back to article Visual Basic 6 returns: You've been a good developer all year. You have social distanced, you have helped your mom. Here's your reward

The beast is back... almost. A "100 per cent compatible Visual Basic 6 solution" has been promised to the backers of a Kickstarter. There is, however, no word on how much it would cost to ensure it stayed dead. Visual Basic 6 was the last hurrah in a succession of languages first introduced in 1991 and seemingly killed off …

  1. iron Silver badge
    Mushroom

    No no no no no no no NO!

    VB was shit then, it will be even more shit now.

    Many moons ago, I wrote the same program in VB3 and Delphi as a comparison. The Delphi version was orders of magnitude faster on the same PC.

    1. richardcox13

      VB5 and 6 did keep me busy for several years. By writing C++ to get around VB's very restricted subset of COM and using the much more powerful debugger to debug things that the VB6 debugger couldn't help with.

      One of the latter cases was the first bug I used the internet to help solve... using Lynx (no GUI browser for me!) to find the offset of the reference count in VB6 UI components.

      And thus work out which set of components were stuck with circular references (app worked fine in the VB6 IDE, but the built version would crash on exit every time).

    2. AMBxx Silver badge

      The right tool for the right job. Look how hard 'codeless' development keeps being pushed. VB wasn't that far off the mark, just plumb all the events and off you go.

      For small applications fronting a simple database it was ideal.

      The problem was when people tried to write stuff that should have been considered beyond the scope of VB.

      1. TeeCee Gold badge

        The problem was when people tried to write stuff that should have been considered beyond the scope of...

        You can stick just about any language on the end of that. I'll kick off with C, COBOL and Java as obvious ones.

        1. Ozan

          Pretty much all programming languages. When only tool you have is a hammer, all problems will look like a nail.

      2. Short Fat Bald Hairy Man

        It was really really easy. Horses for courses of course. I wonder whether my code is still used, but when at the job, had exactly ONE complaint (a logical error). Otherwise worked flawlessly.

        Dumped it the moment I saw .NET. And by then was mostly using Linux.

        There is GAMBAS on Linux, never tried it seriously, though.

    3. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Lazarus is available for all your Delphi needs. Even connects to the real world!

      1. Geert Jacob

        So does the community edition of Delphi

        1. Marco van de Voort

          Well, as long as your company doesn't have Eur 5000 annual revenue: (from the license text:)

          "Once your company's total revenue reaches US $5,000, or your team expands to more than 5 developers, you can move up to an unrestricted commercial license with Professional edition."

          which is kind of well, always. (it doesn't say only the revenue of Delphi program counts)

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          "So does the community edition of Delphi"

          No it doesn't. Not even my ancient Professional copy of Delphi has done that for years.

          No Linux support.

          Lazarus is where it's at.

    4. anothercynic Silver badge

      The amount of VB6 code I've had to look at (and deal with) in my previous world in the commercial sector has turned me off that piece of unadulterated horse manure for life.

      I'm sorry, but it truly needs to *die*.

      1. deadlockvictim Silver badge

        Horse manure

        To be fair, horse manure is great stuff and really useful when it comes to fertilising plants outdoors (probably indoors too).

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Horse manure

          "probably indoors too"

          Only if you keep the windows open.

        2. anothercynic Silver badge

          Re: Horse manure

          Sorry, let me rephrase then... "gutter rubbish"? :-)

    5. Alan Bourke

      Don't use it then. And dry your eyes.

  2. Binraider Bronze badge

    I think I'd far rather support Francois Lionet's AMOS2 project...

    1. Def Silver badge

      My version of Breakout written in AMOS got me a job at Bullfrog back in the early 90s.

      It had a double height scrolling screen that followed the lowest ball, and I wrote all the scrolling, multi-ball and bat code in their asm-esque interrupt language (AMAL iirc) that used the Amiga hardware directly.

  3. heyrick Silver badge

    I liked VB5/VB6

    It made it easy to write software on what was, to me, a completely alien system. It wasn't perfect, certainly [*], but it did the job with the minimum of fuss.

    * - I've never met a mainstream language before or after that didn't have any support for binary shifts. Extracting data from a bitmap using integer division and rebuilding the bitmap using multiplication was tedious and painful.

    1. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells
      Holmes

      Re: I liked VB5/VB6

      I got started on it. It was so easy to make GUI applications that you could draw the GUI, add some code behind the buttons and you've got a program in like five minutes. Press F5 (?) and you're running.

      That you could make real programs that looked like real modern programs was important. The alternatives, such as Python, were (without substantial learning) CLI only interfaces meant that they felt old fashioned.

