Visual Basic Power Packs

Ever since it introduced Visual Basic .Net some six years ago, Microsoft has been striving to have developers jump the VB6 wagon and onto the .Net one. Being a VB6er myself I can sympathize with all those who still find it difficult to do so.

Migrating VB6 code to VB .Net is at best, a helluva task. Especially if you were like me, everything in one EXE file. No DLLs, no business logic and no stored procedures. In other words no logical architecture of any kind. All SQL statements where adhoc (inline SQL statements) which means amongst other things poor performance and almost no security whatsoever.

I started with VB3 as an amateur and things kinda evolved from there. Proper solution design was not something to look for in an application. Does it work? Does it do the job? Performance and security came in at a distant second.

The truth of the matter lies in realizing that VB .Net is NOT the same language as VB6. It looks the same, tastes the same but isn’t the same at all. In my opinion it is, almost always, best to rewrite the entire application. But that is not always feasible. Some of these applications have been years in the making, with literally thousands and thousands of man hours in the making.

Microsoft realizes that and have therefore introduced the ‘Visual Basic Power Packs’, later herein VBPP. Officially ‘Power Packs are free Add-Ins, Controls, Components, and Tools for you to use with Visual Basic 2005 to make developing great applications even easier.’ In simple English, they’re new tools to ease the transition from VB6 to .Net. To sort of, phase in the transition. To create a familiar environment for VB6ers, one that was alienated by Visual Studio 2002 and 2003.

VBPP includes the ‘Microsoft Interop Forms Toolkit’ which allows you to open .Net forms in VB6 applications, thus ‘instead of upgrading the entire code base, (VB6) applications can now be extended one form at a time’. VBPP also includes the ‘Microsoft Printer Compatibility Library’ which ‘allows projects that used the Printer and Printers Collection in Visual Basic 6.0 to be upgraded without having to re-write your printing logic’.

Now, Microsoft will also bring the ‘Data Repeater Control’ to VBPP which ‘is similar to DataRepeater control found in Visual Basic 6.0 but it’s even simpler to use because you do not need create a UserControl first. All you do is simply drag and drop your dataset to the Repeater control and the designer will generate the controls for you’.

And ‘Line and Shape Controls’ with which you can ‘add graphics to your Windows Form at design time just like you did in Visual Basic 6.0′. You can vote on which of these you’d like to see first.

Find out more about Visual Basic Power Packs here http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/vbasic/aa701257.aspx.

Enjoy!

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