I’m A VB: Greg Rothlander

Website: http://www.pbsilink.com 

 

·        How long have you been using VB?

Since around 1998.  I think I started with VB3.

 

·        What industry do you work in?

Consulting

 

·        How big is your development team?

We are an R&D team with 3 core software developers and an additional 3 to 5 developers that are involved part time and as needed.

 

·        What kind of apps do you most commonly build?

R&D applications are what I work on.  however, the R&D applications actually generate VB.Net applications.  So we are building a migration compiler that compiles legacy RPG applications into VB.Net applications.  The compiler uses VB.Net on the front end and C# on the backend.  All of the UI is built in .Net, as well as the code parsers, tokenizers, and code generators.  The backend db classes, meta-data classes, and many others are built in C#.    There is no real pattern to what type of programs we are running through the migration process.  We are looking systems for shipping, retial, wholesale, state and local government, and others.   But they are all old legacy AS/400 (iSeries) applications that we are bringing forward into .Net and so far we have been bringing them all into VB.Net.

 

·        What’s the most interesting app you’ve ever built?

Probably the compiler we are working on now is the most technologically interesting.  The most interesting app that I have worked on in regards to the industry, has to be one for the Mexican government’s equivalent to the FBI. That app was written in VB6.  I have also worked on some top secret military apps for planning and estimating cost of deployments, which was also interesting.

 

·        Please tell us about an app that you’re working on at the moment.

I am building a migration compiler that compiles legacy RPG applications into VB.Net applications.  The compiler uses VB.Net on the front end and C# on the backend.  All of the UI is built in .Net, as well as the code parsers, tokenizers, and code generators.  The backend db classes, meta-data classes, and many others are built in C#.  But the whole front-end and compiler processes are written in VB.Net.    There is no real pattern to what type of programs we are running through the migration process.  We are looking systems for shipping, retial, wholesale, state and local government, and others.   But they are all old legacy AS/400 (iSeries) applications that we are bringing forward into .Net and so far we have been bringing them all into VB.Net.

 

·        What other technologies do you most commonly use?

C#, ASP.Net, SQL Server, XML, moving into Silverlight now.  We do equal work for in web and windows for the apps that we migrate using our compiler.

 

·        What are some of your favorite VB features?

That’s hard to say.  I think after using a language for so long, you start to forget what features you really like, as it becomes commonplace.  I think I would have to jump to another language a bit to remind myself what it is about VB that I like so much.  In general, it is easy to learn new technologies, 3rd party tools, etc. using VB.  I also like the auto-case correction compared with other languages where you can get stuck on case issues.  I also like not having to end everything with semi-colons.

 

·        What do you like most about VB as a programming language?

Ease of use of the lanugage is probably the #1 thing I like most.  It is easy to teach new developers and most people can come up to speed and be productive quickly. Compared to some of the other languages, VB is easy to pick-up for legacy developers that have not been exposed to OO development.  When compared to longuages such as Java, VB is a hundred-fold easier for a legacy developer to pick up and become productive.  After experiance this dozens of times, where legacy developers fail to pick up on Java and/or C#, you start to understand the real advantages of VB for many real-world clients out there.  We have also seen where legacy developers move to VB, then later to C#, where they were unable to make the move from legacy to C# directly.  For most of us .Net developers, this seems strange, but it’s a common pattern when working with people that have not upgraded these skills in the past decade or more.

 

For other interviews in this series, please visit http://imavb.net.