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Microsoft Remains Firm On Ending VB6 Support 796

Posted by timothy
from the at-least-it's-not-willy-nilly-hippie-open-source-goof-offs dept.
An anonymous reader submits "CNet reports that Microsoft is remaining firm an ending support for VB6, despite a petition and many requests from its developer community. If only VB were a F/OSS project instead of a proprietary customers could be assured of continued support as long as there was demand. Are there any good F/OSS implementations of VB out there for customers to migrate to? One can only hope that enlightened groups like the Agility Alliance would warn about the risks of using such software that can be end-of-lifed even while they're in heavy use."
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Microsoft Remains Firm On Ending VB6 Support

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  • Meet The Forkers (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fembots (753724) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @06:43PM (#11958861) Homepage
    Why is it always a good thing to be able to fork a software?

    Personally, I would rather look for a replacement software than having to install some sort of 'Classic VB Runtime Environment' just to run some legacy products.

    What if VB is F/OSS? I don't think businesses would touch any more of it once MS stops supporting it.
    • Gentlemen, (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @06:49PM (#11958953)
      It seems like this would be a good time has for a serious discussion on whether or
      not to continue using C for serious programming projects. As I will
      explain, I feel that C needs to be retired, much the same way that
      Fortran, Cobol and Perl have been. Furthermore, allow me to be so bold
      as to suggest a superior replacement to this outdated language.

      To give you a little background on this subject, I was recently asked
      to develop a client/server project on a Unix platform for a Fortune
      500 company. While I've never coded in C before I have coded in VB for
      fifteen years, and in Java for over ten, I was stunned to see how
      poorly C fared compared to these two, more low-level languages.

      C's biggest difficulty, as we all know, is the fact that it is by far
      one of the slowest languages in existance, especially when compared to
      more modern languages such as Java and C#. Although the reasons for
      this are varied, the main reasons seems to be the way C requires a
      programmer to laboriously work with chunks of memory.

      Requiring a programmer to manipulate blocks of memory is a tedious way
      to program. This was satisfactory back in the early days of coding,
      but then again, so were punchcards. By using what are called
      "pointers" a C programmer is basically requiring the computer to do
      three sets of work rather than one. The first time requires the
      computer to duplicate whatever is stored in the memory space "pointed
      to" by the pointer. The second time requires it to perform the needed
      operation on this space. Finally the computer must delete the
      duplicate set and set the values of the original accordingly.

      Clearly this is a horrendous use of resources and the chief reason why
      C is so slow. When one looks at a more modern (and a more serious)
      programming language like Java, C# or - even better - Visual Basic
      that lacks such archaic coding styles, one will also note a serious
      speed increase over C.

      So what does this mean for the programming community? I think clearly
      that C needs to be abandonded. There are two candidates that would be
      a suitable replacement for it. Those are Java and Visual Basic.

      Having programmed in both for many years, I believe that VB has the
      edge. Not only is it slightly faster than Java its also much easier to
      code in. I found C to be confusing, frightening and intimidating with
      its non-GUI-based coding style. Furthermore, I like to see the source
      code of the projects I work with. Java's source seems to be under the
      monopolistic thumb of Sun much the way that GCC is obscured from us by
      the marketing people at the FSF. Microsoft's "shared source" under
      which Visual Basic is released definately seems to be the most fair
      and reasonable of all the licenses in existance, with none of the
      harsh restrictions of the BSD license. It also lacks the GPLs
      requirement that anything coded with its tools becomes property of the
      FSF.

      I hope to see a switch from C to VB very soon. I've already spoken
      with various luminaries in the C coding world and most are eager to
      begin to transition. Having just gotten off the phone with Mr. Alan
      Cox, I can say that he is quite thrilled with the speed increases that
      will occur when the Linux kernel is completely rewritten in Visual
      Basic. Richard Stallman plans to support this, and hopes that the
      great Swede himself, Linux Torvaldis, won't object to renaming Linux
      to VB/Linux. Although not a C coder himself, I'm told that Slashdot's
      very own Admiral Taco will support this on his web site. Finally,
      Dennis Ritchie is excited about the switch!

      Thank you for your time. Happy coding.
      • by pcmanjon (735165) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @10:24PM (#11961220)
        I know that the parent _must_ be a joke, but I must indulge! ;-)

        1. VB has the option to enable or disable automatic integer overflows and array index bound checking. In some instances it might seem like a good thing to have these turned on, however, you don't always need to. Lets say for instance, it's all internal, meaning, you know the size of your array, pretty static environment, but it auto checks all this for you. That right there is 'OVERHEAD'! Because in a client for something, you might need to check these things, you might not, but better to check them manually than to needlessly do so automatically for instances when it's not necessary.

        2. VB forces a function to be Public (Program Wide) inorder to multi-thread it or even point to it (what limited pointer access VB does have). In C++ I can point to any function, sub routine, public/private/protected/virtual/static/extern, YOU NAME IT! Obviously you can't retrieve the location in RAM to something private from outside of a class without a property, but atleast I can point to a function within a class in C/C++!

        3. Along the lines of #2, since VB only supports 'AddressOf' pointing to a function in the rare chance an API might use it, you can't use 'AddressOf' in your own code to 'CALLBACK' to a Sub/Function of your own program (keeping in mind 'AddressOf' only works on 'Module Public' Subs/Functions). There's indirect ways to 'CALLBACK' to a VB sub/function (SetWindowLong) and filtering wMsg(s) sent to that window. However, that requires API, and C/C++ supports 'CALLBACK's natively!

