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C# and VB: Coke or Pepsi?

A year ago, Microsoft's Scott Wiltamuth published an informative blog post that produced a lot of clarity around Microsoft's "co-evolution" strategy with C# and Visual Basic .NET. As product unit manager for Visual Studio Languages, Wiltamuth was able to provide a cogent breakdown of what Microsoft's commitment to its two flagship .NET languages really meant.

As Wiltamuth explained, .NET Framework has emerged as a "powerful unifying force" for the languages. He said C# and VB have two kinds of features, external ones like generics or LINQ that improve available API building blocks, and internal features that impact the languages themselves, such as changes to statements, expression and control flow.

Changes to features on the inside don't necessarily impact AP developers significantly, Wiltamuth wrote. But external changes are another matter. "In practice we have found that the best opportunities for language evolution and innovation have been in 'on the outside' language features rather than 'on the inside' ones," Wiltamuth wrote.

The upshot is that the new capabilities being introduced to VB and C# programmers are happening at the .NET level. And while significant feature differences between the languages certainly exist -- like VB's XML Literals or C#'s unsafe code feature -- the fact is that developers can access most of the same resources and achieve many of the same things using either language.

In fact, the biggest difference between the two languages could be Microsoft's uneven support. As any VB developer can tell you, Microsoft tends to release more, and more timely, code samples and guidance for C# than it does for VB. In fact, this situation is one of the reasons open source CMS provider DotNetNuke recently announced it was migrating its core CMS code from VB to C#.

It's been a year since Microsoft's co-evolution strategy for C# and VB was fully unveiled with the launch of Visual Studio 2010 and .NET Framework 4. What are your thoughts about Microsoft's handling of the two languages? Have you made a change in the language you rely on primarily, and if so, why? And what do you feel Microsoft could do to improve the way C# and VB are managed for the .NET developer community?

Email me at [email protected], or leave a comment in the space below.

Posted by Michael Desmond on 03/21/2011 at 1:15 PM


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