Microsoft Cloud Authors: Jim Kaskade, Lori MacVittie, Andreas Grabner, Janakiram MSV, Pat Romanski

Related Topics: Microsoft Cloud

Microsoft Cloud: Article

Converting VB6 to VB.NET, Part I

A Look at Your Options and When to Use Them

If you're one of the many who have VB6 code, you have three basic options: stay with VB6, convert to .NET, or rewrite from scratch. In this article, we will look at converting VB6 code to VB.NET and C#. I'll discuss when it makes sense to convert versus staying with VB6 or rewriting from scratch. I will cover what converts well and what does not, different ways to do the conversion, how to get code ready to convert, and handling issues after the conversion.

Executive Overview
First, let's get an executive-level overview of where VB6 and VB.NET are at in their life cycles. Note that when I mention VB.NET in this article, I mean all three versions (2002, 2003, 2005). When I talk about a specific version, I will specify the version (such as VB.NET 2002). With the advances in VB.NET 2003, as well as its compatibility with VB.NET 2002, there is little reason to migrate to, or stay with, VB.NET 2002. VB.NET 2005 is still an unstable beta, so the focus here will be on converting to VB.NET 2003.

For those of you who wish to stay with VB6, the key fact is that VB6 developer licenses are perpetual, so developers who have licenses can continue to develop in VB6 for as long as they wish. However, VB6 was released in January 1999 and is approaching six years of age. As a result, it is near the end of its life (VB 1.0 was originally released in 1990). VB6 no longer exists as a stand-alone product - mainstream support ends in about six months - and all support will end three years after that. Currently, to get a new VB6 license, you must either buy VB.NET and then request a VB6 downgrade disk (for about $20), or get an MSDN subscription and download it from the archives. However, I wouldn't be surprised to see these dates extended.

VB6 can be a viable option for small- to medium-sized programs with limited lifespans, for several years to come. But for large, long-term projects that will need to be maintained for a number of years, VB6 is rapidly becoming a non-option.

VB.NET was in widespread beta, with some commercial applications shipping in 2001. Release 1.0 came in 2002 and version 1.1 showed up in 2003. VB.NET is clearly ready for primetime. As a bonus, Mainsoft Corp., Mono, and Portable.NET are preparing to take VB.NET code cross-platform.

VB.NET can be cheap; many VB6 developers are MSDN members and already have access to VB.NET. The stand-alone VB.NET product is about $110, and adventuresome folk can download a free copy of VB.NET 2005 that contains the upgrade wizard at lab.msdn.microsoft.com/vs2005/get/default.aspx. A DVD (or CD) of the VS2005 Enterprise version beta can be ordered for a shipping and handling fee from the same Web page. Serious developers and corporations will typically have one of the more expensive MSDN subscriptions and access to all of this and more.

If you have VB6 code, your main choices are to stay with VB6, convert the code to VB.NET or C#, or rewrite the code from scratch in VB.NET, C#, or Java. If you plan to rewrite in Java, you are probably reading the wrong article (and probably the wrong magazine; may I suggest our fine sister publication JDJ).

Whether or not to convert a program is always a case-by-case decision, driven by several competing factors such as the quality of the original code, cost, programmer availability, customer base, etc. On one hand, the only clear case where not going through at least a trial conversion would make sense is if the product is at the end of its life, with only bug fixes being implemented, and no plans for future versions. On the other hand, few large VB6 programs will convert to VB.NET without some significant rewriting. In almost all cases, I think going through at least a quick "probe" conversion is a good exercise for almost all projects - even if the converted code is not used, some valuable lessons will be learned.

Although the focus of this article will be on VB6 to VB.NET conversions, those of you moving to C# or looking at a complete VB.NET rewrite can still benefit from a conversion to VB.NET. For those of you looking at moving to C#, there are several tools (we will take a quick look at a couple of them later) that convert VB.NET to C# (and back), so it makes sense to convert to VB.NET as a step on the way to C#. If you're planning to do a complete rewrite to either VB.NET or C#, you can use the VB.NET conversion wizard to get a head start. In most programs, there are blocks of code that implement algorithms or business logic. These blocks of converted code can be pasted into a new project, speeding development for those choosing to do a complete rewrite.