        4. VB forces all integers (however many bytes they are 1, 2, 4, possibly even 8 byte integers in .NET) all to be SIGNED. This doesn't matter if you're only using integers for (bitwise AND/OR/XOR/NOT) binary operators, but for alot of other instances, I'm sure you can think of several, UNSIGNED integers would be nice biggrin.gif.
        Example: Instead of saying If x 400 Then ... End If with a signed integer.
        I could simply do: if (x > 400) { ... } with an unsigned integer
        How/Why? Simple, normally the binary form of a negative number is 0x80 - 0xFF, or 0x8000 - 0xFFFF, or 0x80000000 - 0xFFFFFFFF. So when the number isn't signed, it's actually alot greater than the highest possible signed positive value.
        Example: signed 1 byte integer -128 50 rather than if x 50. Yes I'm aware you can toggle that sign bit, however, why bother if you don't have to in a better language blink.gif?
        Since C/C++ don't have built in bound checking on arrays, unsigned counters are very handy! If the lowest value is 0, and all arrays start with index 0, you can 'safely' assume the minimum bound index is 0, thus, you don't have to check your counter for being 'less than 0'. You only have to check 1 bound, the maximum, so your counter doesn't request an index 'out of bounds'.

        5. One thing I like about C/C++ is I can define a constant array, even by a custom struct or "User Defined Type" for you VB people. In VB the best you can do is make a string with a delimitive value like a comma "1,2,3,4,5" and once the program starts Split() it tongue.gif.
        FireBot mentioned you can use resources in VB! True, that you can, but you still have to use API to retrieve from a resource, and this is all about using only 'standalone' functionality of the languages (I know there are VB functions that retrieve resource information, but even they boil down to API).

        6. With C/C++ I can actually use REAL STRINGS! I have a choice of Unicode (2 bytes per character) or ANSI (1 byte per character). In VB it's strictly Unicode, and you have to use this annoying conversion method built into VB to convert Unicode into a "Byte Array". Can we say 'OVERHEAD' yet?

        7. There's several APIs VB cannot use, because it'll crash the VB IDE, such as Create Thread. Even if you follow the specs on using it, proper use still crashes the VB IDE...
        • Many of your examples seem to be places where C/C++ allow you to create program errors where VB does not. Yow show many places where you as a bit-picking programmer try to gain nanoseconds at the expense of security and good code. C has a string strage convention that inexorably leads to buffer overflows without significant programmer overhead. A language that automatically checks buffer size won't (and the check is built in to the x86 architecture so has very little overhead).

          VB is not a very good la

      • Re:Gentlemen, (Score:3, Informative)

        by 1u3hr (530656)
        FYI:
        Pretty funny. Googling turns up a first appearance in 2002, [google.com] by "egg Troll", including the same typos (eg "abandonded"). It's been posted on /. a few times since.
    • by tepples (727027)

      Personally, I would rather look for a replacement software than having to install some sort of 'Classic VB Runtime Environment' just to run some legacy products.

      Size of classic VB runtime environment: 1 MB, a 4 minute download on dial-up. Size of VB.NET runtime environment: 20 MB, over an hour download on dial-up. Price of broadband in many geographic areas: 4 figures USD for the first year.

      • by Pentavirate (867026) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @07:58PM (#11959846) Homepage Journal
        So what does it mean if they no longer support it. Does it mean that you can't develop in VB6 anymore? Of course not. Does it mean you can't call them up and ask them questions about VB6? I don't know of any developer that would call up Microsoft to ask them a question about VB6. If they have questions, they check out newgroups and mailing lists just like F/OSS developers do.

        Really the only thing that will change is that Microsoft will no longer release bug fixes. When was the last time you downloaded a bug fix for VB6 anyway? If you have functioning legacy software that uses VB6 then bug fixes probably aren't needed. If you're going to develop something new, you still have the option of using VB6 or you can use the latest and greatest development tools/language.

        I fail to see the difference between this and an F/OSS project that's abandoned by its maintainer, especially those that are waning in their usefulness.
        • So what does it mean if they no longer support it. Does it mean that you can't develop in VB6 anymore? Of course not.

          Sure, you're free to continue to develop in VB6 -- as long as you're happy that the codebase underlying your product will never, ever, ever have official support on LongHorn -- and if you ever find a serious security violation, then you'll have to go begging on bended knee with hat (and blank cheque) in hand to pray to your redmond masters for a fix (which you may, or may not have gotten

        • Re:Meet The Forkers (Score:5, Informative)

          by Azghoul (25786) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @10:28PM (#11961258) Homepage
          Let me give you an example of why it's a big deal. I'm going to be abstruse so try and keep up.

          Company A, pretty big company, has a simple document management system written in VB 4. VB 4! you exclaim. Yes, VB 4. But it worked well enough. It worked fine, same executable for nearly 7 years.

          Now, unfortunately, IT being what it is, new machines are needed every few years - it's impossible to find replacement parts for Pentium 2 machines these days, and that doesn't work well for tax purposes, etc.

          Uh oh! New machines come with Windows XP - can't get approval to get Win2k any more. And guess what: The good old VB 4 app won't run under XP.

          Company A then gets to decide how to spend a wad of cash rebuilding their little document management app from scratch.

          Thanks, Microsoft!

