What are the advantages of C# over VB.NET and vice versa?

What are the advantages of C# over VB.NET and vice versa?

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The choice between C# and VB.NET is largely one of subjective preference. Some people like C#'s terse syntax, others like VB.NET's natural language, case-insensitive approach. Both have access to the same framework libraries. Both will perform largely equivalently (with a few small differences which are unlikely to affect most people, assuming VB.NET is used with Option Strict on). Learning the .NET framework itself is a much bigger issue than learning either of the languages, and it's perfectly possible to become fluent in both - so don't worry too much about which to plump for. There are, however, a few actual differences which may affect your decision:

VB.NET Advantages
  • Support for optional parameters - very handy for some COM interoperability
  • Support for late binding with Option Strict off - type safety at compile time goes out of the window, but legacy libraries which don't have strongly typed interfaces become easier to use.
  • Support for named indexers (aka properties with parameters).
  • Various legacy VB functions (provided in the Microsoft.VisualBasic namespace, and can be used by other languages with a reference to the Microsoft.VisualBasic.dll). Many of these can be harmful to performance if used unwisely, however, and many people believe they should be avoided for the most part.
  • The with construct: it's a matter of debate as to whether this is an advantage or not, but it's certainly a difference.
  • Simpler (in expression - perhaps more complicated in understanding) event handling, where a method can declare that it handles an event, rather than the handler having to be set up in code.
  • The ability to implement interfaces with methods of different names. (Arguably this makes it harder to find the implementation of an interface, however.)
  • Catch ... When ... clauses, which allow exceptions to be filtered based on runtime expressions rather than just by type.
  • The VB.NET part of Visual Studio .NET compiles your code in the background. While this is considered an advantage for small projects, people creating very large projects have found that the IDE slows down considerably as the project gets larger.
C# Advantages
  • XML documentation generated from source code comments. (This is coming in VB.NET with Whidbey (the code name for the next version of Visual Studio and .NET), and there are tools which will do it with existing VB.NET code already.)
  • Operator overloading - again, coming to VB.NET in Whidbey.
  • Language support for unsigned types (you can use them from VB.NET, but they aren't in the language itself). Again, support for these is coming to VB.NET in Whidbey.
  • The using statement, which makes unmanaged resource disposal simple.
  • Explicit interface implementation, where an interface which is already implemented in a base class can be reimplemented separately in a derived class. Arguably this makes the class harder to understand, in the same way that member hiding normally does.
  • Unsafe code. This allows pointer arithmetic etc, and can improve performance in some situations. However, it is not to be used lightly, as a lot of the normal safety of C# is lost (as the name implies). Note that unsafe code is still managed code, i.e. it is compiled to IL, JITted, and run within the CLR.

Despite the fact that the above list appears to favour VB.NET (if you don't mind waiting for Whidbey), many people prefer C#'s terse syntax enough to make them use C# instead.

[Author: Jon Skeet]

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  • Hi,

    after writing a C# application that automated both Word and Outlook, I found the lack of optional parameters a real pain. Any change of this functionality being added to the language or providing more intelligent wrappers for the COM objects so that I do not always have to explicitly provide the optional parameters.
  • You forgot to mention the Catch ... When syntax which C# inexplicably lacks.
  • ... and the C# "using" statement.
  • Read my article http://www.codeproject.com/dotnet/dnlp.asp
  • I like the event management of VB.NET (Handles clause)
  • I wonder how often the C#-only feature of being able to reimplement an interface in a derived class which was already implemented by a base class is used?
  • Added some of the points above.
  • Note this link: http://weblogs.asp.net/rpooley/posts/21818.aspx

    We have large VB projects that are unusable in VB.Net due to the size of the project. If your solution is likely to include a large number of classes, I would strongly recommend c#
  • One omission:

    VB.NET is CLS only. This has certain implications. I, personally, love unsigned data types. Though you can always use the structs.
  • I'm not sure I'd consider the background compilation of VB.NET a <i>language</i> consideration, but I'll note it anyway. (For small projects, I'm sure many would consider it an advantage.)

    On the "CLS-only" front, I've already noted that C# has unsigned data types in the language and VB.NET doesn't - anything more you'd like me to include there?
  • > anything more you'd like me to include there?

    unsafe code and DllImport.

    About "Explicit interface implementation" how in VB can you implement a private interface (that also uses private types) in a public class without it ?
  • I can't believe I left unsafe code out - bizarre. I'll fix that now.

    I'm not a VB.NET programmer, but is there really no equivalent of DllImport in VB.NET?

    Not sure what you mean about the private interfaces business, I'm afraid... could you give an example?
  • DllImport : VB and C# produce different signatures


    If you're a VB.NET programmer, note that when you use Declare statements, the compiler emits PInvoke signatures that automatically set SetLastError to true. (C# forces you to opt-in because having the CLR track the last error is slightly slower than not tracking it.)

    private interfaces :
    internal interface IFoo {
    void Foo();
    internal interface IBar {
    void Bar(Ifoo foo);

    public class FooBar : IBar {
    // in C# i will explicit implement it, in VB ?
  • I'll look more carefully at the DllImport business, but I think the private interface thing works. In VB.NET it's:

    Imports System

    Friend Interface IFoo
    Sub Foo
    End Interface

    Friend Interface IBar
    Sub Bar(ByVal foo as IFoo)
    End Interface

    Class Test
    Implements IBar

    Overridable Sub Bar(ByVal foo as IFoo) Implements IBar.Bar
    End Sub

    End Class

    Given this, I should probably remove explicit interface implementation from the C# list... unfortunately I don't know VB.NET well enough to be absolutely sure.
  • please reply me as soon as possible about the
    advantages of vb.net over vb6 by comparison.
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