      It was so easy to get started with that I remember at first I didn't know what a variable was so I was using hidden text boxes as "variables". With that level of ineptness, i was still able to produce things that worked with a little bit of help from Google ( or was it Ask Jeeves? or Yahoo or something?)

      Yes, ew, but that's how flat the learning curve was with it.

      I was later less impressed when I came back to it and found that you can't do if ( variable_containing_boolean_true ) { stuff } - because true equated to 0 or -1, or something. Why?

      1. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells
        Holmes

        Re: I liked VB5/VB6

        PS, for anybody wondering, as far as I remember you had to do:

        if ( variable_bool_true = true ) { stuff }

        So I think that if (true){ stuff() } would not run stuff(). But if (true=true){ stuff() } would

        ( a depressingly long time ago, so this might all be bollocks )

        1. upsidedowncreature

          Re: I liked VB5/VB6

          Correct, but there were no curly braces - it was all End If, End Loop etc. In mixed case. Dear God.

          Also indentation was completely optional so many didn't bother with it, making untangling nested control structures an unalloyed joy.

      2. Woodnag Silver badge

        Re: I liked VB5/VB6

        "...easy to make GUI applications", but a lot of code was required to make the GUI resizable, rescaling everything.

        1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

          Re: I liked VB5/VB6

          Except everyone then tended to use 800x600 monitors

          1. Woodnag Silver badge

            Re: I liked VB5/VB6

            I'm using a program written for Win95/NT4 in 1999 which works fine on Win8.1 on a 4k monitor unavailable 10 years ago, let alone 20. That's good software design.

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: I liked VB5/VB6

      I had something that worked well enough with VB 1, then VB 2 broke my hacks, and I re-did them, and then VB 3 released and I had to fix a few more little things, and it never really did work quite as snappy as VB 2. I assisted others with some VB 5 stuff but that's about it. I kinda gave up on VB. That shared lib always created install problems and refused to work on newer OS's, forcing you to upgrade to a newer VB, and the coding challenges to make your VB hacks work again.

      Too bad, because when it first came out, VB 1 was _REALLY_ cool! Windows applications in minutes/hours instead of days/weeks.

  4. The Insuranator

    I still use QuickBasic 4.5. I'll get my coat.

    1. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Welcome to the 21st Century

      Recomplie using QB64. Then you can compile your Quickbasic 4.5 code to Windows 32 & 64 bit, MacOS, or Linux. ( https://github.com/QB64Team/qb64/releases/tag/v1.5 )

      https://www.qb64.org/portal/

      1. pip25
        Happy

        Re: Welcome to the 21st Century

        Wow, that's awesome. Q(uick)Basic is what got me into programming all those years ago. It's great to see there's still a way to get my ancient projects to run. :D

  5. Potemkine! Silver badge
    Trollface

    Since when VB is in any way related to development or programming?

    1. Potemkine! Silver badge
      Mushroom

      People using VB are developers as people using smartphones are digital experts.

      1. My-Handle Silver badge

        As an (unwilling) VB developer, I resent that comment. Even though it may be true.

        1. Strahd Ivarius Bronze badge
          Unhappy

          Re: Colin Wilson 2 - Apple have got this right!

          I am still performing some programming using VB6, mainly because it can read and write without problem data files created by a QuickBasic program...

          It would take one or three month of full time programming to translate the QBasic program to a modern language, but I don't have the courage to do it yet...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "developers as people"

        I can't get my head around that one

      3. Ambivalous Crowboard

        No, no. You've got that all wrong.

        People are VB using developers are people as smartphones using digital experts.

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Devil

      VB used to be a decent rapid UI development tool that could assist writing a user interface in a short time, to help you test out ideas. Shipping a VB application to customers, however, DEFINITELY had its shortcomings.

      Still, the whole "Rapid development" thing made learning the basics (pun intended) worth doing.

      [then you'd re-write it in C or C++ or similar and ship THAT version, once the UI bugs and features were worked out]

  6. captain veg

    Petzold

    Learned Pascal and C at (what is now a) uni, but first job was in Pick shop, so back to BASIC. I tried to make my code as Pascal-like as I could, which bemused my colleagues.

    The PC revolution happened and I got a gig writing DOS programs. In C, natch, with some assembler. And then Windows took off. Like everyone else I acquired a copy of Charles Petzold's "Programming Windows" and was horrified to learn that simply putting the words "Hello, world" on the screen required 80 lines of code. That's why VB took off. Not because of BASIC, but the Visual part. You could put the words "Hello, world" on screen without writing a single line of code. The language itself was slow and pretty clunky, but you could still write the serious stuff in C and compile to a DLL and call that.

