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3 Reasons Why VB6 is Dead

July 18th, 2007

3 Reasons Why VB6 is DeadVB6 has had a long run as a premier rapid development tool. It stands as the last member of the classic Visual Basic line that started way back in 1991 with VB1. VB6 itself was released a little over 9 years ago in April of 1998 and has seen considerable use over these years in a myriad of business, commercial and individual applications. Programs written in it are used every day by millions of people. So why do I say it is like the parrot in this famous Monty Python skit?

Here are my reasons:

1. It will not be updated or supported by Microsoft

Microsoft has made it clear that they will not release any new versions of Classic VB either as part of Visual Studio .NET or standalone. Furthermore, they won’t be releasing new patches or fixes for it. This means that if a new security problem is found tomorrow the most likely advice Microsoft will give will be, “Upgrade to .NET to fix the problem.” No amount of complaints, unflattering press, online petitions will change this. .NET is where Microsoft wants Windows developers to be so that’s what they’re going to promote, come hell or high water.

2. It is outdated technology

As I mentioned above, VB6 was released in 1998. A lot has changed since then, particularly with the continued rise and importance of the Internet. Sure, there are a lot of things VB6 could do Web-wise but, unfortunately, there are newer tools, such as .NET, Ruby on Rails, and Java, that are new and/or have been updated to take advantage of the most recent trends while VB6 has languished.

Also, Windows has continued to change. With Vista, there are many things you have to do in order to use VB6 with it and to deploy VB6 apps to it that you didn’t have to do previously. Remember that when VB6 was released Windows 98 was brand new but now you would have to look around a lot to find systems still using it, particularly in businesses of any size. Changes to Windows promise only more troubles for VB6 applications going forward.

3. It is a career dead end

When you consider your career as a professional programmer you have to understand that not expanding your skill set beyond VB6 is a serious career limiting move. Fewer and fewer companies are hiring contractors and permanent employees for purely VB6 programming positions. And, to make matters worse, the positions that are available are often maintenance positions that offer little or no opportunity to develop new code. Instead developing new applications, you’re likely to be working on old, poorly written, applications that exhibit what I call the Winchester House effect from being patched and patched again by a legion of programmers over the years.

To make matters worse, these places are often unpleasant places to work, so much so that I’ve come to refer to them as “VB6 Ghettos”. You’ll often find them staffed with people who have little or no ambition to improve their skills, who jealously guard their ‘secret’ knowledge from you, and who are often lacking in application design skills. Nasty office politics reign supreme as people try to protect their position.

So those are my reasons why I think VB6 is dead as an application development tool for Windows programmers.

In a way, I hate to see it go. I wrote a lot of code in it, enough so that I was considered an expert in it. I enjoyed creating programs with it and I knew it inside and out. I signed the MVP online petition asking Microsoft to bring VB6 back. I had done some work with VB.NET 2002/2003 and that world was frightening and confusing to me. But, after spending 3 years in a VB6 ghetto and then leaving it, I quickly came to the conclusion that if I was going to have a career in software development I had to leave the old VB6 world behind and either learn .NET or LAMP/Java ways.

A lot of VB6 programmers are still trying to deny that VB6 is gone. They try to nail it to its perch, bump it and say it moved or contend that it’s pining for the fjords but when it comes down to it VB6 is a dead parrot. You may think that .NET is a slug and hardly a replacement but unless you’re planning a new career as a lumberjack, that’s what you’ll have to learn if you want a decent job.

What are your thoughts? Do you think VB6 is dead? Do you think it still has some life in it? Leave a comment and let me know what you think.

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Entry Filed under: VB6 To VB.NET


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7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Al Katawazi  |  January 10th, 2009 at 9:09 am

    It is pretty dead, I think if you know vb6 you should learn c# because I would almost contend that vb.net may be dead as well. The only reason it was kept around was to keep some obsolete syntax to make vb’ers feel better. If you are thinking about making the jump, just learn C# direct, much more work, and I would contend that it is easier to learn.

  • 2. jfrankcarr  |  January 11th, 2009 at 1:27 am

    Hi Al,

    As you can see I wrote that about a year and a half ago and I haven’t been updating this blog for a while. That’s because I’ve been busy learning and working with C#, I still use VB6 from time to time and VB.NET for our legacy apps but all the new stuff is C#.

  • 3. Nick  |  January 20th, 2009 at 4:16 pm

    Hi,

    One thing to consider about VB ghettos is the fact they are often staffed by people ‘kept’ in them by their employer and desperate to get out of them. The advice? If the employer won’t let you move on, learn C#/Java and go.

  • 4. Kevin S Gallagher  |  April 1st, 2009 at 10:14 am

    Staying with VB6 and not learning modern day programming languages is no different than putting a noose around your neck. I did a great deal in VB6 and Borland Delphi, loved them both but times have changed and I moved on. In regads to Nick’s comment, we have that here in my agency but 99.9% of these developers are developing in both VB6 for legacy apps and .NET for new solutions

  • 5. Dan  |  December 24th, 2009 at 7:56 am

    Don’t go near .Net or Windows Microsoft might kill it at any time. VB6 does works better under Linux with Wine better than Windows Vista or 7. Microsoft have killed themselves and there OS is not needed anymore because nothing works on it any more. Linux is everywhere Mobiles, TV, DVD Players and so on. Exempt for desktops and this is changing. MS-DOS on a new machine is better and faster than the new bloated Windows systems.

  • 6. Dan  |  January 14th, 2010 at 9:25 am

    Window is now a bloated and a dead O/S, VB6 works better on linux under WinE. IPhone, Navman, tomtom and net books are the may to go in the future. Windows.NET is to fat to run on small devices and India is the hub of programmers. Programming a dead end unless you do it for a hobby for the Iphone.

  • 7. Me  |  January 18th, 2010 at 7:44 pm

    Hey man I am ..? was… as they say a VB6 guru
    Do You think VB6 is dead …?
    Do You think VB.net is dead ….?
    Well I THINK MICROSOFT is dieing anyhow because it is simply fighting a loosing battle.
    Microsoft has failed do be competitive anymore.
    C#? .NET? well I say hell NO …. it is a waste of time just like anything coming out of Microsoft.
    I think if someone wants a future in this line of work they should respect and not forget the lessons of the past in witch other giants have died.
    The future for me is anything totay opened and portable and I think we are all waiting for that new ISO standard for a truly modern OS and Programing Language…. NOT going to happen any time soon,? Is It LOL !!!??
    Mean time for me the future is Qt Python maybe JAVA but I wont waste my time again with Microsoft just like I did with VB6 and FoxPro Just so that MS can make money…
    Seriously now people are getting smarter open source is getting better You are not going to be making any money in the future if your software won’t be able to run at the same time with similar performance on Linux, MacOSX, Windows7..8..?, BSD, AIX, SOLARIS and so on…
    Microsoft IS dieing… stop wasting your time with Microsoft technologies they are simply obsolete.

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