VB Variants Rank High in Top-Paying Freelancer Skills, Popularity

Visual Basic continues to rank highly in various popularity and salary indices despite being deprecated by Microsoft, with the most recent examples coming from freelance development platform Upwork and popularity index TIOBE.

(Editor's note: Microsoft objected to the word "deprecated" above. A spokesperson said that terminology is not correct and that the company is "committed" to the language but is "not evolving it at this time.")

Upwork, which describes itself as an "online talent solution," matches its stable of freelance developers with organizations seeking "flexible access to quality talent." The company just published a list of top 15 most lucrative programming languages based on average hourly rates.

In that ranking, Excel VBA pegs in at No. 4 with an average $60 rate, while VB.NET is No. 6 at $59. A quick peek at the stable of VB.NET developers sees more than one developer profile with associated hourly rates of more than $90, while a couple of Excel VBA developer profiles post rates of more than $130.

Upwork Top 15
[Click on image for larger view.] Upwork Top 15 (source: Upwork).

To be sure, this is not the usual ranking of popularity or full-time salary status, as Objective-C (which Apple subsumed with Swift for iOS and Mac development) tops the list, and Windows PowerShell is at No. 3, after Golang. Usually those popularity/salary indices are headed by the usual cast of characters such as Python, Java, C variants and so on. So the Upwork ranking might reflect the demand for more niche skills rather than mainstream skills that are easier to find.

But one of those mainstream indices, the TIOBE Index, just published its August 2020 ranking, which itself shows Visual Basic holding its position in the top 10 at No. 6, having increased 0.97 percent from the August 2019 ranking.

TIOBE Index Top 10 for August 2020
[Click on image for larger view.] TIOBE Index Top 10 for August 2020 (source: TIOBE).

However, the "Classic Visual Basic" dating back to the '90s did drop down from No. 16 in the August 2019 TIOBE ranking to No. 17 in August 2020.

TIOBE Visual Basic Over Time
[Click on image for larger view.] TIOBE Visual Basic Over Time (source: TIOBE).

The data from Upwork is sourced from the company's database and is based on average hourly rates charged by U.S. freelancers on contracts from Jan. 1, 2020, to June 30, 2020. Each skill had a minimum of 10 projects and 40 hours billed for reliability.

The TIOBE Index is based on the number of skilled engineers world-wide, courses and third-party vendors, using popular search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo!, Wikipedia, Amazon, YouTube and Baidu to calculate the ratings. "It is important to note that the TIOBE index is not about the best programming language or the language in which most lines of code have been written," it says.

Even though Microsoft said earlier this year that "we do not plan to evolve Visual Basic as a language" as it enters the new .NET 5 world in November, VB variants and third-party offshoots continue to evolve in the industry.

For examples, Visual Studio Magazine this year alone has covered several developments in the VB ecosystem, including:

About the Author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for Converge360.

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