          (And yes, this is a real example I've just finished a contract with. Whether or not you think it was foolish of Company A to keep that same app for 7 years - as I did - it was and remains a usable app, if not for forced incompatibilities by your favorite fucking company.)
          • Well ... (Score:3, Insightful)

            by gstoddart (321705)

            And yes, this is a real example I've just finished a contract with. Whether or not you think it was foolish of Company A to keep that same app for 7 years - as I did - it was and remains a usable app, if not for forced incompatibilities by your favorite fucking company.

            Companies kind of want to keep their software for a long time.

            It becomes infrastructure, like light-bulbs. If every few years you had to re-wire your office because "Lightbulb X-Treme v6.0" isn't backwards compatible.

            For even a mid-sized

          • by mcrbids (148650)
            Whether or not you think it was foolish of Company A to keep that same app for 7 years - as I did - it was and remains a usable app, if not for forced incompatibilities by your favorite fucking company.)

            Ok, try this on for size: How many apps written in Perl 4 remain? Huh?

            Or, PHP 3? How well supported is PHP 3?

            WHATTAYA MEAN? Perl 4 isn't supported any more, and contains numerous serious security holes? PHP3 isn't supported any more and contains serious security holes? Yeah, you can GET it, but how many
            • by Tassach (137772)
              The difference is that if you have a such huge investment in Perl 4 code that it would not be economical to update to run under Perl 5, you HAVE THE OPTION of hiring a couple of programmers to back-port bugfixes from the Perl 5 codebase to Perl 4, or hack Perl 5 so that it will run your Perl 4 code without barfing. Sure, it won't be cheap, but if it's cheaper than re-writing all your Perl 4 code, then it is the smart route to take.

              Hell, you could probably even turn a profit on the deal by selling your v

          • Re:Meet The Forkers (Score:3, Interesting)

            by crazyphilman (609923)
            This fucks a lot of people. At my shop, we have a lot of legacy apps which use COM+ services (mostly 3-tier client-server and ASP apps). We've been a Win2K shop so far, and we should be able to hold out for a while, but sooner or later we're going to have to wade hip-deep into our legacy code and re-write for VB.Net.

            I started out as a C++ and Java programmer and took up VB6 after the tech crash (to pay the bills). I know VB6, VB.Net, and Java, and I think VB.Net is a straightforward clone of Java -- there'
          • Re:Meet The Forkers (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Cee (22717)
            Uh oh! New machines come with Windows XP - can't get approval to get Win2k any more. And guess what: The good old VB 4 app won't run under XP.

            This might help [microsoft.com]. It worked for me...
        • by Oloryn (3236)

          So what does it mean if they no longer support it.

          It means that PHB types will be shaking in their boots if they oversee projects that use VB6 code. Management generally sees 'support' in business-entity terms - they expect some business entity to take "responsibility" for dealing with a particular technology. They can have oodles of employees who actually know more about the technology (in this case VB6) than the vendor, but let the vendor go away, and as far as manglement is concerned, the product i

    • Microsoft's "stop supporting IE6, Win98 etc" mindset is wrong. So is the "don't need VB" one.

      This is unfortunately a mindset that extends into many OSS arenas too. Some Linux kernel projects refuse to support any backporting. Of course you *can* do this yourself, but you're on your own.

      Many organisations have a large installed base of legacy systems which are doing just fine as they are. Sometimes these folk need a minor software tweak to add a very small feature. It is unrealistic to expect these people t

    • by poot_rootbeer (188613) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @08:07PM (#11959932)
      Personally, I would rather look for a replacement software than having to install some sort of 'Classic VB Runtime Environment' just to run some legacy products.

      I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that you're NOT the CTO of a large and technologically mature corportation.

      Searching for replacement software costs time and money. Migrating from an existing product to a new product costs time and money. Rewriting a product from scratch, which will likely be necessary if there's nothing new on the market that meets your requirements at least as well as the old product, costs a LOT of time and money.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    don't invest developer hours into microsoft products.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @06:43PM (#11958873)
    Now if only they will end vb.net support ....
  • by Foofoobar (318279) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @06:43PM (#11958877)
    That's like asking if there are any nice versions of Hitler.
  • by Sassan Sanei (714729) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @06:44PM (#11958885)
    Too bad they are abandoning it. Fortunately for me, I'm still using QBASIC for all of my programming! Sassan
    • by AvantLegion (595806) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @07:29PM (#11959495) Journal
      >> Fortunately for me, I'm still using QBASIC for all of my programming!

      Me from 1992, is that you?

    • QBASIC horror story (Score:5, Interesting)

      by DrJimbo (594231) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @08:26PM (#11960155)
      Many moons ago, I got called in to put out fires in a project that had a DOS based computer in part of the feedback loop of an industrial cutting machine. If the feedback wasn't fast enough the loop would open and things would break.

      The software was written in QBASIC, which had just recently come out. I needed double precision (32 bit) integers for the control loop. QBASIC had this type built-in. Problem was that when I switched to 32 bit integers the program ran about 1,000 times slower and things in the real world got broken.

      I couldn't figure it out. After carefully checking and re-checking my code, I did an assembly level debug. Turns out the brainiac billionaires at Microsoft had decided to "save" about 10 minutes of programming time by using floating point double precision for all their 32 bit calculations, even though 32 bit add and subtract were either already part of the machine language instruction set or took just two or three instructions at worst case. Instead, for every math operation the 32 bit values were converted to double precision floats, the calculation was done in floating point and then the answer was converted back to 32 bits. To make matters worse, the hardware didn't have a floating point co-proccessor (because the designer knew that no floating point calculations were needed) so all the floating point stuff was done in software emulation. Of course, there wasn't a word or a warning about this in any of the manuals.

