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VBA Going Away, Macs Now, PCs Soon

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the cuts-down-on-the-cross-platform-exploits dept.

Upgrades 255

Nom du Keyboard writes "As Microsoft drops support for older Office file formats, it looks like Visual Basic for Applications is also going soon. Mac Office 2008 has dropped VBA in favor of enhanced support for AppleScript, and Office 2009 is scheduled to lose it in favor of Mac incompatible Visual Studio Tools for Applications (VSTA) or Visual Studio Tools for Office (VSTO). This sounds like the Mother of All Backwards and Cross-Platform Incompatibilities — especially since there appears to be no transition period where both the old and new scripting languages will be simultaneously supported. And as past experience with Visual Studio .NET has shown, upgrade tools are far less than perfect."

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About Time (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22055996)

This should teach the morons about using MicroFUCKed [microsoft.com] software.

Cheers.

Cross Platform? (3, Interesting)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 6 years ago | (#22055998)

So my only cross platform choice for scripting office applications is now OO.org? Sweet Jesus! MS, WTF?

Re:Cross Platform? (5, Insightful)

ricegf (1059658) | more than 6 years ago | (#22056244)

This could be good news! We currently have to support MS Office versions of our customizations for Windows, and OOo versions for Linux / Unix. Since Microsoft is forcing us to go back and rewrite the MS Office versions if we upgrade our Windows apps - why not just upgrade to OOo on all platforms, avoid the rewrite cost, and maintain just one set of customizations going forward!

Yes, yes, I see a great "employee suggestion" fattening my wallet this year...

Re:Cross Platform? (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#22056544)

I wish you luck.
Let us know how it goes. :-)

Re:Cross Platform? (2, Interesting)

risk one (1013529) | more than 6 years ago | (#22057270)

Does ODF have a scripting language defined? That would be a perfect selling point. Switch all your complicated macro-based documents to ODF and this will never happen again.

Re:Cross Platform? (4, Informative)

ianare (1132971) | more than 6 years ago | (#22057576)

Python Power [openoffice.org] baby !!

Re:Cross Platform? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22056340)

Microsoft's new motto is, "Finding new ways to alienate paying customers, one day at a time".

Re:Cross Platform? (2, Funny)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 6 years ago | (#22056886)

You're supposed to use Visual Studio Tools for Applications (VSTA).
Seems to remind me of some other smash hit from Redmond...Bob? Millenium Edition? DOS? What was that thing...

Re:Cross Platform? (2, Interesting)

arotenbe (1203922) | more than 6 years ago | (#22056944)

Microsoft's new motto is, "Finding new ways to alienate paying customers, one day at a time".
I'm waiting for them to start suing their own customers... oh, wait, the music industry has already tried that.

Re:Cross Platform? (0, Troll)

coppro (1143801) | more than 6 years ago | (#22056428)

Microsoft supports only one kind of cross-platform-compatible application, it seems:

#include <stdio.h>
int main() { printf("%d", 1/0); return EXIT_SUCCESS; }

Re:Cross Platform? (1)

carnalforge (1207648) | more than 6 years ago | (#22056742)

Err, should be:

#include

int WinMain(HINSTANCE, HINSTANCE, LPSTR, int)
{
                MessageBox(0, (const char *) (1/0), "", MB_OK);
                return 0;
}

Re:Cross Platform? (3, Insightful)

toQDuj (806112) | more than 6 years ago | (#22057674)

Nope, you misunderstand the strategy employed by Microsoft.

First, they say they will make a sudden switch, everyone will be stumped, irked, and in various states of disbelief at their ballsy move.
Then they will "concede" and support both scripting languages for one more version, and people will think they've won, and a gradual transition takes place. Managers are happy because they "made" Microsoft change their position on abandoning VB right away, and Microsoft will be happy because they were planning it all along. The only unhappy few are the IT people that get to recode from one language into another.

B.

gay niggers (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22056004)

from outter space

Die Visual Basic (1, Insightful)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 6 years ago | (#22056032)

I hated the years when Visual Basic was thought to be a technical marvel. What were they thinking? And why do companies like to jump on every new thing without evaluating the good from the bad? Maybe some companies just think that everything that MS sends out is an upgrade.

Re:Die Visual Basic (0)

cromar (1103585) | more than 6 years ago | (#22056116)

I'd really like to know why the MO Dept. of Education uses the damn filth... I've picked up all sorts of annoying typos by doing VB work for them.

Re:Die Visual Basic (0)

DingerX (847589) | more than 6 years ago | (#22057498)

Probably because they're trying to keep up with the MI Dept. of Education. Heaven forfend if you get sold down the river!

Re:Die Visual Basic (4, Insightful)

I8TheWorm (645702) | more than 6 years ago | (#22056276)

One word.... RAD. Well, ok, it's really three words.

With the PHBs having been promised projects developed in half the time with a smaller team, I can see how VB got it's bloated non-type-safe foot in the door.

And rewriting projects now that are a VB fiasco is making for lots of development jobs ;)

Re:Die Visual Basic (1)

AmericanInKiev (453362) | more than 6 years ago | (#22056468)

The only reason to "rewrite" an application is because it is fundamentally productive.

