Welcome!

.NET Authors: ITinvolve Blog, Andreas Grabner, Aditya Banerjee, Jayaram Krishnaswamy, Pat Romanski

Related Topics: .NET

.NET: 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.

Options
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
DevOps Summit 2015 New York, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that it is now accepting Keynote Proposals. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long development cycles that produce software that is obsolete at launch. DevOps may be disruptive, but it is essential.
Almost everyone sees the potential of Internet of Things but how can businesses truly unlock that potential. The key will be in the ability to discover business insight in the midst of an ocean of Big Data generated from billions of embedded devices via Systems of Discover. Businesses will also need to ensure that they can sustain that insight by leveraging the cloud for global reach, scale and elasticity.
“With easy-to-use SDKs for Atmel’s platforms, IoT developers can now reap the benefits of realtime communication, and bypass the security pitfalls and configuration complexities that put IoT deployments at risk,” said Todd Greene, founder & CEO of PubNub. PubNub will team with Atmel at CES 2015 to launch full SDK support for Atmel’s MCU, MPU, and Wireless SoC platforms. Atmel developers now have access to PubNub’s secure Publish/Subscribe messaging with guaranteed ¼ second latencies across PubNub’s 14 global points-of-presence. PubNub delivers secure communication through firewalls, proxy ser...
The industrial software market has treated data with the mentality of “collect everything now, worry about how to use it later.” We now find ourselves buried in data, with the pervasive connectivity of the (Industrial) Internet of Things only piling on more numbers. There’s too much data and not enough information. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Bob Gates, Global Marketing Director, GE’s Intelligent Platforms business, to discuss how realizing the power of IoT, software developers are now focused on understanding how industrial data can create intelligence for industrial operations. Imagine ...
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
The true value of the Internet of Things (IoT) lies not just in the data, but through the services that protect the data, perform the analysis and present findings in a usable way. With many IoT elements rooted in traditional IT components, Big Data and IoT isn’t just a play for enterprise. In fact, the IoT presents SMBs with the prospect of launching entirely new activities and exploring innovative areas. CompTIA research identifies several areas where IoT is expected to have the greatest impact.
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
The Internet of Things promises to transform businesses (and lives), but navigating the business and technical path to success can be difficult to understand. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sean Lorenz, Technical Product Manager for Xively at LogMeIn, demonstrated how to approach creating broadly successful connected customer solutions using real world business transformation studies including New England BioLabs and more.
Connected devices and the Internet of Things are getting significant momentum in 2014. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, examined three key elements that together will drive mass adoption of the IoT before the end of 2015. The first element is the recent advent of robust open source protocols (like AllJoyn and WebRTC) that facilitate M2M communication. The second is broad availability of flexible, cost-effective storage designed to handle the massive surge in back-end data in a world where timely analytics is e...
"There is a natural synchronization between the business models, the IoT is there to support ,” explained Brendan O'Brien, Co-founder and Chief Architect of Aria Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at the 15th International Cloud Expo®, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The Internet of Things will put IT to its ultimate test by creating infinite new opportunities to digitize products and services, generate and analyze new data to improve customer satisfaction, and discover new ways to gain a competitive advantage across nearly every industry. In order to help corporate business units to capitalize on the rapidly evolving IoT opportunities, IT must stand up to a new set of challenges. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jeff Kaplan, Managing Director of THINKstrategies, will examine why IT must finally fulfill its role in support of its SBUs or face a new round of...
We’re no longer looking to the future for the IoT wave. It’s no longer a distant dream but a reality that has arrived. It’s now time to make sure the industry is in alignment to meet the IoT growing pains – cooperate and collaborate as well as innovate. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, will examine the key ingredients to IoT success and identify solutions to challenges the industry is facing. The deep industry expertise behind this presentation will provide attendees with a leading edge view of rapidly emerging IoT oppor...
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, discussed how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money!
The BPM world is going through some evolution or changes where traditional business process management solutions really have nowhere to go in terms of development of the road map. In this demo at 15th Cloud Expo, Kyle Hansen, Director of Professional Services at AgilePoint, shows AgilePoint’s unique approach to dealing with this market circumstance by developing a rapid application composition or development framework.

ARMONK, N.Y., Nov. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --  IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that it is bringing a greater level of control, security and flexibility to cloud-based application development and delivery with a single-tenant version of Bluemix, IBM's platform-as-a-service. The new platform enables developers to build ap...

There is no doubt that Big Data is here and getting bigger every day. Building a Big Data infrastructure today is no easy task. There are an enormous number of choices for database engines and technologies. To make things even more challenging, requirements are getting more sophisticated, and the standard paradigm of supporting historical analytics queries is often just one facet of what is needed. As Big Data growth continues, organizations are demanding real-time access to data, allowing immediate and actionable interpretation of events as they happen. Another aspect concerns how to deliver ...
The Industrial Internet revolution is now underway, enabled by connected machines and billions of devices that communicate and collaborate. The massive amounts of Big Data requiring real-time analysis is flooding legacy IT systems and giving way to cloud environments that can handle the unpredictable workloads. Yet many barriers remain until we can fully realize the opportunities and benefits from the convergence of machines and devices with Big Data and the cloud, including interoperability, data security and privacy.
Building low-cost wearable devices can enhance the quality of our lives. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Sai Yamanoor, Embedded Software Engineer at Altschool, provided an example of putting together a small keychain within a $50 budget that educates the user about the air quality in their surroundings. He also provided examples such as building a wearable device that provides transit or recreational information. He then reviewed the resources available to build wearable devices at home including open source hardware, the raw materials required and the options available to power s...
An entirely new security model is needed for the Internet of Things, or is it? Can we save some old and tested controls for this new and different environment? In his session at @ThingsExpo, New York's at the Javits Center, Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, reviewed hands-on lessons with IoT devices and reveal a new risk balance you might not expect. Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, has more than nineteen years' experience managing global security operations and assessments, including a decade of leading incident response and digital forensics. He is co-author of t...
The Domain Name Service (DNS) is one of the most important components in networking infrastructure, enabling users and services to access applications by translating URLs (names) into IP addresses (numbers). Because every icon and URL and all embedded content on a website requires a DNS lookup loading complex sites necessitates hundreds of DNS queries. In addition, as more internet-enabled ‘Things' get connected, people will rely on DNS to name and find their fridges, toasters and toilets. According to a recent IDG Research Services Survey this rate of traffic will only grow. What's driving t...