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Strategies and Challenges While Migrating ASP.NET Applications to .NET Core 7

The release of .NET Core 7 has brought many exciting features and improvements, making many organizations consider migrating their existing ASP.NET applications to this latest version.

The migration process, in turn, involves several key strategies and bears various challenges that a .NET development company must overcome to achieve a smooth and successful transition.

In this article, we will explore the architectural differences between ASP.NET and ASP.NET Core, breaking changes that developers may face during migration, and why developers need to adopt it.

Architectural Differences Between ASP.NET and .NET Core

Despite some similarities in terms of the programming model and syntax, there are several differences between ASP.NET and .NET Core in their underlying architecture.

ASP.NET Core is a cross-platform, modular and lightweight open-source framework that offers better performance and scalability.

Unlike ASP.NET, which primarily relies on System.Web.dll and is closely integrated with IIS, ASP.NET Core generally uses the Kestrel web server and can be hosted across a range of platforms, including Linux and macOS.

However, it’s important to note that ASP.NET Core applications can also make use of IIS, particularly on Windows systems, which provides advantages such as Kernel Mode Windows Authentication or direct file transmission.

The middleware pipeline is another essential architectural difference. In ASP.NET Core, the pipeline is fully customizable and allows developers to configure individual middleware components as they require.

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ASP.NET CORE VS ASP.NET MVC: Reasons for Migration

Migrating ASP.NET applications to .NET Core 7 offers several convincing benefits:

  • Performance Improvements: One of the most important reasons for migrating to .NET Core 7 is its modular design and performance enhancements. The framework has been optimized for speed, which resulted in faster response times and better application performance.
  • Containerization with Docker: Docker containers have become a must-have solution for deploying applications due to their efficiency, portability, and scalability. .NET Core smoothly integrates with Docker, allowing developers to easily containerize their applications.
  • Future Compatibility: Embracing .NET Core guarantees that the application remains compatible with the latest technology advancements and future versions of the framework. As Microsoft’s focus shifts to .NET Core, continued support and updates are more likely to ensure the long-term stability and future of the application.

Breaking Changes for Migration from .NET Framework to .NET Core

Migrating to .NET Core can present several challenges due to breaking changes introduced in the latter. Some of the common issues include:

  • API Differences: .NET Core does not include all the APIs present in .NET Framework. This means developers may need to find alternatives or use third-party libraries to bridge the gap. When migrating, developers should also carefully assess the application’s codebase to identify any reliance on deprecated APIs or unsupported features.
  • Platform Dependencies: Since .NET Core supports cross-platform development, you may need to make adjustments or replacements to platform-specific dependencies in your current codebase.
  • NuGet Package Versions: Existing NuGet packages may not be compatible with .NET Core or may require updates to work properly. Developers need to make sure that all required packages are available and compatible with the .NET Core ecosystem before moving on to the migration.
  • Configuration Changes: The configuration system in .NET Core is different from the .NET Framework system, which requires changes to the configuration code. Developers should attentively update and test the application’s configuration to avoid runtime problems.

Top Strategies to Successfully Migrate ASP.NET Applications to .NET Core 7

Migrating ASP.NET applications to .NET comes with a number of issues that need to be resolved for a better transition.

Top Strategies to Successfully Migrate ASP.NET Applications to .NET Core 7

In this section, we’ll dive deeper into some strategies that can help ensure a smooth migration to .NET Core 7, while minimizing risks and maximizing the benefits of the transition.

Take Integration Tests Touching Application Layer Protocols

During migration, it is important to run integration tests to make sure that the application layer protocols, such as HTTP or FTP, continue to work correctly.

These tests help find any compatibility issues that might happen due to changes in the underlying framework or libraries.

For example, when migrating HTTP-based APIs, developers should test the endpoints for correct functionality, request handling, and response formats.

Similarly, for applications that use FTP for file transfers, integration tests should confirm that file uploads and downloads still work as expected.

Choose the Option for .NET Core Migration in the Context of the Current Development Process

When considering NET Core migration, development teams have two primary options:

  • Slice-by-Slice Migration: In this approach, the application is divided into smaller slices. And each slice is migrated using an incremental strategy. This technique helps gradually transfer the app and makes it easier to fix any issues.
  • Layer-by-Layer Migration: With this approach, entire application layers are migrated one at a time. This method may be suitable for applications with well-defined layers and minimal interdependencies.

The ultimate choice between these approaches depends on project complexity, team expertise, and the organization’s risk tolerance. In some cases, you can try a combination of both approaches to quicker achieve the migration goal.

Preserve Application Code Structure for Branch Comparison/Merges

To streamline the migration process, it is important to maintain the application’s code structure during development.

This helps in smooth branch comparison and merges during the migration phase. Also, it simplifies identifying any issues that may occur due to code changes.

Developers can use version control practices to create feature branches for the migration process. Keeping the branches aligned with the existing code structure guarantees that changes and updates can be easily tracked and reviewed before merging into the main branch.

Refactor the Application in the Current Development Branch

Before starting the migration, it’s highly recommended to refactor the application in the current development branch. This involves cleaning up the code, removing deprecated APIs, and addressing any design flaws. Refactoring lays the groundwork for the upcoming migration and provides a more manageable process.

Test the Migration in the Context of Various Aspects

Comprehensive testing is critical during the migration process. This includes:

  • Unit Testing: Test individual components to confirm their functionality remains intact. This guarantees that core features and functionalities are not compromised during migration.<