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Tools to build ASP.NET Blazor Apps

In the ever-changing world of web development, ASP.NET Blazor stands out as an exciting framework by Microsoft. It lets you create powerful web applications using C# and .NET, without the usual reliance on JavaScript. To make your Blazor development journey smoother and more productive, you need the right tools.


In this article, we'll introduce you to a handpicked set of tools and resources that'll help you build fantastic ASP.NET Blazor apps. These tools will make your web development life easier and your applications more impressive.


Tools to build ASP.NET Blazor Apps

Here are the tools and techniques that are essential for building efficient and performant Blazor apps on Various Platforms.


1. VS Solution

A VS Solution is a structure for organizing projects in Visual Studio. It serves as a container for one or more related projects, along with build information, Visual Studio window settings, and any miscellaneous files that aren’t associated with a particular project.


When building ASP.NET Core Blazor apps, the VS Solution plays a crucial role. It allows you to manage all the different aspects of your application in one place. For instance, you might have a server-side project for handling data operations, a client-side Blazor project for the user interface, and perhaps even additional projects for testing.


In the context of Blazor development, you can create a new project using one of the available Blazor templates in Visual Studio. These templates provide a starting point for writing a Blazor application, setting up a project layout, and creating the necessary configuration files.


For example, to create a Blazor app on Windows, you would install the latest version of Visual Studio with the ASP.NET and web development workload. Then you would create a new project using either the Blazor Server App template or the Blazor WebAssembly App template.


Features:

  1. Modular Installation: You can choose and install the workloads you want in Visual Studio’s modular installer.

  2. Cloud-Enabled Azure Apps: Visual Studio has tools to create Microsoft Azure cloud-enabled applications.

  3. Web Apps: You can create web apps using Visual Studio.

  4. Cross-Platform Apps and Games: You can build cross-platform apps and games.

  5. Database Connection: Visual Studio allows you to connect to databases.

  6. Debugging, Testing, and Code Improvement: It provides tools for debugging, testing, and improving your code.

  7. Deployment: You can deploy your finished application using Visual Studio.

Cons:

  1. It’s heavy and takes a long time to load.

  2. The UI might feel a little difficult, particularly for newcomers.


2. VS Code

Visual Studio Code, often referred to as VS Code, is a free source-code editor made by Microsoft for Windows, Linux, and macOS. It’s designed to be a streamlined code editor with support for development operations like debugging, task running, and version control.


In the context of building ASP.NET Blazor apps, VS Code has become a popular choice due to its efficiency and versatility. It supports Blazor development thanks to updated Razor tooling support in a C# extension. Razor and Blazor are both part of ASP.NET Core, the web-centric component of the .NET Core initiative that serves as a cross-platform, open-source alternative to the aging, Windows-only .NET Framework.


Here’s how you can use VS Code for Blazor development:

  1. Setting Up Your Environment: You can configure your local environment for Blazor development with Visual Studio Code.

  2. Creating a New Blazor Project: You can create a new Blazor project right within VS Code.

  3. Adding Client-Side Logic: You can add client-side logic to a Blazor web app using VS Code.

  4. Hot Reloading: With the dotnet watch command, you can enable hot reloading in VS Code. This means that your changes will be applied when you refresh the browser.

VS Code is very popular and familiar for developers developing apps in SPA frameworks like Angular, React, etc. So, the purpose is to provide you with the same seamless experience in developing the application1. In addition to these features, VS Code also offers a wide range of extensions that can further enhance your development experience.


Read:


Features:

  1. Command Line: VS Code has a powerful command line interface that lets you control how you launch the editor.

  2. Command Palette: It provides a command palette that gives you access to a wide variety of commands.

  3. Git Integration: VS Code integrates with Git, allowing you to work with source control without leaving the editor.

  4. Change Language Mode: You can change the language mode for syntax highlighting and other language-specific features.

  5. Customization: VS Code is highly customizable, allowing you to change the theme, keyboard shortcuts, preferences and install extensions that add functionality.

