What is Blazor, and why should you use it?


Blazor is a web development tool that is part of Microsoft’s .NET framework. It lets developers build detailed graphical UIs for websites and applications. Offering the ability to work exclusively in a browser as well as offline functionality, Blazor also streamlines development by combining front and backend operations in one single language. Why should you consider using it, and does it have a future?

What is Blazor?

Released in 2018, Blazor is part of Microsoft’s .NET platform. Initially released in 2002, .NET was conceived of as a developer platform offering tools, programming languages, and varied component libraries to aid in the construction of different types of applications on web, mobile, and desktop.

The platform also offers its own framework called ASP.NET, which acts as an extension offering features allowing for greater ease in creating web applications. Blazor is a feature of ASP.NET.

.NET programming languages are based on C#, F#, and Visual Basic, and ASP.NET offers several useful features and additions to these. One major feature is syntax that provides easy web-templating, offering the ability to quickly deploy server-based code. This creates web-content and functionality in moments, rather than the time commitment of coding from scratch. This page-templating syntax is called Razor.

Blazor, then, is a portmanteau word combining ‘browser’ and ‘razor,’ drawing attention to the fact that Blazor allows developers to use templates and components for UI directly from their browser, all while using the tools available in the .NET ecosystem and so running off that functionality.

Blazor is a framework that allows all coding and functions to be completed using C# and components provided by the .NET platform, rather than JavaScript.
Why this is significant, and what it means for developers and businesses will be the focus of this article.

Is Blazor better than JavaScript?

There are many frontend frameworks available for developers to choose from. Frameworks such as React, Vue, and Angular are the most common. All of these have their differences, advantages, and disadvantages. They also all have one main requirement: that the developer be thoroughly conversant and confident in the use of JavaScript, a language that has become the backbone of web development.

This is because JavaScript allows developers to create varied and sophisticated UIs for both web and mobile that provide excellent user experiences. It has a large ecosystem of libraries and components that can be included in multiple projects without the need for any unwieldy changes or recoding.

Unfortunately, it is far from perfect and has many issues associated with it, as any developer will tell you. The result is a difficult and problematic language that nevertheless forms the basis for most frontend frameworks, with developers then being obligated to learn it.

Blazor is Microsoft’s attempt to break the monopoly and simplify development. A useful and versatile development tool, Blazor completely dispenses with the need to use JavaScript.

Open-source and free to use, Blazor uses C#, HTML, CSS, and Razor templates rather than JavaScript to build pages and applications, making development easier and faster.

Blazor breaks up the industry reliance on JavaScript for web development. C# is considered an easier language to learn than JavaScript, and offers obvious advantages when it comes to speed of creation and development.

JavaScript, however, appears, as of 2021, to have more actual and interested users overall. Frameworks that employ JavaScript are more appealing to businesses as there are more developers available to work on projects.

Likewise, when scaling and transferring projects between frameworks and platforms, it’s easier if there is a language in common that most developers are familiar with. There’s also an enormous array of ready-to-go components and tools that exist in the JavaScript ecosystem for developers to use.

This might suggest that JavaScript and the frameworks that use it have an edge on Blazor, despite Blazor’s comparative ease of use, but there are other things to consider.

Is Blazor worth learning?

Blazor, then, doesn’t seem that useful if its programming language is limited to C#, no matter how comparatively easy that language is to learn, or how disillusioned developers might be becoming with JavaScript.

However, there are further advantages in how Blazor performs that aren’t limited to ease of use. First, we need to analyze the standard work segmentation of web development.

Web development workload is usually split between front and backend programming, also known as ‘client-side development’ and ‘server-side development.’ Frontend development is concerned with creating the graphical user interface (UI) of a website or app, while backend development involves all the aspects that users are not aware of, such as databases, API integration, and server communication.

Each of the two different kinds of development have their own languages. Frontend generally employs languages such as JavaScript, HTML, and CSS, which are what allow developers to use frameworks such as React, Vue, and others. Backend development uses different languages, such as Ruby, Python, or PHP.

This division entails the necessity for developers to learn two sets of languages, as well as the mechanics of having their server-side dynamics render and interact with their client-side applications. This is already enough to create a steep learning curve, but the addition of having to learn JavaScript makes the curve all the steeper.

The benefits of Blazor should now be clear. Thanks to this framework, developers can now work on both the client and server-side parts of their apps using only C#, and additionally HTML, CSS, and the Razor templates that form its core. These are all basic features when compared to the complexity of JavaScript.

For developers, this removes the need to learn two sets of languages. For employers, this also removes the need to employ separate front and backend developers: Blazor gives all developers full-stack status if they are comfortable using C# and HTML.

The apparent simplicity of this means that many developers are eligible to work on even complicated projects, and that employers need not rely on so many contractors.

