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Good alternative to VB's IDE?

Does someone know whether a good alternative exists for the Visual Basic (not VB.Net) IDE, or maybe some add-ins?

I'd like to find a solution to common issues with the standard IDE such as
- lack of code beautifier (automatic identation of the whole code, removal of empty lines, etc.),
- automatic identation (ie. type "If so then ", and the IDE will add the "End If" and move the cursor automatically to the ligne that followed the conditional statement)
- code analysis so you can tell how functions are called throughout the program,
- syntax highlighting
- support for mouse wheel, etc.

Thank you.

Fred
Tuesday, June 08, 2004

GUI designer? :)


Tuesday, June 08, 2004

(The free) MZ-Tools has a few useful add-ins, though the most relevant to you may be the feature that lets you see where a particular function is called throughout a project group.

Sam Livingston-Gray
Tuesday, June 08, 2004

The ultimate alternative to the VB IDE and programming language is Borland Delphi 7.

It blows VB out of the water in all areas.

It even blows Visual Studio .NET out of the water in most areas.

But you may not want to change the programming language because you have code that is already written and because you know it well.

However, if you are just starting VB programming, I recommend you to switch to Delphi 7. It will take some effort, but after only 1 month of development with Delphi 7 I am sure that you'll be extremely glad you switched to it.

MX
Tuesday, June 08, 2004

>> after only 1 month of development with Delphi 7 I am sure that you'll be extremely glad you switched to it.

Except for the little fact that employment in Delphi is so anemic that it's almost undetectable.  I can't think of a worse language to be in, job prospect wise.

Enter recursive, destructive loop of recriminations: "is too!" "is not!"...

PS: I am one of the biggest supporters of Delphi that I know personally in my local area. Doesn't change the fact that companies just don't use it.

Bored Bystander
Tuesday, June 08, 2004

I'm trying to learn Delphi right now.

I own the company, so I get to pick the language. Our 18 programs (in VB3) are in need of an update.

But, I gotta tell 'ya that there sure is a learning curve with Delphi.

But maybe I'm misremembering how long it took me to master vb 3 and 6.

Would be nice if there were some classes here at Virginia Tech covering Delphi.

Mr. Analogy
Tuesday, June 08, 2004

> Except for the little fact that employment
> in Delphi is so anemic that it's almost
> undetectable.  I can't think of a worse
> language to be in, job prospect wise.

Unfortunately you are right about this one. :-(

I think that Borland needs to hire some really good marketing people.

:-(

MX
Tuesday, June 08, 2004

>Would be nice if there were some classes here at Virginia Tech covering Delphi.

They already have a hard enough time teaching VB and they've been doing that for years. :)

Jonathan A.
Tuesday, June 08, 2004

>> I think that Borland needs to hire some really good marketing people.

Borland has gotten incredibly good at screwing the pooch repeatedly and with joy and vengeance. They go out of their way to squander any human capital.  They suck ass at positioning their development products, treating their champions right, and even in setting a fair price for their development tools.

Borland is the Computer Associates of PC software...

Bored Bystander
Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Basically, it sounds like your saying "I want all the nice code-editing features of VS.NET, but I'm not willing to upgrade."

Given that MS has put classic VB to rest, most tools and addins vendors are probably also starting to think about discontinuing their classic VB products lines. 

REALBasic may offer a nicer IDE (don't know, haven't used it).  And you could always switch to Delphi.  But if you're going to learn a new platform anyway, and your existing code base is VB6, VB.NET does seem like the most logical choice.

Joe
Tuesday, June 08, 2004

If I recall correctly, in Visual Basic 6 (and lower) the IDE is very tightly coupled to the underlying code. 

For example, you can't just type some VB6 code into Notepad and then compile it into a usable VB6 program (without using the VB6 IDE.)  This is especially true for any GUI application -- the forms designer hides a lot of implementation issues under the hood.  (Which you can't see or edit.) 

As a result, it's very unlikely that there are any alternative IDEs for VB6.

This is different from VB.Net or C#, where the Windows Form Designer is basically just a big code-generation wizard.  (You can view all of the implementation code in the generated form.)  If you don't want to use Visual Studio, you can write a GUI application using an alternative IDE (like SharpDevelop) or even code everything by hand (shudder) using Notepad, and then compile it using the .Net SDK.

The upside is that Visual Studio (both for VB6, and VS .Net)is very extensible.  If you need some particular feature, you might be able to find an add-in that implements it, or else you could code one yourself by hand.