I would propose that RAD is not an unreasonable approach to "testing" software.

Surely most VB is not rewritten, some because it stinks, others because it works, only rarely is a lower level fully justified.

Maybe this carping is less than fully informed?

AIK

Re:Die Visual Basic (4, Interesting)

I8TheWorm (645702) | more than 6 years ago | (#22056832)

Only less than fully informed because I didn't qualify it.

The rewrite projects I've seen regarding VB to [insert your own language of choice here] seem to be wrapped around a common theme... unsupportable code. While I'm sure there are plenty of enterprise level applications out there written in VB and well-written, the majority of what I've seen takes form level code and spaghetti to a whole new level.

My only guess as to why this happens with such frequency is the environment in the late 90s where there were more jobs than programmers, too many "Sam's Teach Yourself Visual Basic in 21 Hours" books, and a lack of architecural knowledge leading VB teams down the path of no return.

What many companies are left with are legacy apps that nobody wants to support, much less enhance. And with webServices, AJAX and all that is Web 2.0, and a bevy of other technologies that people want to utilize, enhancing kludgy enterprise VB apps with no architecture tends to be more expensive than a proper rewrite.

A funny note: I'm currently contracted to a company that lost all of it's Java/Jade developers when part of the company was sold. In an effort to get the software on supported technology, phase 1 of this project is to reverse engineer the (completely undocumented) application and recreate it in C#. No changes allowed, regardless of best practices. Phase 2 is to completely rewrite it. By reading this could you guess this company is in the oil and gas industry?

Re:Die Visual Basic (1)

metalcoat (918779) | more than 6 years ago | (#22057178)

Do I Work For You?

Re:Die Visual Basic (4, Insightful)

AmericanInKiev (453362) | more than 6 years ago | (#22057372)

I think you are criticizing an organic process for choosing the path of least resistance.

Futile and somewhat incompletely informed spring to mind.

VB is successful because most of the potential applications for computers are not terribly time or resource constrained, most applications are cost-of-development constrained. VB is chosen because it consistently provides the path of least resistance to the first deliverable result, and executives will always bet on the horse that makes it to the first turn - first.

I'm suggesting these executives are not silly - they realize that in the rare case that a software becomes truly important, they will invest in an upgrade - but they avoid the upgrade costs on all the other trial balloons that fill the long spans between truly-imperative-software.

In any cases, engineers who race to the first pole, do so because it keeps them employed, and that ain't so silly either.
Criticizing a platform for being popular is what is silly in my humble opinion.

AIK

Re:Die Visual Basic (1)

I8TheWorm (645702) | more than 6 years ago | (#22057606)

Oh, don't get me wrong. I've written a fair share of applications in VB, and have seen well designed and well written VB code elsewhere.

I do question the PHBs that decided, after reading an article describing VB as the cost saving miracle snake oil, to hand off huge enterprise application development to people who'd seen nothing but VB. Compared to what I described in the second sentence, I've seen way more 168 form VB applications with no classes, but 16 modules with global variables as far as the eye can see, etc...

While VB itself is not to blame (well, except for that whole not defaulting Option Explicit thing), the people who chose it and the teams they chose (apparently based on desired rate and nothing more) are what made VB the laughing stock of the industry.

Re:Die Visual Basic (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 6 years ago | (#22056882)

The only reason to "rewrite" an application is because it is fundamentally productive.


It's the only way to take care of that dratted productivity!

Chris Mattern

Re:Die Visual Basic (1)

ubrgeek (679399) | more than 6 years ago | (#22056990)

S'Truth. The only two reasons I learned VB was to quickly throw together an NNTP client using a pre-built, purchased ActiveX component that took care of it all for me (and let me hit my deadline and impressed my bosses with a shiny toy) and to get a UI together for the day before a presentation. It's amazing what some neat buttons and textarea boxes can do to impress people. VB was always really good at something. Of that, I'm certain. But it just really never seemed to be the Most Amazing Thing Ever (tm). I understand from friends who build frontends for databases that it's fairly easy to do so with VB, but I have no experience there.

Regardless, with dropping support for VBA, does that completely hose things like all of the millions of complex macros that have been developed over the years? Does this affect VBScript (And no, I haven't RTFA)?

Re:Die Visual Basic (1)

I8TheWorm (645702) | more than 6 years ago | (#22057334)

Only if they upgrade ;)

Re:Die Visual Basic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22057038)

Still, the company I work for has made *millions* from a VB6 application of many years ago and still in use today.

Re:Die Visual Basic (1, Insightful)

ibsteve2u (1184603) | more than 6 years ago | (#22057386)

Snicker...RAD is indeed the true reason why those who hate VB complain so loudly.

Almost any other programming language carries with it the burden of endless planning and objectives meetings, months and even years of code writing and debugging, and then the stunning realization that the business has moved on without you and your project.

Meanwhile, the Service & Finance people conclude that if they're going to get such lousy results for so much effort, they might as well offshore the next project in order to control the labor costs.

With VB, the process was simple: Idea, implement, debug, distribute - in weeks, not months or years.

I'm rather surprised that Microsoft is making this move - I suspect that there are ten lines of VB and VBA code for every one line of non-VB code out there in the corporate world.