  6. Zen Mode: Zen Mode provides a distraction-free coding environment.

  7. Split View: You can split your view to work on multiple files at once.

  8. Status Bar: The status bar provides information about the opened project and files.

Cons:

  1. May be slower and consume a lot of memory and battery power on computers with limited resources.

  2. Lack of a button bar like the one found in Visual Studio.


3. Blazor Template

Blazor templates in Visual Studio provide a starting point for writing a Blazor application, setting up a project layout, and creating the necessary configuration files. They can be used to create higher-level components that are more reusable.


There are different types of Blazor templates available for different types of Blazor applications:

  1. Blazor Server App Template: This template is used for creating a Blazor Server application. It includes demonstration code and Bootstrap.

  2. Blazor Server App Empty Template: This template is also for creating a Blazor Server application but without demonstration code and Bootstrap.

  3. Blazor WebAssembly App Template: This template is used for creating a standalone Blazor WebAssembly application. It includes demonstration code and Bootstrap.

  4. Blazor WebAssembly App Empty Template: This template is for creating a standalone Blazor WebAssembly application but without demonstration code and Bootstrap.

In addition to these, there are also project template packages like BlazorPlate and Toolbelt.AspNetCore.Blazor.Minimum.Templates are available for .NET developers who want to build projects with ease and speed. These templates provide developers with a pre-packaged set of frequently used boilerplate code, saving them valuable time and resources.


These templates streamline the development process by offering a unified template with all the repetitive code and common UI pages for these features. This reduces the development effort, time, and cost for future projects. Developers can simply use these templates as a starting point, customizing and adding features as needed to build their projects faster and more efficiently.


Features:

  1. Templated Components: Templated components are components that receive one or more UI templates as parameters, which can be utilized in the rendering logic of the component.

  2. Support for Server-Side Blazor and Client-Side WebAssembly Blazor: The MudBlazor template in Visual Studio includes features such as support for server-side Blazor and client-side WebAssembly Blazor.

  3. Responsive Layout: A responsive layout that adapts to different screen sizes.

  4. Pre-Built MudBlazor Components: A set of pre-built MudBlazor components that you can use to create forms, grids, charts, and other UI elements.

  5. Common Features: Common features like authentication, authorization, logging, and localization are often present in .NET projects.

Cons:

  1. The Application should keep a connection with the server.

  2. Scalability depends on server capabilities.

  3. The initial load time can be slow, and you may need to call the API, which can slow things down.


4. .NET WebAssembly

.NET WebAssembly, often referred to as Blazor WebAssembly, is a single-page app (SPA) framework for building interactive client-side web apps with .NET. It allows .NET code to be run in the browser.


WebAssembly (abbreviated wasm) is a compact bytecode format optimized for fast download and maximum execution speed. It’s designed as a portable target for the compilation of high-level languages like C++, enabling deployment on the web for client and server applications.


In the context of Blazor development, .NET WebAssembly allows you to write your client logic in C#, compile it into WebAssembly bytecode, and execute it directly in the browser. This means you can use .NET end-to-end, both on the server-side and on the client-side in the browser.


Blazor WebAssembly supports ahead-of-time (AOT) compilation, where you can compile your .NET code directly into WebAssembly. AOT compilation results in runtime performance improvements at the expense of a larger app size. Without enabling AOT compilation, Blazor WebAssembly apps run on the browser using a .NET Intermediate Language (IL) interpreter implemented in WebAssembly. Because the .NET code is interpreted, apps typically run slower than they would on a server-side .NET just-in-time (JIT) runtime.


The Blazor app, its dependencies, and the .NET runtime are downloaded to the browser in parallel. The app is executed directly on the browser UI thread. This makes it possible to build full-featured apps with .NET that run directly in the browser with no need for plugins or transpilation to JavaScript.


Features:

  1. Binary Instruction Format: WebAssembly is a binary instruction format for a stack-based virtual machine.

  2. Open Web Standard: WebAssembly is an open web standard and is supported in web browsers without plugins.

  3. Near-Native Speeds: WebAssembly programs can perform at near-native speeds.

  4. Runs in Modern Web Browsers: WebAssembly runs in all modern web browsers, including mobile browsers.

  5. Interact with Native Operating System: Wasmtime, a runtime for WebAssembly, has the ability to interact with the native operating system, allowing for configurable access to system resources.