    The BASIC part got better over time, swallowing a lot of Pascal along the way and a little bit of Java. By the end, you hardly ever needed to code anything in C unless you were doing *very* low level stuff. All it really lacked was proper inheritance, strongly typed generics and the option to base collections at index zero instead of one. But instead they gave us the almost completely incompatible VB.NOT, so we switched to C# and, later, JavaScript.

    I've still got quite a lot of old code to maintain. Firing up the IDE is certainly a trip down memory lane, but it takes hardly any time to get back into the swing of it. There's precious little code-completion, and I miss the ability to just magic up an object without having to add a tedious boilerplate class definition -- in its very own source file -- but it's still perfectly usable. Even under Wine on Linux.

    Being able to target 64-bit platforms would be nice, but for new projects, no, I don't thinks so. When VB was king there was nothing like it for quickly knocking up a GUI. Now there's plenty of choice, and you don't have to fight the limitations of BASIC. Had something like this been around in 2002 it might have been a different matter. Right now, I don't see much point.

    -A.

  7. Version 1.0 Silver badge
    Happy

    I'd been coding for years and when VB appeared I thought it was horrible but I then discovered that if you are trying to demonstrate various functions to PhD's with expertise in non-coding areas of life, then VB code samples worked 100% all the time.

    I expect we'll see lots of "BASIC sucks" comments but move into the future and every comment we see will be applied to today's languages - saying that a coding method sucks tells everyone a lot more about the commenter than the language.

    1. TonyWilk

      Too true

      Once upon a time something which needed hitting could be solved with a rock, or anything heavy really.

      Now the hammer has to be a cool alloy subject to precise heat treatment with a sustainable-sourced particular wooden handle treated with unicorn sweat.

      Next week, the hammer spec. will have changed - so do try to keep up.

      A real engineer will use the tool they have to do a good job. Sod the fashion.

      Yes, I am too old, and have just been to the pub :)

      1. Robert Grant Silver badge

        Re: Too true

        I'm reasonably confident that the things built with rocks were not as good as the things built with proper tools.

        1. andy k O'Croydon

          Re: Too true

          A lot of castles and cathedrals are still standing. So are a couple of pyramids.

          1. Hero Protagonist

            Re: Too true

            The difference between rock as tool and rock as building material

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Too true

          Modern builders still use the same rule of thumb - if it falls down then you obviously didn't understand something properly. My house had a structural problem. The structural engineer said "ah yes - that was the approved standard in the 1970s - until the problems started to appear".

          People knew about stress cracks on sharp metal corners. A few Liberty ships sank - and Comet aeroplanes crashed - before people remembered you don't use square corner openings in a flexing structure.

  8. Ken Rennoldson

    Nuke it from orbit, it's the only way to be sure...

  9. Plest Bronze badge

    Why not bring back REXX too!

    Way back in 1995 I used Visual Basic for MSDOS to write a load of Ops utilities to automate and manage the overnight jobs I had to look after on the graveyard shift I worked. I loved VB-DOS as it was perfect for the DOS workhorse machines we had that didn't have Win31 installed. This was way before PowerShell was even a glint in Microsoft's eye.

    I have a fondness for VB the language but only nostalgia, it simply doesn't cut it given modern multi-threaded languages like Rust,Golang, Python even C#, plus langs like C++ are still going very strong. Leave VB in the past along with all those VB books we all bought and we should move on.

    1. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells

      Re: Why not bring back REXX too!

      I'm sure that VB6 had multithreading. Not that I disagree with the rest of your post.

      1. captain veg

        Re: Why not bring back REXX too!

        Only in as much as you could call pretty much any API function with varying degrees of pain. The ones related to threading caused an awful lot of pain. The language itself offered no support at all.

        -A.

      2. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: Why not bring back REXX too!

        VB6 had multithreading

        not multi-threading per se, as i recall. VB had a 'DoEvents()' [or similarly named] function that would call the message loop handler. It could make it LOOK like you were multi-threading. It's like cooperatively pre-emptive tasking.

        In fact, this was present in VB 1

        What I used to do for time consuming operations is disable the window that was doing the task by setting the 'Enabled' (I think that's right) properties to zero, then do the function that is time consuming while the hourglass cursor is visible, where the polling loop calls 'DoEvents()", and then fix it back once the operation is complete. typical example: waiting for DDE transactions or file transfers.

        1. captain veg

          Re: Why not bring back REXX too!

          Actually it was DoEvents without parentheses, in the classic BASIC style.

          -A.

    2. emag

      Re: Why not bring back REXX too!

      Ask and ye shall receive... http://regina-rexx.sourceforge.net/ (last update was 2015)

    3. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Why not bring back REXX too!

      REXX has its usage as well. But I prefer bash scripts and Perl. More powerful.

