Check out this article, in which Linus Torvalds says that “VB has done more for programming languages then OOP” – http://sztywny.titaniumhosting.com/2006/07/23/stiff-asks-great-programmers-answers/. He cites the ease of data programmability present in the earlier versions of VB as one of the most important contributions.
I remember when I was in high school, my mom decided to take on a project for work. She was helping to revamp an old database system built in dBase III and make it “Windows” ready. They decided to use Access as the database backend, and my mom designed and wrote some of the code for this new system. Because my mom did not have a CS degree or programming background, I helped her to a lot of the more complicated tasks; this was one of my first exposures to the data access programmability support in the VB languages. It was extremely simple to use, and combined with excellent debugging support, it made developing data applications much easier. My mom and I actually had fun with this project; we were building something and the building process was fun.
I also remember working at my first job after the summer of grade 12 – I was working for a company that was on the “bleeding edge” of Microsoft technology. We were getting ready for IE 3.0 release, and were working on creating all these new ActiveX controls and Active Desktop gadgets that were supposed to be way cool. But also, I remember using the first version of ASP (without the .NET) and VBScript – I remember learning about recordsets and how trivial it was to hook up your web server to a database and generate code from a data source. I remember being so enamored by this that I even set up ASP at home and created a bunch of web sites for people using it. It was fun.
I contrast that to the times where I had to work with the ODBC APIs in C or C++ – yeh, those are days I wish to forget. Working with ODBC was not fun.
Now fast forward to 2006. The work that we have been doing in LINQ and DLINQ, I hope, will bring back and exceed the data programmability magic that we had. Having re-visited some of the old ADO.NET programming models, and then trying out the comprehension support in LINQ/DLINQ, I can say that LINQ and DLINQ will usher a whole new era of data programmability that will make writing data applications (without the use of complicated designers and code generators) fun again.