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Microsoft offers Visual Studio IDE extension for .NET upgrades

Microsoft is previewing a Visual Studio IDE extension to upgrade older .NET-based applications to the latest versions of the .NET Software Development Platform.

The extension, which can be downloaded from the Visual Studio Marketplace and is called .NET Upgrade Assistant, works with .NET Framework or .NET Core desktop and web apps to move apps to .NET 6, introduced in November 2021, or .NET 7, starting November 2022. Migrations from the 2020 version of .NET 5 are also possible.

In a February 15 blog post, Olia Gavrysh, Microsoft’s .NET Program Manager, explained that updating applications, particularly the .NET Framework, has been a complicated process; developers using the extension will now be able to upgrade by right-clicking a project in Solution Explorer and choosing Improvement.

The process still requires some work from the developers. Although the extension will take care of the mechanics of the update, developers can expect to do some manual post-processing. Attempts are made to automatically fix important changes, but not all of them can be detected or fixed. Developers may need to make additional modifications to compile the code. Testing is also needed to ensure that the code continues to work as expected.

Supported update types include:

  • On site, with the original project updated all at once
  • Side by side, with the project intact and a copy added to the solution containing the updated code
  • Side-by-side incremental, ideal for web applications and setting up a .NET 6/7 project while other calls will be sent to the .NET Framework application. This allows updates to be combined with feature development. Supported .NET updates include .NET Framework to .NET 6+, .NET Core to .NET 6+, and .NET 5 to .NET 6+.
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Current technologies supported by the tool include .NET, class libraries, console, WPF (Windows Presentation Foundation), and WinForms. Support is coming soon for migration from Xamarin to .NET MAUI, migration from UWP (Universal Windows Platform) to WinUI, and migration from WCF (Windows Communication Foundation) to WCF Core.

While these types of migrations are in development, developers can already update these projects, but code fixes are currently missing for these projects. Developers can use the existing Upgrade Assistant command line tool, which already has code fixers. This support will follow soon for the Visual Studio extension.

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