If you add up the costs of the Office and Vista O/S upgrades, the cost of the new hardware required to support Vista, the cost of porting all of that VB and VBA code, and the costs associated with the increase in electricity requirements that the new Vista-capable hardware demands, you've made one hell of an argument to go open source on Linux.

Hammer time: Can't touch this! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22056044)

So basically what's the problem? Don't want to leave the past behind? Just how much notice did you all need before you determined that the future was coming up?

The Dark Side ... (1)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | more than 6 years ago | (#22056048)

... is going to feel that one.

Unless.... (4, Informative)

VValdo (10446) | more than 6 years ago | (#22056106)

As Microsoft drops support for older Office file formats, it looks like Visual Basic for Applications is also going soon

Unless... what if there were only some alternative, open-source project [neooffice.org] that already supports it on Mac [neooffice.org] and a similar ongoing Windows/Linux project [openoffice.org] ...

Oh well, I can dream.

W

Re:Unless.... (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 6 years ago | (#22056642)

What was that about MS claiming their OOXML format is meant to preserve compatibility... What about all those documents out there that use VBA?
And is this now the 2nd or 3rd time they've completely dropped their scripting language to replace it with something else?

One of the most often cited reasons for not switching to OpenOffice is that it won't run VBA macros, but it seems MS won't either before long... If the VBA support in openoffice gets up to a usable state, or sun's converter works well, this could actually into a reason to migrate to OOo..

Aside from that, OOo already supports 4 languages for writing macros in, including starbasic which i imagine is kept to retain compatibility with old versions of staroffice... It also supports javascript, which seems a logical choice. If you invest the time to learn VBA your effort will soon be useless, if you learn whatever they replace it with you face the same fate at an indeterminate point in the future, and all your effort is tied to one app.
If you learn javascript, you gain a useful skill that can be used for a variety of purposes in a selection of different apps... Not only will you be able to write openoffice macros, but you will also be able to write ajax apps, a very in-demand skill these days.

Re:Unless.... (-1, Flamebait)

XHIIHIIHX (918333) | more than 6 years ago | (#22056780)

OO is so bad compared to VB. As a C++ programmer and OS proponent it hurts to have to say that, but VB is just light years ahead of the competition. Show me an OO script that can embed a video in your spreadsheet.

Re:Unless.... (1)

dzurn (62738) | more than 6 years ago | (#22057076)

And what will you do when Microsoft decides that your VB bath-time is over and drains your tub?

Already they've abandoned VBA on the Mac, but as a paying customer I'm sure your chosen niche will *always* be in Microsoft's gentle embrace.

Re:Unless.... (1)

bb5ch39t (786551) | more than 6 years ago | (#22056878)

I use OpenOffice on Linux and NeoOffice on my Mac. It does everything this non-power user (of Office software) needs.

Time for Java (5, Informative)

teknopurge (199509) | more than 6 years ago | (#22056108)

Not a troll.

Java has a scripting extension [sun.com] . No, not Javascript(only), but you can plug various Scripting languages [java.net] into it, or use Judo [judoscript.com] which is the real endgame for this problem.

Java? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22056390)

No thanks. Javascript does make a sensible choice for cross platform scripting.

The first python or ruby (etc) zealot to chime in is going to end up choking on a huge perl. I'm not pushing Perl, don't push your pet language.

Re:Java? (0, Offtopic)

orlanz (882574) | more than 6 years ago | (#22056672)

Only a Perl owner would enjoy owning a pet rock.

Re:Time for Java (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22056826)

Yes, indeed time for Java the panacea, with write once, download 500Mb of class libraries, setup all the classpaths, cross your fingers that the JRE versions are compatible, and hope for the best.

Let's not forget Java's awesome runtime performance.

Re:Time for Java (0, Flamebait)

teknopurge (199509) | more than 6 years ago | (#22057276)

So many problems, so little time..

The consumer JRE is ~4MB.

I can also write Java code that runs faster than C code on a 4 year old JVM!! [idiom.com]

Now please, go back to your Visual Studio and let us adults get back to the convo.

Regards,

Re:Time for Java (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22057478)

The consumer JRE is ~4MB.
ORLY.

I just checked on Java.com, and they list the download as 7.1MB. That's the installer, which is really a downloader, but it's still bigger than the 4MB you gave.

Checking the install of Java that IT forced on me, I see it comes in at 80MB, although I think that includes some third-party libraries. (Which is why IT forces it on us.)

And that's the latest version, straight from Java.com.

Yeah, C code compiled by a compiler with no support for modern instruction sets and with optimization disabled. Try again with a real C compiler.

Java will never perform as well as C code compiled with a good optimizing compiler and a good set of libraries that take full advantage of a modern processor. It simply can't.

Time for .NET, you mean (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22056830)

Hate to burst your little Java bubble, but .NET not only has a scripting extension, it's had it for longer than Java. (Far longer.) And it supports far more languages, too, since it doesn't have to shoehorn the languages into Java's OO model.

I'm going to miss some, but .NET supports Haskell, Forth, Perl, Python, Ruby, Tcl, Lua, JavaScript, and VB right now.

Java supports JavaScript and various Java-fied versions of scripting languages. .NET supports the actual scripting languages directly.

