Visual Basic

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The final version of Visual Basic.

Visual Basic is a computer programming language created by Microsoft in 1991, based on the syntax of BASIC. There are drastic changes between Visual Basic and traditional BASIC including the elimination of symbolic variable notation and the introduction of object orientation. Also, Visual Basic was designed, not around the command line, but Windows forms and dialogs. The combination of Windows forms, simple syntax, and a powerful IDE allowed Visual Basic to the premier rapid application design (RAD) language for Microsoft allowing developers to very quickly and easily create applications, helped by the fact that the language is case-insenstive. The language was hugely popular and influenced the creation of Visual Basic for Applications and VBScript. Unfortunately, in 2001, Microsoft discontinued Visual Basic in favor of Visual Basic .NET which eliminated many of the features that made Visual Basic so easy to use.


I first became interested in Visual Basic after my uncle showed me how to make simple programs using 16-bit Visual Basic 3. This gave me a head start on my peers when we started learning Visual Basic 4 in high school, so I was the best in my class. For a birthday present, I got Black Art of Visual Basic Game Programming, which taught various game programming techniques as well as ways to use Windows DLLs for superior graphics and sound programming. I began writing a couple video games in Visual Basic, but never finished any of them. I took a class on Visual Basic 5 in college, where I often taught the teacher how to do things in the language, but never dealt much with Visual Basic 6, the final version of the language, before it was discontinued. I always appreciated the speed and simplicity of the language and still curse Microsoft for killing the language. For Windows-based RAD, I now use C#. It's not as easy to learn, and isn't as fast to develop in, but it's still a lot faster than most other so-called RAD languages, and it is a lot more powerful.


Visual Basic saw six major releases. Versions 1 had an MS-DOS and a Windows 3 release, which were similar, but incompatible. Version 2 was exclusive to Windows, as was version 3. Version 4 was released both in 16-bit and 32-bit modes. Version 5 was 32-bit only. Version 6 saw a major redesign of the compiler which sped up programs and made them much harder to decompile. Programmers continued to use Visual Basic 6 for many years after it was discontinued because it was so popular and easy to use, and, in most ways, superior to its replacement, VB.NET.