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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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @06:43PM (#11958869)
    don't invest developer hours into microsoft products.
  • 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?

  • Good Point (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @06:45PM (#11958898)
    One can only hope that enlightened groups like the Agile Alliance would warn about the risks of using such software that can be end-of-lifed even while they're in heavy use.

    Do I detect a hint of sass?

    Very good point though.
  • by Visaris (553352) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @06:48PM (#11958951) Journal
    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.
  • Re:Huh? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by sqlrob (173498) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @06:49PM (#11958957)
    If there is sufficient demand, a provider will step into the void.

    Now continued, free (as in beer) support is not guaranteed.
  • by tepples (727027) <tepples&gmail,com> on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @06:49PM (#11958959) Homepage Journal

    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.

  • 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 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.
  • Re:Huh? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by xoboots (683791) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @06:51PM (#11958998) Journal
    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.
  • by tepples (727027) <tepples&gmail,com> on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @06:52PM (#11959008) Homepage Journal

    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 FyRE666 (263011) * on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @06:52PM (#11959022) Homepage
    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.

    If you honestly think it would take "weeks" to write any of those apps in Java, then maybe it's best you do stick to basic.

    What amazes me is that someone actually paid you for any of these apps, since they're all freely available in many different forms already - and probably a lot more robust than your 4 hour VB efforts...
  • by ChefInnocent (667809) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @06:54PM (#11959039)
    Or perhaps: Abandon Microsoft as they have abandoned you.
  • Goodbye Oldfriend. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by SteveXE (641833) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @06:55PM (#11959047)
    I got started with computers pretty much because of VB. If it wasnt for my strange need to make aol "progs" (addons) then i would never have picked up VB. If i never picked up VB i would never have learned HTML, or PHP. Chances are i wouldnt be all that into hardware modification either. So maybe it doesnt have a huge use in the consumer market but for me it was a great learning tool. Hell i still use it to make quick apps that do tedious tasks for me.
  • 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.
  • BS (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @06:57PM (#11959090)
    "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."

    Bullshit. If it were a F/OSS project, there would be continued support as long as there was a developer that wanted to support it.
  • by tepples (727027) <tepples&gmail,com> on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @06:58PM (#11959098) Homepage Journal

    How do I know that VBRUN.DLL is safe? I do not want to depend on something that is closed like that for my software to work properly.

    How do I know that BIOS is safe? I do not want to depend on something that is closed like that for my software to work properly.

    Even if I have a LinuxBIOS, how do I know that my processor's microcode is safe? I do not want to depend on something that is closed like that for my software to work properly.

    Bottom line: No matter how Free your computer's execution environment is, it probably went through at least one not-so-trustable Proprietary code path to get there.

  • 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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @07:01PM (#11959135)
    "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."

    You didn't build anything. This is like me saying I went to Ikea, bought a chest of drawers, screwed on the drawer pulls, and claim that I am a master carpenter and that I built the chest of drawers.
  • 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.
  • Anti-proprietarism (Score:2, Insightful)

    by tepples (727027) <tepples&gmail,com> on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @07:05PM (#11959184) Homepage Journal

    I would argue that VB is less secure because one cannot verify the underlying libraries because they are closed source.

    Likewise, I would argue that anything running on a modern microprocessor is less secure because one cannot verify the underlying microcode because it is closed source. Is it even possible to build a commercialized computer from the ground up without including any proprietary software?

  • by Tim C (15259) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @07:05PM (#11959192)
    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 Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @07:05PM (#11959198)
    You know that you will all be moving to the next VB eventually after Microsoft cuts support. Then you'll be faced with this whole thing over again.

    Cut loose.
  • by gotem (678274) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @07:08PM (#11959238) Homepage Journal
    I would sign instead a petition that makes VB rest in peace at last, why oh why did they have to create VB.NET?
  • by tepples (727027) <tepples&gmail,com> on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @07:08PM (#11959242) Homepage Journal

    And how exactly will [VBA die]? Perhaps the magic fairies will come and break it in the night?