Re:Time for .NET, you mean (1)

teknopurge (199509) | more than 6 years ago | (#22057410)

Really? So I guess you read the link I posted where it says you can use:

AWK, Beanshell, ejs, FreeMarker, Groovy, jaskell, java, javascript, jelly, jep, jexl, jst, judoscript, juel, ognl, pnuts, python, ruby, scheme, sleep, tcl, velocity, xpath, xslt

MS office going down (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22056126)

More incitive against our beloved office, thanks to kamikaze microsoft strategists. Not a very wise move with all the support dropping of late, and of course the current open format discussions. Not that I'm complaining.

Hello I am a Mac and I am a PC. (5, Funny)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 6 years ago | (#22056142)

So Mac you thought you where so funny. Well take this! "PC throws a chair label Cross platform compatability right out a Window".
So what you going to do about Mister I am so much cooler than a PC!.
Mac pick up the phone.
"Hello Open Office org?, Yea this is Mac I have a message from Steve for you. How would you like a big pile of cash and about a hundred programers? Really great they will be right over."

Re:Hello I am a Mac and I am a PC. (1)

Brett Buck (811747) | more than 6 years ago | (#22056668)

More like "Hello, Apple division that programs iWork?, this is Steve, get your asses in gear, we're not paying you to sit around not creating a alternative to VBA!"

        Brett

Re:Hello I am a Mac and I am a PC. (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 6 years ago | (#22057250)

Only if Apple is going to make iWork for Windows and completely backward compatable with Office.

Well, it's a start. (5, Funny)

TW Atwater (1145245) | more than 6 years ago | (#22056216)

Let me know when they dump Windows.

You Sig.. Windows Progs & Linux (2, Funny)

Dareth (47614) | more than 6 years ago | (#22056602)

sol.exe runs just fine using Wine for Linux... what you mean people do something else with their Windows boxes?

Difference between VST(O|A) and VBA? (1)

RandoX (828285) | more than 6 years ago | (#22056220)

What is the difference? What do you get by replacing VBA with VSTO or VSTA?

Re:Difference between VST(O|A) and VBA? (1)

0racle (667029) | more than 6 years ago | (#22056332)

Well, you get to rewrite all your macros if/when you upgrade.

Re:Difference between VST(O|A) and VBA? (5, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 6 years ago | (#22056564)

What is the difference? What do you get by replacing VBA with VSTO or VSTA?

Screwed over and locked in, with no cross-platform support?

Flippancy aside, Microsoft trots out what they decree is the Next Big Thing about every 4-5 years. In the process, they act like what they used to call the New Hotness is a smelly pile they want to get away from, and drop support for it. Of course, it was a smelly pile in the first place, but it was their smelly pile and they wanted you to buy it and spent a lot of money convincing you it was good.

In the mean time, companies have spent a lot of money supporting and implementing the technologies, buying training, books, etc. Then you re-start the cycle all over again. This is just the next in a long-line of technologies that Microsoft has swept under the rug and moved on. Then a whole new gravy train starts.

Of course, they get the added benefit that you will have even less support and functionality on Mac OS. And, if that is the case, then why would someone by a Mac when they need Office?

I suspect this is 1/3 "technical", 1/3 "strategic", and 1/3 "because we can, bitches".

In the end, who is to stop them? The customers never leave en masse like people have been predicting for as long as I can remember. People adopt the technologies. And, everyone just sucks it up and gets on with their day.

Trotting new, unfinished technologies and dropping older, unfinished technologies and charging for it is Microsoft's bread and butter. It's one big hamster wheel. :-P

Cheers

Re:Difference between VST(O|A) and VBA? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22056616)

The same VB apps have worked in Office for a hell of a lot longer than 4-5 years.

Re:Difference between VST(O|A) and VBA? (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 6 years ago | (#22056786)

The same VB apps have worked in Office for a hell of a lot longer than 4-5 years.

I'm not saying they drop everything every 4-5 years. Just every 4-5 years they take one piece which they've made critical and wide-spread, and toss it aside.

Recall, that MFC is now largely considered deprecated and dangerous. They spent a long time getting that entrenched.

Cheers

Re:Difference between VST(O|A) and VBA? (1)

BeerCat (685972) | more than 6 years ago | (#22057006)

The same VB apps have worked in Office for a hell of a lot longer than 4-5 years.


Indeed, in 1997, I took over development of an Excel spreadsheet with loads of VBA macros. I left after 3 years, but as far as I know, it is still in use.

Re:Difference between VST(O|A) and VBA? (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#22057408)

The customers never leave en masse like people have been predicting for as long as I can remember.
They don't? Hmph. Someone better tell IBM [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Difference between VST(O|A) and VBA? (1)

cp.tar (871488) | more than 6 years ago | (#22057396)

What is the difference? What do you get by replacing VBA with VSTO or VSTA?

Is it just me, or are they pushing another ViSTA?

If it's not just me, then you get lots of incompatibilities, slow performance, slow adoption rate, users downgrading or migrating to other systems, and several people impressed with some shiny stuff most of us have had for years now.

