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Chris G. Williams Beware: I mix tech and personal interests here.

earlier today, someone I respect very highly asked the following question:  "Is this a REAL problem… Do we really need to worry about being VB Developers or not ?"

I've given this a lot of thought and I believe it's a problem when the "great VB / C# divide" keeps me from using technologies that are of great interest to me. This isn't just about missing code samples anymore.

I am a VB.NET developer. Before that, for many years, I was a VB Developer. Prior to that, I was a BASIC developer, in all it's many forms. My first computer language was BASIC. I was 11.
 
When .NET came out, I had to make a choice (at least initially) of which technology to embrace. I looked at C# and VB.NET. I read and believed the many promises of equal productivity in both languages. Based on my previous experience with VB, I chose VB.NET.
 
I became an MCP, then MCAD, followed by MCSD (early adopter, thank you) all in my chosen technology of VB.NET. I became an MCT and taught others that .NET means you can work in the language of your choosing and be equally productive. Through my work in the .NET community, I was awarded MVP status, and this is my second year as a VB.NET MVP.
 
Choose whichever language you like best, it's all the same. This is the message of the MOCs.  Now this message is proving to be inaccurate at best, and possibly a lie. Certain technologies are not available to VB.NET Developers. If I want to use them, I have to literally learn a new language... C#
 
Don't misunderstand, C# is a wonderful language, and I use it out of necessity. As a consultant, 2 of my last 3 assignments were in C#. I get around in it, but it's not my technology of choice. I prefer VB.NET. I work better in VB.NET. I work faster because I'm more familiar with VB.NET.
 
I THINK IN VB.NET. Every line of C# code takes me twice as long because in my head, I'm translating to/from VB.NET.
 
I could go into a long winded explanation of why I like one over the other, but that's irrelevant. I'm not here to argue that VB.NET is better or worse than C#, only that it happens to be better for me and that Microsoft is not living up to it's promise of language neutrality.
 
I am a VB.NET developer. XNA uses the .NET Framework. There shouldn't be a problem.
 
Furthermore, it's not limited to just XNA. To dismiss this as such is an insult to every VB.NET developer who has run into a wall when trying to embrace new technologies and still use his/her chosen language.
 
I am a teacher. I am a trainer. I am a software developer. I am a technology evangelist. I am a hobbyist. I am a code camp speaker. I am a VB.NET MVP. I am embarrassed that Microsoft deliberately chooses to ignore and neglect the same technology that I evanglize on their behalf.

I am also a game developer. I read about XNA, I write about XNA, I talk about XNA, I teach others about XNA.  

The initial releases of XNA were promoted as "For Hobbyists."  For the "fun" community.  Look at all of the websites that proclaim XNA's ease of use and all the great and fun things you can do with it...   VB.NET is a language that warmly embraces it's hobbyists and occasional programmers.  By refusing to provide support for VB.NET, you are hindering the adoption of XNA (and other technologies) by thousands of VB.NET only hobbyists, enthusiasts & developers.

 

This is clearly unacceptable. So how do we fix it?

1. Providing code samples in only one language, for a technology that supports both, must be stopped. Find the resources to make it happen. If nothing else, utilize your MVP community to make it happen.

2. Releasing .NET compatible technologies that only support 1 language completely contradicts and undermines everything we have been told (and teach others) about .NET. This practice must also stop.

3. Change the perception of VB.NET.  This may take longer, but when your own employees imply that VB.NET developers can't handle XNA (or other technologies) we have a problem.  Teach them to stop referring to VB.NET and VB.NET developers in derogatory terms. (I wouldn't say this if I hadn't seen it happen.)

 

Microsoft, you have to set the example for the rest of us to follow.  How can I possibly evangelize VB.NET if you won't?


