Tuesday, August 8, 2006

Hasta La Vista, Visual Basic

Erik Schwiebert:

I’m not so sad to see VB go. That code has been a major headache to maintain over the years. Lots of people are bemoaning the sudden lack of cross-platform scriptability, but to be bluntly honest, VB for Mac Office hasn’t been remotely compatible with VB for Win Office for years. Even back in Office 98 the VB IDE for the Mac had several major features cut compared to Win Office (watchpoints, etc) and the object models for the two platforms have diverged wildly in the 10 years that have gone by.

I didn’t expect them to, but I was rather hoping that Microsoft would continue development of Virtual PC. At least they wouldn’t use Qt for the interface like Parallels did. It will be interesting to see how VMware is, when it arrives for Panther.

Dropping Visual Basic worries me. I don’t use Microsoft Office every day, but I do sometimes need to open complex Word and Excel files (the latter, especially, containing VB scripts). Presently, I can use Office 2004 (in Rosetta), a free Office clone, or Office for Windows running in a virtual machine. It seems that only the latter will offer full compatibility going forward, and Office 2004 will be more compatible than Office 2007, so they’re not giving me much reason to upgrade.

2006-08-09 Update: more from Schwiebert on the challenges of bringing Visual Basic to Intel. He doesn’t seem to address the possibility of writing a new, higher level VB interpreter (e.g. like Python’s) that wouldn’t be affected by architecture or ABI differences.

2006-08-09 Update #2: Rick Schaut comments.

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