Before we develop a .NET application locally, we need to have access to the following:

  • A machine running the Windows, macOS, or Linux operating system.

  • The .NET SDK.

  • A code editor or an integrated development environment (IDE).

Because .NET SDK executes the test functionality, no additional steps are required to enable automated testing on a development machine besides installing an appropriate automation testing NuGet package, such as xUnit.

Installing the .NET SDK

The latest .NET SDK version can be found and installed on this page. It’s best if we install the latest version. However, we can also choose any other version still under support. The material provided in this course applies to any version of the .NET SDK starting from version 6 onward.

Installing a code editor or an IDE

We must use a code editor or an IDE to write our code. Here is the key difference between the two:

  • Code editor: This allows us to edit and auto-format the code. It also highlights the programming language's syntax and warns us of spelling mistakes. Another benefit of using a code editor is that it’s typically much faster and lightweight than an IDE. However, we may still require other tools to run the code or build the application.

  • IDE: This allows us to do everything a code editor can do and more. In addition to writing and editing the code using an IDE, we can build our application, launch it, create a deployable package, and more via an easy-to-use GUI. However, this external functionality comes at the expense of larger disk space requirements and slower performance.

Both a code editor and an IDE are useful, and they aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive. Both can be installed on the same machine.

Installing a code editor

The main code editor recommended for working with .NET is Visual Studio Code. Despite being lightweight, it’s powerful and evergreen, and it updates itself. Its main limitation is that we will still need to use the .NET CLI alongside it for various activities, such as running tests.

We can install Visual Studio Code on Windows, macOS, or Linux via this page.

Installing an IDE

The official .NET IDE made by Microsoft is called Visual Studio. Even though its name is similar to Visual Studio Code, it’s a completely different piece of software and only available on Windows. There is a version of Visual Studio available on Mac, but it’s extremely limited in its functionality compared to the Windows version. Moreover, it will be discontinued on August 31, 2024.

The Visual Studio Community edition can be downloaded and installed free of charge. It’s sufficient for developing .NET applications and running automated tests. Furthermore, we can acquire various licenses if we want to obtain some advanced features, such as the decompilation of third-party libraries.

We can access Visual Studio using this page.

An alternative to Visual Studio is JetBrains Rider, which can be installed on Linux and macOS, but not on Windows. JetBrains Rider has only one type of license, which includes all advanced features. However, it doesn’t come with a free tier.

JetBrains Rider can be downloaded via this page.

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