VB strategy

I started VB development seriously in VB5, my original MCSD is in VB. There is lots I like about VB/VBA development, but as time goes on there are more and more things that frustrate. These frustrations are partly what drove me to C# and C++.

One thing about the whole end of lining of VB6 I never understood was this:

As a VB and Office developer I was utterly captive as a Windows only dev. I distinctly remember discussing with Jody from Gnumeric about porting XLAnalyst to Gnumeric, and that was several years ago. That has proven to be quite a challenge (and one I am not near finishing).

As I have moved through C# to C/C++, the Windows-only tie has reduced, there are still plenty of hurdles and that port is still some way off. But the fact remans I was Windows only, and now Linux or Mac development is quite realistic. Personally I find that quite appealing, but from a Microsoft POV it strikes me as not ideal. I guess if I’m the only (potential) VB defector then there is a chance they may not notice! But I know I’m not because plenty of my mates moved to Java from VB6 around 2000/2001. Some of the others moved to C#, which is part way to the more platform neutral C++. No one I knew back then went to VB.net.

One of the reasons I particularly like C++ is that its an ISO standard, so its not going away any time soon. Many orgs make development tools for it so I feel safe my investment of time and effort wont be wasted. One reason why I have deliberately steered clear of Delphi is that only CodeGear (was Borland) make dev tools for it. That makes it feel a bit fragile for me. I have never bothered with Java either, but maybe I should (although the single owner thing comes in).

In the .net world I would say MS has encouraged people to C# rather than VB.net, yet VB seems to have the better Windows lock-in. I wonder if MS feel the features of Windows and .net are enough of an attraction they don’t need any lock in? Working with Office apps is apparently much easier in VB.net, yet most of the docs are still C# based.

What direction are you moving in? And why? Can you explain why MS gave up the lock in? (or Love-in as Tom suggests)

Anyone planning to port VB/VBA projects to .net or A.N.Other platform?




8 Responses to “VB strategy”

  1. Ross Says:

    I’m trying to build a standalone application, to start off with I looked at using VB.Net. Many components are written in and supported in C#, so I thought, to hell with it, lets give C# a go.

    About a week ago I go a C++ book from the library and am, slowing working through that. It’s slow hard work, I wont meet my short term goals, I could build the same thing quicker in .Net, but hell, [b]if[b] I do ever manage to get a ½ decent grip on C, I wont have to worry about all the BS that goes hand in hand with MS development. I’m just fed up with it. New frameworks every 5 mins, development environments that only support the latest frame works, things that don’t work, killing products, forcing me to use something else, no standards, Bill Gates gurning boat race.

    As for VB.net, I can’t see why anyone would use it, apart from working with Office, where it is better that C#, if you was going to start using .Net, then it only really makes sense to work with C#? Surely? Also VB6 is nothing like VB.net, the whole point of VB was to be quite powerful and as easy/fast as possible, that was it’s great strength. Somewhere along the line, I think this core strength/asset of VB has been lost, or at least reduced in priority.

  2. gobansaor Says:

    I too have dusted off my C++ books. I’ve done so for 3 reasons:

    First, like Ross I wish to detach myself from the MS BS, while still allowing access to both the Win32 and .Net worlds (have you noticed that the one language in VS that didn’t change with the move to .NET was C++).

    Many of the open source projects that interest me are C/C++ based, e.g. SQLite and PALO MOLAP server.

    And finally, some of the finest minds in our business program in C/C++, this opens up a whole new world of solutions to new or difficult problems. Other languages, especially the trendier scripting languages such as Ruby, can also be worth investing time in for the same reason.


  3. Dennis Wallentin Says:


    If You dislike that only CodeGear makes dev tool for Delphi then You should also run away from MS Office 2007 and later. If Open XML will become a new ISO standard fileformat then MSFT will be the only vendor for it.

    What’s wrong with VB.NET?

    With VB.NET desktop’s solutions have made a great “come back” mainly because of:

    a) Windows Forms + all the native controls
    b) Easy to develop easy to maintain
    c) a+b = pleased customers

    I’m the first to admit that the high pace of new versions from MSFT comes with a price and gives me grey hair. However, as with everything else we are not forced to use all the cutting edge technology that comes from Redmont.

    I dislike MSFT’s business methods and their license model but like many others I like their tools and also make a living of it. If we are OBD (Office Business Developers) then Java/Ruby et al is no options at al.

    Kind regards,

  4. Harlan Grove Says:

    “If we are OBD (Office Business Developers) then Java/Ruby et al is no options at al.”

    That’s the question. Are we *Office* or *Spreadsheet[&Databse]* business developers? If the former, then reliance on VB[*] is necessary, perhaps even tautological. If the latter, VB[*] and all things MSFT are debatable, and other languages and toolsets become possibilities.

  5. Marcus Says:

    I guess I tend to be a bit more platform/OS agnostic. I focus on where the work is. I don’t do Lotus 1-2-3 / LotusScript work anymore because the demand simply isn’t there even though there were many things I liked about 1-2-3 which aren’t apparent in Excel.

    There are many technologies to which we are utterly captive. The capacity to move from the comparatively inefficient piston-driven, internal combustion engines to a more efficient and cleaner alternative is hindered by our dependency not only on the engines themselves; but the entire industry infrastructure that surrounds it.

    “ISO standard”
    As the old joke goes: the great thing about standards is there are so many to choose from. (Sorry, couldn’t help myself).

    Note, also that many standards we adhere to are de facto standards (sheer market dominance) rather than being endorsed by an industry/international body.

    “deliberately steered clear of Delphi”
    I’ve also been steering clear of Delphi (although I’m quite interested in it) for different reasons to yourself. Market supply and demand. It may be a good tool from a mISV perspective, but it lacks demand in the commercial world.

    “porting VB/VBA projects”
    Interestingly enough, yes. I’m involved in a project porting a Excel/Access/VBA solution to ‘production’ environment; where ‘production’ = Informatica, SQL Server and VB6 (DLL). This is driven by regulatory compliance, otherwise it would never have happened. The business was much happier with their VBA sandpit.

    All the Best – Marcus

  6. Simon Says:

    I found this book V useful VC for VB devs :
    Tom all good reasons, excellent point about the finest minds.
    Dennis I don’t ‘dislike’ it, thats a bit strong, more like I’m slightly nervous having been bitten by the VB6 departure.
    I’ll post about VB.net next, I guess you are right about Office though, thats why I dabble as much as poss with the competition.
    Harlan I like the differentiation, I’d put myself in the latter and C/C++ is almost as viable as VB for much Excel development, and probably more viable for other s/s especially the o/s ones.
    Marcus there are 10x more Delphi jobs than VSTO on jobserve today, and the rates are often better than .net. I know one or 2 Delphi devs and they are not short of work.
    Fair point on standards I suppose they point i was trying to make is being controlled by a group rather than 1 org.
    cheers simon

  7. Ross Says:

    thanks for the link Simon, might very well get that.

  8. Dennis Wallentin Says:

    I guess we will have to accept that we, in one or another way, will always be depended on one or a very small group of vendors.

    Anyway, MSFT seems to need a new round before Open XML will be an ISO fileformat.

    Kind regards,

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