Back on with VB6

I did a lot of development with VB5 and VB6 in the late nineties/early 00’s. When .net 1.1 (2003) came out I changed focus to C#. I specifically have never looked at VB.net because the way the VB6 retirement has been handled has always made me believe VB was no longer a good investment of effort. Others disagree I know, which is fine. Whats great is that we can choose and it doesn’t make that much difference.

Anyway I’m back working in VB6 again. I have always preferred the VB6 editor to the VBA one, maybe thats why I go for VB forms over VBA ones.

One of the features I missed from using VS2003 is tabbed code editing. I looked at implementing this as a VBAIDE add-in, but the extensibility model is seriously poor. The VB6 editor is much richer.

I had a little hunt around the internet and found this:

vb6 tabs

Pretty neat I reckon – proper tabs in VB6, shame it won’t work in VBA. You might recognise MZ tools in there too (free).

The other thing I miss is the class view from VC++ 6.0:

class tree

I like that this allows you to go straight to any procedure or member variable. I have found one of these for VB6 too but not started using it yet.

I was quite surprised there are still tools available for VB6, some have had updates in the last couple of months. Reports of its death have been greatly exaggerated as they say.

Here is a link to the (free) tools I found at Planet Source code, well worth a visit.

Anyone got any other top VB6 tool links?

cheers

Simon

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12 Responses to “Back on with VB6”

  1. Marcus Says:

    Hi Simon – here’s some utilities I use in my VB6/A development.

    — MZ Tools —
    Like yourself Simon, I also use MZ Tools for both VBA and VB6. I particularly use line numbering, auto adding of module/procedure header & error handling, tracing procedure callers and source code review (this is starting to sound like an advertisement).

    — TextPad —
    My favourite text editor – like the customisable syntax highlighting and tabbed documents. Good for editing SQL, VB code, output files that Excel/Notepad can’t handle.
    http://www.textpad.com/

    — SourceGear DiffMerge —
    Excellent diff merge tool. I especially like the price (thanks Eric). Like any good tool it’s clean, simple and does that ‘one thing’ very well.
    http://www.sourcegear.com/diffmerge/downloads.html

    — Excel —
    Excellent for building up enumerators, .AddItem, Select Case options etc. A quick formula, copy it down and I’ve just saved heaps of typing (not to mention the increased accuracy).

    — Query Dependencies —
    Okay, not directly a VB6 tool. But nifty little add-in from Questica shows query dependencies in a hierarchy. As much of my work involves Access, this makes it simpler to understand or document nested query structures. Questica don’t seem to host the tool on their own site anymore.
    http://www.download.com/3000-2383-10212365.html

    Cheers – Marcus

  2. Rob Bruce Says:

    I’ve used VBMaximizer (not free, unsure if it’s still available) since 2000. Much of it’s functionality has since been equalled by MZTools, but it has a really useful integrated code library, some great tools for working with form controls and, my favourite tool, a strongly-typed collection generator. It can also create ‘wrapper’ classes for faking inheritance by inner delegation.

    I’ve built a few addins myself in the past, particularly during a period when my main job was to build ActiveX components with VB6. There’s a VBAIDE macro add-in of mine at http://www.asta51.dsl.pipex.com/zip/ , and somewhere I have an unfinished TaskList add-in to mimic the one in VS.NET that I must get around to completing.

    Rob

  3. Rob Bruce Says:

    Oh, and another thing. You keep banging on about how MS should update the VBAIDE to fill the decade-long gap in functionality, and I think we know that they’re not going to do it, but what they could do is to expose a much richer object API (akin to, or maybe even richer than the VB6 object interface). This would allow the community itself to bring the product up to date.

  4. Rob Bruce Says:

    Me again. Sorry.

    While looking for links to VBMaximizer, I found these:
    http://www.devx.com/vb2themax/Door/18897?cat=1469&type=0
    http://www.devx.com/vb2themax/Door/18897?cat=675&type=95

    Rob

  5. marcus Says:

    Hi Simon,

    I submitted a post with some links which appears to have been sucked into electron Valhalla. Could you retrieve it?

    Thanks for your help – Marcus

  6. Simon Says:

    Rob – Good idea on the VBADE api, but I think we both know thats doubtful though. I’m hoping that VSTA will be in the next offce then we can all do poper .net work, with a bang up to date IDE.
    Marcus I’ll have a look, I shouldn’t have asked for links – they get hoovered up by the akismet the anti spam thing (which has saved us all from 5,000 spams now!). Don’t feel bad though, my own comments have been marked as spam too.

  7. marcus Says:

    Phew – I was starting to develop a complex there.

    P.S. I may be in the London market by the first wee of Oct.

    Cheers – Marcus

  8. marcus Says:

    Excellent links Rob, thanks. There’s plenty to explore.

  9. Simon Says:

    Marcus
    We could maybe sort out a get together mid/end of Oct? although the user conf is pencilled in for mid Nov, so that might be an option?
    I too use Excel to generate lots of code – especially for get/lets for classes, or big static arrays.

  10. marcus Says:

    A get together would be great. I’ll be confirming my flight details soon – should have something confirmed in a week or so. The first week will probably be consumed with accomodation and work logistics.

    I’ll let you know when I’ve got some morw concrete dates.

    Cheers – Marcus

  11. Harlan Grove Says:

    I’ll echo positive comments about TextPad 4.x, but I really don’t like TextPad 5.x. One of the things I use it for is writing and running character mode scripts and capturing the output. TP4 allows the capture window to take up the whole application window. TP5 seems to provide only a small pane. But maybe I just haven’t found the configuration setting to, um, ‘undock’ it.

  12. Rob Bruce Says:

    One last thing on VB6 add-ins. Some of them (the Resource Editor that ships with the product itself is the classic example) have a habit of destroying your commandbars with items disappearing on every startup until both menus and toolbars look like they’ve been shot through with cannon fire.
    I’m not sure if this is due to bad programming of the add-ins themselves or a bug in the IDE, but it’s best to back-up the registry setting at HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Visual Basic\6.0\UI if you’ve got customisations you don’t want to lose.

    Rob

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