Also consider that there are different levels and methods of conversion. If you have an ActiveX control written in VB6, a true conversion would be to rewrite it as a WinForm control in VB.NET. A better option might be to wrap the control in a .NET wrapper and use it from .NET while converting and testing. Shipping a VB6 ActiveX control with a .NET application can complicate the install because the VB runtime and associated files must also be installed. This is the same installation that is required if the control is installed with a VB6 application, but it is obviously more complex than the simple XCopy install of pure .NET applications.

Another way in which this ActiveX wrapper trick can be used is on forms that do not convert well, regardless of the reason. If the form can be moved to a separate project that was created as an ActiveX control project, the resulting ActiveX control can be added to a replacement form in VB6 or to a VB.NET project. Any form that can be separated from the rest of the program in this manner can be converted to an ActiveX control and used from .NET using .NET's built-in interop capabilities. In addition, we will see that most simple DLLs can be easily used directly from .NET.

In converting from VB6 to VB.NET 2003, three areas will be looked at: general VB6 code, ADO database code, and ASP Web page code. In this article, I concentrate on using the upgrade wizard to convert general VB code to VB.NET. In the future articles, I will finish general conversion issues, covering ADO, ASP, C#, and VB.NET 2005.

Before We Even Start
Remove dead code; you cannot have trouble with code you do not convert. Remove variables that are never used and subroutines that are never called. I converted one application that was large enough to have a number of associated programs, such as configuration programs, format converters, upgrade tools, and some ActiveX controls. Most of these utilities shared header files (WIN32 API declare statements and user type definitions) with the main application, but most of these programs only used a few of the functions in the headers. Other applications did not use anything in some of the headers. By removing the unused files and functions from the project, I was able to convert all the utilities much quicker. This allowed some functionality to be shown quickly, and provided the experience needed to tackle the main application.

More Stories By Dennis Hayes

Dennis Hayes is a programmer at Georgia Tech in Atlanta Georgia where he writes software for the Adult Cognition Lab in the Psychology Department. He has been involved with the Mono project for over six years, and has been writing the Monkey Business column for over five years.

Comments (2)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.