Cons:

  1. The size of the downloaded files, the app startup time, and compatibility with older browsers can be issues.

  2. No offline support since it always needs a server.


Read:


5. Ahead-of-Time Compilation

Ahead-of-time (AOT) compilation is a feature in the .NET ecosystem that compiles a Blazor app’s .NET code directly into native WebAssembly for direct execution by the browser. This is a significant improvement over the default behavior, where Blazor WebAssembly apps run using a .NET Intermediate Language (IL) interpreter implemented in WebAssembly.


AOT compilation results in runtime performance improvements, especially for apps that execute CPU-intensive tasks. This is because the .NET code is compiled to WebAssembly before the app is run, reducing the amount of work that needs to be done at runtime. However, AOT-compiled apps usually result in larger apps that take longer to download.


In terms of Blazor development, enabling AOT compilation can yield a ten-fold or higher improvement in UI rendering speed. It’s particularly beneficial for optimizing rendering speed and minimizing the rendering workload, which can improve UI responsiveness.


To enable AOT compilation for a Blazor WebAssembly project, you can set the RunAOTCompilation property to true in the project file. Please note that AOT compilation for Blazor WebAssembly was first introduced in .NET 6 preview 4.


Features:

  1. Single Compilation: When using AOT Compilation, compilation only happens once, during the build of your project.

  2. Minimized Application Size: It can minimize the size of your application as you don’t have to ship the HTML templates and the Angular compiler whenever you enter a new component.

  3. Faster Rendering: The browser does not need to compile the code in runtime, it can directly render the application immediately, without waiting to compile the app first. This provides quicker component rendering.

  4. Efficient JavaScript Code Generation: The Angular AOT compiler converts your Angular HTML and TypeScript code into efficient JavaScript code during the build phase before the browser downloads and runs that code.

  5. Fewer Asynchronous Requests: The compiler inlines external HTML templates and CSS style sheets within the application JavaScript, eliminating separate ajax requests for those source files.

  6. Smaller Angular Framework Download Size: There’s no need to download the Angular compiler if the application is already compiled. The compiler is roughly half of Angular itself, so omitting it dramatically reduces the application payload.

  7. Type Checking: AOT compilation also includes a type checking phase where TypeScript validates that your templates are correct according to your TypeScript types.

Cons:

  1. AOT-compiled apps result in larger apps that take longer to download.

  2. Requires more time to compile the different assemblies


6. Single Instruction, Multiple Data (SIMD)

Single Instruction, Multiple Data (SIMD) is a type of parallel processing in Flynn’s taxonomy. SIMD can be internal (part of the hardware design) and it can be directly accessible through an instruction set architecture (ISA), but it should not be confused with an ISA.


SIMD describes computers with multiple processing elements that perform the same operation on multiple data points simultaneously. Such machines exploit data level parallelism, but not concurrency: there are simultaneous (parallel) computations, but only one instruction is performed at any given moment (just with different data).


SIMD is particularly applicable to common tasks such as adjusting the contrast in a digital image or adjusting the volume of digital audio. Most modern CPU designs include SIMD instructions to improve the performance of multimedia use.


In the context of building ASP.NET Blazor apps, SIMD can be used to optimize operations that are performed on large sets of data. For example, if you’re performing the same operation on a large array of numbers, using SIMD can significantly speed up this operation by performing the operation on multiple data points at once.


Features:

  1. Parallel Processing: SIMD is a type of parallel processing in Flynn’s taxonomy. It describes computers with multiple processing elements that perform the same operation on multiple data points simultaneously.

  2. Data Level Parallelism: SIMD exploits data level parallelism, but not concurrency: there are simultaneous (parallel) computations, but each unit performs the exact same instruction at any given moment (just with different data).

  3. Applicable to Common Tasks: SIMD is particularly applicable to common tasks such as adjusting the contrast in a digital image or adjusting the volume of digital audio.

  4. Included in Modern CPU Designs: Most modern CPU designs include SIMD instructions to improve the performance of multimedia use.

  5. Three Different Subcategories: SIMD has three different subcategories in Flynn’s 1972 Taxonomy, one of which is SIMT.

  6. Many Processing Units: SIMD represents an organization that includes many processing units under the supervision of a common control unit.