      1. Steve Aubrey

        Re: Why not bring back REXX too!

        There's something fond in my heart about Rexx (and XEdit) - simple and easy to program. Not for heavy lifting, no, but wonderful for one-off things. I may have to revisit Rexx . . .

  10. I code for the bacon
    Devil

    OK...

    Now young people will have the opportunity to live themselves the glory of the old days of "Invalid Property Value" or "On Error Resume Next"... Lovely.

    1. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells

      Re: OK...

      On Error Resume Next

      What do you mean? That was brilliant....

      It meant the terrible, awful code I wrote at 14 would work (for varying definitions of the word "work")

      1. captain veg

        Re: OK...

        Have to say that On Error GoTo Bed can often be a lot more succinct than Try... Catch.. Butterfingers. It treats exceptions as, well, exceptions, without interfering much with the normal program flow.

        -A.

        1. Dwarf Silver badge

          Re: OK...

          Very good re the butterfingers bit !

          That definitely needs to go in as a feature enhancement.

    2. alansingfield

      Re: OK...

      (Shudder)

      Brings back nightmares of being in the basement of a customer site, standing at the server rack debugging on a locked-down WinNT DEC Alpha through a crappy 640x480 KVM with a crusty trackball.

      Some of VB6's greatest hits:

      Method '~' of object '~' failed

      Binary Compatibility DLLs

      REGSVR32

      HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT, CLSID and InprocServer32

      You've never lived :-)

  11. ComputerSays_noAbsolutelyNo
    Windows

    Digital reenactment

    Many people, myself included, like to don medieval-ish attire and congregate at castles and markets with the like-minded.

    So, why not bring the hobby of reenactment into the digital age?

    In real life, I am an app developer for Android;

    but in my spare time, I am a VB6 developer.

  12. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    WTF?

    Visual Basic

    I'd rather nail my own head to a table than go there again.

    But then I'm biased because I used dephi

    1. TDog

      Re: Visual Basic

      It's funny you should mention that, I have just created a "Hire me to nail your head to a table" .exe. In VB6 of course. (Took half an hour to find the old stuff; 1/2 hour to write the .DLL back end and about 6 months to find someone to host it.)

    2. katrinab Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Visual Basic

      Indeed. The 16bit compiler in Delphi 1 was seriously fast compared to anything that has come before or afterwards.

    3. Sandgrounder

      Re: Visual Basic

      Delphi was the fixed version of VB4 that we all longed to use but work wouldn't go for it.

      If only Delphi had used C syntax rather than Pascal, it would most likely have conquered the world.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Visual Basic

        You mean something like Borland C++ Builder?

        1. Sandgrounder

          Re: Visual Basic

          No, from what little I remember, it was never in the same league as Delphi.

  13. Red Ted Silver badge
    Go

    It wasn't the only tool...

    ...but it was a useful one for doing a particular job, such as quickly knocking up a UI for the embedded systems I was developing.

    Unfortunately when the only tool you have is a hammer, all problems look like nails and so it got used for everything far beyond its means.

    It's inability to do bit manipulation and the utterly awful serial interface control added to the challenge!

    1. captain veg

      Re: It wasn't the only tool...

      I expect you're right about serial interfaces, but And, Or, Not and Xor are all bitwise in classic VB. This was broken with extreme prejudice in VB.NOT.

      -A.

      1. Red Ted Silver badge
        WTF?

        Re: It wasn't the only tool...

        "And, Or, Not and Xor are all bitwise in classic VB"

        Ah, perhaps they were, it is a while ago now, but there was certainly something that could trip you up. Perhaps there was automatic type conversion that could happen if you weren't careful how you handled the results... I certainly have the mental scars from problems of the type "0 <> 0"!

        1. captain veg

          Re: It wasn't the only tool...

          Not sure about your example, but sure, "If 3 And 4 Then..." would never be executed. Because, in C syntax, while 3 && 4 makes 1, 3 & 4 is zero. More fun awaited if you introduced Not.

          Of course, the answer was simple: "If 3 <> 0 And 4 <> 0 Then...".

          -A.

    2. spireite
      Trollface

      Re: It wasn't the only tool...

      No, there were plenty of tools who actually used it in their active development work

  14. karlkarl Silver badge

    What always made me shudder wasn't the VB6... it was the crusty ancient C++ code behind the VB6 VM and all the tooling.

    There was a lot of infrastructure there just to drag a button onto a visual form. The script interpreter is all behind closed doors, who knows what madness lies behind it (and still in Microsoft Office as VBA).

    I still can't decide if Microsoft were better developers back in the early 90's or if they are better now. Either way, I do not want to be near the code of one of their projects of this maginitude.

