Visual Basic 6: A Solemn, If Lengthy Good-Bye
Back in 2005, I wrote a blog article about the then proposed retirement of Visual Basic 6.0; a successful but COM-based programming language that would later evolve into Visual Basic .NET. In a way, VB was my first programming language because, while I did know Java, I didn’t do a lot of work with Java until after I’d already started developing small web applications using a new, little-known technology called Active Server Pages for a small start-up ISP in my home city of Winnipeg, Manitoba. While VB gave me my first kick at the can with programming professionally, I can’t really say I’ve missed it much. After all, the whole point of technology evolving is to get better (although some might cite Vista as an example to the contrary). It’s been something like 6 years since I last did any real work with COM or VB and it’s far from "cutting-edge". Of course, it’s day was really gone with the introduction of .NET.
Despite those advances offered by .NET version, there were a lot of applications written in VB and there was reluctance to go back a convert all that code to .NET. But even back in 2005 I couldn’t really understand the stubborn tone of some on the Internet: .NET had already been out for 3 years and the discussion was about ending support only after another 3. Incredibly, there was actually a movement afoot to try to persuade Microsoft to keep supporting Visual Basic 6.0 even longer – far beyond its usual support cycle. But the day has finally arrived with the announcement by Microsoft last week that VB has reached the end of its support cycle and Redmond would be retiring all support for the technology effective April 8th (this past Tuesday).
The reaction? Well – muted so far; I had to dig up mention of this event on eWeek (which seems to have overtaken CNet’s News.com as the leading MS-basher on the Internet) and InfoWorld which quoted a surviving VB6 developer involved with the 2005 petition conceding his need for support would be unlikely. The petition in question is still online, incidentally – having collected nearly 13,500 signature as of this week.
And what about businesses – are they still actually using VB6? Are there still new VB6 development projects being posted to contracting and tech job boards? You bet! A search of recruitment sites Workopolis.com and Monster.ca using the keywords "Visual Basic 6.0" still pulls up a lot of jobs – both requiring VB6 experience and a few cases where it’s the core technology involved in the assignment! Of course – that’s here in Ottawa, ON (where I live), the capital city of Canada. And there are plenty technophobes the ranks of the government’s bureaucracy, God knows.
Support for VB6 is still available from a lingering community in any event and Microsoft itself maintains an archive or articles on its MSDN and TechNet technology support websites. Not to mention there are lots and lots of old books out there on VB6 – I have a number on COM and VB collecting dust on my bookshelf. So if you’re in the market to get that next great VB6 killer app written, get in touch with me and I’ll hook you up with some great literature to help fill the void left by Microsoft. 😉