    How about all of your clients sending you documents from a newer version of a monopolist's office suite that no longer recognizes Visual Basic for Applications? If you stick with old Microsoft Office, you keep VBA, but you can't open new documents. If you upgrade to new Microsoft Office, you can open new documents, but you lose VBA.

  • 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 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 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.

  • 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.
  • by Mortanius (225192) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @07:24PM (#11959439) Homepage
    So VB is not the language for you. Have a nice day.

    *shrug*
  • Re:So What? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by legirons (809082) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @07:54PM (#11959807)
    "Just because they declare end-of-life doesn't mean the cd's are going to burst into flames."

    Indeed. VB6 CDs are safe.

    WindowsXP CDs however, will stop working if their authorisation server stops responding.
  • 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.
  • by Carcass666 (539381) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @08:03PM (#11959891)
    VB 6's strongest point was not its wonderful wrappers around Windows U/I widgets (which were garbage), nor it's lack of built in threading, nor it's exception handling, nor its ability to subclass windows object (without destabilizing hacks).

    What made VB shine was it's solid implmenetation of COM. It was far easier to use COM widgets with VB6 than Visual C++, and it actually worked most of the time (unlike Delphi 3, 4 and 5 which suffered from horrid COM implementations and a parent company in constant identity crisis)

    Other than the $$$, migrating to VB6 was not bad. Did I have to modify code? Yes. But in return, I got threading, decent exception handling, along with access to other .NET goodies.

    That being said, though, I do have some apps & libraries that I've left on VB 6. It doesn't particularly bug me that Microsoft isn't actively supporting it. It works well enough as is, and has for a while. And I can continue to add functionality and workarounds easily enough writing COM objects in C++ if I need to.
  • 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 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 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 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 Jeremiah Cornelius (137) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @08:42PM (#11960319) Homepage Journal
    Yeah

    I take your point... but this is not the same environment, either. I don't want VB cruftware running in an Admin context on an Internet connected box - just because it's legacy had an API that assumes total DOS-like control of resources.

  • by FuzzyDaddy (584528) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @08:45PM (#11960342) Journal
    I've had a similar experience - I had a bunch of code in Python, and needed a UI, so I slogged through learning how to do it with Tkinter. Having done that, I wrote a form program that generates a string into a form (myButton@ will put in a button with the word "myButton" on it that will call the myButton method when pressed, for example). With the gridding functions in Tkinter, I can add and remove stuff from the form and it usually comes out looking all right. When it doesn't, it's not much work to make it so it does.

    Like so many things, the first GUI was MUCH harder to write than the drag and drop method. Modifying existing GUIs and putting in repetitive structures (or generating varying forms on the fly) is now MUCH easier than it would be with the drag and drop.

    (There are also "drag and drop" tools for making forms in Python, available through different toolkits, but I've never used them because I found out about them too late!)

  • by Schnapple (262314) <tomkidd@@@viatexas...com> on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @09:12PM (#11960608) Homepage
    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 of this article.

    VBScript and VBA are fine for scripting tasks, which is what office automation is. There's no need to get the Excel gurus of the world to learn C++ or something like that. Most "real" developers script in VBScript or VBA when neccessary and then go back to their real language of choice.

    No one's being forced to do anything. Older code will be maintained in VB6 and newer code will be written in something else. Big deal.

  • by Black Copter Control (464012) <samuel-local @ b c g reen.com> on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @09:30PM (#11960784) 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.

    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 even last year!).

    This is where Open Source is superior to Microsoft. The Open Source equivalent may (or may not) have superior support compared to what Microsoft is providing (sorry -- was providing, as of last month!), but nobody can EOL a FLOSS code base that is important enough to you. You always have the option of grabbing the most recent code base, and continuing the support -- either by yourself or in concert with your friends -- even your (otherwise) competition who share the same need.

  • 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.

  • Re:Not quite right (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @09:47PM (#11960938)
    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.

