Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Supporting Visual Basic 6

It's very interesting to see that old VB6 is still being used by a very large number of developers. When I started to develop my component products, I always thought that the safest bet would be to provide a very low-level C API and use it to build higher-level components in C# for the .NET world.

This experience has been quite easy because the .NET Framework has lots of classes and mechanisms to suport marshalling and binary data conversions, so the supporting API can really be made very basic indeed. Not so with VB6.

Visual Basic 6 is a very old progamming language and (I think) it lacks the skills required to qualify as a systems development language. My case is quite simple. After shipping the first version of DesktopSqlCe (which only supported C and .NET), I started to get a lot of requests to port the higher level code to Visual Basic 6. And that is the unfortunate work I am doing right now.

My major gripe is the apparent lack of functions to convert from the language types to binary streams (C++: why do you need functions for that ???). The .NET Frameworks has a bewildering number of conversion classes, but VB6 lacks almost everything. Bottom line: I am adding a lot more functions to the low-level API so that VB6 can talk to it...

And yes, I am adding VARIANT support to the code...

1 comment:

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