Metamorphing Machine I rather be this walking metamorphosis
than having that old formed opinion about everything!

VB criticism

VB6 has a small but loyal fan base. And lots of haters. So much that it (or its sibling VBA) is number one as the most hatred technology in StackOverflow pools for some years now.
I was never able to understand why. Reading the interwebs, not everyone cares to explain why they dislike it so much.
And when they do, it's something as dry as "it's verbose", or "is so ugly that makes one want to kill their mother." 1

I understand that, being over 20 years old, it has many pitfalls, though. I even intend to write about some of them in my next posts.

VB's roots

VB descends from BASIC, a programming language created by John G. Kemeny and Thomas E. Kurtz at Dartmouth College in 1964.
As a fun fact, Mr. Kemeny worked as one of Einstein's research assistants in 1948.

Einstein's basicly a genius! Genius!

BASIC is an acronym, standing for Beginners' All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code. Due to having "Beginner" in its name, many wrongly assume it cannot/should not be used professionally.
BASIC's had his share of dislikes, too. The most scathing criticisms I ever saw to it came from Mr. Edsger W. Dijkstra.


The first one was not directed exactly to BASIC, but to a feature it had.
In his seminal paper "Go To Statement Considered Harmful", Dijkstra goes to say that "The go to statement as it stands is just too primitive; it is too much an invitation to make a mess of one's program."
We should keep in mind that it was written in 1968, and control flow statements as we know them today - like While, For, etc. - were not a thing yet.

It is interesting to know what BASIC's fathers themselves have to say about it.:
"Edsgar Dijkstra got the ball rolling on structured programming in the late 1960s, but not until the early 1970s did his ideas reached the hinterlands. In 1976 we added structured constructs to our BASIC. Incidentally, there were virtually no problems converting from old-fashioned BASIC to Structured BASIC. We dropped the GOTO statement overnight, with no regrets. Our students could not have cared less. We told them not to use it, and they didn't."

So far, so good. Dijkstra's paper was a technical one and did not even mention explicitly BASIC.
But then things took a turn to worse.

In his How do we tell truths that might hurt? letter in 1975, Dijkstra goes to say:
"It is practically impossible to teach good programming to students that have had a prior exposure to BASIC: as potential programmers they are mentally mutilated beyond hope of regeneration."
It was supposed to be a tongue-in-cheek text, but some people to this day still refer to it as it was true.

How one can answer such a mischievous statement? Mr. Dijkstra was a renowned personality in the computing science field, but he's also controversial, and not unanimity at all.
John W. Backus, for instance, once said that "This guy's arrogance takes your breath away" refering to Dijkstra

The best answer I've seen to this is:
"At the time this claim was taken seriously and few people had the courage to stand up and point out the flaw in Dijkstra's attack.
(...) There is also plenty of evidence that BASIC is a fine first language as long as it is taught properly and no language carries with it the guarantee that it will not or cannot be misused."

I guess maybe these unfounded complaints about BASIC were carried along to VB?

Andrej Biasic
1 I'm paraphrasing this statement from an actual blog post I took note many years ago, but it seems it is no longer available in the interwebs, as I cannot find it.