Robert Jacobson
Tuesday, June 08, 2004

I did a quick yahoo search for '+vb6 +ide +addin' and it turned up quite a few addins that provide extra features within vb's ide.  Not sure if any provide all the features you want, but here are a couple of them:

http://www.mztools.com/
http://www.turbovb.com/

My take on Delphi:  If you're running your own software company you can decide to use whatever development tools you want.  There are enough Delphi users to create the critical mass necessary to sustain Delphi over time.  Yes, people are complaining that it's dying, but they've been doing that for many years.  And the fact that Delph is and will likely remain the only cross-platform Win32/.NET development tool in existence is a big plus in its favor.  So if you aren't tied to MS products for Windows development, get a step up on your competitors by using Delphi.  You'll be able to develop better programs faster.

Herbert Sitz
Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Actually, you can write VB in notepad and compile it, but good luck with forms and dialog boxes.

I hold out the hope that VB.net (widbey) will be more like vb6 than the current vb.net.

MilesArcher
Tuesday, June 08, 2004

What exactly is it that people love so much about VB6 (*besides edit-and-continue*)?  I used it for a long time, and was *very* glad to chuck it out the door in favor of VS.NET.

Joe
Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Take a look at the Zeus for Windows programmers editor:

  http://www.zeusedit.com/lookmain.html

Zeus is a highly configurable and supports almost any programming language.

> I'd like to find a solution to common issues with the
> standard IDE such as
>
>  - automatic identation
>  - syntax highlighting
>  - support for mouse wheel, etc.

It will do all of these.

>  - lack of code beautifier

It can be easily scripted to do this. Scripts can even be written in Java Script, VB Script or Python.

>  - code analysis so you can tell how functions

I am not sure about this one.

Jussi Jumppanen
Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Joe, you're probably a professional developer and I'm not. I'm a glorified hobbiest. I manage developers and sometimes prototype new applications/features in VB. It's a lot easier showing a programmer how something should work as a semi-working app than as text. It's a lot easier writing specs by taking screenshots of a prototype than to mock them up in visio or something. Anyway, i digress.

I don't care so much about e&c. It's things like VB6 showing the value of variables rather than the type in the tool tips, intellisense not being as helpful, etc.

I'm sure if I put a solid 80 hours into writing something in VB.Net I'd get up to speed, but at a couple of hours every couple of weeks, VB6 is just easier for me.

MilesArcher
Tuesday, June 08, 2004

MilesArcher,

Some good news for you -- the Whidbey (2005) release of VB.Net supports partial classes, where you can have the code for a class divided into multiple files.

For Windows Forms, this means that the low-level plumbing code will be relegated to a "helper" file.  You shouldn't see the "#Region Windows Form Generated Code" regions mucking up your Windows.Forms code.

Robert Jacobson
Tuesday, June 08, 2004

One word (two?) - CodeSmart, a VB6 add-in that comes very close to what you want.

Look it up and buy it for $99, the Autotext feature alone is worth the money. Autotext allows you to define custom set of keystrokes that trigger insertion of template code. 

For instance, when I type the letters "thn" quickly, followed by a space, Autotext inserts:

... Then
    |<-- cursor is here!
End If

The CodeSmart Explorer is also an excellent Project Explorer replacement, as it keeps track of each class/form/module's members and displays them in the tree if you want.

There are a ton of other features, I highly recommend this product.  (AxTools is the company, I believe)

Wayne
Tuesday, June 08, 2004

(I hope the OP reads that, after the *slight* detour we took due to the immediate arrival of the Language Police.)

Wayne
Tuesday, June 08, 2004

"Except for the little fact that employment in Delphi is so anemic that it's almost undetectable.  I can't think of a worse language to be in, job prospect wise."

I can.  Oracle Developer 2000.

T. Norman
Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Miles,

So you're that canary they've all been talking about? *grin*

Joe
Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Support for the mouse wheel can be gotten through installing Microsoft Intellipoint  version 4.0...NOT 5.0, they seem to have broken VB6 support in v5.

Think that was on accident?

Wayne
Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Wayne,

Good to hear you like a good conspiracy theory.

Your view is slightly weakened by the fact that:

a) VB 6 has never had built in support for the mouse wheel
b) MS has released a workaround

You may want to check out http://support.microsoft.com/?id=837910 and see for yourself.

Seeya

Matthew
Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Yeah, but that page does looks ugly in Mozilla :)

Wayne
Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Thanks everyone for the input :-) I spent part of today checking out Zeus, MZTools, CodeSmart, and TurboVB.

Although it says so on their site, it doesn't like Zeus is VB-friendly right out of the box, and, appart from a keyboard shortcut to bookmark a section of code, it doesn't like like MZTools has the features I was really looking for, but the last two look more interesting. Thx again.

http://www.turbodeveloper.com
http://www.axtools.com
http://www.mztools.com
http://www.zeusedit.com

Fred
Wednesday, June 09, 2004

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