      Once I figured out the problem (morons had written the 32 bit integer support) I was able to write my own 32 bit routines in QBASIC that were 100's of times faster than Microsoft's built in routines, even without dipping down into assembly and taking advantage of the carry flag.

      Quick Basic indeed! If it were any quicker it would be running backwards.
    • You joke, but we still use a P-166 running a custom QBASIC app to do certain verification tests on some of our older ICs.
  • by firehorsey (867123) <firehorsey@gmail.com> on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @06:44PM (#11958892) Journal
    I know this will get modded Troll, but if you just look at these 3 simple points, you will see the VB has a lot to offer modern programmers.

    1. It is faster to develop an application in VB than any other Language
    Microsoft has built in a number of wizards to make building complete application templates with a few clicks. I have built (and sold) many applications which took less than 4 hours to develop - these include a webbrowser, email client, contacts database, file searching tools and a image viewer.

    If I had tried to do this in C, C++, or even java it would have taken weeks.

    2. Visual Basic is more secure as a language
    There are NO pointers to worry about and all low level stuff is handled by the windows VBRUN.DLL's. This makes VB applications MORE secure than any other application, because it is physically impossible to get buffer overruns (the cause of 98% of all security problems)

    3. You earn more money using VB
    Face it - as much as we all like using Linux, there simply are not that many jobs available for C/Linux coders. Most of the jobs are for large corps or government and they almost always go with Visual Basic for the client and Java for the servers.

    You shouldnt ignore Visual Basic as a language, and it definitely doesnt make VB coders any less skilled than C coders - if anything, I think we are a little stronger, as we have the courage to admit that we like this 'toy language'

    • because it is physically impossible to get buffer overruns

      That's garbage. Do you really think that MS's VBRUNx.DLL is free of all programming errors? I would argue that VB is less secure because one cannot verify the underlying libraries because they are closed source.
      • Two points:

        1) I do not know of a single person of my acquaintance who has verified *any* code *at all* that they were not in some way responsible for (either as author, team leader or independent auditor)

        2) if there is an error in one of the dlls, then fixing it fixes the problem across all apps that rely on it. On the other hand, if a programmer is sloppy and produces errors in their own code, you must manually check and fix every single module that they write.
      • by dnoyeb (547705) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @07:15PM (#11959327) Homepage Journal
        The VB DLL is mostly irrelevant to VB. VB is at its core just a wrapper around COM and any COM object available on the OS. So its not easier to work in VB than VC++ once you understand this fact. You just connect to the objects in a slightly different way. And you are limited

        Point is, VB is only quick if what you need can be built by the COM+ (aka ActiveX) blocks on the system already.

        Otherwise you are SOL if you try to write core logic in VB, or if any of the blocks have bugs in em cause you cant see the code or nothin...
    • by abradsn (542213) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @06:51PM (#11958987) Homepage
      Delphi offers these same benefits. Let's face it. The reason VB is so popular is because Microsoft is its mother.
      • by DarkEdgeX (212110) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @07:12PM (#11959294) Journal
        Unfortunately Borland isn't the way forward either. Delphi 8 shipped as a .NET-only product, and while Delphi 2005 finally shipped with a new Win32 version, many at Borland have said that a move to Win64 isn't in the cards.

        My feeling is that they'll only continue to support the Win32 version until they believe enough people have moved to the .NET version and then you can kiss the native code gen goodbye.

        No, the real solution for VB coders looking for native apps and not MSIL crap is to move towards C/C++. Even Microsoft is offering 64-bit versions of their C++ compiler in Whidbey/VS2005 (VS2005 will ship not only with an AMD64 C++ compiler but also with an IA64 (Itanium) C++ compiler; previously all you got was an x86 compiler).
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @06:52PM (#11959015)
      I'll add some points that VB and VB programmers have in their favour:

      4. Men tip their hats when they see you on the street. Women curtsie politely. You are recognized as a software engineer and respected as such.

      5. You get a "free ice cream" card when you go to Baskin Robbins. Every 6 hole punches on the card gets you a free icecream cone of two scoops!

      6. Barbers give you a shave and a haircut for only one bit instead of two.
    • by Umbral Blot (737704) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @07:00PM (#11959126) Homepage
      I applaud you for supporting the language you love. I am not a Visual Basic programmer myself, but I know that it has a place in the world, a place that is not filled by a more complex and more formal language. There are things you wouldn't want to write in VB, true, but that doesn't make a language useless. Just like a more conventional scripting language VB allows the creation of tools at minimal programmer expense. Why code up an app from scratch in days when you can do it for a few hours in VB. Especially when the app is light weight or in-house VB can easily outshine other languages. While VB may be coming to an end of it's lifespan it will leave a hole in a programmer's tool box that will eventually need to be filled by something else, something not currently available.
      • something not currently available.

        Oh, cry me a river. There are at least 2 options out there that effectively fill the gap. M$ EOLing VB6 will just mean people have to jump to VB.NET or Delphi which both provide the RAD prototyping ability, and arguably provide it better. The real issue is the existing code, and in case no one knows this... EOLing VB6 doesn't mean that existing code magically stops running.
      • by hey! (33014) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @08:30PM (#11960194) Homepage Journal
        Visual Basic not formal? I think not. It's just that it has an IDE that does most of the heavy lifting for you. Decree that VB must be created and edited in vim, and see how fast people go to ruby or python.