    Where there's demand, there's money to hire an open source programmer to fix things. You didn't think FOSS meant free as in beer, did you?
  • Re:Except.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by DavidTC (10147) <[slas45dxsvadiv. ... ] [neverbox.com]> on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @09:50PM (#11960969) Homepage
    Erm, are you stupid or something?

    Just because Microsoft keeps VB working on XP for the next 7+ years doesn't mean it will ever work in Longhorn, just like the fact that the calculator in XP is covered by XP support lifetime doesn't mean the XP calculator will work in Longhorn.

    That said, unless the VB DLL is doing some lowlevel stuff it shouldn't be, it should work on Longhorn.

  • by Circlotron (764156) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @09:58PM (#11961025)
    MS doesn't support QBASIC anymore either. Hasn't stopped me from continuing to use it. Same with VB. Your apps are still going to run. You will still be able to write stuff. You won't wake up the day after they quit support and be staring at a black screen.
  • by kupci (642531) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @11:04PM (#11961478)
    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,


    7 years? That's nothing, try same app for 30 years. In this case, companies will simply not upgrade to XP, for example I know a large organization that is running Windows NT servers (not desktops). Why? Besideds the cost, they don't have the time/resources to test all their stuff. Hope this is a good lesson to companies that Microsoft is not a safe investment, there is not good return on their investment as they continually cut the plug on technologies.


    What happens when Microsoft Abandons Dot NET [ddj.com]

  • by Oloryn (3236) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @11:50PM (#11961812)
    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 is dead.

    We techies tend to think in information-gathering terms - as long as we can get the information we need, we're happy, whereever the information comes from. That's one reason we like FOSS so much - the information is readily available. Management tends to think in terms of responsible business entities, and if those entities go away, they're lost.

  • Well ... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gstoddart (321705) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @11:57PM (#11961852) Homepage
    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 company, the cost (direct by paying and indirect through lost productivity and retraining) is a big hassle for many people. And very often the new one-size fits all software drops a lot of the functionality that made the software useful. And it's probably replacing another system which was pulled from a main-frame and onto VB (or whatever) in the first place.

    Then they have all of that legacy data for which there is no migration path (in all likelihood), and no real way to access it anymore. That'll probably cost even more.

    This is the reason why at large corporations, it is not uncommon to see the same damned mainframe application which has been doing the same damned thing for 20 years -- by now via a terminal emulator and still using curses for an interface, but still chugging along.

    This is now about the second or third generation of Microsoft software which has gone this route since I've been watching such things.

    I'm hardly surprised companies are reluctant to upgrade. However, I honestly have no idea how you can have something that has advanced as fast as computers and not still have this problem.

    Just my 2c CDN. =)

  • by mcrbids (148650) on Thursday March 17, 2005 @01:16AM (#11962301) Journal
    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 KNOWN SECURITY HOLES exist in something that hasn't been updated since 2000?

    I though OSS was immune to this kind of thing?

    OSS is nice. I'm part of the OSS crowd, and sleep very well at night as a result. But it's not a panacea.

    I've spent years writing huge applications in PHP/Postgres. I feel the pain of PHP5 breathing down my neck, and I know I have, at most, another 2 years before I have to make the switch, however painful.

    Adding to my pain is the fact that PHP5 is bound to GTK2, meaning my PHP-GTK applications will have to be rebuilt, as well.

    UGH. Is it really any different?
  • by rfc1394 (155777) <Paul@paul-robinson.us> on Thursday March 17, 2005 @01:52AM (#11962458) Homepage Journal
    That is so fubar. Before you even being to add any code, you have *6 lines of code*. Cruft!
    If you have a piece of code that cannot fail, like a simple set of calculations that can't overflow, then you do not need error trapping. Comparing a piece of VB code that traps errors to C code that will simply fail or will silently produce an error without indication of the error, is an unfair and unreasonable apples vs. oranges comparison.

    And this situation is no different from the 'TRY / FINALLY' block in C++, in which you have to declare code to handle errors there, as well.

    Working in VB6 just makes me feel dirty.
    I think this is just a comment by a typical language bigot who does not like the language because it's not his particular favorite. Most of the people who criticize other languages do so because they have "taste" issues they don't like, not because of real or substantial issues.

