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Study: Slower Migration to VB.net

Visual Basic Developers in EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) are dragging their feet about Microsoft's next-generation toolset, VB.net, compared to North America, a recent study found.

The Evans Data Fall 2004 EMEA Development Survey found that almost half of all developers in the EMEA region of the world that once used a version of Visual Basic (VB 6 or earlier) did not migrate to its successor, VB.Net.

The study found that, as a whole since 2003, Visual Basic use by developers has declined by 25 percent. But it also found that 32 percent of developers in EMEA are using VB.net in 2004, up from 16 percent in 2002.

Evans Data cited a steep learning curve between VB.net and earlier versions of VB6 as one reason for the lag. As well, it noted difficulties in moving VB6 applications to VB.net, such that certain application components are not easily translated, if at all.

"You'd have to either re-write them from scratch or [not] migrate to VB.net and I think that's really holding some folks back," Evans Data spokesperson Erik Orgell told internetnews.com.

Overall though, Visual Basic usage is higher in North America than it is in EMEA, according to Evans Data. In EMEA, 43 percent of developers use some form of Visual basic, whereas in North America that number is 11 percent higher at 54 percent. That said, North American developers still use VB.net less (34 percent) than its predecessors VB6 and earlier at 45 percent.

According to Orgell, the difference between North America and EMEA for VB is a difference in focus for Microsoft.

"Microsoft has put just a lot more push behind Visual Basic in North America than in Europe, so that more developments have stuck with it."

The study also reported that Java use in EMEA is holding steady at 43 percent. In terms of which language is gaining at VB.net's expense, the Evans Data study is unclear.

"Unfortunately I can't really give any definitive idea of where they are disappearing to," Orgell said.

Evans Data in its current survey did not ask about every language that developers currently use.

"We actually don't specifically ask about PHP which is probably something we need to add," Orgell said.

Among the other findings in Evans Data EMEA developer survey was that 33 percent of developers in the region believe that outsourcing is good for business. In North America, that number was only 13 percent.

The latest predictions suggest a slightly different trend compared to the firm's Spring 2004 North American Development Survey, which surveyed more than 500 North American developers.

That study forecast that VB.net development would exceed VB development for the first time within the next year with VB usage dropping 30 percent with VB.NET usage rising by an additional 30 percent in the next year.