  15. codejunky Silver badge

    Nice

    "Visual Basic 6 was arguably the peak before it all went downhill for the language at Microsoft"

    No kidding. I took a shot at VB.NET, realised it had nothing to do with the gorgeous language it was riding the name of and so began my move away from windows part from gaming.

    I knocked out so many quick and useful programs as well as it being the language of my first employment. It had limitations but I found ways to make it use pointers where necessary (real memory pointers not 'byref'). I wrote plenty little utilities which I now script in python and bash which run on the command line.

    I doubt it would have much hope beyond hobby now as everyone moves towards the web (where giu's can be knocked up reasonably quick). I am one of those who argue the language was a well made tool which applied properly would easily bring rewards.

    1. karlkarl Silver badge

      Re: Nice

      "No kidding. I took a shot at VB.NET, realised it had nothing to do with the gorgeous language it was riding the name of and so began my move away from windows part from gaming."

      Microsoft did this so they didn't need to officially say they killed Visual Basic. Otherwise that would shine bad light on the lifespan of .NET.

      They are good at muddying up names to be fair. So many of my students honestly think that C# is the continuation of C++. That is fairly cringeworthy. Unfortunately C, being an open standard had no company backing it to defend the name.

      Trivia: C# was originally called Microsoft Cool before a last minute name change. How tacky is that!?

      1. captain veg

        Re: Nice

        Well, it could have been "kewl", I suppose.

        I never got why Java is so named.

        -A.

        1. crispert

          Re: Nice

          It's named after 'Java Coffee', which was a café where the language creators met. Additionally all .class files start with the bytes 'cafebabe'. Initially the language was known internally as 'Oak' after a tree in front of James Gosling's office at Sun.

      2. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells
        Paris Hilton

        Re: Nice

        > They are good at muddying up names to be fair.

        I was *very* surprised when a friend of mine told me he bought a Microsoft Surface a few years ago.

        It turns out he didn't mean the dining table sized touchscreen that that name was originally used for.

    2. Steve Todd Silver badge

      Re: Nice

      VB.NET may have had little to do with VB6, but at least MS used the opportunity to fix the faults and limitations of the language (Interface only inheritance, archaic error handling, 254 controls on a form, inconsistent array bases (some arrays are zero based, some are one based) to name a few).

      The problem was that VB.NET was so different that developers may as well have just learned C# instead, and some of the capabilities of C# weren’t provided in VB.NET.

  16. rdhma

    Ahahahaha I still have to use VB6 daily, in the form of VBA, as there is $/ £/ € millions worth of equipment at work that has no other API.

    1. captain veg

      And, as I recently discovered when attempting to run some ancient VBA code which called 32-bit API functions, or rather didn't, is now 64-bit in equally wordy versions of Office.

      -A.

  17. TheProf Silver badge

    Bring your VB projects to 21th [sic] century

    That's exactly the way we speak here in the 21th century.

    1. Zimmer
      Coat

      Re: Bring your VB projects to 21th [sic] century

      That was from a LISP programmer ....

      The one with the built-in crash helmet, please ===>

    2. captain veg

      Re: Bring your VB projects to 21th [sic] century

      One of my colleagues insists on writing [n]1rst, no matter how many times I tell him that we don't do that, ever, in English. He's French.

      -A.

  18. Ribald Gadfly

    Visual Basic had its place

    The software industry isn't short of prima donnas.

    Look at the posts here and see how people are critical of VB for speed and other perceived design issues. Trying to be superior and only exposting their own frailties.

    One of the main factors in selecting a development environment is selecting the right tool for the job.

    So never use Jave or C# for embeded code in a pacemaker - the garbage collection may just cause your heart to skip a beat, Literally.

    So should we kill the languages for these shortcomings? Of course not, they have many other uses. VB had as its strength and main weakness the fact that it was easy for beginners to get in and create useful applications. True, they were applications that were badly structured and written and left a lot to be desiredm but they allowed people to be productive.

    Yes, those of us who had a proper education in computing could look at it with scorn, or, leverage it's capabilities, enforce structure through standards and work past it's weaknesses. I chose the second approach

    As a VB interviewer I had a bit of a reputation as a hard nut, simply because I insisted on proper standards - using forms as classes, not in their native way, for example. Making sure that people understoof the difference between passing parameters by reference or by value and when to use them.

    This rigour made for productive teams and there were systems in use by large organisations for many years after - systems that were well maintained and supportable.

    More than that it enabled less traditionally capable people into the industry, who then learned the craft and good practice. We're all richer for their presence.

