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Visual Basic (yes, Basic!), and "VBX" tools

Buried deep in Bill Garland's message, I found the following:

> 6. Learn Unix. Maybe I'll get a shell account on Sameer's machine.
>    I've been a DEC RSTS/VMS Basic-Plus/VAX BASIC V2 programmer for
>    too long, and I've not yet become unixificated. I don't even
>    know if I could read a C++ program. I'm obsolete...again.

Maybe not. The tide may be shifting a bit. "Visual Basic," from
Microsoft, is coming on like gangbusters for Windows programmers.

And Windows is a _huge_ market. Further, by the time you you plausibly
complete any crypto product, the connectivity to the Net will be there
(cf. any recent issues of "Byte" for a mind-numbing discussion of the
multitudinous standards for objects, OLE 2, Distributed Objects
Everywhere, OpenDoc, etc.)

Visual Basic is rapidly growing in popularity because of Microsoft's
weight, Bill Gates' fondness for Basic (I speculate), and the
fortuitous decision to incoporate Windows "foundation classes" (a C++
notion, of course) into Visual Basic in an easy to use way, via the
aforementioned "VBX" extensions. These act as tools, pallettes,
widgets, and are growing rapidly in popularity.

In reading and rereading the "Byte" article "Componentware," May 1994,
Jon Udell, and in seeing an entire shelf of Visual Basic books at
several of my local bookstores, I realized that things have changed.

Here's just one quote. Think of "crypto" when you read about these VBX

"The fact that VBXes (Visual Basic custom controls) today best
exemplify the decades-old notion of reusable software has been a
surprise for everyone, including Microsoft. VBXes aren't just for 3-D
buttons, guages, and scrollable grids. National Instruments (Austin,
TX) will sell you a VBX that controls GPIB (general-purpose interface
bus) instruments. Cimflex Teknowledge  (Palo Alto, CA) offers a
VBX-based expert system. Distinct (Saratoga, CA) packages its TCP/IP
programming kit into a VBX...." (more examples)

Now part of this could be over-enthusiasm by the "Byte" author...we've
seen that plenty of times (in all of us). But my point is that anyone
already versed in Basic might want to take a serious look at Visual
Basic, and/or Visual C++ (which Microsoft has introduced to also
exploit VBXes).

Granted, Visual Basic is barely similer to the "old" Basics, such as
RSTS Basic (does DEC even support that anymore?).

The whole world is most definitely *not* going to Sparcstations, BSD,
and C++. Windows, Macs, and such are outselling Unix boxes by a vast
margin, and both Pentium- and PowerPC-based "personal computers" are
essentially workstations. Granted, most are not "on the Net" in the
same way the "toad" machine is, but this will change in time. It could
change soon. (And I'm sure some Windows, Windows NT, OS/2, and
Macintosh System 7 machines are already on the Net. Also, there's more
to the crypto future and needed software than just being on the Net.)

--Tim May

> And please, Tim, We Really Do Need The FAQ. I have heard
> you toss out tidbits about the Cyperpunks FAQ. More, please.
> We really do value your postings and ideas and caveats and 
> reputation - nobody else could do it...Tim... 

Yes, it's coming. Real Soon Now.

Timothy C. May         | Crypto Anarchy: encryption, digital money,  
[email protected]       | anonymous networks, digital pseudonyms, zero
408-688-5409           | knowledge, reputations, information markets, 
W.A.S.T.E.: Aptos, CA  | black markets, collapse of governments.
Higher Power: 2^859433 | Public Key: PGP and MailSafe available.
"National borders are just speed bumps on the information superhighway."