The Rise and Fall of VB6
At the turn of the millennium, the increasing availability and use of computers to conduct regular business operations led to a need for customized business applications and systems.
With pioneering support to easily build drag-and-drop graphical user interfaces, and based on the then immensely popular BASIC programming language, Visual Basic 6 (VB6) was in an ideal position to cater to this growing need.
Why VB6 was so popular
Due to its ease of adoption and use, it enabled both non-programmers and programmers to create a wide variety of applications for computers. Furthermore, many third-party component providers released a wide variety of components & tools for Visual Basic 6 (VB6), which made it even easier to build applications. Essentially, Visual Basic 6 (VB6) democratized application development and made it available to a huge number of businesses. As a result, a vast number of applications and systems for businesses were built using Visual Basic 6 during this era, allowing organizations to undergo a digital revolution, significantly increasing the adoption of database-driven applications and systems.
The end of VB6
Over time, Visual Basic 6 (VB6) could not keep up as the digital ecosystem slowly became a lot more interconnected. This also led to a wide variety of security issues that Visual Basic 6 was ill-equipped to handle - mostly because of how VB6 worked under the hood. A complete renovation was urgently due.
VB6 was eventually discontinued. Microsoft released Visual Basic .NET as part of Microsoft’s .NET runtime library. Unfortunately, the VB6 code is not compatible with the VB.NET code.
This incompatibility led many organizations to never renovate their systems. Believe it or not, VB6 was so good, that many people and companies still use VB6 software today - more than 22 years after it’s last stable release.
Why it is time to shift
Various factors contribute to an impetus to shift away from VB6.
Risk of Obsolescence: Since 2008, the Visual Basic 6.0 IDE is no longer supported by Windows Operating systems. While most runtime files are still supported, it is unlikely that continued functionality will be offered by Microsoft in the future. Furthermore, even updates or patches for an already-supported operating system are starting to cause problems for applications. For example, in August of 2019, a monthly security patch released by Microsoft that disabled remote procedure call (RPC) in the VB runtime, which stopped the functioning of apps written in VB6. A potential risk in the RPC that Microsoft had found contributed to the decision to prioritize protection over application continuity. The problem was later resolved, but it will not be surprising to find Microsoft prioritizing security threats over maintaining support in similar situations where there is a conflict.
Shortage of Developers: The number of VB6 developers is waning. Many of them are retired and those who are still around are so senior that they naturally have become very expensive to hire. New developers always want to work with modern languages having better career potential. So any functional changes in the VB6 system will only get more expensive and soon enough, either no one will be around for the job, or it will be done very poorly by inexperienced Joes.
Security and Compatibility Issues: Visual Basic 6 is at risk of being susceptible to a wide variety of security and compatibility issues. There is a risk that these systems may not meet regulatory or compliance requirements in the future. It is also rather susceptible to security threats and hacking.
Third-party Components: The once vibrant third-party scene has disappeared, and many vendors are no longer in the business. Support is far and few. Applications and systems which rely on third party components are thus at risk of dying out simply because no one knows how to work with them anymore. VB6 applications are threatened by extinction.
Strategic Inefficiencies: Organizations that remain faithful to VB6 systems are having to make increasingly extraordinary attempts at keeping these applications going. Changing or improving these systems to respond to anything is often difficult. Think about it. VB6 is obsolete, not supported, and can in no way keep up with the modern web concepts or the internet of things. Strategically, is it really an option to stick to VB6 given that moving away is possible and can be done within a reasonable budget and timeframe? Considering all the risks and negative impacts being undertaken by a company relying on VB6 for its legacy systems, it is clear that a shift is absolutely essential.
How to move away from VB6
Unfortunately, there is no one-click solution to move away from VB6. If anyone promises you this, you’re being cheated or misinformed. Systems migration is a big task, but it is inevitable if you’re still using the dated VB6. Even though Microsoft “currently” states that the VB6 runtime is supported in Windows 10 until 2024- no one knows what happens after that.
The SELISE Phoenix Team provides code conversion and software migration services for VB6 applications at affordable prices without compromising your business operations. You can run or even update your VB6 application while our conversion work is underway. We use a mix of talented programmers of all experience levels and a variety of tools that automate parts of the migration process.
Find out more about SELISE Phoenix here, and feel free to contact us for further information or a free quotation.