Update: 

Here's more disappointment.
  • Windows Home Server SDK - C# Only
  • Health SDK - C# Only
  • Micro Framework - C# Only
  • Mcrosoft Surface - status unknown
Posted on Tuesday, October 23, 2007 7:35 PM General Interest | Back to top


Comments on this post: Hi, I'm Chris and I am a VB.NET developer

# re: Hi, I'm Chris and I am a VB.NET developer
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Hi! My name is John, and I am a VB programmer. Or I was. My father is also a VB/VB.NET programmer so I still stay in touch with the language. Because of this post, and my love for the language, I am going to start writing some XNA/VB.NET samples. You can find the first two (and more when I update) here: http://focusedgames.com/Downloads.aspx?id=26
Left by John Sedlak on Oct 23, 2007 10:37 PM

# re: Hi, I'm Chris and I am a VB.NET developer
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Do you know that all your vb.net links go to http://vb.net which is some dutch computer store ;-) Great evangelism ;-)

My name is Andy and I USED to b a VB developer... in fact I still write Debug.Print all the time which is annoying because it doesn't work on the compact framework. I still think case sensitive variable names should be illegal and semi colons are annoying.

I do like {} instead of BEGIN and END though.
Left by ZMan on Oct 23, 2007 10:43 PM

# re: Hi, I'm Chris and I am a VB.NET developer
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I have no idea how the vb.net links happened. must be a weird cut and paste thing. LOL
Left by Chris G. Williams on Oct 23, 2007 10:45 PM

# re: Hi, I'm Chris and I am a VB.NET developer
Requesting Gravatar...
Beautifully written post. Nice job!

I think you made some great points. I mean I don't necessarily agree (and I'm a VB.NET developer myself), but I do agree with the Microsoft thing. Microsoft needs to either drop VB or REALLY support it.

I just don't agree that VB should stick around. I'd be more in favor of them dropping it. There's VB developers and then there are developers who use VB. You happen to be a developer that uses VB. It's a whole different mindset
and because VB is easier to read and get into, it breeds the VB developers. Thus the superior attitude of many that snub their noses at VB developers.

So yeah, I'm with you. Microsoft either needs to throw their entire support behind VB or just come out an publicly say they're phasing it out. It's time for them to get off the fence.

It's either supported and fully supported or declared dead. And with all those VB developers out there. I can't see it making good business sense to kill it....


Left by George Clingerman on Oct 23, 2007 10:48 PM

# re: Hi, I'm Chris and I am a VB.NET developer
Requesting Gravatar...
"I just don't agree that VB should stick around."

SCRATCH SCRATCH

(That was the sound of George being crossed off of Chris' Christmas card list)

;)

D
Left by D'Arcy from Winnipeg on Oct 24, 2007 7:12 AM

# re: Hi, I'm Chris and I am a VB.NET developer
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I do agree with the points about MS saying it would be a viable language, and then dropping it. I don't agree with anything about being a "VB.NET Developer". You are either a developer, or you aren't.

Being a developer is about knowing the right way to solve a problem, and, IMHO, means being somewhat language agnostic. Learning a new programming language is a fairly quick ordeal, really, if you understand the core concepts.

I would also support the death of VB, as it already has the 2nd class citizen stigma attached to it, and it will never go away. It will always be the language people just pick up to try, because it's syntax is easier for the average person to read. Being easier to use means more people start calling themselves Developers once they can write an If statement and a for loop.

Definitely agree that MS should "put up or shut up", so to speak. There is no technical reason that the content pipeline stuff couldn't be integrated into the VB Express IDE, as far as I know, and it really shouldn't be too terribly different, I wouldn't think.

Left by Rick on Oct 24, 2007 12:11 PM

# re: Hi, I'm Chris and I am a VB.NET developer
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Hi Chris,

Great blog! I too have been with various forms of Basic (BASIC) for many years. My first experience was a programming course taught in 1967by William F. Sharpe, Nobel Lauriat in Economics. He was using Dartmouth BASIC (the original) because he wanted his business students to be able to get things done with the computer without having to worry about typing systems, formatting output, and also to do it interactively via timesharing.

When I started teaching, I chose BASIC (HP 2000 BASIC) for the very same reasons. My students were not computer science and the focus was on the end result, not the elegance of the tool. Later I moved to VAX Basic and in the early 1990’s Visual Basic. I used to say that “the language should not get in the way of the concept”. Students would be hopelessly lost in the syntax, the pointers, and all the “stuff” of C and C++.

I cannot recount the number of students I taught who had taken their first programming course from the computer science people using C or C++ and who later took my course. They had left the C or C++ experience disappointed and discouraged. The excitement they displayed when they wrote programs in Basic with much less effort and much more confidence was rewarding.