    If we'd have selected C++ or Delphi for these tasks, we'd have spent a heap more money. Delphi is great, but it's programmer base was smaller. (In fact when presented with a choice in the middle nineties as to a programming language, I wanted Delphi, but lost)

    In conclusion, to the VB critics - what you say, says more about you than the language.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Visual Basic had its place

      What you're saying is all true. If the question is "Which programming language is bad in exactly the right way to be almost optimally compatible with uneducated aspiring programmers?" then the answer could be VB. (The same goes for almost all MS products and has historically been the company's main strength when the market shares were still under competition.)

      But there are times when that is not the question to ask. Just saying.

      1. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells

        Re: Visual Basic had its place

        At age 14, that summed up my meeting VB6 (5?) exactly. I didn't have a clue. But it was so easy that I could make real looking GUI applications by drag and drop. Stick some Ask Jeevesed code under a button and instant reward. I wonder whether I'd do this for a living now if it wasn't for VB.

  19. Jon 37 Silver badge

    Trainwreck project plan

    The project plan on kickstarter is a trainwreck.

    (Edit: The Kickstarter has failed, but I'd written part of this analysis before I'd realised).

    *** What matters? ***

    For a project like this, I think the essential parts, most important first, are:

    1) Compiler & Runtime, for 32-bit Windows EXEs, with support for everything except database connectivity. This would be valuable, it would let people develop using the existing Microsoft Visual Basic IDE and compile and run their pre-existing code. Everything else is built on top of this!

    2) Form editor. This would allow people to develop new code, or modify existing code, without having to have bought a VB6 license. OK, might be a bit kludgy moving between a text editor and a separate form editor and a separate command-prompt to use to compile, but it would be doable. Without the compiler (1) this is useless.

    3) Support for other target types in the compiler - DLLs, ActiveX controls, etc. These are much less common than full Visual Basic EXEs, but are important for some people to replace VB fully. This is an improvement to the compiler (1).

    4) IDE with all the basic VB6 features except the debugger and database connectivity. This would include an improved, integrated version of the form editor from (2). Without the compiler (1) this is useless.

    5) Debugger. Would probably be built on the IDE (4), otherwise I'd have put this higher up the list.

    6) Database connectivity. Important for a whole bunch of apps, but at least SOME apps can be written without this.

    The nice-to-have features include:

    6) 64-bit support in the compiler and runtime (1).

    7) support for using 32-bit ActiveX controls in 64-bit code

    8) anything that's an improvement over Visual Basic. While improvements are nice, what people care about most is existing code and being able to replace the Visual Basic IDE with this.

    ....

    somewhere around number 526) the ability to change the theme in the IDE to "dark" or "light".

    *** So, what do they have now? ***

    Well, they have an IDE with a "form editor" that can create forms but can't load existing VB6-created forms, which means it is entirely suspect - if it was right it should be able to interoperate with the VB6 IDE. The IDE has a fancy text editor. It has support for "dark" and "light" themes!

    The compiler and runtime doesn't work, you can write "hello world" but there isn't even support for most of the VB language in the compiler, things like common loops are missing. The compiler only supports .exes.

    *** So, what do they promise? ***

    Well, a whole bunch of things, including all of the above, plus Git and Subversion integration, automatic code generation for GUIs that wrap databases, an Active Directory library, a plugin for the legacy VB6 IDE that lets you compile with the new compiler, ...

    *** How long is this going to take? ***

    According to the Kickstarter page, it will take one person 9 or 10 months.

    Despite the fact that Microsoft had many many programmers working on VB6 for years, this guy says he can do this project, that includes a LOT more than VB6, in just 10 months.

    Reality check: He can't.

    In my opinion, just getting all the "essential" parts from my list above done, will take one person perhaps 5 years. Then he's added another couple of years of extra complexity!

    And he's not tackling the most important bits first, so when the project fails, everything will be half-done and useless. If he just concentrated on a 32-bit VB6-compatible .exe compiler & runtime, then a buggy version 1.0 would probably be achievable in 10 months, and a year or two of bug reports and fixes would get something reasonable, especially if it's open source and he takes patches.

    *** What's the budget like? ***

    Another trainwreck. He's made the classic mistake of undervaluing everything.

    He's paying himself a salary for 10 months that's equivalent to £36k/year, which is low for a professional programmer with 15 years experience. There is no allowance for the fact that if/when he fails to deliver people will want refunds, so he should be pricing things higher to account for the high risk, so his risk/reward ratio is balanced. There is no allowance in case (when) the project runs long. He's selling "support" as part of the rewards, but hasn't allocated any money to pay for the time he's going to have to spend on support after the release is "done".

    He's trashed his future revenue source by promising "lifetime" discounts. Just... never do that. Anything claiming to be a "lifetime" benefit won't last that long, either the seller will find some small-print way to revoke it, or they'll flat out break their promise, or they'll go bust. All of those options will make your customers hate you. And he's included an 80% lifetime discount in some tiers!!!! You can't afford to keep that discount going forever.

