.NET Standard

In this post we will explore in details of how we can share code without too much headache of targeted platform/environment.

First we will focus on Portable Class Library (PCL) then we will replace it by .Net Standard.

Portable Class Library (PCL)

PCL is all about sharing the code across several targeted platform. Its main goal is to re-use the code across different types of .Net application with targeted platforms.

Let’s create a new .Net Core application to reference a normal class library whether it work’s or not.

Open Visual Studio 2015 Go to menu click File> New> Project then choose .net Core from left menu by selecting ASP.NET Core Web Application like below image.


I have choose ASP.NET Core sample Template, like below image.


Let’s create another project as simple class library.


Notice that we are targeting .Net Framework 4.6.1.


Here we can see a warning while we are going to reference it in our ASP.NET Core sample application.


.Net Framework 4.6.1 is unsupported by .Net Core Application with the version of 1.0, how we can solve this. Now let’s create another class library which is portable with the specific targeting platform.


Configure the target options.


.Net Framework 4.6 which is supporting same set of portable APIs as .Net Framework 4.5. So it will automatically targeted to .Net Framework 4.5.

Go to properties of the portable class library we can see we have targeted the .Net Framework 4.5, ASP.NET Core 1.0, Windows 8


Reference it to our .Net Core Application.


According to the below diagram, we have now three different Base Class Library (BCL) that is targeted to specific environment. The problem here is writing code for multiple .NET platforms. It is also hard to figure out supported APIs on different platforms.


Image: blogs.msdn.microsoft.com

What if we have a Unified Base Class Library?

Here come’s .NET Platform Standard as Unified Base Class Library which run on all .NET platforms.

.NET Standard

Previously named .NET Platform Standard is a set of API’s that work on all .NET runtimes. Code sharing problem is now more simplified by .Net Standard. We can simply replace Portable Class Library (PCL) by .Net Standard.


Image: blogs.msdn.microsoft.com

With .Net Standard we are not targeting to specific platform but we are working with different version of .Net Standard that is supported by cross platform/environment.


We can convert our existing PCL to .Net Standard Library by Clicking on Target .Net Platform Standard as above picture.

Warning with change effect will appear, click “Yes”, it will make change the library.


New file named project.json will created automatically with the target environment information.



  "supports": {},
  "dependencies": {
    "Microsoft.NETCore.Portable.Compatibility": "1.0.1",
    "NETStandard.Library": "1.6.0"
  "frameworks": {
    "netstandard1.5": {}


.NET Standard Version


Image: blogs.msdn.microsoft.com

From the upper version matrix table – .NET Core 1.0 targeted the .NET Standard version 1.6 it will work with all the lower versions of 1.0 – 1.5.


  • .NET Standard – Work on Cross .NET runtimes (.NET framework, .NET core, Mono)
  • Portable Class Library (PCL) – Work on targeted .NET platforms (.NET framework 4.5, ASP .NET core 1.1, Windows 8)




Since March 2011, have 8+ years of professional experience on software development, currently working as Senior Software Engineer at s3 Innovate Pte Ltd.

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