Interview Makes Its Mark

A reader offers kudos for recent interviews on the back page of the magazine; also, new letters in the ongoing VB6 versus .NET debate.

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 [email protected].

Interview Makes Its Mark
I've enjoyed the recent spate of developer interviews on the back pages, especially the interview you conducted with Roger Jennings [see Guest Opinion, "SQL Server: What's New," February 2006].

It's always refreshing to see an expert in his field speak candidly about the pluses and minuses of a given tool. I especially enjoyed reading Roger's insights on the inclusion of the CLR in SQL Server. This is a feature that I feel a great deal of concern about, and seeing Roger go into some detail about how it isn't the right feature for all circumstances was reassuring to me.

The initial publicity on the CLR reminds me of the early demonstrations of VB.NET and Web services, where all the emphasis seemed misplaced on a relatively little-used feature, at the expense of many other features you would take advantage of more frequently. Don't get me wrong: Web services are important and have a place in development, but you got the impression that they were the be-all and end-all of the original version of .NET, when there was much more to the tool. I suspect it will prove true of the CLR in SQL, as well. We'll find a couple significant uses for using the CLR in SQL Server, but the tool's other features will be the ones that make us appreciate the tool over time.

Keep up the good work.

Karen LeFevre, Waterboro, Maine

What's Old is New
As I read Peter Vogel's article, "Integrate the Client and Server," I couldn't help but think that everything old is new again [VSM July 2005].

How quickly everyone forgets—if they ever knew at all—that Microsoft provided this capability long before ASP.NET. Of course, there's no mention in the article of Microsoft's Remote Scripting capabilities, provided with their Scripting Library 1.0a. We used it successfully for several years starting in 1999 with plain vanilla ASP and HTML and JavaScript. In fact, it was so successful that when we moved to Weblogic Server, we rewrote portions of the Remote Scripting code to work on this J2EE platform as well. Anyone still developing on the old IIS platform can still use this technique to execute asynchronous calls to the server without obvious server posting.

Chris A. McNeil, Mullins, S.C.

Time to Move On
I have a somewhat belated comment about those who are clinging to VB6 rather than moving onto .NET.

I have seen technology come and go on a regular basis. As developers, we simply must accept that change is a constant in our industry. For example, I have learned eight programming languages and three database SQL dialects. I started programming professionally in PC BUS (a DOS version of the ancient DataPoint data bus language). We fixed the legacy apps for Y2K compliance, and then we moved them to 32-bit Delphi in just about two years. We did this while maintaining a client base of almost 10,000 sites nationwide.

At my current job, we see the writing on the wall, so we'll be transitioning from our trusted Delphi to C# within the next few years. In this respect, Delphi Win32 developers face many of the same issues as those who develop applications with VB6. Of course, .NET's architecture is similar to Delphi, and I can appreciate that there is a much greater learning curve for VB6 developers who have never used another language. But the blunt truth is: They need to transition to .NET (or something else) if they don't want to go the way of PowerBuilder and Clipper programmers.

As for the cost of transition, I believe it will only cost more over time—not less—as developers continue to hold out. A former employer of mine still has its primary applications in PowerBuilder 6, VMS PL/I, and VMS Cobol. Their IT department is hemorrhaging from the problems that are a direct result of their refusal to accept the inevitability of upgrading and responding to it. Those of us who want to move forward with our careers and learn new technologies must either convince such companies that their approach is wrong, or find a new company that isn't so locked into its existing, outmoded tools. As a company, insisting that your developers stick with VB6 is a surefire way to get them to leave, as they recognize that the market is demanding new skills and technologies. Plus, the new skills always pay better.

The turnover costs might be hard to measure in the short term, but you will pay dearly over the long term.

Michael Valverde, received by e-mail

Classic VB is the Real Thing
I'd like to thank VSM for its article, "VB Petition Inflames Passions on the Web." [see Editor's Note: VSM June 2005].

This article hit home for me because I deal with fallout of the VB6 versus VB.NET debate on a daily basis. If I had to bill my time on all the complaints about VB.NET, I would be a multi-millionaire.

Microsoft must appreciate how terrific VB6 is as a tool, especially for the weekend programmer. In contrast, VB.NET is good for the professionals, but not as meaningful for those who aren't at the professional level yet. VB6 was perfect for that class of developer, in a way that VB.NET has yet to achieve.

When you have perfection, you don't mess with it. Remember Coca-Cola when they tried New Coke versus Classic Coke? It's the same thing, here. I think Classic VB is here to stay.

Andy Toth, received by e-mail

Can't We All Just Get Along?
Remember the good old days when language wars were between proponents of different languages or platforms? These days, the most serious disagreements seem to be between proponents of VB6 and the .NET version of Visual Basic. In this magazine and elsewhere across the Microsoft Windows Universe, adherents to one or the other spend half their time attacking the other, it seems.

It's not without precedent, of course—what is, in our industry?—but it does no one any good to keep hashing out the same arguments over and over. My advice: If you like something, use it, and stop worrying about what everyone else is doing.

George Kenton, Portland, Ore.

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