Microsoft doing (1)

carnalforge (1207648) | more than 6 years ago | (#22056224)

what they are experts in, interoperability!

adios vba (2, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#22056230)

dim vbaRelevancy
set vbaRelevancy=new activeXObject("vbaWantsToLive")
if vbaRelevancy.microsoftBacking(2009)=false then Office2009="VSTO"
set vbaRelevancy=nothing

Re:adios vba (1)

carnalforge (1207648) | more than 6 years ago | (#22056370)

Man, you even cared to use "dim" and "set", what a perfectionist! :) Remembering the days i had to use this for living this "language" wont be missed from me at least.

Microsoft Tools... (2, Interesting)

RocketScientist (15198) | more than 6 years ago | (#22056254)

So yeah. VBA is going away. I wrote a bunch of VBA many years ago (hey, I was young and needed the money :P), now when the version of office it's running under isn't security patched anymore that code's either tossed or re-written from scratch.

And DTS, Data Transformation Services, is already gone. Doesn't work under 64-bit editions of SQL Server 2005. The upgrade tool is worthless. However I did learn something between VBA and when DTS shipped, and I didn't ever get on the DTS bandwagon. So all the bailing-wire-esque scripts I wrote using T-SQL, script files, and Perl to do file formatting that I wrote 8 years ago will keep running forever, while the DTS stuff that someone wrote last year won't work now.

Choose your tools carefully, and work as low as you can, but no lower.

Re:Microsoft Tools... (5, Funny)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 6 years ago | (#22056398)

I wrote a bunch of VBA many years ago (hey, I was young and needed the money :P),
You should have been a hooker. It would have done less damage to your soul and self-respect. :)

Re:Microsoft Tools... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22057632)

and you would've got laid.

My captcha is "drooping"

Re:Microsoft Tools... (1)

halber_mensch (851834) | more than 6 years ago | (#22057706)

I wrote a bunch of VBA many years ago (hey, I was young and needed the money :P),
You should have been a hooker. It would have done less damage to your soul and self-respect. :)

In either case, the parent poster should be considered a carrier of disease and you should not engage in sexual contact or shared needle drug use with him.

And wash your hands with warm, soapy water after reading his posts.

Re:Microsoft Tools... (1)

BlackSnake112 (912158) | more than 6 years ago | (#22057074)

DTS doesn't work under 64-bit windows? I have to check that case of soda I just got. Just because microsoft calls it by a different name (import and export wizard instead of DTS) doesn't mean it is not DTS. They just put DTS into MMC and renamed it. Similar screens, the steps look to be the same too. It has been a while since I used DTS (last I used it was SQL 7.0). I usually use BCP from the old blinking cursor.

No more excuses for not using OOorg (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22056278)

Sounds to me like the old excuse not to upgrade to OpenOffice because it won't support all of your VBA script anymore has gone out the window...

Great for Open Source!!! (2, Insightful)

filbranden (1168407) | more than 6 years ago | (#22056292)

Well, this news are for Open Office (and other open source office suites) what Vista was for Linux! If Microsoft continues shooting itself on its foot, open source software will have no trouble at all to gain its deserved market share!

Re:Great for Open Source!!! (1)

powerlord (28156) | more than 6 years ago | (#22057312)

Well, this news are for Open Office (and other open source office suites) what Vista was for OSX! If Microsoft continues shooting itself on its foot, well built alternatives will have no trouble at all to gain its deserved market share!


There. Fixed that for ya. :)

Actually kidding aside, you may have a point. I have a few non-technical people who are getting tired of MS, and are talking about getting another XP PC, but also converting their existing PC to Linux "to play with".

I've also heard a few of them complaining about MS and how they've decided to try a Mac instead.

Re:Great for Open Source!!! (1)

Haeleth (414428) | more than 6 years ago | (#22057366)

Well, this news are for Open Office (and other open source office suites) what Vista was for Linux!
What - you mean it'll generate a load of excitement in the free-software community, with loads of people chiming in to prophesy doom for Microsoft and massive uptake of free software, but in reality it'll turn out that PHBs the world over will be so afraid of anything that isn't Microsoft that they'll do nothing at all for as long as possible, then grit their teeth and endure the painful upgrade to whatever it is that Microsoft has decreed they must use, just in time for that to be declared obsolete?

Seriously, I hate to burst your bubble here, but if you really think your average PHB is going to give even a moment's consideration to OpenOffice.org, you're deluding yourself. Listen to what average people are doing right now - they're complaining about how much they dislike Vista and about how much they hate the Office 2007 user interface, even as they continue to upgrade to Vista and Office 2007. These people are apparently literally incapable of realising that there's any alternative. And that's home users, who don't have to worry about getting fired for choosing something other than Microsoft...

(To all you PHBs out there: please prove me wrong. Please.)

Goodbye to MS-Office ? (4, Interesting)

alexhs (877055) | more than 6 years ago | (#22056352)

I find it amazing how MS is eager to cut the branch it's sitting on these times.
I thought VBA was one of the major reasons for businesses to not switch to alternatives : because they developped in-house lots of VBA code to achieve some tasks, that would tie them to the MS-Office suite.

I'm torn... (1)

Oxy the moron (770724) | more than 6 years ago | (#22056364)

On the one hand, there's a potential short-term, albeit unpleasant, cash cow there for someone who wants to take all that VBA garbage and make it work in the "latest and greatest" Microsoft offering.

