I’m a senior .NET developer, who has been using .NET since .NET framwork 1.1. At that moment, VB6 and Com+ was still popular. I did see how the .NET market got booming and how it becomes a small part of the programming market in China.
The Booming Period of .NET in China
.NET was getting popular since about 2008. At that moment, .NET Framework 3.5 is just released. Big companies in China start using .NET to develop websites and applications. These companies includes Baidu, JD , Tencent and Ctrip, which are the giant IT companies in China.
Creating open source .NET projects is also getting popular at that moment. My own project NPOI was also created in 2008. Although there is no Github at that moment, codeplex.com was popular in the .NET cycle. It’s a open source website hosted by Microsoft.
Cnblogs.com is a Chinese blog host website, full of .NETers at that moment. I usually call it the base of .NET developers in China. Developers write posts about .NET on cnblogs and there is always new discoveries each day. Developers created a nickname “园子” (Garden of developers) for this website, which show the popularity and trust on this website.
Microsoft also created a few good technical concepts for .NET: WCF, WPF, WF. Every .NETer is eager to learn these concepts. These names were really useful for developers to get a good .NET offer if you put them on your resume.
To give a time range of this booming period, I think it’s from 2008 to 2015 although there is no obvious end time of this period. Although Java looks to be popular all the time in China, .NET have the ability to compete with Java in this booming period.
How getting rid of .NET becomes a technical trend in China
Since ecommerce companies such as Alibaba and JD had great success in business in China, the layout of technical market is changing. These giants outputs a lot of developers who doesn’t use .NET to the market. Since the big success of these companies, usually the developers from these companies are promoted to decision making position of other companies (no matter it’s small or big).
For example, a middle developer from Alibaba can move to a small company and become the CTO of that company. Moreover, these output developers are aggressive in technical architecture revolution. They just wanna clone technical architecture from big giants, no matter it’s suitable or not. And of course, they will choose Java to make it happen. This caused the major trend of getting rid of .NET in a lot of companies.
In the meanwhile, companies using .NET is getting more and more technical requests from business team. And they found that in some cases .NET cannot meet the business needs due to old .NET version or limitation of software architecture design. We usually call this technical debt. Although .NET developers are trying their best to overcome most limitation of these technical debts without replacing the existing architecture, the management team was getting less and less confident on .NET stack. They start to believe these limitations are .NET language limitations instead of people issue. However, these kind of losing confident case is not happening immediately. It take years and it will not cause immediate technical stack change. But when the companies hire a new Java architect who is aggressive enough to re-create everything from scratch, .NET will be given up in just a few month.
Also there is another problem here: .NET technical leaders/senior architects are rare in China. These kind of technical leaders should not only be good at .NET itself, but also be aggressive and good at explaining his technical ideas to the business team.
What Microsoft China was doing during this period?
Someone may ask that if the get-rid-of-.NET trend happened, why Microsoft China doesn’t get involved in this and stop it. That’s also a question I have in my mind.
The following comments are concluded by my observeration in the past 15 years.
The major goal of Microsoft China is not to promote .NET but to sale Windows, Office and Azure. In the past few years, I don’t see a dedicated positon for .NET promotion in Microsoft China. Although there are some technical evanglists hired by Microsoft, they usually don’t promote .NET but other Microsoft products.
Although Microsoft MVP program is also running in China for many years, most MVPs don’t have programming background. Some are Office and Windows MVPs. MVPs including me did promote .NET in China. But the influence is very low. I believe the major reason is that MVPs are not in important(decision making) position in these companies and they are very young (average age is about 30). Some MVPs are startup owners which doesn’t hire staff at all (one person company), which is hard to persuade the community or clients that .NET stack is good enough.
And Microsoft China is NOT willing to pay for .NET community events in any case. I had been working with Microsoft China on community events for a few years and what I heard from several different channels is that there is no budget from Microsoft for any community leaders to hold events. Microsoft can only provide places/office for communities to use and some small gifts (such as USB disk). But there is no money support if you rent a place to hold a event outside Microsoft Office. This has been confirmed for many times.
Compared with AWS community, Amazon China did pay for the offline events (not held in AWS office) and the budget is very adequate I have to admit. This information is from a core member of AWS community.
What is the status of .NET market in 2023?
I have to admit the status is not so good.
- Most recuriting websites in China has removed .NET category since .NET jobs are getting rare. Some cities only have less than 100 .NET jobs if you search on recruiting websites.
- Almost no big Internet companies in China is using .NET.
- Members in .NET-topic wechat groups are actually using other languages (such as Java, Go and Python) in their real job.
- Some companies using .NET have to use headhunting service to get qualified .NET candidates.
- Microsoft China keeps ignoring the issues in .NET community. No one cares
- Some MVPs are only willing to sale .NET courses instead of sharing them freely. Money is more important for them than .NET market itself. They are consuming the market instead of saving it.