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Visual Basic 6 Is Dead?

by: Professor Mike Latreille

No way!

To paraphrase Mark Twain, the famous American writer: "Reports of the death of VB 6 have been greatly exaggerated!"

These days, VB.NET is said to be all the rage in application development circles. But is it really? Don't get me wrong. Visual Studio 2005, which contains VB.NET, is a great product. It is now really object-oriented and that makes it a powerful development tool for all kinds of major projects.

But, some of the strengths of VB.NET are also major drawbacks. The fact that it is object-oriented will geatly improve programmers' productivity. However, the world is full of programmers who use VB 6 - it is still the most popular language in the world. Those programmers are comfortable with VB 6 and its not-so-object-oriented environment and are proving very reluctant to switch to new object technologies that they will have to master before becoming productive.

Also, to implement completely the new .NET Framework, Microsoft has had to sacrifice backward compatibility. That means that you can't automatically convert an application from VB 6 to VB.NET. When you moved from VB 5 to VB 6, the conversion was painless. Everything that worked in VB 5 still worked in VB 6 plus some new, improved features that you could then decide to implement or not.

That's not the case anymore. To move an application from VB 6 to VB.NET you have to go through a conversion utility. The process will convert most of the VB 6 code but not all. In most cases you will have to manually convert 20% of the code. On a large project that can be a major undertaking!

The Marketing Department at Microsoft probably calculated that if they were going to actually get people to move to VB.NET, they had to provide a conversion tool - if only to create the illusion that it was an easy, straightforward upgrade.
--- Dan Mabbutt ---

So, VB 6 remains, and will remain for a long time, the most popular programming environment. Millions of programmers have grown up with Visual Basic 6 and they've developed a fierce loyalty to the language. If you want confirmation of that, just tune-in to one of the many forums discussing Microsoft software and products.

There's no reason why you can't continue to use VB 6 for as long as you want to. Even on the new Windows (Vista, scheduled for 2007) Microsoft will offer some support for VB 6. You won't be able to get Tech Support and there won't be new Service Packs but the language will continue to work as well as it has for many years.

One of the only problems with using VB 6 is that you can't buy an official copy anymore. Microsoft doesn't sell new copies of the software. But there are other sources, such as Amazon and eBay where you can always find new or used copies of the software.

If you are new to VB 6 or you just want to improve our skills, get yourself some good tutorials,
such as those at Visual Basic 6 Class.

Also, get yourself some good books. Here's one that I definitely recommend.
I consider Evangelos Petroutsos to be the best author of programming books that I know. His books on VB 6, VB 6 Database programming and Visual Basic .NET are the definitive references.

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