Dan Appleman: Kibitzing and Commentary

My personal blog

A group of VB MVPs recently signed a petition regarding the future of VB6 . I thought I’d take a minute and address some of their issues. I myself am a VB MVP, and have chosen not to sign at this time because I disagree with the recommendations listed in the petition, but not the objectives.
First, consider the objectives of the petition:

  1. Preservation of assets
  2. Continued support for the Visual Basic language
  3. Ease of migration of unmanaged VB/VBA code to VB.NET

If you have a business that has invested years of development effort in VB6 and VBA code, should you port that code to .NET? We�re talking existing working code here – not new projects. By any sane economic rational, the answer is no. In most cases porting is stupid and a complete waste of money.
The rational way to migrate to .NET is incrementally – using it for new development and porting selected components that can truly benefit from the .NET framework, relying on interop to allow existing code to work with .NET code.
The problem, if not tragedy, is that many developers are porting code to .NET purely out of fear – fear that they will no longer be able to receive support for VB6, fear that existing VB6 projects may not run on future operating systems, fear that they will not be able to obtain VB6 licenses.
Microsoft, perhaps in its desire to promote .NET, has not done enough to assuage these fears. Either they value .NET migration more than the best interests of their customers (which would be shameful), or they are just not able to get the message across. Porting is stupid (for proof  – ask what percentage of the MS Office code base has been ported to .NET).
The classicVB petition recommends integrating some future VB6 into the Visual Studio IDE. I think this approach would be mistaken and a waste of resources.
I would like to offer the following recommendations as an alternative:

  1. A longer term commitment to providing support for VB6 and VBA
  2. Guaranteed support for VB6/VBA under future OS’s for an extended period (definitely including LongHorn and at least one more beyond).
  3. A commitment that once a decision is made to stop support on VB6/VBA, that the entire VB6/VBA code base will be placed into the public domain as an open source project, or perhaps a foundation similar to Mozilla, to assure that interested parties can continue to support and perhaps fork the project in the future.

I believe these alternatives would provide sufficient peace of mind for most VB6 developers to base their migration plans on sound economic factors relating to their individual situation – and not on fear, uncertainty and doubt.
Scobleizer (who blogged the petition under the “revolt” moniker, even though it isn’t)