Thanking VB's Heroes
15 years of Visual Studio Magazine.
Thanksgiving nears as I write this, and the magazine's 15th anniversary, as well. February 2005 will mark 15 years of Basic Pro, Visual Basic Programmer's Journal, and Visual Studio Magazine.
It's astonishing how fast time flies and how quickly things change. Visual Basic 1.0 succeeded so well that it's a lot like a famous rock concert—a lot more people say they were there than could actually have been the case. There were five times more users than units actually sold, to hear how many people assert they've been using the tool since version 1.0.
The initial release of VB didn't have many built-in capabilities, but it did one thing staggeringly well. It let you construct Windows applications visually. You didn't have to know how to build a textbox from scratch to create applications with Visual Basic, only how a textbox was intended to work. It was the ultimate example of reusable code, and you as the application's creator were free to concentrate on the thing that mattered most: what your application did.
Today's VB is vastly different from the VB of version 1, or even version 4.0, which had just been released when I started at this magazine. Watching VB evolve has been like watching a kid grow up before your eyes. Yes, it can do more, but it has also lost some of its wild-eyed innocence along the way. Visual Basic started as a relatively simple but incredibly easy-to-use tool. Today's power-packed version is much more capable, but also much more complex. You can hit the wall quickly on how to use certain kinds of features, if you're not familiar with the .NET Framework that it sits on top of. Like a child that has grown up, Visual Basic .NET is what it is. You appreciate it for what it is and how far it has come along. Its roots are far less important than what it is now.
That said (and in the spirit of Thanksgiving on the cusp of the magazine's anniversary), I'd like to take a moment to say thanks to all those who have contributed both to Visual Basic and the magazine becoming what they are today, from Alan Cooper and Thunder to Visual Basic 2005 and Whidbey.
Thanks to all those who have submitted either their own work or the work of their respective companies for consideration in our Basic Heroes and VS All Stars columns. These examples always stressed what was possible with your tool of choice, and they played a key role in helping the language gain acceptance in businesses around the world. (We continue to collect case studies we think will provide similar substantiation for what people are doing with Visual Studio .NET in today's workplace.)
Thanks to all of the writers who have contributed to the magazine, both past and present. The pace of our industry is so fast that significant contributions from even four or five years ago can feel like ancient history. More than most fields, programming builds on the contributions of those who came before. Indeed, much of the time, what is called new is simply a repackaging of an earlier innovation.
It would take the entire magazine to thank everyone who helped make this magazine what it is, but I want to extend a special thank-you to a handful of contributors who have made significant contributions, not just to the magazine, whatever its name might have been at the time, but for advancing what others thought was possible with Visual Basic. Kudos to Dan Appleman for his API articles, Karl Peterson for consistently achieving what others said couldn't be done in VB, Francesco Balena for his prodigious efforts to attain every last "bit" of speed in VB, and Matt Curland and Bill Storage for some Black Belt Programming articles that had many of the language's experts scratching their heads.
Of course, the most important thank-you of all goes to you, the reader. It has been our privilege to serve the readers of this magazine through the years. It is our privilege to continue to do so, and we look forward to telling you about significant upcoming developments in Whidbey, Yukon, Longhorn, and beyond.
Patrick Meader is editor in chief of Visual Studio Magazine.