All of the above means that Blazor is definitely worth considering. Especially when we factor in the ongoing support of Microsoft, and the fact it’s a feature of the extensive and widely used .NET platform 

How does Blazor work?

Blazor offers:

  • a repertoire of web UI components using C#, HTML, CSS, and Razor-based templates
  • client and server-side code rendered in C#
  • the means for sophisticated and highly interactive UIs to be created for websites and applications without the need for JavaScript.

Its functionality rests on two different hosting models:

  • Blazor WebAssembly – Blazor allows the frontend logic and development to run directly in the browser via C#, HTML, and CSS, instead of on a client server in a backend language. WebAssembly is based on Open Web Standards, meaning that there is no need to install extra-plugins. The .NET runtime functionality is included in the browser allowing for offline work and direct changes to the UI, all rendered and realized in the browser itself.
  • Blazor Server – Blazor establishes a real-time connection with a messaging framework called SignalIR. This allows the app to transmit client-side UI changes to the server, which then notes the ‘diff’ between this and the previous state of the interface. This ‘diff’ constitutes the UI changes that are relayed back and then inserted into the DOM.

Blazor WebAssembly acts as a framework running on .NET logic, which allows real-time changes to the frontend UI interface without any recourse to any language other than C#, HTML, or CSS.

The server model relays all client-side instructions in C# to the server, and makes changes accordingly, even if the server is operating on JavaScript, PHP, or another backend language.

It is clear then how both of these models allow Blazor to circumvent the need for both JavaScript programming and the traditional segmentation between client and server-side programming.

This might suggest one disadvantage: if coding and components are completed and rendered in C# or with Razor templates, does Blazor not then lose access to the entire ecosystem of tools and components found in JavaScript frameworks such as React and Vue?

Fortunately, Blazor has a full JavaScript interop, meaning that JavaScript APIs and libraries for frontend development can still be used, as Blazor can take over and execute the JavaScript functions without the need for further input from the developer.

Similarly, WebAssembly allows for the use of JavaScript or other backend languages to be used if need be, as .NET does not need to be installed on the server. As everything runs on the browser, Blazor can easily act as the frontend framework.

Does Blazor have a future?

Developers aren’t required to learn JavaScript or any other backend programming language if they use Blazor. They need only have a good facility with C# and HTML to create highly interactive and graphically sophisticated frontend UIs for their sites and applications.

It is easy to see how Blazor could be a strong rival against other frameworks such as React and Vue, especially as the functionality of the latter still requires server-side maintenance. In terms of the elimination of a steep learning curve and its deployment speed, Blazor is a clear success. Does this mean it’s certain to become the future of web development?

Let’s consider the advantages of Blazor:

  • Provides the means to a create sophisticated graphical UI without JavaScript and using simpler languages like HTML, C#, and CSS.
  • The above, combined with the ability to remove the traditional division between frontend and backend work, allows for faster development.
  • Blazor WebAssembly allows for offline work and support.
  • Runs on the .NET ecosystem and framework.
  • Easier to give tasks to less experienced and novice developers who are only comfortable with the basics.
  • The JavaScript Interop allows developers to use all JavaScript-based tools, despite Blazor dispensing with JavaScript as a language.

Web development is diverse, so it might be too strong a claim to conclude that Blazor is the future of creating web applications. However, given its versatility and ease of use for both client and server-side development, it is easy to see how Blazor is long going to be a go-to tool for developers who want to create something quickly and be certain of a reliable final product.

Consider also that Blazor is a Microsoft .NET tool and as such has the full support of this industry leader. This virtually guarantees that Blazor has a very comfortable future.

In terms of adoption by businesses, Blazor makes budgeting and staffing considerations easier to consider and quantify. Projects created in Blazor no longer require both front and backend developers, meaning fewer staff have to be engaged.

The simplicity of Blazor also provides greater scope to employ less experienced, and so less expensive, developers. This also increases the number of existing staff able to work on projects and accept delegated tasks as the framework is easier to work with.

This makes Blazor an informed choice both for developers who want to increase their employability prospects and for employers who want to economize on hiring staff.

When to use Blazor?

Companies such as PokitPal, Weland Solutions, and Scopeland Technology use Blazor for their sites and apps. Interest is growing, with over 21 million Blazor-related questions on Stack Overflow. In addition to the considerations above, businesses should especially consider using Blazor if:

  • The project requires a fast turnaround time.
  • You need to create an SPA or MVC-type app with a strong UI component.
  • The project aim is to create a public or client-facing CRM system that is reliant on mutually strong and complimentary UI/UX.
  • You are developing a mobile app—Blazor’s division of UI changes and how these are rendered means it can be used for both web and mobile UI work.
  • Your project is in-house and will involve more than one staff member—the simplicity of Blazor means that teams can work easily and without errors, regardless of their experience level.

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