VB6 Petition Sparks Controversy

A petition for Microsoft to continue premier-level VB6 support sparks a debate amongst readers, as opinions range from support to outrage.

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VB6 Petition Sparks Controversy
In his Editor's Note, "VB6 Petition Inflames Passions on the Web" [June 2005], Patrick Meader asks, "How do you feel about the petition?" Well, as a provider of a low-volume, high-cost software product that services a select market, I'm mad as hell. Due to the low volume of sales of my product, a large portion of the cost of the product is in the R&D/software development. Every time someone decides to modify the developer tools, it costs me time, money, and possibly sales. Visual Basic 6 is an excellent tool as a graphical user interface for my software product. The added capabilities of Visual Basic .NET provide little or no apparent benefit to me.

Most of the Visual Basic users I know are "small-time" developers who use VB as a tool to solve a problem, not professional programmers who would probably appreciate the subtleties of VB.NET and have a salary that indulges their curiosity. I wonder how many copies of VB that Microsoft sold went to those individuals who use VB as a tool rather than a career choice.

Thanks for the opportunity to vent.

Bill Phillips

I've seen technology come and go. Change is always prevalent in our industry. I have learned eight programming languages and three database SQL dialects, and I have no sympathy for VB6ers who are complaining that they are "losing" their cash cow.

Get over it and learn object-oriented programming. I started programming professionally in PC BUS (a DOS version of ancient Datapoint Databus language). I fixed the legacy apps for Y2K compliance and then moved them to 32-bit Delphi in just about two years. This was while maintaining a client base of almost 10,000 nationwide.

At my current job, we see the writing on the wall and will move from our trusted Delphi to C# .NET in the next few years. Yes, Delphi Win32 developers face many of the same issues that VB6ers do—we just don't whine about it. .NET's architect is similar to Delphi (a Delphi guru did write .NET, after all). It has taken me only a few months to become proficient in it. I understand there is a much greater learning curb for VB6ers if VB6 is the only language they have ever worked with, but they need to make the transition now or go the way of PowerBuilder and Clipper programmers.

I believe you should try to move to C# and drop Visual Basic altogether. There is no need for it, and with no prejudices already in place toward C#, I believe it can be an easier change. You won't be scratching your head arguing that it doesn't work "right" like it did in VB6. Delphi 2005 has frustrated me to the point where I have given up on Borland and gone over to Visual Studio 2003 completely. If I can't have my Delphi 7 IDE, then I don't want Delphi as a poorly developed and buggy Visual Studio 2003 look-alike. Borland is trying to make too many people happy with Delphi 2005 and successfully making no one happy.

As for the cost of transition, I believe it will only cost more, not less, if you hold out. A former employer of mine still has its primary applications in PowerBuilder 6, VMS PL/I, and VMS Cobol (that's no typo—they are still working with PL/I). The company's IT department is hemorrhaging from the problems it has created due to a lack of acceptance to upgrade and update products. Those of us who want to move forward with our careers and learn new technologies have either left or are trying to find a way to leave. If you keep your developers in Visual Basic 6, they will begin to leave as they see the market demand new skills and technologies. And the new skills always pay better.

Michael Valverde

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

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