@ThingsExpo Stories
You think you know what’s in your data. But do you? Most organizations are now aware of the business intelligence represented by their data. Data science stands to take this to a level you never thought of – literally. The techniques of data science, when used with the capabilities of Big Data technologies, can make connections you had not yet imagined, helping you discover new insights and ask new questions of your data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sarbjit Sarkaria, data science team lead ...
A completely new computing platform is on the horizon. They’re called Microservers by some, ARM Servers by others, and sometimes even ARM-based Servers. No matter what you call them, Microservers will have a huge impact on the data center and on server computing in general. Although few people are familiar with Microservers today, their impact will be felt very soon. This is a new category of computing platform that is available today and is predicted to have triple-digit growth rates for some ...
In past @ThingsExpo presentations, Joseph di Paolantonio has explored how various Internet of Things (IoT) and data management and analytics (DMA) solution spaces will come together as sensor analytics ecosystems. This year, in his session at @ThingsExpo, Joseph di Paolantonio from DataArchon, will be adding the numerous Transportation areas, from autonomous vehicles to “Uber for containers.” While IoT data in any one area of Transportation will have a huge impact in that area, combining sensor...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Transparent Cloud Computing (T-Cloud) Consortium will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. The Transparent Cloud Computing Consortium (T-Cloud Consortium) will conduct research activities into changes in the computing model as a result of collaboration between "device" and "cloud" and the creation of new value and markets through organic data proces...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Niagara Networks will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Niagara Networks offers the highest port-density systems, and the most complete Next-Generation Network Visibility systems including Network Packet Brokers, Bypass Switches, and Network TAPs.
Everyone knows that truly innovative companies learn as they go along, pushing boundaries in response to market changes and demands. What's more of a mystery is how to balance innovation on a fresh platform built from scratch with the legacy tech stack, product suite and customers that continue to serve as the business' foundation. In his General Session at 19th Cloud Expo, Michael Chambliss, Head of Engineering at ReadyTalk, will discuss why and how ReadyTalk diverted from healthy revenue an...
SYS-CON Media announced today that @WebRTCSummit Blog, the largest WebRTC resource in the world, has been launched. @WebRTCSummit Blog offers top articles, news stories, and blog posts from the world's well-known experts and guarantees better exposure for its authors than any other publication. @WebRTCSummit Blog can be bookmarked ▸ Here @WebRTCSummit conference site can be bookmarked ▸ Here
Intelligent machines are here. Robots, self-driving cars, drones, bots and many IoT devices are becoming smarter with Machine Learning. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Sudha Jamthe, CEO of IoTDisruptions.com, will discuss the next wave of business disruption at the junction of IoT and AI, impacting many industries and set to change our lives, work and world as we know it.
In today's uber-connected, consumer-centric, cloud-enabled, insights-driven, multi-device, global world, the focus of solutions has shifted from the product that is sold to the person who is buying the product or service. Enterprises have rebranded their business around the consumers of their products. The buyer is the person and the focus is not on the offering. The person is connected through multiple devices, wearables, at home, on the road, and in multiple locations, sometimes simultaneously...
Established in 1998, Calsoft is a leading software product engineering Services Company specializing in Storage, Networking, Virtualization and Cloud business verticals. Calsoft provides End-to-End Product Development, Quality Assurance Sustenance, Solution Engineering and Professional Services expertise to assist customers in achieving their product development and business goals. The company's deep domain knowledge of Storage, Virtualization, Networking and Cloud verticals helps in delivering ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Hitrons Solutions will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Hitrons Solutions Inc. is distributor in the North American market for unique products and services of small and medium-size businesses, including cloud services and solutions, SEO marketing platforms, and mobile applications.
The Internet of Things (IoT), in all its myriad manifestations, has great potential. Much of that potential comes from the evolving data management and analytic (DMA) technologies and processes that allow us to gain insight from all of the IoT data that can be generated and gathered. This potential may never be met as those data sets are tied to specific industry verticals and single markets, with no clear way to use IoT data and sensor analytics to fulfill the hype being given the IoT today.
OnProcess Technology has announced it will be a featured speaker at @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1 - 3, 2016, in Santa Clara, California. Dan Gettens, OnProcess’ Chief Analytics Officer, will discuss how Internet of Things (IoT) data can be leveraged to predict product failures, improve uptime and slash costly inventory stock. @ThingsExpo is an annual gathering of IoT and cloud developers, practitioners and thought-leaders who exchange ideas and insights on topics ranging from Big Data in...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Enzu will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Enzu’s mission is to be the leading provider of enterprise cloud solutions worldwide. Enzu enables online businesses to use its IT infrastructure to their competitive advantage. By offering a suite of proven hosting and management services, Enzu wants companies to focus on the core of their online busine...
The explosion of new web/cloud/IoT-based applications and the data they generate are transforming our world right before our eyes. In this rush to adopt these new technologies, organizations are often ignoring fundamental questions concerning who owns the data and failing to ask for permission to conduct invasive surveillance of their customers. Organizations that are not transparent about how their systems gather data telemetry without offering shared data ownership risk product rejection, regu...
The Open Connectivity Foundation (OCF), sponsor of the IoTivity open source project, and AllSeen Alliance, which provides the AllJoyn® open source IoT framework, today announced that the two organizations’ boards have approved a merger under the OCF name and bylaws. This merger will advance interoperability between connected devices from both groups, enabling the full operating potential of IoT and representing a significant step towards a connected ecosystem.
November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Penta Security is a leading vendor for data security solutions, including its encryption solution, D’Amo. By using FPE technology, D’Amo allows for the implementation of encryption technology to sensitive data fields without modification to schema in the database environment. With businesses having their data become increasingly more complicated in their mission-critical applications (such as ERP, CRM, HRM), continued ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Embotics, the cloud automation company, will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Embotics is the cloud automation company for IT organizations and service providers that need to improve provisioning or enable self-service capabilities. With a relentless focus on delivering a premier user experience and unmatched customer support, Embotics is the fas...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloudbric, a leading website security provider, will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Cloudbric is an elite full service website protection solution specifically designed for IT novices, entrepreneurs, and small and medium businesses. First launched in 2015, Cloudbric is based on the enterprise level Web Application Firewall by Penta Security Sys...
Smart Cities are here to stay, but for their promise to be delivered, the data they produce must not be put in new siloes. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mathias Herberts, Co-founder and CTO of Cityzen Data, will deep dive into best practices that will ensure a successful smart city journey.