Installing the nanoFramework for Visual Studio: A Step-by-Step Guide

Installing the nanoFramework for Visual Studio: A Step-by-Step Guide


For developers looking to bridge the gap between the .NET ecosystem and the world of embedded systems, the nanoFramework is a game-changer.

This open-source platform enables the writing and execution of managed code on microcontrollers, particularly for IoT projects. This blog post provides a detailed guide on installing the nanoFramework for Visual Studio, paving the way for an exciting journey into the world of IoT with the familiarity of C#.

What is the nanoFramework?

The nanoFramework is an extension of the .NET platform tailored for embedded systems. It allows developers to write C# code for devices like ESP32, STM32, and other microcontrollers.

The beauty of nanoFramework lies in its ability to make embedded programming accessible to .NET developers.


Before diving into the installation process, ensure you have the following:

  • Visual Studio 2019 or later: The IDE where you’ll develop your projects.
  • .NET Core: Required for the nanoFramework extension to function correctly.

Installation Steps

1. Install Visual Studio

If you haven’t installed Visual Studio, download and install it from the official Microsoft website. Ensure you include the “.NET desktop development” workload during installation.

2. Download and Install .NET Core

Download and install the latest version of .NET Core from here. This is essential for the nanoFramework extension to work.

3. Install the nanoFramework Extension for Visual Studio

  1. Open Visual Studio and go to the Extensions menu.
  2. Select Manage Extensions.
  3. In the Extensions window, search for “nanoFramework”.
  4. Find the nanoFramework extension in the search results and click Download.

After downloading, Visual Studio may prompt you to close it to complete the installation. Follow the prompt, and the extension will be installed.

4. Restart Visual Studio

Once the installation is complete, restart Visual Studio to ensure the nanoFramework extension is properly loaded.

Post-Installation Steps

1. Create a nanoFramework Project

To verify the installation, try creating a new nanoFramework project:

  1. Go to File > New > Project.
  2. In the project wizard, search for “nanoFramework”.
  3. Select a template like “nanoFramework Console Application”.
  4. Follow the on-screen instructions to create your project.

2. Explore the nanoFramework Project Structure

Familiarize yourself with the nanoFramework project structure. You’ll notice it’s similar to a standard .NET project but tailored for embedded systems.

3. Play Around with Sample Code

Try running some sample code to get a feel for the development process. You can find examples in the nanoFramework samples repository.


Congratulations! You’ve successfully installed the nanoFramework extension for Visual Studio. This opens up a whole new world of possibilities, combining the power and familiarity of .NET with the exciting realm of embedded systems.

Whether you’re a seasoned .NET developer or new to the platform, the nanoFramework offers a unique opportunity to explore IoT development with the tools and language you know and love. Happy coding!


Hi, my name is Stephen Finchett. I have been a software engineer for over 30 years and worked on complex, business critical, multi-user systems for all of my career. For the last 15 years, I have been concentrating on web based solutions using the Microsoft Stack including ASP.Net, C#, TypeScript, SQL Server and running everything at scale within Kubernetes.