The Future Of Visual Basic

Early in the adoption cycle of .NET, Microsoft's new language, C#, got the lion's share of attention. However, as .NET adoption has increased, Visual Basic's continuing importance has also been apparent. Microsoft has publicly stated that it considers Visual Basic to be the language of choice for applications for which developer productivity is one of the highest priorities.

Future development of Visual Basic will emphasize capabilities that enable access to the whole expanse of the .NET Framework in the most productive way. In the past, it was common for Microsoft and others to "target" different development styles; with Visual Studio 2010, Microsoft announced that VB and C# will follow a process of coevolution. As new language features are developed, they will be introduced to both Visual Basic and C# at the same time. This release is the first step in that process, although it's not complete at this time.

Coevolution does not mean that the languages will look the same, but rather that they will support the same capabilities. For example, Visual Basic has XML literals, but that doesn't mean C# will get exactly the same functionality, as C# has the capability to work with XML through the existing framework classes. The old process of first introducing a feature in Visual Basic and then in the next release having C# catch up, and vice versa, is over. As new capabilities and features are introduced, they will be introduced to both Visual Basic and C# at the same time.

As mentioned earlier, although the changes aren't complete, the next version of Visual Basic will be coordinated with a new release of Visual Studio, and the capabilities of C# and Visual Basic should fully mirror each other, as both will be first-class .NET development languages. That fits the traditional role of Visual Basic as the language developers use in the real world to create business applications as quickly as possible.

One of the most important advantages of the .NET Framework is that it enables applications to be written with dramatically less code. In the world of business applications, the goal is to concentrate on writing business logic and to eliminate routine coding tasks as much as possible. In other words, of greatest value in this new paradigm is writing robust, useful applications without churning out a lot of code.

Visual Basic is an excellent fit for this type of development, which makes up the bulk of software development in today's economy. Moreover, it will grow to be an even better fit as it is refined and evolves for exactly that purpose.

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