  7. Shared Memory Unit: The shared memory unit must contain multiple modules so that it can communicate with all the processors simultaneously.

  8. Special Class of Instructions: SIMD instructions are a special class of instructions that exploit data parallelism in applications by simultaneously performing the same operation on multiple data elements.

  9. Accelerates Performance: Compute intensive applications like audio/video codecs, image processors, are all examples of applications that take advantage of SIMD instructions to accelerate performance.

  10. Internal and Directly Accessible Through ISA: SIMD can be internal (part of the hardware design) and it can be directly accessible through an instruction set architecture (ISA), but it should not be confused with an ISA.

  11. Not Confused with Software Threads or Hardware Threads: SIMT should not be confused with software threads or hardware threads, both of which are task time-sharing (time-slicing). SIMT is true simultaneous parallel hardware-level execution.

Cons:

  1. Requires specific hardware support.

  2. Not all operations can be vectorized for SIMD, limiting its applicability.


7. .NET CLI

The .NET Command-Line Interface (CLI) is a cross-platform toolchain for developing, building, running, and publishing .NET applications. It provides commands for working with .NET projects and also runs .NET applications.


In the context of building ASP.NET Blazor apps, the .NET CLI is a powerful tool that can be used to create new Blazor projects, run them, and publish them for deployment1. For example, you can create a new Blazor Server app or a standalone Blazor WebAssembly app using the dotnet new command with the appropriate template.


Here’s how you can use .NET CLI for Blazor development:

  1. Creating a New Project: You can create a new Blazor project right within the command line interface. For instance, to create a new Blazor Server app with demonstration code and Bootstrap, you would execute the following command: dotnet new blazorserver -o BlazorApp. Alternatively, you can create a Blazor Server app without demonstration code and Bootstrap using the blazorserver-empty project template.

  2. Running the App: Once you’ve created your project, you can navigate to the project directory and run it using the dotnet run command.

  3. Publishing the App: When you’re ready to deploy your app, you can publish it using the dotnet publish command. This will compile your app in Release configuration and create a publish directory with all the necessary files to run your app.

The .NET CLI is an essential tool for any .NET developer as it provides a fast and efficient way to manage .NET projects from the command line.


Features:

  1. Cross-Platform Toolchain: The .NET CLI is a cross-platform toolchain for developing, building, running, and publishing .NET applications.

  2. Commands for Working with .NET Projects: It provides commands for working with .NET projects.

  3. Basic Commands: The following commands are installed by default: new, restore, build, publish, run, test, vstest, pack, migrate, clean, sln, help, store, watch, and format.

  4. Project Modification Commands: These commands include add package, add reference, remove package, remove reference, list package, and list reference.

  5. NuGet Commands: These commands include nuget delete, nuget locals, nuget push, and others.

  6. Workload Management Commands: These commands include workload install, workload list, and others.

  7. Advanced Commands: These commands include sdk check msbuild build-server dev-certs dotnet install script.

  8. Tool Management Commands: These commands include tool install tool list tool update tool restore tool run tool uninstall tool search.

  9. Command Structure: CLI command structure consists of the driver (“dotnet”), the command, and possibly command arguments and options.

  10. Automate Common Development Tasks: Developers can use the CLI Tools to scaffold new code files, generate unit tests, and publish applications. These features can significantly speed up the development process and reduce the likelihood of errors.

  11. Supports Different Platforms: The .NET Core CLI is installed with .NET Core SDK for selected platforms. So we don’t need to install it separately on the development machine.

  12. Create Different Types of Projects: We can create console, class library, web, mvc, webapi, razor, angular, react etc. projects using CLI.

Cons:

  1. Requires knowledge of command-line operations.

  2. May have compatibility issues with certain project types or configurations


Conclusion

The tools we've explored in this article are your trusted companions in the world of ASP.NET Blazor app development. They enhance your productivity, simplify your coding, and help you craft impressive web applications. Whether you're new to Blazor or a seasoned pro, these tools are your allies on the journey to creating dynamic and responsive web apps.


Happy coding!

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