VB6 Support Coming to an End

Courtesy of Julia Lerman, I am reminded that mainstream support for VB6 comes to an end on March 31.  Now contrast that fact with the results of a survey that found over 50% of shops are still using VB6, a fact I blogged about here.  Does anyone else see a problem with this picture?

The problem of telling people who are currently running VB6 why they might want to move their applications has been at the front of my brain for a little while.  The biggest roadblock is that there really is no direct compelling reason.  Put it to you this way. You have an application currently working in VB6.  It took a couple of man years to build, but everyone is comfortable with it.  Both your developers and users can use and extend it as they need to.

Along comes someone saying that the company needs to convert to VB.NET.  This is a working application, not a broken one.  There is a cost to doing the conversion, not just in the effort, but in the efficiency of the development team.  As someone who made the move from VB6 to VB.NET about 4 years ago, I can tell you I was quite frustrated by how much my productivity dropped for the first few weeks (or months).  And what does the company get on the other side?  An application that (hopefully) works. Not really the ROI that one would hope for.

The problem is that the benefit to moving to the .NET platform comes about in the future.  A well designed .NET application is much easier to extend.  Using widely accepted software design processes (like unit testing and FXCop) are more easily accomplished using .NET.  Meaning that the quality of the software produced increases. So over the life of an application, the company will definitely make back its investment.  Or, more accurately, is quite likely to make it back.  But the argument is a difficult one to make to an executive with their eye on the financials of a company.  Invest potentially tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars for what return? 

I'm still thinking about how to crack this nut.  Any suggestions that you have or stories that you've run into would be helpful, so feel free to send them on.  And I'm sure I'll come back to this in a later post.