        There are four variables to consider: the language, the runtime environment, the IDE, and the programmer community.
    • by jellomizer (103300) * on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @07:10PM (#11959274)
      I agree that VB has a lot of advantages and that except for Poo-Pooing as a baby language Open Source Developers should take a lot of its strengths and make their own RAD language. That being said, I will argue your points.

      1. It is faster to develop an application in VB than any other Language. It really depends on what you are doing and levels of complexity. I have found for RAD languages Microsoft Visual FoxPro is much more quicker to develop a larger application. But sometimes other languages such as Python or PHP can do things that are real problems in VB and take a long time. But Sience most applications are read from Database and display graphics. VB is good but FoxPro is better.

      2. Visual Basic is more secure as a language Well that is assuming that you trust VBRUN.DLL It is possible that there is a way to break that. As well most other higher level languages dont use pointers, and are also secure against buffer overflows. But Buffer Overflows are not the only insecurity. Incorrect input that may run an execute statement could be used to break in. As for security VB is not that great.

      3. You earn more money using VB Well it depends how well you can sell your services. It is easy to sell VB Programming because they all know the language and they know people who use it. But if you could sell Java, or other language you probably could get away with programming at a higher rate. But it is a tough sell because there is so much competition that your rates for VB will be lower and it is a RAD language so it usually takes less time to develop so they save more money upfront (But maybe not for TCO)

    • by Tim C (15259) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @07:17PM (#11959356)
      On your third point, it's actually my experience that increasingly people want Java on the server and a web-based front end, rather than anything that has to be installed on the client. I am currently involved in a project to create an application for a (UK) government agency which is deliberately architected in this way on the client's insistence.

      Other than that, I agree that the average C coder is no more (or less) skilled than the average VB coder, and similarly for Java, perl, python, $language. They each have their own little intricacies - in C you have to worry about buffer overflow errors, etc, in Java tuning the JVM to make most appropriate use of RAM for your particular app, tuning the garbage collector's behaviour, and so on.

      No language is a silver bullet; no language is so easy as to be foolproof and require zero skill or thought.

      Oh, and the earning more money bit isn't true; here in the UK at least there are plenty of very highly paid jobs in financial areas (amongst others) for skilled Java coders, if that's your thing.
    • by enjo13 (444114) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @07:20PM (#11959402) Homepage

      Lets play smack the VB FUD down:) For the record: I've used Visual Basic professionally (complete end to end application work) along with Java, Perl, Python, and C++. Having in depth experience with all of those languages gives me good perspective on this particular debate (I think anyways:) ).

      It is faster to develop an application in VB than any other language

      Is it REALLY? This really needs to be backed up with research. I would argue that building MEANINGFUL applications would be accomplished much more efficiently in a language such as Ruby or Python (my prototyping language of choice) or even Java. You did not build a web-browser in 4 hours, you merely wrapped an existing one in a new interface. You did not build an e-mail client, you patched together some API's. This same magic is perfectly accomplishable in a number of other languages.

      Visual Basic is more secure as a language

      How is it more secure then Java or any other similiarly sandboxed language? As has been pointed out, your simply moving the security onus to code completely out of your control produced by a company with a spotty security record.

      You earn more money using VB

      That's rather situation dependent. I am a technical architect for a Symbian applications company (C++). There are relatively few people in the whole of the United States qualified to do my job and as such I'm compensated quite well. I make far more doing this than I would as a senior VB developer.

      Saying that 'they almost always go with Visual Basic for the client and Java for the servers' is absolutely unbeleivable FUD. I've run across more CLI mainframe programs running against COBOL servers than possibly anything. New development seems to be more about web apps (some combination of Java/JSP generally). Visual basic seems to have a rather limited prescence in my experience. YMMV.

      VB is a fine tool for what it is designed to do. As a language it leaves quite a bit to be desired. I find the syntax to be rather clumsy and I find that for significantly complex jobs it's simply not the right tool. It's definitely not a be-all-end-all that so many VB zealots like to make it out to be.

      • It is faster to develop an application in VB than any other language

        Is it REALLY? This really needs to be backed up with research. I would argue that building MEANINGFUL applications would be accomplished much more efficiently in a language such as Ruby or Python (my prototyping language of choice) or even Java. You did not build a web-browser in 4 hours, you merely wrapped an existing one in a new interface. You did not build an e-mail client, you patched together some API's. This same magic is perfectl

        • First of all, I've done about 7 years of VB programming and 4 of Delphi programming. I work as a developer in a company that uses both languages.

          All the advantages you point out in VB are also in Delphi. It has an integrated IDE like VB does. You create software pretty much the same way except you use Pascal instead of Basic.

          VB is only better at debugging. You can make changes without having to recompile and restart. But that's it.

          Advantages of Delphi over VB:

          - Wonderful backwards compatibility. Delphi
    • VB is Dead (Score:5, Insightful)

      by KalvinB (205500) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @07:22PM (#11959419) Homepage
      For points 1,2 and (possibly) 3 see C#

      The only reason anyone should be using VB is to maintain existing products. Any new products where VB was considered, should be using C# instead.

      C# was thought to be MS's answer to Java. But what it actually did was remove any reason for VB to continue to exist. It wasn't the Java killer. It was the VB killer.