On the other hand... their "latest and greatest" probably isn't all that much better, and probably will carry a hefty price tag.

They've done this before (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22056376)

Once upon a time I wrote a bunch of stuff in VB 2 (iirc). Then they dropped support for that and I had to upgrade. It didn't go well. I pretty much had to rewrite everything or have code that I couldn't distribute.

Now, most of what I write is in Java, Javascript, Python, anything but VB. Microsoft sure knows how to win friends and influence people.

Don't mind at all (3, Insightful)

Killer Eye (3711) | more than 6 years ago | (#22056394)

I don't mind seeing software companies trash their customers' investments this way. It just means that more people will learn (albeit the hard way) just how tied they are to the whims of their vendors, and seek a way to end the pain. The outcomes of that are generally a step forward for the industry.

For example, this could cause some people to start demanding more of their software vendors (e.g. open formats, better support contracts, whatever). Or it could cause them to look at free/open formats and software as a way to avoid this problem in the future.

Re:Don't mind at all (3, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 6 years ago | (#22056718)

I don't mind seeing software companies trash their customers' investments this way. It just means that more people will learn (albeit the hard way) just how tied they are to the whims of their vendors, and seek a way to end the pain. ...snip...

For example, this could cause some people to start demanding more of their software vendors (e.g. open formats, better support contracts, whatever).

It's a nice sentiment, it really is. However, after having watched this happen with several Microsoft technologies over the years, I don't believe it's any more likely this time around.

People have been saying that about Microsoft for at least 15 years now. I fail to see why this one would be significantly different unless a lot of things have changed.

Microsoft just simply has too much leverage -- people will do this because they have no choice, or because they've already drank the kool-aid and are completely on board.

Cheers

Re:Don't mind at all (3, Insightful)

ciggieposeur (715798) | more than 6 years ago | (#22057648)

I fail to see why this one would be significantly different unless a lot of things have changed.

I think a lot of things have changed in the last 7 years. The Internet can now be 90% used quite nicely with Firefox/Konq/Opera/Safari/etc.; OOo is actually pretty usable for a lot of low-level stuff so only a (relatively) few serious professionals really need the more advanced features of MS Office; there are reasonable F/OSS alternatives to almost all of the large desktop packages (except for vertical market packages); gaming consoles are now powerful enough to run arcade-quality games; and the Mac platform has made a comeback in a major way.

I'm not sure exactly when the tipping point was, but sometime in the last 3 years I've noticed that an awful lot of people have stopped equating "computer" to Windows. I don't expect a massive migration away from MS software, but I also don't see nearly so much pressure in the form of must-have features to remain on the platform.

Unrelated VS jab?!? (2, Funny)

RingDev (879105) | more than 6 years ago | (#22056424)

And as past experience with Visual Studio .NET has shown, upgrade tools are far less than perfect
What the hell is the point of that statement??

1) It has nothing to do with the software in focus.

2) Converting from framework 1.0 to 1.1 was almost effortless, and while converting from 1.1 to 2.0 usually took a tad bit of refinement, compiling a 2.0 application for the 3.0 or 3.5 framework is trivial. VS.Net 2k8 has the option built in so that you can work on 2.0, 3.0, and 3.5 framework compilations with nothing more than a project property change.

3) The VB6 to .Net 1.0 converter was actually highly functional, IF your VB6 code was abstracted and tiered in an OO manner. Unfortunately, most VB6 code was written, well, crappily as compared to current OO standards, and thus there was not much that could be done for automatic translation. Although the output would tell you specifically what wouldn't work, and where to read KB articles to learn about new ways of doing the same thing.

That aside, dropping VBA seems like an INSANE thing to do. Not that I like VBA, it's existance is a thorn in my side. But the fact that VBA is so ingrained into the corporate atmosphere. MS is in a pretty rough spot with Office. Office 2k was a great product. Office 2k3 introduced only marginal improvements that were hard to justify to the accountants. Office 2k7 has some neat stuff, but with the new interface and no new functionality for the majority of users, justifying it to both the accountants AND users was difficult. Now the next version of Office is going to abandon VBA, which means that the IT development departments are going to have to either develop real apps for all the users who depend on those heavily modified excel spread sheets, or you're going to have to get some training on the new scripting language for your employees. Either way, that is a HUGE financial investment beyond the $300 license.

-Rick

Re:Unrelated VS jab?!? (2, Informative)

MrSteveSD (801820) | more than 6 years ago | (#22057048)

The conversion tools just died on some of the code we tried them on. Also if you ever did anything clever in VB to try to get around it's limitations, the conversion tools were a disaster. On top of that, conversion from VB6 is flawed even in principle because .NET does not have deterministic finalization, so if you ever had important code to be run when a VB object expired, all of that would need to be manually changed.

Realizing that conversion was not an option, we instead decided to write all new stuff as C# modules to be called using interop. This was a nightmare too. There are a lot of companies out there that have invested huge amounts of money in developing VB products and many of them just do not have the finances to rewrite everything.