    I'll give some examples of where I dislike the C language and derivatives because of what I consider serious issues rather than just taste disagreements.

    I dislike C++ because of the number of excessively complicated constructs that make it very easy to have serious errors that are very difficult to understand or use properly.

    I dislike the C language because of a number of issues including use of case sensitivity of identifiers. By adding case sensitivity you increase the complexity of the language in an unnecessary fashion, AND you increase the probability of error in writing code. I do happen to like some of the features of C, such as the use of the additive equate operator, so that you can say a += i which is the same as a = a+i in other languages. Also the use of the ++ and -- operators having both prefix and postfix usage was a great idea.

    Another thing I find which was a bad decision in C was the use of = as always being an assignment and requiring use of == for comparison, a bad design choice, I believe. While it may be inconsistent to also use = as a test such as in A = B = C to mean if B=C then A=TRUE else A=FALSE we're at least aware of the condition and it's not all that common to do it that way. Having = always be an assignment makes accidental assignment a lot easier to occur where people wanted to do comparisons, this error being so common that compilers are requiring use of parentheses around such comparisons or triggering a warning. (Actually Pascal solved this problem by mandating := to be the ONLY means to do assignment so you can't accidentally do an assignment or otherwise erroneously make an assignment. But the same language bigotry makes people dislike Pascal as well.)

    Paul Robinson

  • by deaddrunk (443038) on Thursday March 17, 2005 @02:08AM (#11962537)
    The difference is that if you must hang on to that old Perl app, you can get hold of the source and hire someone to make it work. Might be cost-effective if you have millions of lines of Perl code. There isn't that option with VB6, you are required to upgrade and you are required to practically re-learn VB otherwise your apps may not work on the latest version of Windows.
  • by innocent_white_lamb (151825) on Thursday March 17, 2005 @02:28AM (#11962633)
    Rewriting a product in a new language from existing code costs very little, and rewriting from the design document (you DO have an accurate design document, right?), also costs very little,

    Pardon me? What is this "existing code" and "design document" of which you speak?

    In many situations, all you have is an executable. Nobody who wrote the original software is around any more. The software works fine, and should continue to do so.

    Apply this to the forty-thousand "little things" that have been written on the spur of the moment across the company and have subsequently become depended-upon parts of the IT infrastructure.
  • does it support the opengl shading language like vertex and pixel shaders

    Yes, the latest Java OpenGL libraries do.

    i see it supports extensions for opengl 1.5 but to what extent?

    Complete support. Including the extensions for NVidia, ATI, GLX, Windows, and Macs.

    what about CG for Nvidia or Render Monkey code for ATI?

    Yes on CG and OpenGL Shading Language, no on the RenderMonkey. At least, that is, I haven't heard that anyone has added support for it. Does anyone actually USE RenderMonkey? NVidia's having a hard enough time promoting CG with the OpenGL Shading Language out, without ATI pushing its cheap knockoff.

    You can always ask the JOGL and LWJGL projects for RenderMonkey support if you simply can't live without it.

    what about pointers that you need for A* pathfinding and artificial intelligence?

    This makes no sense. AI and A* have both been successfully implemented in Java. I just wrote an A* implementation a month or two ago. Not sure what that has to do with OpenGL.

    you cant be serious in considering that Java is a reputable alternative to writing robust recent good quality 3D openGL apps can you?

    It's still a pretty immature market, but Wurm Online, Chrome, Xpand Rally, MegaCorps Online, Hockey Challenge and others would take issue with your statement.

    But don't take my word for it. See for yourself [sun.com].
  • 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.

    That is the point, that one can take existing components and build new things on top of them much faster using VB than you can using any other language, because none of the other language provide support in the compiler / Integrated Development Environment to do this directly. If there is any other language available that provides this capability - except maybe Delphi - please let me know.

