In the context of .NET development, dotnet build and dotnet publish are two commonly used commands, each serving a distinct purpose in the build and deployment process of .NET applications. Here’s an explanation of each command:

Dotnet Build

Purpose: The dotnet build command is used to compile the source code of a .NET application into intermediate language (IL) code and generate the necessary binaries and assemblies.
Key Points:

  • dotnet build does not prepare the application for deployment but focuses on compiling the code and creating the necessary output in a build folder.
  • It checks the source code for syntax errors, compiles it, and produces intermediate outputs (such as assemblies and DLL files).
  • It doesn’t include all the files needed for a complete, standalone application; it’s primarily for development and debugging purposes.
  • Use dotnet build when you want to verify that your code compiles correctly and to prepare your application for debugging.

Dotnet Publish

Purpose: The dotnet publish command is used to prepare a .NET application for deployment by creating a self-contained deployment package or publishing it to a specified target location.
Key Points:

  • dotnet publish is used when you’re ready to package your application for deployment to a specific environment, such as a server or a Docker container.
  • It includes all the necessary files, libraries, and assets required to run the application on a target machine, making it self-contained.
  • You can specify the target runtime, output directory, and other options during the publishing process.
  • dotnet publish is used when you want to create a production-ready version of your application that can be easily distributed and run on a different machine.

In summary, dotnet build is primarily for compiling and building your application during development, whereas dotnet publish is for preparing your application for deployment by creating a self-contained package that can be easily distributed and run on a target environment. The choice of which command to use depends on your specific workflow and requirements. Typically, you use dotnet build during development and testing phases, and then use dotnet publish when you’re ready to package and deploy your application to production or a specific environment.

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