Visual Basic 6 (VB6) and Visual Basic for Applications (VBA)
Microsoft Visual Basic has been going strong for 20 years – Microsoft Visual Basic (that is VB6, VBA, VB.Net) is the most used language in the world today. The sophisticated Rapid Application Development (RAD) environment of Microsoft Visual Basic is widely used in industry, and is particularly stable and productive.
The Visual Basic programming language is the natural choice for rapid development of sophisticated business software. Its extensive range of Windows controls and procedures allow a speedy build of the graphical user interface (GUI), business logic, and database access.
Microsoft Visual Basic is simple, easy-to-learn, and can be used to build the most complex Windows applications. Microsoft Visual Basic Programming allows the creation of practical programs quickly. With the optimising compiler, Microsoft Visual Basic runs as fast as any language, yet is much easier to use.
By making extensive use of drag-and-drop component assembly, wizards, form-based Graphical User Interface (GUI) design, the Microsoft Visual Basic Integrated Development Environment is the fastest way to get custom Windows software into production.
Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications (VBA)
An extension of Microsoft Visual Basic, Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications is the common development language found throughout Microsoft Office software – that is Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft PowerPoint and Microsoft Access. VBA can be readily adapted to automate manual procedures.
By providing a common development language and environment, Microsoft has enabled programmers to focus on the functionality of the applications – instead of learning a new language for each application they incorporate into their programs.
But VBA has had no enhancements for more than 10 years. Despite this, VBA will continue to be available in Microsoft Office for many years to come. New features, like the Ribbon can be invoked through objects.
For future development of Add-ins for Excel, Word and Outlook – managed code should be created in Visual Basic.Net using Visual Studio Tools for Microsoft Office (VSTO).
Microsoft's support of Visual Basic 6
Official support ended in 2008. VB6 will never get support in 64-bit environments. 32 bit ActiveX controls will never be upgraded to 64-bit versions.
There will no longer be any VB6 Service Packs or fixes. The latest Windows security updates are aimed directly at Visual Studio.Net, and can invalidate some VB6 routines.
VB6 cannot be installed on the Windows 8 Operating Systems. The Visual Basic programmer will need to resort to maintaining Windows XP (with all the problems entailed), in order to view or make changes to VB6 code.
Microsoft is committed to supporting the VB6 runtime on Windows 7 and Windows 8 until 2017 – and extended support until 2022. But it is impossible to ignore the advent of VB.Net. Like VB3, the VB6 routines will become harder and harder for programmers to support. That is, if one can find a VB6 programmer and the VB6 software.
Planning for the adoption of Visual Basic.Net (VB.NET) should start now. See also the article VB6: Intellectual Property and Code Ownership