S. Somasegar is the corporate vice president of the Developer Division at Microsoft. Learn more about Somasegar.
A couple of weeks ago, I was doing a couple of on-line chat sessions with our worldwide MVPs. This was the first time I was doing one of these sessions and going in I wasn’t sure how effective or productive such sessions would be. It was incredible to see the level of participation and questions that kept flowing in non-stop for the 2 hours that I did this. Clearly, there is a lot of enthusiasm for people to have a 2-way dialog with us that I really enjoyed and appreciate. I am actually waiting for when I get my next opportunity to do one of these sessions.
A couple of the people in that session had some questions for me around our commitment to VB in the .NET world. I was a little surprised by these questions. That made me think more and I wanted to share with you my thoughts on this.
When I’m with VB developers, I hear things like “all the samples are in C#”, and when I’m with C# developers, I hear “VB At the Movies, the VB Power Pack – what about us?” I guess we must be doing something right J.
Getting back to the question though, let me talk about how serious we are about Visual Basic – we’re 120% committed to the language and the product not just today but for a long, long, long time to come, as we have been in the last decade now. I know that when we moved from VB6 to VB.NET, we broke compatibility and that is a sore point with some of our developer customers. It was a huge decision that we did not take lightly at that time. The trade-off clearly was making a leapfrog jump in innovation as we moved to the .NET platform versus ensuring full compatibility. We are bringing back some of the features that our VB developers have come to love like Edit and Continue in Visual Studio 2005. Nevertheless, I do understand that people need to go through a migration process to make the jump from VB6 to VB.Net. We have provided a variety of things including migration wizards, prescriptive guidance, etc. to make the migration simpler and will continue doing more here.
Today, we have well over 100 people in my division devoted to Visual Basic (program management, dev, test, user education, support). VB, by using the .NET framework, gets great performance, and we have a number of customer success stories including Seattle Avionics, Stampin’ Up!, Analog Devices (ADI), Ontario Air Ambulance, Delaware Department of Education, Partnership for Strong Families and many more. We know you’ve noticed because we’ve seen a substantial increase in the number of you using Visual Basic .NET over the last year.
I think that some of the questioning comes because many Microsoft employees with blogs show code in C#, and the framework, as originally shipped, was largely written in C#. Well – we’ve said all along that you get to make the language choice for targeting the .NET platform - if you are a VB developer, VB.NET is absolutely a great choice. Here at Microsoft, we do the same thing. While many of our product developers are C++ developers and now code in C++ and C#, our internal systems have typically been written in VB6, and now are being written in VB.NET. In fact, some of our core applications which are used to manage our personnel, office space and annual performance reviews, are Windows Forms applications written in Visual Basic on the .NET platform.
But it goes further than that. In Visual Studio 2005, we’re using VB for some of the framework classes, and there are portions of the VS IDE written in VB. Bet you can’t guess which ones from the beta J. You see, we really do mean it when we suggest you pick the language that you’re most comfortable with – that’s what we’ve done internally and VB is absolutely a core part of our bet and strategy.
For another take on this issue, check out Paul Vick’s blog article: The “Native” .NET Language?