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Motion Lab Resources Website – The VB6 IDE


The vast majority of the Patients and Services Database Program is developed in the VB6 language.  This project was started many years ago, when this language was first introduced.  It is based on a technology referred to as COM (Component Object Model) architecture.  In the interim, Microsoft has seen fit to move to a new programming architecture referred to as .NET (dot-net).  This newer technology is better at developing applications with interfaces over the web.  However, within a given LAN (local area network) or WAN (wide area network), VB6 is still seen as one of the most powerful, stable, and user-friendly languages available.


The primary problem is that, for years, Microsoft has been attempting to move everyone to the .NET architecture, and no longer sells the Integrated Development Environment (IDE) for VB6, which is needed to further modify and compile VB6 source code.  And the problem with just moving to .NET is that it requires a rather substantial re-writing of code written for the COM architecture.


Because of the failure of things to “move to the cloud”, as many had anticipated, there are discussions of bringing back the COM architecture.  In fact, in many ways, it never went anywhere.  The COM architecture can be found in the VBA macro area of any of the Microsoft Office products.  Microsoft also sells a “macro engine” which uses this COM architecture that can be integrated into other systems.  This macro engine is found in such diverse places as the SPSS statistics software, the Cortex software from Motion Analysis Corp., and versions of Adobe InDesign.  The following are a couple of links that further discuss these issues:


Visual Basic 6.0: A giant more powerful than ever

Bring back Classic Visual Basic, an improved version of VB6


Because of the popularity of the COM architecture, Microsoft has guaranteed that compiled programs developed with the COM architecture (like the PatientsAndServices.exe program) will be supported on Windows Operating Systems into the foreseeable future (including Windows 10 and beyond).


A problem arises for someone who may wish to take source code written in VB6 and further develop it.  This requires a copy of the VB6 IDE program.  Presently, the only places I know to get copies are on either Amazon or eBay.  They seem to be going for something in the $200 range.  Just be sure you’re actually buying the IDE and not some book.  Also, be sure you’re not just buying an upgrade.  It is typically listed as something like “Visual Basic 6.0 Professional”.  Also, academic versions are just fine, and “Visual Studio 6.0” is also fine.  Visual Studio has Visual Basic as one of its components.  The one version you may want to avoid is the Learning Edition.  This Learning Edition version will read and execute the source code, but it can’t compile it into a new executable.  If you’re just wanting to view the source code and possibly trace through it, the Learning Edition will work just fine.


If you’re determined to get it up and running on your own, please know that Microsoft released Service Packs for VB6 through the years (six in all).  The latest one has all previous Service Packs rolled into it.  The Service Pack is a bit different depending on whether you got “Visual Basic 6.0” or “Visual Studio 6.0”.  For convenience, I have placed the latest Service Pack for both the VB6 IDE and VS6 IDE out here.  You will install these Service Packs after you install either the VB6 IDE or VS6 IDE.


     Visual Basic 6.0 Service Pack 6


     Visual Studio 6.0 Service Pack 6


A few people have attempted to install the VB6 IDE on newer computers and have run into a few bumps.  To help with this, I have developed a document with the steps I went through in installing it recently on a Windows 7 computer.  Those steps can be found here.


My primary development computer (with the VB6 IDE installed) runs Windows 8 - 64 bit, and I have no problems.  I also have a Windows 10 - 64 bit computer that I sometimes use, and the VB6 IDE runs just fine on that computer as well.



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