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In Move to .NET Core, Missing .NET Framework Tech Replaced by Open Source Projects

In the move from the ageing, Windows-only .NET Framework to the new open source, cross-platform .NET Core framework, some technologies weren't invited along for the ride, but open source projects may be coming to the rescue.

As we detailed last month, the lack of a direct .NET Core counterpart to Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) caused some consternation among several developers, including one who said, "So we get Java interop but no WCF. I would like to try what the folks planning this are smoking," and another who said, "This. Non negotiable. Give us WCF or forget it."

Well, say hello to Core WCF, a new open source project under the direction of the .NET Foundation.

Although its initial code was donated to the community by a WCF team member, Microsoft won't be stewarding the project, which instead will rely on other open source contributors.

"Core WCF is not intending to be a 100 percent compatible port of WCF to .NET Core, but aims to allow porting of many WCF contract and service implementations with only a change of namespace," the .NET Core Foundation said in a post last week (June 7). "Initially, it will be for HTTP and TCP SOAP services on-top of Kestrel, which are the most commonly used transports on .NET Framework."

And WCF isn't the only .NET Framework technology not being officially ported to .NET Core. As Scott Hunter, director of program management, .NET, said in his own post, "We will not be adding ASP.NET Web Forms, WCF, Windows Workflow, .NET Remoting and/or the various other smaller APIs to .NET Core."

.NET Core projects listed by Hunter that fill in some of the missing gaps include:

  • ASP.NET Blazor -- provides a similar component and event-based programming model as ASP.NET Web Forms but generating a SPA (Single Page Application) instead of a traditional web site.
  • ASP.NET Web API or gRPC -- provide APIs and contract-based RPCs that can be used across all devices and platforms.
  • .NET Core WCF Client -- provides the ability for .NET Core projects to call into the existing WCF Servers that run on .NET Framework.

Hunter said older projects not getting much attention can just be left on .NET Framework, which isn't going away soon, because it comes with Windows.

"I f you really want to move one of your older applications to .NET Core and don't want to migrate it to newer technologies like Web API/gPRC/Cloud based workflow, we are supporting two community efforts that provide ports of Windows Workflow and WCF to .NET Core," Hunter said.

Along with Core WCF, the other project is Core WF, sponsored by UiPath, started by a former Microsoft developer on the Workflow team and described as, "A port of the Windows Workflow Foundation (WF) runtime to the .NET Standard." Like the Core WCF project, it's calling for "help from the community":

The Windows Workflow Foundation (WF) handles the long-running work of many companies. It powers SharePoint workflows, PowerShell workflows, Team Foundation Server build processes, and many applications in all types of businesses. As more developers look into adopting .NET Core, some are asking if WF will be officially ported. This project only ports the WF runtime and ETW tracking provider to the .NET Standard. But much more work is needed before it can substitute for the .NET Framework version.

The .NET Foundation characterized Core WCF as "a great example of how the .NET Foundation can help coordinate .NET open source projects in a way that benefits the broader community," noting that "Microsoft reached out to us and said they could help contribute the beginning code for this project as well as some ongoing development support."

"We're happy to see these projects be part of the .NET OSS community and hope that you'll join us in supporting them and other .NET OSS," Hunter said.

Although several developers expressed support for the open-source-to-the-rescue plan, others couldn't quite let go, with one commenting: "Glad to see you guys came to your senses with WCF after dog piling on it for so long. Sad that it took a mob with pitchforks and torches to make it happen."

About the Author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for Converge360.

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