      Any coder who can only code in a single lanaguge is a weak coder of no value to a company. At my job I've used at least 5 languages since I started. Times change, languages change. You need to adapt or you'll become obsolete.

      I've used VB in the past. I used C# for a project having no knowledge of C# previously and instantly picked it up. I even managed to convert Quadpack from C to C# with little effort while putting up a nice GUI with the amount of ease that I was used to with VB.

      VB is dead, switch to C#.

    • by d34thm0nk3y (653414) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @07:23PM (#11959432)
      Of course, you could say all the same things about Python with the added bonus of being Free.
  • Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BMazurek (137285) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @06:44PM (#11958893)
    • If only VB were a F/OSS project instead of a proprietary customers could be assured of continued support as long as there was demand.

    Can anyone explain to me how a F/OSS project implies assurances of continued support while there is demand for said support?

    • In the world of enterprise software, "support" includes custom modifications to the software. By law, only the copyright owner may provide modifications to proprietary software. With free software, on the other hand, any company can hire developers to branch the code and make modifications.

    • Re:Huh? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by xoboots (683791)
      Can anyone explain to me how a F/OSS project implies assurances of continued support while there is demand for said support?

      Sure. Pay for it or do it for yourself. The idea is that as long as there is motivated demand there will be motivated supply. You have to remember, with FOSS you *can* continue the development. With the alternatives, you are at the mercy of the provider.

      Of course you knew that and are just trolling.
  • If you would, please give Timothy [slashdot.org] a nice round of applause. Why? I have yet to see a faster comeback posted to an anti-oss story than this.

    ^_^

    (FWIW, this is not a dig at daria42 [slashdot.org] for submitting the initial story.)
  • by ciroknight (601098) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @06:45PM (#11958895)
    If only VB were a F/OSS project

    oh NO!!. DON'T GIVE THEM ANY IDEAS!!!!
  • Good Riddens (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Cruxus (657818) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @06:45PM (#11958905) Journal

    Pre-.NET Visual Basic was far from the best programming language. Its support for object-oriented programming constructs was half-hearted at best. VB6 was released in 1998; people should be moving on by now, or they should have used a better tool in the first place.

  • by filmmaker (850359) * on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @06:45PM (#11958908) Homepage
    From the petition [com.com] against Microsoft's decision:

    "By providing a new version of a COM-based Visual Basic within the Visual Studio IDE, Microsoft will help maintain the value of its clients' existing code, demonstrate its ongoing commitment to the core Visual Basic language, and greatly simplify the adoption of VB.NET by those that wish to do so."

    Supposedly the beefing up of VB was in response to the industrial capabilities of Java. Ironically, if MS alienates enough developer partners by cutting of support for VB 6, those folks may end up heading toward Sun or IBM anyway.
  • by sisukapalli1 (471175) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @06:47PM (#11958926)
    MSFT has VBA (VB for Applications) that is being used by many people that I know (Word Processing, Spread Sheets, Geographic Information System, etc). Does the decision to stop supporting VB6 impact VBA?

    S
  • Sign the Petition (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Joe Jordan (453607) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @06:47PM (#11958927) Journal
    For those of you that wish for Microsoft to continue developing classic VB, Sign the Petition! [classicvb.org] It's too popular a language to just toss aside and break everyones existing code.
  • by machinegunhand (867735) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @06:47PM (#11958938) Homepage
    Could you be firm on ending development too? I mean, its not like your stuff is getting that much better with time.
  • Financial Services (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Giant Robot (56744) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @06:49PM (#11958963) Homepage
    I work as a quant in an investment bank, and believe me, huge trades (i'm talking about billion dollar derivative trades) are booked into Excel and rely solely on VB/VBA scripts to function properly day to day.

    If VBA ceased to work tomorrow, there may very well be chaos in the financial markets causing some huge operational mistakes and huge losses. You cannot imagine how deeply dependent global banks are to excel and VBA.
    • by stinkyfingers (588428) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @07:02PM (#11959154)
      Exaggerate much?

      Weren't the financial markets in super-dire-grave danger because of the effects of the supposed Y2K bug? And now, you're saying that the end of support for VB is going to bring financial markets to a grinding halt? Financial markets survived COBOL and Y2K. It'll probably survive this.

      Sometimes that's just snow, not the actual sky, falling.
    • by YrWrstNtmr (564987) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @07:09PM (#11959243)
      It's not a case of VB6/VBA applications suddenly refusing to run. Rather MS is cutting off 'mainstream' support, and putting it on what is called 'extended' support [microsoft.com].

      * Mainstream support includes all the support options and programs that customers receive today, such as no-charge incident support, paid incident support, support that is charged on an hourly basis, support for warranty claims, and hotfix support. After mainstream support ends, extended support will be offered for Business and Development software.
      ** Extended support includes all paid support options and security-related hotfix support that is provided at no charge. Hotfix support that is not security-related requires a separate extended hotfix support contract to be purchased within 90 days after mainstream support ends. Microsoft will not accept requests for warranty support, design changes, or new features during the extended support phase.

      Currently, they have a date of Mar 31, 2008 [microsoft.com] to stop extended support. 10 years for one particular IDE is pretty good.

    • by TheCodeFoundry (246594) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @07:39PM (#11959626)
      Thanks for RTFA. Spreading FUD isn't limited to MS, I see.