Re:Unrelated VS jab?!? (1)

RingDev (879105) | more than 6 years ago | (#22057510)

There are a lot of companies out there that have invested huge amounts of money in developing VB products and many of them just do not have the finances to rewrite everything.
EXACTLY! There is no reason to re-write the vast majority of VB6 programs out there. Assuming a program written in VB6 is mature, stable, and feature full, requiring only the occasional maintenance work or tweaking, there is really no reason to make such a huge investment. Heck back in 2001-2003, even if it's not finished, but you already have a staff of skilled VB6 developers working on it, just finish it in VB6. The cost of re-tooling your IT department mid-stream would be outlandish, not to mention the delay of the project and the risks of working with a then new technology. Heck, VB6 has extended support through 2k9, by the time running 32b COM applications becomes an issue for OSs, the business needs will likely have shifted enough that the program could use a significant revamp, and if not, you're looking at normalizing the redesign costs over an 8 year window as opposed to a 1 year window.

NEW development on the other hand, should have been moving in the .Net direction with any require interfacing done through either a data source (database, XML, or the like) or via COM Interop.

Ford isn't about to recall every car they've produced just to retool them to the new year's standards just because the new standard is different. And an IT department shouldn't re-create software that already works just because there is a new language.

-Rick

Hrmp? (1)

Shados (741919) | more than 6 years ago | (#22056442)

Office 2003 is supported now. So's 2008. So there's your transition period. Oh, you mean in the same product? Do it like you would any other enterprise application: do a parallel deployement. Once thats done, phase it out.

All serious MS devs knew about this event years ago, no news there.

cool (1)

doofusclam (528746) | more than 6 years ago | (#22056482)

About time I reckon. VB was genuinely useful for a while, but the industry grew up past it and now it's just an insecure relic.

Corps need to get their bespoke VBA apps onto the web and be done with it.

But the REAL news was missed on this (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 6 years ago | (#22056520)

This announcement was misinterpreted by almost everyone. This was supposed to be titled: Roadmap for OOXML. Those crazy marketing-droids got it mixed up again... hmmmmm

Re:But the REAL news was missed on this (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 6 years ago | (#22057468)

This announcement was misinterpreted by almost everyone. This was supposed to be titled: Roadmap for OOXML.

I had thought about titling it that, but needed something catchy so that the Slashdot moderators would accept my submission before someone else submitted a dup.

How stable are OO macros? (3, Insightful)

cheros (223479) | more than 6 years ago | (#22056536)

I guess moving to OO or StarOffice would not be such a bad move after all then. La least the macro language is consistent across apllications as well as platforms.

I guess the only question remaining is why you would run Windows after that, but you should ave been asking that question quite a while back ..

Zero-based arrays (3, Funny)

wiredlogic (135348) | more than 6 years ago | (#22056548)

Good. Can we have our zero-based arrays back now?

Re:Zero-based arrays (1)

cbart387 (1192883) | more than 6 years ago | (#22056798)

VB.NET is as bad. If I remember correctly, when you declare an array's size, that 'size' is for the upper bound. And since VB.NET is zero based you end up making an array 1 size too big. Ie if you want to declare an 8 element array with a constructor val of 7 (7 being the highest index).

correct me if I'm wrong, I'm too lazy to verify ;)

Re:Zero-based arrays (1)

JMZero (449047) | more than 6 years ago | (#22057052)

Well, you're right in a sense - you declare arrays by the highest index (rather than the size). It doesn't mean you end up making arrays too big or something - it works the same as other languages, it just looks strange.

The goofy looking one is when you declare an array with zero elements, which looks like "dim x(-1) as integer" (as dim x(0) would make an array with one element).

Wow, that's a surprise. (3, Informative)

ErichTheRed (39327) | more than 6 years ago | (#22056676)

No VBA support in the next version of Office for Windows? It's great in terms of eliminating a huge security risk. It's terrible in terms of backward compatibility.

Maybe Microsoft doesn't get this. Companies use SAP, Oracle Financials, SAS, etc. to store and crunch aggregate data. I have never worked in a company that doesn't literally run on hacked-together Access "applications" and Excel macros. Business users pull all that data out of SAP et al and work on it using tools they develop. In many cases, that's because the IT department is too swamped to help them build a proper app, or because it's too much bureaucratic red tape to build an application.

Admittedly, they are replacing it with VSTA. However, any tool that is less forgiving on business-level users' programming mistakes isn't going to be adopted quietly. There's also the cross-platform problem with Mac Office, and the fact that tons of Excel macros and other stuff will need to be rewritten.

If I were Microsoft, I'd build in a highly crippled "compatibility sandbox" that throws up tons of warnings, but runs _most_ non-dangerous VBA code. They did this with Microsoft Graph and other Excel add-ons to encourage people to move on while preserving backward compatibility.

The reversal of the SP3 file format disabling was an easy fix...this one won't be so easy to unwind.

In their defence... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22056680)

In Micrsoft's defense, few people exchange office documents containing macros, because of (a) the danger of viruses, (b) the danger of e-mail antivirus software messing with your document to prevent said viruses, and (c) the stack of security warnings which will show up when the recipient actually opens the file.

If nobody is exchanging documents with macros, cross-compatibility isn't an issue.

Oh, also I doubt many people are using macros in non-trivial applications, because let's face it, macros aren't very good.

