People may differ in the details of their analysis, but most would agree that this is a pivotal time for Visual Basic. When .NET came about, VB6 developers were faced with the choice of learning VB.NET, learning C#, or doing nothing new. Each path found adherents. The next version of VB – known as VB2005, or VB8 -- will hit the streets in mere weeks, and it includes new additions that could better put VB on par with C# as a .NET language of choice.

If these changes do not put the 'rapid' back in rapid application development, VB will suffer. But the changes are promising. Promising too is the future beyond VB8.

Microsoft is already looking toward VB9. This warms the hearts of any VB fans concerned that its best days may be behind it. Much attention at last week's PDC concerned MS proposals to create 'inline query capabilities' within both the VB language and the C# language. [See "Future VB version may integrate queries, programs," 14 Sep 2005,].

But there is more than a new query structure (known as "LINQ") on tap for VB9. Implicitly typed local variables, object initializers, anonymous types, nullable types and relaxed delegates are language features being considered for inclusion. On the main, all the inclusions try to extend the language while maintaining a balance between static and dynamic typing methods.

The VB development crew has developed a motto: "Support static typing where possible, and dynamic typing where needed." This is a bumper sticker slogan with a lot of potential. A lot of us would be happy to drive in that car. Links are provided here for those who want to dig deeper, and view the future.

VB9 overview - MSDN
More on VB9 - MSDN
On new features - Visual Basic Team blog

This was first published in September 2005

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