      VBA and VBScript have nothing to do with Visual Basic 6. Not to mention, just because MS is no longer supporting VB 6, it isn't going to "cease to work" tomorrow.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @06:49PM (#11958965)
    My business still develops with the Visual Studio 6 tools and we refuse to switch to the .NET framework because of its large and expensive infrastructure. This is the same company that encourages high school students to become software engineers?? Microsoft..... what total assholes.

    If you support Microsoft feel free to mod me down.
  • by WebHostingGuy (825421) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @06:50PM (#11958972) Homepage Journal
    From the article:

    Roxe noted that customers can purchase support on VB6 for three more years or use credits from an existing support contract for VB6-related incidents. Microsoft already added two years to its initial deadline for cutting off mainstream support, extending it to seven years.
  • by GeneralEmergency (240687) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @06:50PM (#11958979) Journal

    ...I'm still using Visual Basic 4!

    .
  • So What? (Score:5, Funny)

    by simetra (155655) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @06:53PM (#11959032) Homepage Journal
    Just because they declare end-of-life doesn't mean the cd's are going to burst into flames.

  • by plover (150551) * on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @06:54PM (#11959042) Homepage Journal
    Just because they use a name containing the word Basic means that lots of people who otherwise might be afraid of writing a program will approach it, thinking "hey, I remember learning Basic in high school math." That doesn't make them developers any more than owning a hammer and chisel makes one a sculptor.

    If Microsoft wants to appear serious about having customers develop decent code, pulling them off VB 6 is a good start.

    A person becomes a good programmer through education and lots of experience. A good programmer can write good code in virtually any language. (Conversely, a weak programmer can write Visual Basic code in any language.) This cry for "keep our precious VB6" sounds suspiciously like the whining "because C is too hard!"

    There is still one valid reason for keeping it alive, however. Many people are still writing code for legacy hardware that isn't capable of running the .NET framework. And to that end, Microsoft's decisions should not automatically mean an increase in Intel's stock price. But wanting Visual Basic to last forever simply because they don't want to learn a better language is not going to gain my sympathy.

  • Single Vendor (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ortcutt (711694) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @06:55PM (#11959050)
    That's what happens when your business depends on the whims of a single vendor. If that vendor decides to be a jerk, then you're screwed.
  • by Kevin Nichols (775719) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @07:04PM (#11959177)
    REALBasic [realsoftware.com]

    It compiles to Linux, Mac, and Windows with no additional configuration. It doesn't need .dlls. You can write C plugins for it. It's not produced by the evil empire

    Oh yeah, and it can import VB projects...

  • VB Alternatives (Score:5, Informative)

    by podperson (592944) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @07:06PM (#11959205) Homepage
    You might care to look at:

    RealBasic [realbasic.com] -- a VB-near clone with cross-platform development options that actually work, and which produces standalone .exes which don't require a magic set of DLLs to be installed correctly.

    Extreme Basic [extremebasic.com] -- an open source VB-like development tool which looks very promising, being developed by the original developer of RealBasic.
  • by posternutbaguk (637765) <sparky@nOSpaM.epenguin.zzn.com> on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @07:14PM (#11959323) Homepage
    http://gambas.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net] is a kinda Linux VB replacement.

    I've been using a combo of PyGtk+Glade recently. If someone could make an true RAD enviroment out of these, they'd be onto a winner.
  • by Monkelectric (546685) <slashdot@@@monkelectric...com> on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @07:16PM (#11959344)
    You're going to read lots of comments along the lines of "This is great VB is horrible!" and "I can't believe they are doing this, my legacy application X depends on VB. This is horrible."

    Both view points are correct. VB needs to be scrapped BADLY. It is a horrible horrible language. The second problem -- MS *FORCED* people to use VB, people who *KNEW* better, by making it the only way to do certain things (office automation comes to mind). So lots of developers have been forced into a language they didn't like when it suited MS, and the irony of being forced out of it again is deliscious.

    The real mistake was making an inadequate langauge/API in the first place, that painted MS into this corner. I suspect some people will defect to open source, and it will radically slow uptake of new MS products which no longer support VB and VBA. Companies are *NOT* going to redevelop hundreds of VB applications because MS wants them to. *HUGE* companies like UPS rely on VB everyday to do their business (I've interviewed there).

    • The second problem -- MS *FORCED* people to use VB, people who *KNEW* better, by making it the only way to do certain things (office automation comes to mind). So lots of developers have been forced into a language they didn't like when it suited MS, and the irony of being forced out of it again is deliscious.

      Microsoft used VBScript in a number of things and VBA for the automation you mentioned. Both of those are simple scripting affairs. Neither of which have anything to do with VB6, which is the point

  • REALbasic (Score:5, Informative)

    by shking (125052) <babulicm@@@cuug...ab...ca> on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @07:17PM (#11959354) Homepage
    You can develop for Mac, Windows and Linux using REALbasic [realsoftware.com] is very. They have a free Visual Basic project converter tool. Porting from Visual Basic is quite straightforward [realsoftware.com]
  • REALbasic (Score:4, Informative)

    by macsforever2001 (32278) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @07:45PM (#11959707) Homepage

    Good thing there is REALbasic [realbasic.com].

    It is almost completely syntax compatible with VB and it has the benefit of compiling for Windows, Mac and Linux. And it even comes with a VB Project Converter [realsoftware.com] to help you along.

    There is a strong community of developers and some excellent plugins. Including a database plugin for Valentina [paradigmasoft.com] which is much more powerful than the built-in database (and than Access).

