Version 7 is touted as a quantum leap toward making Visual Basic a true object oriented programming language. In addition to the features discussed above, Microsoft plans to support free threading at runtime on an object by object basis, as well as shared data among all instances of a given class. These improvements are dramatic in terms of bringing VB in line with Java and C++ in terms of support for Object Oriented Programming. VB is no longer a programming language that happens to have some OOP features. Now one can say without equivocation that VB supports OOP. (If you would like additional details about these improvements, you can view the Microsoft documentation of the Visual Basic 7 language enhancements at http://msdn.microsoft.com/vstudio/nextgen/technology/language.asp.)
Bringing VB in line as a pure OOP language is going to give Java a run for its money. Many VB programmers are scared that Java will render them obsolete, just as many COBOL developers felt this way toward VB programmers five years ago. As Visual Basic becomes a language that supports object oriented programming in its entirety, these programmers are going to feel a new sense of vitality. Remember: VB 1 created a burst of Windows programs that made the operating system a viable platform for corporate applications; VB 3 created a burst of data access programs that put an end to the dominance of PowerBuilder; and VB 5 put the X in ActiveX. The idea of an army of invigorated VB programmers creating a tidal wave of enterprise-enabled applications is an interesting, if not intimidating, notion. Visual Basic 7 can makes this happen.
About the Author: Bob Reselman is a nationally known software developer, writer, and teacher, as well as a Founding Principal with Cognitive Arts and Technologies. He is the author of Practical Visual Basic 6, Active Server Pages 3.0 by Example, and Using Visual Basic 6 (all published by Que). He also spends time studying the integration of creative, artistic endeavor with the process of software development. Bob can be reached at bob@CogArtTech.com.