Future of Visual Basic becoming clear

Despite all the hype and media coverage surrounding Java, the truth is that most developers are actually using Visual Basic, with languages like C++,C, and even Pascal rounding out the top tier. Microsoft announced several pieces of their development tool strategy last week at a worldwide sales meeting in Orlando, Florida, and one thing is clear: the future is all Visual Basic.

In an interesting move, future versions of Visual Basic will work better with Oracle databases and will, according to Microsoft, be a better tool for Oracle developers than Oracle's own tools. Microsoft has even translated Oracle's database language--PL/SQL--into COM objects that developers can easily access from Visual Basic.

"We are doing things to make our tools in general great to interface with Oracle," said Jon Roskill, director of Visual Tools Marketing at Microsoft. "Our Visual Database tools that are part of Visual Studio today already let you work with any ODBC database. We will do other things that will let us support Oracle stored procedures better, as well."

To make it easier on Visual Basic developers, Microsoft will include the VB runtime files with IE 4.0 and all future Windows releases. This allows developers to ship small ActiveX controls without requiring the user to download a massive runtime file as well.

Starting this fall, developers will be able to target Windows CE with Visual Basic, using an add-in similar to Visual C++ for Windows CE. This, of course, will open up the CE platform to millions of developers who are uninterested or untrained in C/C++.

Additionally, Microsoft talked briefly about "Vegas," the code-name for the next version of Developer Studio, the IDE used by most Visual Studio 97 applications. Formerly thought to be the next version of Visual Basic, the plans for Vegas have been scaled back somewhat. Originally, the plan was to allow Visual Basic to target the Java VM but Microsoft decided the project would take too long to complete and would prove unwieldy for most users.

The next version of Visual Basic will use the same IDE as the other Visual Studio tools, however, and not its own distinct interface

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