Some criticize VB as a language because of its ease of use but I wonder how many really good developers who got started with VB would never have even been developers if they had a really bad initial experience with some other language. How can “ease of use” and “high productivity” be bait for criticism? As for the impression of VB as a language with “baggage” (this was publically stated by a MS product manager), what in the world does it have to do with anything?

So I am a believer in Basic and its design principles. The only time I wondered from Basic was an OOP course I taught and where I went first with THINK Pascal, then Delphi, and finally Java. I left VB because, until the .NET release, it was not a very good OO programming language. Of course with .NET, this is no longer the case.

So here we are now with Microsoft keeping VB, the language, up to date, and in the case of Linq, ahead of C#. But this is not enough; MS also needs to release SDKs with full VB support (samples, etc.) and they are not doing this. This sends a really bad message to CTO and developers which basically says, “We do not see the value in making our SDKs VB friendly.” If the MS insiders see no value, how can we sell the value outside the company?

This needs to change or else VB will fade away and this would be a real tragedy.
bill burrows
Left by William Burrows on Oct 24, 2007 2:00 PM

# re: Hi, I'm Chris and I am a VB.NET developer
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I think it is definitely helpful to have source in both. ASP.NET has done a great job with this in their QuickStart application. I am a C# guy by default, but I code in both regularly and I hate doing conversions when I am in the other language.

Left by Jeff Julian on Oct 24, 2007 2:36 PM

# re: Hi, I'm Chris and I am a VB.NET developer
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Chris,

I hope you can keep up the list of SDKs without VB examples and that VB developers will use it to give Microsoft feedback.

The more feedback we VB customers give Microsoft the better.

Left by Mike McIntyre Visual Basic MVP on Oct 25, 2007 8:44 AM

# re: Hi, I'm Chris and I am a VB.NET developer
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Just keep sending me examples as we find them or hear about them.
Left by Chris Williams on Oct 25, 2007 9:40 AM

# re: Hi, I'm Chris and I am a VB.NET developer
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Well I agree is all i can say, microsoft , honour VB.net it has made my future and your,
as proof I have been using XNA vb.net since beta1 and awaiting 2.0,

I have been writing a winforms 3D level ediotr as proof!!!!

works without a glitch 70fps persecond with all kinda stuff running!!!

... Tridex, Honour VB.NET ...
Left by tridex on Oct 28, 2007 9:15 AM

# re: Hi, I'm Chris and I am a VB.NET developer
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Hey that is great news. I played with Office Accounting some last year, with the beta, but never checked out the SDK. THanks for the comment.
Left by Chris Williams on Oct 29, 2007 8:37 AM

# re: Hi, I'm Chris and I am a VB.NET developer
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Hi Chris:

I'm a VB developer and have been for a long time. I've even written a number of books and articles on VB over the years. I spent several years working on a VB6 graphics engine based on the old DirectX 8 VB interface. Talk about nightmares. At least with the new XNA interfaces you can translate the C# code to VB.NET. Translating from C++ to VB is a whole lot harder assuming it can be done at all.

While I agree Microsoft should release examples in both VB and C#, I'd rather see them address some of the limitations of XNA first. The first generation is great since it opens up lots of opportunities, but they need to make it easier for people to develop both casual games and business applications using 3D graphics.

There's nothing stopping anyone from converting the examples to VB and making them public. I'd do it myself as I've worked through a lot of the issues in my new XNA engine, but I'm not allowed to share code I developed at my day job.
{sigh}

I wish you luck in your quest.

Take care............Wayne
Left by Wayne S. Freeze on Nov 09, 2007 9:33 PM

# re: Hi, I'm Chris and I am a VB.NET developer
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Hi Chris:

I'm a VB developer! As i read your post, i realy had the feeling of looking into a mirror and fully agree with you.
Left by Alex on Jul 15, 2008 9:31 AM

# re: Hi, I'm Chris and I am a VB.NET developer
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You can have my VB when you can pry it from my cold, dead fingers!

