VBUC vs. the Upgrade Wizard: A Short Recap on the Advantages of Using the Upgrade Companion

Because of some queries we’ve had in the past few days, I think it is time to revisit the differences between the Upgrade Wizard that ships with Visual Studio .NET (2003,2005 & 2008) and the Visual Basic Upgrade Companion (VBUC). The VBUC is a different product, with very different capabilities than the Upgrade Wizard. We have a detailed comparison over at the Visual Basic Upgrade Companion vs. Upgrade Wizard page, but here is a brief overview of the main differences:

  • C# Generation: The Visual Basic Upgrade Companion  is able  to generate C# directly  from  the Visual Basic 6.0 source code, as an alternative to Visual Basic .NET.
  • Structured Error Handling: The Visual Basic Upgrade Companion includes features to remove unstructured “spaghetti” code and replace it with structured flow control statements in .NET. All unused labels are removed from the  resulting code. Plus  the most commonly used  “On Error  ” patterns are currently  recognized and replaced by the tool. This is important for C# migrations, as it ONLY supports structured error handling.
  • .NET Native Libraries: Instead of upgrading VB6  code using  the Visual Basic Compatibility  Libraries  like  the Upgrade Wizard  does,  the  Visual Basic Upgrade Companion  promotes  the  use  of  .NET  native  libraries whenever possible.
  • Type Inference: The VBUC contains a typing system that accurately assigns correct .NET data types to existing VB6 variables, functions, fields, parameters, etc
  • Stub generation: To ease the compilation process, the Visual Basic Upgrade Companion generates an empty declaration (stub) in a stub-dedicated source code file and into the converted project for each library element which occurs in the original application and does not have an equivalent in .NET. All the references to these not-converted elements are translated into references to their corresponding stub declarations.  This strategy does not fully resolve the lack of .NET equivalent elements, since the stubs will require manual implementation, but, it saves an important amount of time during the manual changes stage.
  • Code quality enhancements: The VBUC generates higher quality code with more mature and exact transformations. These transformations include data  type enhancements and grammar pattern transformations and detailed code improvements. A detailed explanation of these transformations can be found on the VBUC vs. UW page.
  • Multi-Project Conversion: The Upgrade Wizard is able to convert one single VB6 project file (*.vbp) at a time. Hence, if the user wants to upgrade a complex VB6 application with this tool, several considerations must be taken in order to accomplish full functional equivalence. The Visual Basic Upgrade Companion allows the conversion of multiple Visual Basic 6.0 projects. It performs a separation between the pre-processing and migration stages in order to fix problems like the use of by-ref parameters, interfaces, renaming and typing among the different projects. The pre-processor environment solves the references among projects and simplifies the overall migration process.
  • .NET Enumerations: Another  important Visual Basic Upgrade Companion  feature, absent  in  the Upgrade Wizard,  is the replacement of numeric literals assigned to several control properties with .NET enumeration equivalents when  possible,  so  that  the  generated  Visual  Basic  .NET  code  is more  legible  and maintainable.
  • 3rd Party Library Extensibility*: The VBUC  can be customized to convert any third party library to its native .NET equivalent. It ships with support for several libraries out of the box, which are detailed in the VBUC vs. VBUW document.
  • Legacy Data Access to NET*: The  VBUC  upgrades  the  legacy  data  access  models  (ADO,  RDO,  DAO,  ADOR)  to  .NET equivalents,  employing  special  transformation  rules  and  helper  classes  (for  some  specific source/target combinations). On  the other hand,  the UW generates a  target application  that still uses  those  legacy  data  access  models  to  communicate  with  the  database  via  COM  Interop wrapper calls. 
  • Custom Maps*: The Visual Basic Upgrade Companion Custom Maps extensibility, allows the user to upgrade their non-supported libraries and controls using a simple set of user-defined transformations. 
  • User declarations advanced refactoring*: The Visual Basic Upgrade Companion manages all the user declarations to perform tasks such
    as using standard Naming Conventions for the .NET languages and recognizing conflictive user-declaration names to assign new denominations (including all of its references).These tasks improve the resulting source code readability and hasten the manual change stage.
  • COM class exposure*: When this optional feature is enabled, the Visual Basic Upgrade Companion will generate attributes for the COM-exposed classes and their members, in order to keep the resulting assemblies exposed through a COM interface. This enables the resulting components to be called from other non-managed components via COM.

Make sure you download the PDF on the  Visual Basic Upgrade Companion vs. Upgrade Wizard page for additional details. Items marked with * are ONLY available in the Visual Basic Upgrade Companion (VBUC), and are not available in the VBUC Developer Edition.