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Re: VB was Re: [Fsfe-uk] BECTA discriminate against FLOSS?

From: Chris Croughton
Subject: Re: VB was Re: [Fsfe-uk] BECTA discriminate against FLOSS?
Date: Mon, 5 Jan 2004 00:00:11 +0000
User-agent: Mutt/1.2.5i

On Sun, Jan 04, 2004 at 07:10:42PM +0000, Simon Waters wrote:

> Chris Croughton wrote:
> >
> > OK, in that way.  But I don't sell MS software (OK, I did buy it in the
> > case of Visual Basic, but that's because it is /the/ best GUI
> > development package in my opinion for what I want, no FLOSS equivalent
> > comes near it).
> I agree VB is a great development environment - I've heard it trashed by
> people who have never used it in anger, and who seem to think real
> programming languages need multiple inheritence or some other arcane
> programming concepts, I don't think these people live in the real world.

I agree.  I have rarely needed to use things like multiple inheritance
(and at least two large projects, the Linux kernel and GCC, don't use
any sort of inheritance since they are written in C!).  VB does have
classes and (I gather) inheritance, although I haven't needed to use the

> Apart from being prorprietary, it also uses a proprietary languages and
> produces executables that only run on proprietary platforms. All of
> which are major lock-in issues, and should worry developers.

It's an issue only as long as I need to use it.  When an equivalent for
all the Windows apps I use is there I'll switch to using 'pure'
GNU/Linux (or BSD or whatever) because I much prefer it as an
environment, but I use what I need to do the jobs I want.

> In this sense you probably were "selling Microsoft software", as what
> else was this code run on?

Well, no, I already have Windows and so would anyone else who wanted to
use my VB code (they'd need VB iself as well, since I only distribute
source).  At the moment my VB source isn't even distributed, since it's
still in development for my use.

But when I first used (and found to my surprise that I liked) VB it was
on customer systems which already had Windows and wanted something to
run on that, so again I wasn't selling them anything they didn't
already have.

> There are excellent proprietary development environments with similar
> functionality which allow you to code in languages which have support
> from multiple vendors, and work across platforms (including free
> platforms). JBuilder was the only one I used professionally.

I don't do Java (having seen how drastically inefficient it is on many

> I trawled around the free software stuff about a year ago and came to
> the conclusion that good integrated graphical development environments
> still weren't quite there - please tell me if things have changes.

If someone tells me, I wish there was something as good as VB for X.
It's rather annoying having to run two machines talking via a TCP/IP
socket, one to do the work and the other for the interface...

> There was an interesting GNU Enterprise stuff being developed in the
> style of Oracle forms, but still only limited applications. I suspect
> that basic form filling type applications are still the bulk of business
> code being written, and most of that I see being done in the free
> software world is done with web forms, which aren't terribly good tools
> for it in my opinion (not that I haven't written a few).

Not at all an ideal solution, especially for interactive work.  Probably
fine for most transactional activities (banking, for instance) though,
and it may even be the best solution for some of those cases (wher it
'ports' trivially to remote access systems).  Another case of "horses
for courses" (and "You can make anything fit if you hit it hard

Chris C

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