I developed first in FORTRAN (about 30 years ago), then in C/ASM and finally VB about 10 years ago. Personally I find that VB (both VB6 and VB.Net) allow me to think about the solution instead of fiddling with the language. As far as I'm concerned it's all about results and with VB you GET it. Forget the elitist attitude of the C# developers - use the tool that gets the job done whether it be C# or VB.

-Max
Left by Max Peck on Aug 14, 2008 2:46 PM

# re: Hi, I'm Chris and I am a VB.NET developer
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I agree, I already use VB.Net with XNA Game Studio v3.0, the technology works fine together, Microsoft is just too lazy to do the work.

I consider myself, a decent programmer, no where near a pro, and it only took me a few weeks to get XNA implemented, keep in mind this time also entailed me learning XNA, a bit of C#, and brushing up on my VB skills, etc,..

Meaning, someone who is already experienced, such as a team of Microsoft employees could probably give us full XNA support in about the same amount of time..

But, If you really want XNA support just implement it yourself, its not that hard, just download C#, and XNA Game Studio v3.0, then reference the XNA dll files into a new VB.Net project..

Then just load a new XNA project in C#, and look at how it works, and bring that into your VB.Net project.. You will have to rewrite the classes for VB.Net obviously, but, its really pretty easy.

The hardest part is implementing the content pipeline, because you have to call MSBUILD.exe yourself, and you have create the .contentproj file it needs as well..

I used a version someone created for XNA 2.0 as a template, Google "VBContentManager", it needs a lot of updating to be fully functional and to work with XNA v3.0, but it's pretty easy to do, took a few hours.. (With research time, etc,.. Actual implementation time was like 15 minutes..)

Also check out Alan Phipps and XNA on google, he did a bit work on merging the two as well, you can see a few tutorials on his site..

Good luck..
Left by Smoke on Jun 02, 2009 5:12 PM

# XNX for Vb.net and C# to vb.net converter
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Hi all i am too a vb.net developer and i have started 2 years ago the xna but i left it for there was no free time.

no the engine is better and vb.net 2008 is great.

Dont worry about not having samples in vb.net

just use this site and all your code samples can easily be converted to vb.net most of the time without any further changes from you.

enjoy.

http://www.developerfusion.com/tools/convert/csharp-to-vb
Left by johnnyxp64 on Jul 23, 2009 6:40 PM

# re: Hi, I'm Chris and I am a VB.NET developer
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quote " There's nothing stopping anyone from converting the examples to VB and making them public. I'd do it myself as I've worked through a lot of the issues in my new XNA engine, but I'm not allowed to share code I developed at my day job.
{sigh}

Im just learning vb.net at college I love the language and been dislexic its no small feat. I quoted this paragraph because I thought programming was about not reinventing the wheel so why not share code to help others. Someone else on here also said learning anouther language is not that hard one you know one I also dissagree with that as i have tryed learniing c# and get lost find it a bit bewildering why something in vb takes me a couple of lines of code and it looks like the same thing in vb takes a lot more??? Wouldent this mean that vb.net is better as it has to read a lot less code to do the same job???? maybe someone could enlighten me

chears

J
Left by J Gawne on Apr 02, 2010 1:22 PM

# re: Hi, I'm Chris and I am a VB.NET developer
Requesting Gravatar...
Hi, Myself developing in VB since 1995 from V1.1 to latest in VS2010 Ultimate.
There are so many samples in C# which would not transliterate to VB while u use many online converters. One simple reason - C# coders use variable names with declaration types with just case difference.
But there are still more examples which are just dont convert. Example - MS Entity data provider sample code...
Would you guys agree if we create a VB forum to support this great technology with samples and new features?

Good luck
Venkat
Left by Raja Venkatesh on May 11, 2011 1:56 PM

# re: Hi, I'm Chris and I am a VB.NET developer
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Thanks for sharing! Great article, I'm glad to see these efforts being put fourth.
Left by Independent Insurance Agents on Aug 05, 2011 3:50 PM

# re: Hi, I'm Chris and I am a VB.NET developer
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There can't be comparison between any languages. People who are being in VB.NET field don't need to afraid about any thing. As there is continuous development in tools which is useful for converting codes from one language to another.
Left by Noah Flinn on Apr 23, 2013 1:44 AM

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