Absolutely wrong! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22057046)

I wrote a *trading* application in Excel, written almost entirely in VBA (with a C++ ActiveX control providing the real-time feed). It ended up being almost 50k lines of code. All the user had to do was open up his workbook, which had a worksheet for each stock, and voila! real-time updates and the ability to auto-sell based on thresholds and calculations done within the sheet itself.

I can attest that others have done similar, non-trivial projects in the financial industry; that's where VBA is used heavily because it's easier to calculate Black-Scholes using VBA than with in-line formulas.

Microsoft is high on pills if they think this will go over well in the financial sector.

What should novices do now? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22056736)

I go to a community college -- and I wanted to take a C programming class for my Summer semester.

I was considering myself royally screwed that I'd have to undertake a Visual Basic class (which acts as a prerequisite for the C class), but really I'm more screwed than I previously though. Not only will I be taking a course of an ineffective, language I'll be taking a course of an ineffective, soon-to-be-useless language.

Hrm, suggestions on what I should do? :x

Re:What should novices do now? (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#22057066)

Talk to the instructor who teaches C.

It's the people that matter (1)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 6 years ago | (#22056818)

I'm convinced that although the durability of product features is almost entirely governed by the time horizons of employees within companies.

The only way you get consistent backward compatibility and a consistent style is when the product is being developed and managed by a consistent set of people.

So much of the important stuff is in peoples' minds and hearts.

You can embed the important stuff on paper, of course, with standards and style guides. But people only follow them... to the spirit, not to the letter... if the people working on them have bought in and care about them. And, of course, if managers who decide what standards and style guides to use keep them in place.

 

Aww... (2, Insightful)

nog_lorp (896553) | more than 6 years ago | (#22056862)

Sad, that was always my favorite "thing that schools never secure". You can just about always get into VBA macros on Word, and use that to run a command line or regedit or etc.

Re:Aww... (1)

EkriirkE (1075937) | more than 6 years ago | (#22057328)

Yeah, and even if they actually set a policy preventing regedit from loading, I could call system apis in VBA and wrote my own reg edit in word.

Typical (4, Interesting)

GreatDrok (684119) | more than 6 years ago | (#22056900)

All the UNIX skills I developed over the last 20 years are still useful. So glad I haven't bothered to spend any time on the MS treadmill. Heck, all the software I wrote over the last 20 years can still be compiled and runs happily on a modern machine that is hundreds of times faster than the SPARCstation 1 I used to run on.

Do you think the PHBs will ever learn that using proprietary systems like Windows may seem cheaper in the short term but in the long run you open your wallet and let them take take take?

Good Time To Switch to Ruby and Python (2, Informative)

oldwarrior (463580) | more than 6 years ago | (#22056906)

Since they can be the glue that hold together cooperating subsystems, rather than closed (and now retiring) VBA.

One Dev Kit To Rule Them All (1)

blueZhift (652272) | more than 6 years ago | (#22056980)

I can understand, a little, why MS might want do this. It could be argued that it will be less of a headache to support the scripting functionality best suited to each platform. But that really wears a little thin when if they would finally support Mac development in Visual Studio they might finally have the one ring to bind and rule them all, so to speak. Visual Studio is a pretty good development platform, for Windows, why not extend it to Mac? And then from there, would it be so hard to allow developers the language of their choice to script MS Office apps whether that be C#, Python, or something else?

Yeah, I know MS generally doesn't support any platform other than Windows as far as dev tools go, but one can dream...

WTF? Is this a trick? (1)

8tim8 (623968) | more than 6 years ago | (#22057000)

Mac Office 2008 has dropped VBA in favor of enhanced support for AppleScript...

So MS is ditching its homemade scripting language in favor of Apple's? MS, within the Mac platform at least, is moving towards openness? Is this a trick? Is this a new embrace and extend? This just sounds...bizarre.

By the way, has anyone got MacOffice 2008 yet? Is it very different from the previous version?

Happy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22057096)

Python is my way. I has a lot of applications on VB6 ruined after .NET. Now the Excell is my only red thin line to Windows :) Next thing? Gnumeric or KOffice? Who cares, both have Python scripting. The OO scripting is awful shit, overloaded from Sun with 3 miles long names and a bunch of unused variables ...

Whither EndNote (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22057156)

Arguments about open source alternatives aside, doesn't EndNote use VBA for all of it's scripting? I'm sure it's fine for the Windows side for which they can add in VSTA/VSTO support, but won't this kill EndNote for the Mac? I seem to recall that EndNote uses VBA for all of its formatting and layout within Word.

I'm a grad student in biology and we are almost entirely a Mac group (it's seems to be rare to see a completely PC bio group these days I think). It would be quite a shame if this decision had rather strong ripples throughout a number of other companies whose business models are predicated on using VBA in Office.

This is not what it seems (4, Interesting)

strcpy(NULL,... (1089693) | more than 6 years ago | (#22057596)

MS is not trying to improve their product by removing/upgrading VBA.. They just want to kill Mac. By providing different scripting languages for the two platforms, they are going to eliminate Macs from being used for business. Since most of your customers don't have Macs, you can't use a Mac to write a document with macros in it. So, you have to buy Windows.
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