C# versus VB.NET

I decided to post on this topic today because of an article I saw on the printer at work this morning. You can check out the entire article yourself here, but what made me decide to post was the author’s assertion that VB.NET can be “considerably less verbose than C#” because of the “with” keyword. He left out the existence of the “using” keyword in C#. The code he writes as an example could be simplified to the following:

using (TabPage tp = tabControl1.TabPages[0]){
tp.BackColor = Color.Red;
tp.BorderStyle = BorderStyle.Fixed3D;
tp.ToolTipText = “Click Me!”;
tp.Text = “Hello world”;

In C#, the keyword does double-duty by indicating inheritance from .NET and COM libraries. In VB.NET, another keyword (Imports) is needed for this task.

The author is right about the existence of more automatic formatting and IntelliSense code-completion in VB.NET. However, I consider it more a hindrance than a help when creating properties. In C#, if you want to create a read-only or write-only property, you write the property with just the get block or the set block. In VB.NET, you’re required to provide a ReadOnly or WriteOnly keyword to get the same effect.

The initial reason I decided to learn C# instead of VB.NET is a demo I saw from Don Box at a Guerilla.NET class in 2001. He took a MS Visual C++ sample app and used the .NET Framework to compile it. He didn’t have to change a single line of code to get this to work. He said at the time that this was the only language that trick was going to work for. He turned out to be right.

Early on, another argument in favor of C# was the number of code samples and books. It seemed heavily in favor of C# versus VB.NET, though the gap has certainly narrowed in subsequent years.

A third argument in favor of C# is what language software products are being built in. I heard plenty of rumors in 2001 about Microsoft rewriting some things in C#. But what’s certainly true is that some companies are building products with C#. Writely, a recent acquisition of Google, is written in C#. Community Server, from Telligent, is also written in C#. NUnit, an excellent unit testing tool (ported from JUnit), is also written in C#. NAnt is a C# port of the Ant build tool.

Mine is just one opinion among many as to whether you should use C# or VB.NET. But when there’s a development team involved, the language to be used should be the one the majority of developers are familiar with. That’s why I chose VB.NET when building MethResources.gov even though I personally prefer C#.

Here are some other opinions on the subject:
Choosing between Visual Basic .NET and C# (by Ted Pattison)
From VB.NET to C# and Back Again (by Darren Neimke and Scott Mitchell)