Is VB the n*gg*r of programming languages ?
Mon, Oct 22 2007 11:48
When VB moved to .NET the claim was made it would be a first class citizen on the .NET platform. Despite that claim VB is often not supported in new SDKs or emerging platforms. Two major platforms where Microsoft has chosen to omit VB are:
Over the last month or so I've noticed an alarming trend in SDKs released that provided C# samples but no VB samples. These SDKs include:
- WCF LOB Adapter SDK
- Health Vault SDK
- Live ID SDK
- Windows Search SDK
to name just a few. Typically when the issue of why isn't VB included is raised, the response is to blame resource constraints or similar. A typical example is the reply from Eric Gunnerson (formerly of the C# team) :
Currently, all our examples are C#. If there is sufficient partner interest in providing the samples in VB we will consider doing that, but we are currently focused on expanding our sample set.
When quizzed on this further, Eric elaborated to say:
It's hard to give an answer to the "how much interest" question because it would depend on a lot of other factors, but my guess is that we'd need feedback from a number of partners for us to commit the resources.
Just how many does it take remains un-answered. I would have thought if it was a "first class citizen" it shouldn't take any, but surely one voice should suffice. Perhaps they need VB'ers to gather together and protest loudly and write petitions ? I'm sure we've all seen how successful that has been in the past.
Even when people inside Microsoft do hear the VB'ers asking for VB to be supported, the response is often just to ignore that. Take for example the XNA framework. Over a year ago Gary Kacmarcik of Microsoft wrote :
From the cries of outrage that I've seen so far, I would be surprised if VB was not supported as a first-class citizen in a future release.
I wonder if he really was surprised when the new version was recently announced and VB was yet again omitted. Earlier this year I heard MVPs raise the same question. The response from Microsoft was that XNA was too hard for VB'ers. From a recent newsgroup posting, a VFP MVP summed this up well:
The last time I attended a summit, the VFP crowd was shoehorned into a VS
presentation where this was made abundantly clear. The speaker described VB
developers as "needing special help", and various other denigrating and
downright insulting remarks followed. Amazingly arrogant and insulting.
We walked out en masse after about 15 minutes.
However, in some areas though Microsoft does go out of it's way to ensure VB is well represented. Joe Stagner from Microsoft explains why the "How do I ?" videos are recorded in VB instead of C#. Joe says "There are more VB programmers than C# developers". I'm not quite sure why he felt one group are "programmers" and the other "developers", but one thing is clear is that Microsoft believes there are more VBers than C#ers.
Microsoft itself primarily chooses to use C# internally, yet , even though they know there are more VB customers, they don't take any balancing action to ensure that VB is included in the SDKs or frameworks. It's no coincidence that VB is omitted from the cutting edge technologies, but extra care is given to ensure that the "How do I? " videos are in VB. It's all part of the patronizing viewpoint Microsoft portrays of it's VB customers. Hence the title of this post.
Many of you may remember John and Yoko Lennon's song "woman is the n*gg*r of the world". When asked about the song, John quoted Congressman Ron Dellums, the then Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus:
If you define n*gg*rs as someone whose lifestyle is defined by others, whose opportunities are defined by others, whose role in society is defined by others, then good news! You don't have to be black to be a n*gg*r in this society.
For VB Microsoft sets the rules, defines the lifestyle and opportunities for the language. In terms of programming languages, Microsoft chooses to be all white males only (C#) yet takes no affirmative action to ensure VB is treated equally. It's not that VB is lesser as a language, it is the way Microsoft treats it, and those who use it, that is the issue of extreme prejudice.
I can't help but think of the movie "the commitments" when they said "The Irish are the n*gg*rs of Europe". More so than the message there, the name of the band.... Microsoft caused a lot of pain to the VB community when they abandoned VB6 and moved to .NET. At the time they promised that the changes would hold VB in good stead as a first class citizen on the .NET framework. They made a commitment to us all. And for all intensive purposes VB as far as programmatic functionality is concerned is equal to C#, just as man is equal to woman, and man is equal to man. But that's not the way Microsoft treats it
Sadly, it seems that VB is the n*gg*r of Microsoft's programming languages.