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The announcement by Microsoft that they are no longer going to be shipping or supporting Visual Basic, and then Autodesk‘s subsequent similar announcement, marks a very important end to the era labeled the time of the personal programmer, one of those technological advancements so amazing it shifted technology into a brand new direction. VB was so radically different from the other languages available at the time that there were some who predicted all languages would take on the familiar drag and drop control placement combined with the ability to store reactions to events directly within the controls. A brave new world was predicted.
Due to VB’s early relationship with Microsoft Excel the popularity of the little language who could exploded. By the time it reached AutoCAD, who already had a firmly entrenched AutoLISP following, and on the commercial software side, companies were already using ADS C programming to produce their commercial software, VBA did not thrive as well in the CAD world. But for the rest of the world, where you once had 10 programmers there were thousands. It caused such a huge shift in the number of people creating routines that it was partially responsible for the rapid aquisition by most of the personal computer.
VBA unleashed the programmer in almost everyone who tried it, which is so foreign to Microsoft’s programming languages up to that point and even to this day. Raise your hand if you have ever seen or worked with the MFC (Microsoft Foundation Classes) libraries. Its like they went into a room of programmers and looked for those who had the hardest time describing common everyday items and said: you’ll be perfect! Suffice to say that they don’t have the words “Ease of Use” in their lexicon. To put it more sternly, their libraries of programming functions and concepts are so foreign to anything resembling the world we live in they should get some sort of prize for making the most miserably rotten choices in software architecture design of all time.
So how was it this dyslexic, socially backward, ugly, nerdy, clumsy, sorta insane, totally freaky company who was creating the crappiest programming methods in the world ab
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le to develop one of the most world changing technologies humans have experienced in the last 30 years since the Personal Computer started it all? In my limited analysis there have only been three or four technologies that have totally changed the way we work, the way we interelate, the way we work. The personal computer, the graphical user interface, Visual Basic, and recently, the iPhone.
How could they ever have come together with enough imagination and forethought for the genius they were creating?
They didn’t. As with most large corporate juggarnauts, they didn’t innovate, they stagnate, the didn’t invent, they spent. Microsoft bought the technology from a small company just beginning to threaten some of the more established programming tool vendors dominance.
Sounds like another big corporation I know…
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