Secure your Visual Basic 6.0 investment with Microsoft .NET

Visual Basic 6 – What next?

UK companies have invested significant time and money in the development of applications built using the Visual Basic 6.0 language.

Many of these applications are still being used successfully today, but we have seen an increasing demand for help and guidance to take these investments forward.

With the help of Microsoft Partners who specialise in this area, we have pulled together resources and tools which can help you make the right decision

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What are your choices?

There are currently five main choices:

  1. Migrate to Microsoft .NET
    Read More
    This involves an automated migration process using the Visual Basic Upgrade Wizard or a third-party tool to move all (or part) of the code to .NET. The new solution will initially have identical functionality and behaviour; new capabilities can then be added. hide
  2. Extend with Microsoft .NET
    Read More
    Extend the application using .NET, adding new screens and functionality using Visual Studio 2008, but leaving the core application as Visual Basic 6.0. hide
  3. Rewrite in Microsoft .NET
    Read More
    The Visual Basic 6.0 application is replaced with a new application developed in Visual Studio 2008. Domain knowledge, learning and best practices are retained but none of the investment in code. hide
  4. Replace
    Read More
    Find an alternative solution from an Independent Software Vendor (ISV) or outsource the solution. hide
  5. Do nothing
    Read More
    Your application is working great, it has not required any changes for many years, there are no plans to extend the functionality, nor a need to integrate it with newer applications. hide

Why is it a great time to stop developing in Visual Basic 6.0?

Moving from Visual Basic 6.0 to Visual Basic 2008 takes less effort than you might think, thanks to a number of improvements from Microsoft and increased investment in tools and services by our Partners. ArtinSoft and Code Architects both have extremely powerful tools to automate migration and deliver functionality beyond the Visual Basic Upgrade Wizard – meaning that Visual Basic 6.0 solutions with millions of lines of code, hundreds of projects and dependencies on third-party controls can be more easily migrated than ever before. In the UK, ArtinSoft has also partnered with Avanade to deliver a service capable of tackling the largest of Visual Basic 6.0 applications.

Read More

Easier than ever before to move to .NET
Visual Basic 2002 was the first version of Visual Basic which targeted the Microsoft .NET Framework adding true object-oriented features, multi-threading and great support for building web applications, web services, mobile phone applications and large distributed solutions. We went on to release three major versions of Visual Basic, the latest being Visual Basic 2008. We’ve improved compatibility with Visual Basic 6.0, improved the built-in Upgrade Wizard to automate migration and added much of the simplicity previously associated with Visual Basic 6.0, while retaining the power to build a wider range of solutions. We also invested in simplifying combining Visual Basic 6.0 and Visual Basic .NET in the same solution with the release of the Interop Forms Tookit 2.0.

.NET solves more problems
The Microsoft.NET Framework includes a very rich set of classes (APIs) to enable developers to write less code than Visual Basic 6.0 to solve business problems – from low level challenges such as encryption, threading and file manipulation to building an Internet scale web application or a N-tier solution which can participate successfully in a Service Orientated Architecture. Additionally .NET applications can be run on a larger range of devices – from mobile phones and embedded systems to multi-processor 64bit servers. This allows developers to apply the same skills and knowledge to a broad range of business scenarios.

Other factors
As well as there being fewer technical barriers to moving to .NET, there are other factors to consider:

- It is becoming more difficult to recruit and retain skilled Visual Basic 6.0 developers.
- A company’s ability to successfully embrace the Internet relies on using technologies which are Internet aware; Visual Basic 6.0 has only very limited support for the Internet.
- While Microsoft continues to offer support on the Visual Basic runtime, it no longer offers support on the Visual Basic Development Environment.

As a result we’re already seeing that in some sectors Visual Basic 6.0 applications are no longer considered acceptable and companies are looking for a way to quickly reduce their reliance on Visual Basic 6.0.


How to migrate to Microsoft .NET

In many cases the best approach to take is to migrate to .NET using tools which will help automate the process. This is the quickest way to remove all dependencies on Visual Basic 6.0 and deliver a working .NET application with equivalent functionality to the original. This approach has been successfully used by many UK companies with great results. 100 per cent automatic migration to .NET is not possible 'out of the box' but the tools available are more capable than ever before and include richer customisation capabilities.

Using Microsoft tools
Visual Basic 2008 includes a new version of the Visual Basic Upgrade Wizard which will migrate most but not all of your code to Visual Basic 2008. It does a good job in many cases but lacks some of the capabilities of tools offered by our Partners. The advantage is that it comes with Visual Basic 2008.

Using third-party tools
ArtinSoft and Code Architects each deliver great tools for migrating your applications to Visual Basic 2008 and in the case of ArtinSoft, you can also elect to migrate your application straight to C# if you prefer. Both Partners are offering special pricing to UK companies for a limited period. For more details, check out the following:

  • Visual Basic Upgrade Companion from ArtinSoft Developer Edition*
    ArtinSoft’s Visual Basic Upgrade Companion is a highly automated tool that easily converts your Visual Basic 6.0 code to native Visual Basic .NET or C#. Read More

    With features like type inference, customisable transformations and migration of database access technologies, it allows you to preserve the knowledge embedded in your code while enjoying the advantages of a new development platform. See more details about the Visual Basic Upgrade Companion.

