We would like to suggest a path for the future development of Visual Basic 6 (VB6) and VBA that helps Microsoft align its long-term strategies with those of its customers.
This path will also help Microsoft reconnect with the Visual Basic developer community and continue support for the Office developer community.
We ask that Microsoft further develop VB6 and VBA, in order to meet these objectives (in order of perceived importance):
1. Preservation of assets
Future versions of VB6/VBA should:
- Use existing VB6/VBA projects without extensive conversion;
- Support the core VB6/VBA Visual Basic language and syntax;
- Compile existing projects and produce identical results.
2. Continued support for the Visual Basic language
Microsoft should demonstrate a commitment to the core Visual Basic language. This core should be enhanced and extended, and changes should follow a documented deprecation process.
3. Ease of migration of unmanaged VB/VBA code to VB.NET
The decisions of if, how, and when to migrate code to .NET should lie with the customer. Some may choose to remain with unmanaged VB, especially for legacy code bases. Some will use only VB.NET, others a mix. A future version of VB6/VBA should treat all these options as valid, while making it easy to move among them.
We believe the best way to meet these objectives is for Microsoft to include an updated version of VB6 inside the Visual Studio IDE. For brevity we'll call this update "VB.COM".
VB.COM should use the same keywords, syntax and types as VB6, remain COM-based, and compile to native code. Visual Studio would then support both unmanaged VB.COM and managed VB.NET, as it now supports both [unmanaged] C++ and [managed] C#.
With both VBs in the same IDE, it should be possible to extend the development environment to provide a high degree of interoperation between them. That will allow the developer to use both in the same solution, with the interop handled seamlessly by the framework.
By providing a new version of a COM-based Visual Basic within the Visual Studio IDE, Microsoft will help maintain the value of its clients' existing code, demonstrate its ongoing commitment to the core Visual Basic language, and greatly simplify the adoption of VB.NET by those that wish to do so.
This mirrors the approach taken for the C language and enhances the viability of VB.NET while preserving customers' assets. By continuing development of both managed and unmanaged Visual Basic, Microsoft will demonstrate their commitment to their entire developer community.
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