Is the VB Name Too Basic?

Does the term Basic give Visual Basic an uncalled-for negative connotation, or does it provide continuity with the language's past?

Letters to Visual Studio Magazine are welcome. Letters must include your name, address, and daytime phone number to be considered for publication. Letters might be edited for form, fit, and style. Please send them to Letters to the Editor, c/o Visual Studio Magazine, 2600 El Camino Real, Suite 300, San Mateo, CA 94403; fax them to 650-570-6307; or e-mail them to

Is the VB Name Too Basic?
I just read Tim Patrick's Guest Opinion on renaming Visual Basic ["Basic Doesn't Fit VB.NET," January 2005].

I have been a VB user since the first beta of release 1.0, and I have written countless people over the years, including people at Microsoft and Fawcette Technical Publications, about how important I thought it was to dump the "Basic" in Visual Basic.

I think that one of the reasons that VB hasn't been taken more seriously as a language is the fact that it includes the term "Basic" in its name. The language's name connotes that it is a child's toy or learning tool. With the release of VB.NET, we've all discovered that Visual Basic ain't very basic anymore, and it deserves a new appellation. What might we name it instead? B#, of course.

Jude Kaider, Deerfield, Ill.

I wish someone would give me a dollar for every time I've heard someone assert that Microsoft should change the name of its Visual Basic programming language to something that didn't have the word "Basic" in it. I could retire to an island in the South Pacific and live happily ever after.

It's wearying to hear people who either want to denigrate the tool or feel embarrassed by it because its name contains the word "Basic." You might recall that Microsoft itself considered naming Visual Basic something else when it came time to release VB.NET. I don't recall the specific names, but as that baseball seer Casey Stengel once said, "You could look it up."

If Microsoft had renamed VB, you'd have seen petitions throughout VB Nation asking Microsoft to please, please, please give us a VB7. (Come to think of it, that happened, anyway.) Whether Microsoft named it Visual Basic or something else, the functionality was the same. It might have been easier for Microsoft to move forward by giving Visual Basic a new name, in some respects. It would have lessened expectations that VB.NET be strictly compatible with VB6, for example, and Microsoft could have implemented its language "cleanup" with less dissonance.

However, calling it something else would have also suggested that VB.NET was fundamentally different than what came before. It would have suggested that existing code was more or less dead. It might also have suggested that Microsoft had abandoned VB developers. I know this was argued, and quite vehemently in some circles, but I don't agree with any of this, and keeping the name helped Microsoft maintain a sense of continuity for the transition from Visual Basic to VB.NET. Hindsight makes geniuses of many fools (in the fools' eyes, anyway), but I think Microsoft made the right decision with respect to the tool's name.

Visual Basic has a rich heritage and remains a competent, often impressive tool. Let's celebrate and take advantage of that, rather than debate its name.

Chuck Hegel, Wilmington, Del


About the Author

This story was written or compiled based on feedback from the readers of Visual Studio Magazine.

comments powered by Disqus
Upcoming Events

.NET Insight

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.