    He's grossly undervalued the product. That's a mistake that's tricky to recover from. This is a VB6 replacement, pricing should be based off what VB pricing was. €120 for Enterprise Edition.. just no. Enterprise customers are the ones yelling "just take my money, give me the most shiny, I don't care how much it costs". €999 reduced to €499 for Kickstarter, maybe. And €95 for 5 professional licenses, that's €20 a seat for a company that's big enough to have a few developers... those developers are earning more than €95 per DAY EACH, why would you charge them so little?

  20. ecofeco Silver badge

    to quote Maxwell Smart...

    "If they had only used their powers for good instead of evil."

  21. steviebuk Silver badge

    Seems a bit suspect

    "And a final surprise: All backers before the event will have 20% lifetime discount for all RAD Basic products and renewal license."

    Will the event review nothing is available yet or that it might be a bit like Magic Leap?

  22. steviebuk Silver badge

    Loved it

    I started my college IT courses learning Pascal and then Visual Basic. Loved both. Wanted to be a programmer, so I thought. But I was shit at it. Visual Basic made it easier.

    Wrote a lottery number picker in Pascal then later converted it to Visual Basic but with less features than the Pascal version as didn't know how to code the extra features in Visual Basic.

    Wrote a martial arts membership database for my year assignment with it as I was doing martial arts at the time.

    Discovered how to do scrolling in it so did scrolling credits for the about box :)

    I loved it. Shame it turned out I was shit at programming so became a desktop engineer instead (which I find easier). Shame though as more money in programming.

    Recently booted up a Win 98se VM just so I could load my old projects into it as found the old CDs from 1998. Fixed a bug that was over 20 years old in my installer (don't know why I never worked it out at the time as was fairly easy to work out what the issue was). Stuck the video of the Lottery Number Picker onto my YouTube channel just so I have a record of it somewhere.

    Then I took a look back at Hotdog that also used to love :)

    1. Jay 2

      Re: Loved it

      My CompSci degree final year project was written in VB as I couldn't write C to save my life, which may explain why I'm a sys admin now. A lot of my friends used to joke about me using "Visual Painting". I also purchased a VBX to make my life easier which did lead to someone on my course making a comment that I'd "purchased my project". He was an idiot.

      Like some other commenters say, VB had it's place as a quick/easy tool to create some sort of demo/prototype or just as a handy Windows front end to a database (usually Access).

  23. AIBailey

    VB6 was the only programming tool I had to hand many years ago, when I found, abandoned in the corner of one of out IT store rooms, a receiver to pick up the time signal transmitted from Rugby. It was unused simply because it only had a support driver for Netware, and we already had time sync on the Netware network provided from another source. I think there was a Windows driver available, but at a fairly hefty cost.

    The instruction manual included details of the protocol it used, and so using VB6 I knocked together a program to read the stream from the serial port and set the system time on a Windows NT Lotus Notes admin server at regular intervals (I can't remember if it was overnight or weekly), meaning that our email system got proper synchronisation*

    VB might not have been a great system, and my program was a bit of a cludge, I guess, but it worked.

    * - I should say "mostly proper synchronisation", as despite the fact that there were CRC checks in order to ensure that the time signal was correct, I arrived to work one morning to find people were complaining that many of their emails he become unread, and new emails were appearing out of sequence. I assume that in some circumstances it was possible that the signal noise to occasionally flip enough bits so that the time signal and CRC value were both wrong but matching, and the server date and time had changed to something several years earlier. I fixed this by requiring the program to validate three successive time messages before making any clock changes.

    1. rdhma

      I looked at a similar issue back in the day.

      Safety could be ensured by adjusting the server clock only a small amount each day based on whether it was fast/ slow relative to the time signal. Over an extended period it will converge on the time signal and stay synced to it.

      A single totally wrong time signal would never make the server time wrong by more than a second or two.

  24. mikecoppicegreen

    Visual Basic Sucks

    But for a quick and dirty development, or for a tool for a skilled user, it got the job done.

  25. ROT13

    Gambas Basic Anyone?

    There's a project called Gambas which is very similar to Visual Basics that's tried and tested.

  26. trevorde Silver badge

    Right tool for the job

    Worked on a commercial product where the UI was done as Visual Basic ActiveX controls, hosted in a MFC app. The idea was the VB controls would call into C++ code to do all the logic, keeping the UI layer as thin as possible. Unfortunately, over time, due to VB's ease of use etc, the UI layer got thicker and thicker until, inevitably, most of the processing was being done in VB.