    *For converting up to 50,000 lines of code.
  • Visual Basic Upgrade Companion for Enterprise customers*
    ArtinSoft and Avanade, a global IT consultancy based in the UK, have joined forces to deliver the most comprehensive , cost-effective Visual Basic 6.0 to .NET migration solution in the UK. Read More

    It combines a proven track of successful migration projects, delivery expertise and local presence.

    *For converting more than 50,000 lines of code.
  • Code Architects’ Visual Basic Migration Partner Enterprise Edition
    Code Architects VB Migration Partner is innovative VB6-to-VB.NET conversion software, developed by a team of internationally renowned VB and .NET experts led by Francesco Balena. Ask for free trial. Read More

    It migrates virtually all VB6 controls and keywords, and generates fully functional VB.NET apps in less time than any other conversion tool on the market. It gives you full control over all aspects of the migration process and supports all the features that are essential in migrating VB6 projects of any size and complexity. Full documentation, FAQ, sample programs, tutorial videos, and knowledge base are available.

  • Code Architects’ Visual Basic Migration Partner Professional Edition
    Code Architects VB Migration Partner Professional Edition is the best software for converting small and medium sized VB6 apps. Ask for free trial. Read More

    It migrates virtually all VB6 controls and keywords, and generates fully functional VB.NET apps in less time than any other conversion tool on the market. It gives you full control over all aspects of the migration process and supports all the features that are essential in migrating VB6 projects of any size and complexity. Full documentation, FAQ, sample programs, tutorial videos, and knowledge base are available.

How to extend in Microsoft .NET

It's straightforward to mix business logic implemented in Visual Basic 6.0 with business logic implemented in .NET, but originally it was difficult to mix forms and controls which prevented many companies from writing new functionality in .NET. However, Microsoft has solved this problem with the release of the Interop Forms Toolkit.

The Interop Forms Toolkit is a free add-in that simplifies the process of displaying .NET forms and controls in an existing Visual Basic 6.0 application. This allows developers to gradually use .NET, extending their application one form at a time.

How to rewrite in Microsoft .NET

Performing a complete rewrite to .NET is far more costly and difficult to do well than the previous two options but in certain circumstances is the right choice and is explored in more detail in the eBook on Upgrading Visual Basic 6.0 Applications.

Normally we would only recommend this approach for a small number of situations including:

  • The original application has many problems resulting from bad architecture, design and/or coding practices. Symptoms may include poor scalability or performance, poor user interface and difficulties in maintaining the code.
  • The original application no longer matches the needs of the business in significant areas.
  • A core change is required, e.g. the user interface must be delivered by the browser rather than as a smart client.
  • The company already has significant skills in .NET gained on other applications and the application is well understood and relatively small.
  • Source code is no longer available for significant parts of the application.

Case Studies - What others are saying

There are thousands of companies that have achieved success using Visual Basic .NET. Check out some of these success stories from our migration partners.


Review comments from a selection of Code Architects’ migration customers.

SIS Datenverarbeitung GmbH
The selected conversion software allowed the successful migration of 650,000 lines of code within 6 months with a total effort of 18 man-months.


Banamex - Citigroup
Banamex, a leading Mexican bank, part of Citigroup, was able to migrate over 5 million lines of code from VB6 and ASP to C# and ASP.NET Read More
using the Visual Basic Upgrade Companion, in compliance with all corporate policies set for quality assurance and information security.

MDA Property Systems
"We wanted to use the newest technology instead of just being able to run Visual Basic 6 style code inside the .NET Environment. Read More
Using the Visual Basic Upgrade Companion represented an estimated saving for the project of about 3 years and US$300,000."

HSI – LatNav
"Utilising the Visual Basic Upgrade Companion saved us about one year of development and $160,000. Read More
ArtinSoft completed the project on time and within the turnkey cost. This conversion will allow us to leapfrog well in front of our competition." Ken Bowdon – President & CEO, HSI

Vertex Mortgage Application Processing System
Vertex partnered with ArtinSoft to move its core Mortgage Application Processing Systems, Omiga, to C#. Read More
using a customized version of the Visual Basic Upgrade Companion. This enabled Vertex to automatically convert VB6 coding patterns and meet its preferred standards, resulting in a smooth, cost-effective transition that preserved all the embedded business knowledge while moving to a properly supported development platform.

Vertex Supervisor Application
By using the Visual Basic Upgrade Companion, Vertex was able to quickly move their data access to ADO.NET, and automatically replace all their COM components with native .NET components. Read More
The resulting code had no runtime dependency on third party components, and the code quality fully complied with Vertex expectations.

Vertex Story 1 from ArtinSoftVertex Story 2 from ArtinSoftActivus from ArtinSoftCodeArchitects


The following resources will help you decide what is the right next step for you:

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