn to use this platform professionally. If you don’t know any of these languages, you will need to learn one first. C# is a great language to learn for web development.

You should also know how to use Visual Studio, which is the IDE (Integrated Development Environment) that you will use to build projects with .NET.

How to Learn .NET: Step-by-Step

Assuming that you already know one of the programming languages used with .NET, here are some big-picture steps that you can take to learn this technology.

  1. Learn C# or another language compatible with .NET. In order to use the .NET developer platform, you should at least know the basics of one of its compatible programming languages, such as C#, C++/CLI,, Cobol, F#, or Visual Basic.
  2. Decide which specific .NET technology you want to learn first. There are several tools in the .NET platform, including .NET Core, .NET Framework, and .NET for mobile, such as Xamarin and Mono. Think about what your development needs and interests are as you are making your decision.
  3. Download the Community version of Visual Studio Code. Visual Studio Code is the IDE you will use for your .NET projects.
  4. Download the version of .NET you want. You can download the version of .NET that you want for free.
  5. Experiment with .NET tutorials. You can get started with .NET with this Hello World Tutorial , and there are many other .NET tutorials that you can try out.
  6. Learn more with a course or book. Check out the courses, books, and other resources listed below to grow your skills further.

The Best .NET Courses

Taking a course can help you practice your skills. Keep in mind that you should know C# and how to use Visual Studio Code before you start learning .NET. If you’re not already familiar with those technologies, be sure to check out courses and learning resources for those first. But if you know some basic C# and can use Visual Studio Code, read on to check out courses for learning .NET.

Microsoft: Learn .NET

Cost: Free

Microsoft provides free learning resources for developers who want to learn .NET. These resources include tutorials to build a text-based application that runs in the terminal, create a web app, build a machine learning model, and more. This page also features links to the .NET 101 video series and Microsoft learning paths for C# and .NET.

LinkedIn Learning: C# & .NET – Programming

Cost: $34.99 or LinkedIn Premium ($29.99/month)

Once you have some understanding of C#, this is a great course to get started with .NET. You will get a certificate upon completion. In this course, you will learn the basics of .NET programming with C#. You’ll study how to use collections, make your app responsive, assign and change class properties, optimize performance, inject data into strings, and handle errors.

Udemy: C# for Beginners – Coding From Scratch (.NET Core)

Cost: $124.99

If you want to learn C# and .NET Core at the same time, this is a fantastic course option. You will learn the fundamentals of C#, including variables, statements, classes, objects, and much more. Additionally, you’ll learn how to deploy .NET Core applications and keyboard shortcuts for Visual Studio Code, the IDE that you will use when working with the .NET platform.

The curriculum includes 4.5 hours of video content, 10 downloadable resources, and a certificate of completion.

.NET Books

Books will help you expand your knowledge with examples and practice exercises. Here are our top picks.

C# 8.0 and .NET Core 3.0: Modern Cross-Platform Development , Mark J. Price

Image credit: Amazon

With this beginner-friendly book, you will learn how to build applications with .NET Core and C# in Visual Studio Code. You will also be exposed to concepts like working with Content Management Systems and ML.NET, a tool for doing machine learning projects.

Additional topics you’ll explore include writing, debugging, and testing functions; object-oriented programming ; and working with databases.

C# 9 and .NET 5: Modern Cross-Platform Development , Mark J. Price

Image credit: Amazon

This is a great book for beginners who want to master C# 9 and .NET 5. This text deals with .NET, which is different from .NET Core, so is a good companion to the previous book in this list. There are exercises with Visual Studio Code to practice your skills.

From querying and manipulating data using LINQ (a way of retrieving data) to creating intelligent apps using machine learning, this book will teach you the skills you need to be a .NET developer.

Pro C# 7: With .NET and .NET Core , Andrew Troelsen and Philip Japiske

Image credit: Amazon

With this book, you’ll strengthen your C# foundation and gain the confidence to develop applications for services, web, and smart client applications. Additionally, you’ll learn about other Microsoft development tools such as ASP.NET Core and Entity Framework Core. Code samples help reinforce the concepts taught in this book, such as object-oriented development techniques.

Online .NET Resources

In addition to courses and books, there are other online resources to help you learn .NET.

.NET Documentation

Image credit: Microsoft

Apart from the materials discussed in the Courses section, Microsoft offers thorough documentation for .NET. There are guides and tutorials for getting started with this developer platform, including C# introduction: A quick interactive start , and Create your first web app . You can even check out .NET Live TV to hear conversations about .NET. If you want to get involved in the .NET community, you’ll find resources for doing so on the documentation website, such as the link for the .NET Virtual User Group.

dotNET YouTube Channel

Image credit: dotNET YouTube Channel

This is the official YouTube channel for the .NET team at Microsoft. There are many videos about how to use .NET, from beginner-friendly to more intermediate and advanced. Some of the beginner-friendly videos include What is .NET? and Publishing an App .

Stack Overflow

Image credit: Stack Overflow

Stack Overflow is a community of developers, a place where you can ask questions and get answers to common problems. Be aware that there are separate pages for .NET Framework and .NET Core . You will want to go to the appropriate page for the form of .NET you are using. As you start building applications with .NET, if you get stuck after doing some research, see if someone on Stack Overflow has asked the same question.

Should You Study .NET?

.NET is a popular developer platform. This technology consists of tools, programming languages, and libraries for web development. Several tools included in .NET are the .NET Framework (for Windows only), .NET Core (for all major operating systems), and Xamarin/Mono for mobile development.

There are many types of programs that you can build with .NET, including web applications, machine learning projects, cloud services, and IoT applications.

Developers who know how to use .NET are in demand, and there are good salaries for roles where .NET comes into play. If you are interested in pursuing web development as a career or a hobby, .NET is a valuable skill to learn.

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Karen Schwarze

About the author: A former educator and edtech marketer, Karen is passionate about computer science education. She’s particularly fascinated by the connections between coding languages and English language/literature structures. This led her to build an edtech app where users create Python programs by manipulating literary devices like similes and metaphors. When she’s not writing, Karen enjoys watching comedy and reading books about history.

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