Last week I undertook a completely unscientific study of the .NET Blogosphere (as much as I loathe that term), to determine which namespaces and classes people are most excited about, confused by, or frustrated with – at least to the point that they would dedicate the time to write in their blog about them. My methods for undertaking this study were rather simplistic. I wrote a quick and dirty console application to reflect through the .NET Framework namespaces and classes, and search the internet for mentions of them alongside the terms .NET and blog. For classes whose namespaces contained no periods, the full name of the class was used as the search term. For those classes whose namespaces did contain periods, the namespace and name of the class were used as separate search terms. For example, the class System.IO.File would result in a search for “System.IO File .NET blog”, whereas the class System.String would result in a search for “System.String .NET blog”.

More than to just do a popularity contest of the different classes, I wanted to try to determine the best sources of information for each component of the framework. I wanted to see which sites seemed to consistently beat out others as authoritative sources with complete coverage of a given area. In preparation for the transition to .NET 4, I also was interested to see if the features new to .NET 3, and .NET 3.5 received similar coverage to those classes/namespaces that are used in nearly every project created. This final concern will require further testing and analysis before any conclusions can be reached.

What I did find, however, was that (perhaps unsurprisingly considering the methods) those classes/namespaces which one might use more often round out the top 10 result getters:

Class / Namespace

Result Count
System.IO 14000000
System.IO.File 12500000
System.Xml 12200000
System.Collections.Generic 10600000
System.Collections 10400000
System.Net 8280000
System 7480000
System.Web 5970000
System.Text 5950000
Microsoft.VisualBasic 5810000

I was surprised at how strong of a showing the Microsoft.VisualBasic namespace had among all other contenders. Another interesting study would be to look into those sites that are represented in the result count and find the ratio of C# to VB code contained within.

When looking only at classes, we find the following in the top 10:

Class Result Count
System.IO.File 12500000
System.Collections.IList 5250000
System.Windows.Forms.Form 5190000
System.Collections.Generic.List<T> 4360000
System.Windows.Forms.Application 4180000
System.IO.Directory 3950000
System.Windows.Forms.Control 3780000
System.IO.Stream 3380000
System.Transactions.Transaction 3080000
System.Windows.Window 2520000

From here it looks like features from .NET 2.0 (List<T>) and .NET 3.0 (System.Windows.Window) have gotten enough traction to make a big splash. Generics have had quite a long time to catch on so that’s not surprising. Features from WPF making the top 10 already is surprising (considering how much longer classes have had to be written about), and in this case may simply come as a result of the search term that the application used, which would split off Window from System.Windows.Window as its own term alongside the rest.

The top 10 sources for information about .NET would appear to be the following:

Site Top Result for X
Classes/Namespaces 4029 1343 724 255 236 231 137 88 87 83

The number next to the name of the site indicates how many classes/namespaces for which the site is the top result. Further investigation shows that this might be inaccurate since dotnet247 seems to just index the entire framework and aggregate information from other sites in an automated fashion. Sounds like a great way to make some money from ads, but it might not be the best information source (though is still fairly genius). MSDN blogs definitely provide some serious coverage of the .NET Framework, and likely have excellent information about those classes/namespaces for which they were the top results.

Another interesting statistic that came out of this entirely informal study is that 29% of the .NET Framework (3.5) has less than 5 articles of coverage on the internet. In fact there are 389 classes or namespaces that would appear to have nothing written about them at all (according to the semi-flawed methodology described above).

You can use the download link below to download the complete results that contain all of the raw data that was analyzed, as well a pivot table, and some charts that can be used to explore it to some extent. What interesting information can you find? Has anyone else done a more formal survey of the same?

Download Now: Complete Survey Results