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Convert VB 6 to WinForms and WinForms to HTML

Mobilize.NET has made their name by helping companies become unstuck from Visual Basic 6. Their hallmark product, VBUC or Visual Basic Upgrade Companion, takes legacy applications and converts them into either C# or VB.

Here is an example of a typical VB 6 application from the late 90’s.

In order to make the conversion process smoother, the VBUC converter includes a diff tool that shows the mapping between the original and new code:

For many companies this is enough, WinForms is expected to be supported for the foreseeable future. But for others the goal is to get off the desktop entirely. This is where WebMAP2 comes into play.

WebMAP2 takes WinForms applications and converts it into an HTML based application. It does this by splitting the .NET code into views and controllers. It then converts the views into HTML while the bulk of the code lives in server-side controllers.

Here is that same VB 6 application running on Azure:

Mobilize.NET stress that they are producing idiomatic JavaScript. This is important because they don’t expect you to keep your code in this format forever. Once your users get used to seeing their mission critical apps on the web you can slowly rework the UI into something that belongs in a browser.

There are significant advantages to this approach. When you do a full rewrite from scratch there is a huge social risk factor. Capturing the requirements alone can take months, and then begins the endless debates about which features to bring forward and which to leave behind. Meanwhile some people will be using this time as an excuse to slip in new features. With Mobilize.NET’s conversion based approach you can skip the arguments and focus on the testing.

But more important than that, it reduces the retraining costs associated with the application. Some of the applications being upgraded may have been written as far back as the early 90’s, long before even Windows 95 was released. Even if the new application can do everything the original could, retraining all of your employees to use the new system can be incredibly costly. Sometimes this expense far exceeds the cost of the actual rewrite.

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