Wednesday, April 6, 2005

Death of Visual Basic 6

With the arrival of the new Visual Studio, Visual Basic 6, the programming language loved and used by programmers all around the world especially in the Finance Industry, will come to its end. Microsoft will no longer have support for the language in their Software Development IDE Visual Studio. Visual Basic was one of the easiest languages to get used to and allowed its users to build a fairly complex application up and running in no time.

I myself started real programming using ASP which is VB for web development and love dit right away. It was simple to learn and all the tools needed were right there free with my Windows 2000 installation, except for the Visual Studio IDE. Then I moved to application development with VB6 and then also did a whole bunch of VBA work. I have created numerous small utilities using VB6 and MS Office in my time to make repetitive tasks easier for people working on my network.

Microsoft claims that their migration tools can convert old VB6 source code to VB.NET code flawlessly, but if you search the web for what people have to say about that, you will find that its not as simple as Microsoft would like you to think it is. I came accross this article "Microsoft MVPs Say They Want Old VB Back" today and though I would put it up here. Its about a team of companies who are not happy about the death of VB6. They claim that their applications could not be translated to VB.NET using the migration tools that Microsoft has provided and are asking Microsoft to extend their support of VB6.

While I was in London in 2003 I found out from some fellow programmers who were working in the Financial industry that VB6 was very hot. Everyone was using it for financial analysis, reporting, mostly using Excel and VBA. But at that time I also noticed a lot of Java jobs opening up in the Financial sector. There seemed to be a huge move by them towards J2EE solutions.

I guess a lesson to learn from this for me is that when an enterprise decides to develop software for their internal use that they know will become a crucial part of how their business runs, they should make it a point to choose technologies that are universal and ones that will not lock them into a single vendor.

Like in the case of VB6, now that Microsoft has decided to kill it, all enterprises that are dependant on software that has been developed using VB6 are doomed. Their software cannot be updated for future versions of Windows or processors. There are rumours that with the new version of Windows, programs that have been compiled for previous versions of windows might not run at all. This has happened in the past. When Microsoft moved from Windows 3.1 to Windows 95, a lot of software broke down.