  27. J27 Silver badge

    Visual Basic 6 was a useful tool when it was released, but it's not suitable for new projects. Why? Everything it did well, simplicity, ease of use, etc is done better by newer systems that have better community support and better performance... Visual Basic 6's model doesn't even support multithreading.

  28. Sandgrounder

    Extreme VB Programming

    I learnt from a book all sorts of "proper"/extreme programming you could do with VB. Passing string pointers around, direct read and writes to memory locations, multithreading, accessing the real Windows API and best of all, how to hack MTS and COM+.

    Used it to great effect to help modernise an enormous and cumbersome MDI based VB application. Kept the MDI shell in place whilst rewriting the core functionality in C# using .NET 2002. Only needed a few calls to obtain the MDI child window handles and drop in the .NET forms into place and wire up the event handlers.

    My biggest learning of all - just because you can do it, doesn't mean you should.

    1. chololennon

      Re: Extreme VB Programming

      "I learnt from a book all sorts of "proper"/extreme programming you could do with VB. Passing string pointers around, direct read and writes to memory locations, multithreading, accessing the real Windows API and best of all, how to hack MTS and COM+."

      Was the book "Hardcore Visual Basic" from Bruce McKinney? I learned almost all those topics from that excellent book :-)

      1. Sandgrounder

        Re: Extreme VB Programming

        Yes, that would be the one. Great read.

  29. Tim99 Silver badge
    Windows

    If you really must…

    For cross-platform, and don’t mind paying, XOJO might be worth a look (it used to be REALbasic).

    Caveat: I stopped using VB at V4/5, but it was OK for prototyping screens to show to a punter. The included Crystal Reports was dreadful, and used a lot of memory - Surprisingly for simple CRUD applications with reports, MS Access was smaller and faster. We started prototyping with Access, and left a prototype with a customer (intending to move them to Oracle or whatever), until he said "Why is it just a prototype? We have tried it in production, and it is OK"; we moved him a SQL Server 4.2/6.0 backend (stored procedures, transactions, etc.) In 1996 we used the same ideas with the Access runtime, and sold them as shrink-wrap - I’m retired now, the company is still around, and they are still in use (with the current versions of Access and SQL Server). They work well for up to 50 concurrent users and 10s of millions of rows…

  30. chololennon
    Happy

    "Fond" memories

    As a guy who was a developer for Microsoft OSs in the 80's/90's (MSDOS/Windows) I used a lot of tools from Microsoft like (Visual)C++, (Visual)FoxPro, GW-Basic, QuickBasic, and of course, VisualBasic (I even used the version 1 for MS-DOS). The language/IDE was good, but it was way behind Borland's tools like Delphi or C++ Builder. I used it in big businesses projects, but it was a pain. Having said that, one of the best programming book I've ever read, was one related to Visual Basic, "Hardcore Visual Basic" from Bruce McKinney. It was very funny, useful, and with a lot of "secrets".

  31. Pirate Dave
    Pirate

    Well...

    I'd hit that. Yeah, I said it.

    I don't know why VB gets such wide hate. It was never meant for system development or for stuff like manipulating pixels in a video stream or fiddling with hardware. It was meant to be a way around having to learn the vagaries of programming Windows in C++. I looked at Windows programming in like 1991 and decided I'd rather keep working in a yarn mill than go that direction. I got a copy of VB 3 in '94 (after 4 or 5 years of DOS programming in Pascal and Assembly), and thought it was pretty neat. Beat the hell out of learning all of the Win16 stuff, IMHO. Drag and drop, then add the needed code.

    I know there was a lot of shitty code put out by non-programmers (ie - managers) who could suddenly make something that looked important, but had no discipline in how they did things. But that wasn't the fault of VB.

    Oh, and it had an IDE that loaded in, eh, half a second, even on a 4-Meg machine, didn't require a Java runtime, and had actual, non-web-linked context-sensitive help when you highlighted and pressed F1. Shit, that was awesome stuff in the mid 90's.

  32. SecretSonOfHG

    Will ActiveX be back??

    Let's have again a component model that allows for local execution of arbitrary binaries and exposes RPC calls over the network. The security community is surely welcoming that.

  33. Nightcrawler

    I'm always amazed by the hate directed at VB.

    I used VB6 extensively and worked on some great enterprise level applications. They were well written, maintainable and more than fit for purpose.

    Some of these large scale applications are still running today.

    The main downsides in VB6 I can think of are:

    Int type was too small (basically a small int)

    The interfaces were a bit of a fudge

    Constructors were limited

    Scoping was limited (but adequate)

    Threading was difficult (but could be done with ActiveX for example)

    I have a lot of fond memories of working in VB6 - and I would be able to do so again if the need arose.

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