, Jan. 19, 2001 — At VSLive!, an industry trade show for Windows developers sponsored by Microsoft and Fawcette Technical Publications, attendees received beta versions of Visual Studio.NET and the .NET Framework, bringing the total number of beta testers of both tools to 750,000. PressPass caught up with Ari Bixhorn, product manager for Visual Basic.NET, just after he returned from the show to talk about Visual Studio.NET, Visual Basic.NET and other components of Microsoft’s revolutionary .NET vision.
PressPass: What role does Visual Studio.NET play in the Microsoft .NET vision?
Bixhorn: Visual Studio.NET and the .NET Framework are at the forefront of the Microsoft .NET initiative. As Steve Ballmer said at Forum 2000 last June, the success or failure of .NET will depend on whether Microsoft is effective in getting developers on board with .NET. With Visual Studio.NET beta 1 currently in the hands of approximately 750,000 developers, the interest in the product is overwhelming and exciting. Not only are developers excited about Visual Studio.NET, but also the languages within it, such as C# and Visual Basic.NET. Visual Basic is a programming language that has been around for 10 years, and Microsoft owes much of its success to the more than 3 million developers worldwide who have been writing applications using Visual Basic.
PressPass: What is the most exciting thing about your product, Visual Basic.NET?
Bixhorn: Just as Visual Basic revolutionized the way in which developers created GUI (graphical user interface) applications, Visual Basic.NET will revolutionize the way we develop next-generation applications for Windows and the Web. Visual Basic.NET is going to transform the millions of VB developers today into the hottest commodity on the job market by giving them the most powerful and versatile Visual Basic to create enterprise-critical applications.
PressPass: How’s that?
Bixhorn: With Visual Basic.NET, Microsoft provides VB developers with new levels of power, productivity, scalability and reliability. Whether creating Windows applications, Web applications, or next-generation Web Services, VB developers have access to an extremely rich environment and a modernized, simplified version of the Visual Basic language:
First, Visual Basic.NET includes a host of new features that enable developers to maximize their productivity. In addition to a new unified IDE (integrated development environment), VB developers can take advantage of the new Server Explorer to easily integrate server-side components into their apps, the shared Task List to help organize code, Dynamic Help for instant access to pertinent information, and Macros to customize, extend, and integrate the Visual Studio environment. Maximizing productivity was a key design goal of this product, and with Visual Basic.NET, we’ve delivered.
In addition, the Visual Basic.NET language provides a modernized, simplified syntax that will make developers’ code more robust, scalable and flexible. Rather than simply adding some new features to Visual Basic 6.0, Microsoft has re-engineered the product to make it easier than ever before to write distributed applications such as Web and enterprise n-tier systems. In Visual Basic.NET, we deliver on all of the top requests we’ve heard from developers over the past few years. This includes first-class object oriented constructs such as implementation inheritance and structured exception handling as well as power features such as free threading. In addition, new graphical designers for developing Windows and Web applications as well as for working with XML and server-side components will make VB developers more versatile than they’ve ever been in the past.
PressPass: That sounds like a lot of new stuff. How will you ensure that you maintain the loyalty of those previously mentioned millions of developers?
Bixhorn: Visual Basic has always been the most productive language with which to create applications for the Windows platform. In Visual Basic.NET, we continue this tradition of RAD (rapid application development) that has made VB developers so successful. In addition, we are providing tools in Visual Basic.NET that give developers the highest levels of flexibility in terms of upgrading and/or leveraging existing Visual Basic 6 applications. For developers who want to leverage the full power of Visual Basic.NET and the .NET Framework, we provide an Upgrade Tool that converts VB6 applications to Visual Basic.NET.
We know, however, that not all developers will choose to upgrade their VB6 applications. In these scenarios, the .NET Framework provides a rich compatibility library that enables developers to seamlessly communicate between VB6 applications and those written in VB.NET. By providing both a great upgrade path as well as an excellent mechanism for interoperability, we provide VB developers with a flexible solution to fit their specific needs.