  • by Mustang Matt (133426) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @07:52PM (#11959789)
    I learned a lot of basic concepts on it. Then I moved to classic ASP VBScript, then I moved to ASP Jscript. Then to php and I haven't looked back.
  • This is why... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rpdillon (715137) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @08:05PM (#11959912) Homepage
    If you read the hacker FAQ, (no matter what you think about ESR's politics, etc.), it mentions which languages budding CS folks/hackers should learn. It specifically suggested avoiding languages like VB, yet I find that tons of people love VB, and in fact, I was chided at an interview for my current job because I didn't know VB, and only knew "lame" languages, like Python.

    This, folks, is why you don't learn and use a closed language. Because when whomever owns the language decides that support is gone for it, you are basically left out in the cold. Of course, this is just one reason, but it is a big reason.

    There is also the issue of cross-platform support, among other things. Obviously if your closed language vendor is also a closed OS peddler, then there is going to be tie-in and non-support for other systems.

    Anyway, I thought I'd post this because a lot of F/OSS software zealots end up getting told a lot of what they believe is purely philosophical, but in some cases, like this one, it becomes VERY practical.
  • by Drinian (621383) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @08:10PM (#11959962) Homepage
    Are there any good F/OSS implementations of VB out there for customers to migrate to?

    If you don't need to be on the Win32 platform GAMBAS [sourceforge.net] is an awesome replacement for VB. It is a pleasure to use and the development community is very responsive.

  • Not quite right (Score:5, Informative)

    by darkpurpleblob (180550) * on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @08:12PM (#11959988)
    If only VB were a F/OSS project instead of a proprietary customers could be assured of continued support as long as there was demand.

    Wrong! Customers could only be assured of continued support as long as there is demand and there are capable developers who are interested in supporting the project.

  • Fantasy v. Reality. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by DerekLyons (302214) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .retawriaf.> on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @08:14PM (#11960006) Homepage
    If only VB were a F/OSS project instead of a proprietary customers could be assured of continued support as long as there was demand/
    Which is why a high demand product (Mozilla Firefox) is having problems getting developers.
    • by k98sven (324383)
      Which is why a high demand product (Mozilla Firefox) is having problems getting developers.

      Uh, what? How's your own grip on reality? Business reality, that is? There's a thing called 'price elasticity', denoting the relationship between price and demand. It is not at all the same for FireFox vs VB.

      Is anyone prepared to pay for Firefox? Not very many. How many users would FF have if it costed $50 a copy?

      Is anyone prepared to pay for VB? Yes. Very many.

      Does FireFox provide critical services to any busine
  • by ezweave (584517) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @08:27PM (#11960165) Homepage

    This is just a classic symptom of using a 4GL-RAD-IDE based language (Powerbuilder would be another example).

    While initial development is cheap and quick and you don't need to be a computer scientist to learn to do it... there are maintenance costs down the line. The truth is that all of these companies that want to use tools forever (read 5+ years) should have taken that into account. Or at least adjusted their quality model (IEEE 9126, btw, but why would they look at something like that) to account for it in terms of ROI.

    I sympathize with the "developers" who fear losing their jobs, but realistically VB was treated as a silver bullet (Read the old article "No Silver Bullet" to see what I mean):

    • Can use non-engineers to write the code.
    • Quick turnaround
    • Cheap
    • Easy to write.
    • ...

    The flipside of this is that when MS quits supporting it, thats it. Use your tools until we break it with a new patch. These applications were written cheaply and this is the result. This is a classic case of poor software engineering. Oh wait, VB developers don't know much about that (I have worked with a few)...

    I know that ten years ago there weren't that many options for this kind of stuff, but too many companies ogled the brochures and decided that life would be easier to go this way (it is RAD-ical with MS). Despite the fact that Smalltalk and other alternatives were available.

    BTW, not to be heavy handed, but if you are using VB as a front end for Access and you wrote it less than 5 years ago for a serious application... well that was just a mistake.

    Instead of whining about Microsoft, this should teach the world a few things about software:

    • End to end solutions are always bad. This was bound to happen, don't blame Microsoft (they screw up enough stuff).
    • The industry requires that you keep current. Don't become a one language guy, especially if you don't come from Computer Science.
    • Companies don't care or know enough about software engineering to consider maintenance (amongst other things).
    If you don't like it... find a new job.
  • by SurturZ (54334) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @09:32PM (#11960800) Homepage Journal
    I've been programming in BASIC for around 15 years. I don't know why, but during that whole 15 years BASIC has copped flak.

    The reasons have changed over the years. Originally, the complaints were that it didn't have variable declarations and encouraged "spaghetti code" through the GOTO command. Variable declarations were added, and SUBs/Functions and even classes/objects were added to the language.

    Then there was a complaint that you couldn't make "true executables", so M$ added that option.

    Then the complaints were about its lack of providing object inheritance. Now we have that. But the flames continue.

    Why?

    It's clear that the flames are not due to any particular aspect of the language, since the arguments have changed over time. And so has the language. I can tell you that modern BASIC has almost nothing in common with the original ANSI BASIC except for a few legacy keywords (FOR..NEXT, GOTO, DIM etc). Modern object-oriented computer languages are so similar that I have more than once been reading a bit of code in a magazine article and only realised half way through that it was a different language from VB.

    I wonder if other languages get as persistently flamed. I believe the real reason is due to the language's very name: BASIC. I suspect that if the language was instead called "Visual Complex.NET", all of this flaming of the language would cease.

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