    One of the things VB's IDE allows is that you can create a window - a form - set controls on it, then you select what events you want to handle, such as typing into a text box or clicking on a checkbox, and VB will hand you the entry point to handle that event with all the parameters set so that all you have to do is whatever special processing you want to do. Do any of these other languages such as Ruby or Python support that level of processing automation built into the IDE used to edit the source code? If they do, that's a different matter. And, with the exception of the 'Ok' button on a form, you can create one with no processing code at all if you don't need it.

    Visual Basic provides a tremendous amount of power to anyone who uses it.

    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.
    I agree on the last sentence, but you can say the exact same thing for [insert your favorite language]. As for the syntax being clumsy I suspect it's no worse than any other 3rd Generation language. And there are some applications where I would not use Basic because it's not the right tool, but I suspect for many applications it will provide an exceptionally good choice as a means to write applications. I believe the Basic language to be no better and no worse than other equivalent high-level languages.

    Paul Robinson

  • by Eric Damron (553630) on Thursday March 17, 2005 @04:43AM (#11963139)
    I don't think the subject of this thread had anything to do with his app per se. I believe his point was that VB makes a lot of programming tasks quicker. Since you feel an app that did all those things could be built in VB by "dropping a few OCX's onto a form," I take it you agree.
  • by pyrrhonist (701154) on Thursday March 17, 2005 @04:46AM (#11963147)
    does it support the opengl shading language like vertex and pixel shaders? i see it supports extensions for opengl 1.5 but to what extent? what about CG for Nvidia or Render Monkey code for ATI? what about pointers that you need for A* pathfinding and artificial intelligence?

    This [lwjgl.org] supports most of what you want to do.

    you cant be serious in considering that Java is a reputable alternative to writing robust recent good quality 3D openGL apps can you?

    Oh, get over it. People said the same thing about C++ several years ago. Back then, no one would have believed that in a few years games like Konami's Metal Gear Solid would be using scripting languages for a lot of their gameplay. Now games are a mixture of several languages - from assembly on up to scripting.

    The first commercial game to use Java was Tom Clancy's Politika, and that came out in 1997!

    Some commercial games that use Java include:

    the benchmarks on this site were for all 800x600? huh? that is so dated. no one writes 3D apps/games using 800x600..and Quake 2?? come on now isnt that a bit outdated?

    That's the point. The whole argument is outdated. The language has been capable for years.

  • by k98sven (324383) on Thursday March 17, 2005 @08:48AM (#11963905) Journal
    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 businesses? Uh, no. A web browser may be critical, but most of them work pretty much equally well.

    Does VB provide critical services to any businesses? Yes. Many businesses have legacy VB apps, for which there is no replacement for VB.

    So.. how many businesses are prepared to pay for a version of FireFox which will work on their new machines? Probably not very many.

    How many businesses are prepared to pay for a version of VB which will work on their new machines? Quite a few. As long as the price of upgrading VB is lower than the price of migrating the application, there is a market.

    Ok.. Have I managed to establish to you that there is a market for this service?

    Now, given that there is a market, how do you go about providing this service?

    1) Buy VB from Microsoft, and continue development
    This depends on MS willingness to sell VB. A key question is if they profits from providing support will justify whatever Microsoft wants for the code.

    2) Develop your own VB clone.
    Even more costly. Same caveat as above.

    Now if VB was F/OSS what would the situation be? You would now have the option:

    3) Fork the VB codebase and continue development from there.

    Now is option 3 more or less expensive than options 1 and 2?

    So, there is a market, and there are 2 options for continued proprietary development, and one for continued F/OSS development. The F/OSS has a much lower bar of entry.

    You could argue that sales would be lower for the F/OSS product, since it will be available for free. However, in this case the target market is support for business-critical legacy applications. Businesses typically won't leave that to chance. They want guarantees. They want a support contract. This is a proven business model for F/OSS development.

    Clear enough?
  • by Tassach (137772) on Thursday March 17, 2005 @11:27AM (#11965078)
    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 version of Perl to companies who are in the same boat as you are.

Receiving a million dollars tax free will make you feel better than being flat broke and having a stomach ache. -- Dolph Sharp, "I'm O.K., You're Not So Hot"

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