A Frequently Asked Question


Is XYplorer really written in VB6?

Yep, it’s written in VB6. Who cares?


OK, here is the long version:

A Short History of VB and its Bad Name

Visual Basic (VB), born 1991, one of the most successful programming languages ever, has a pretty bad reputation. Actually a very bad reputation. Is that a contradiction? No, it’s a consequence. It has been so successful because it was (and is) easy for beginners. So in the early 90s of the last century countless noobs started to produce crappy code (aka spaghetti code) and flooded the digital world with bad programs.

Those were the days of VB1, VB2, and heavily VB3. Those were the days when the reputation went down the drain. Then came VB4 (1995), a promising step forward but still noob material. Then came VB5 (1997), a giant step forward because now VB could compile to native system code (machine code), i.e. you could create "real" Windows applications with it, that were often (not always) as fast as C++ applications (that’s the language with the good reputation). This step attracted better programmers and they created better VB programs. Then came VB6 (1998) which added some final polish.

Now it was perfect. And it still is. And that’s why it is still used around the world, although it’s allegedly "dead" for almost 20 years now. Then in 2002 Microsoft started a new language, VB.NET, superficially related to VB (now called "Visual Basic Classic") but very different at heart.

So the classic Visual Basic was left alone and not further developed since 1998. Nevertheless VB6 remained a very popular language and has been supported by all following Windows versions, and it will continue to be so, simply because there are so many VB6 programs out there that need to run, and because the support is dead cheap. You just need to ship one file, msvbvm60.dll (1.32 MB), and there is your Windows support. Will Microsoft stop to include this tiny file and upset countless private users and companies? Never.

Of course, no success could blow away the bad smell of the old VB3 times. The web is a sticky place and it’s full of gossip. So, every semi-educated troll would readily repeat what he hears from his troll buddies: VB = bad.

It’s interesting: XYplorer is one of the top file managers on the planet, nobody would doubt that. It is used in more than 110 countries around the world, by private users and companies, and its popularity is rising constantly. It’s translated into 24 different interface languages. It keeps getting ecstatic reviews and enjoys a loyal and growing community of afficionados. And it’s written in VB6. So, wouldn’t it be logical to conclude: If such an application can be written in VB6 then VB6 cannot be that bad after all? However, the fascinating power of the gossip works the other way round: "It is written in VB6 so it can only be crap."

The Truth

Yes, VB6 is a great language when you know what to do with it. But admittedly it has some shortcomings:

No multi-threading. A pity. But for a file manager not that important. And XYplorer provides a way to queue and background time-intensive file operations, so you don’t have to sit and wait until the copying is finished.
Cannot be compiled to 64-bit executables. A real pity. Reason: Microsoft never made a 64-bit compiler for VB6 because in 1998 there was no 64-bit Windows. That’s why XYplorer.exe is a 32-bit executable. Which is not that bad since, of course, 32-bit applications run just fine on 64-bit Windows. XYplorer also can show the 64-bit context menu for items (in fact it can show both, the 32-bit and the 64-bit context menu, which is pretty cool). However, any 3rd party shell extensions (like thumbnail handlers, preview handlers, IFilters) need to be 32-bit to be usable by XYplorer. Just like for 64-bit applications they need to be 64-bit. Things need to be compatible.
The main menu cannot display Unicode characters. So there won’t be a version in e.g. Ethiopian or Mongolian script because unfortunately Windows offers no codepages for these scripts. Languages like Russian, Chinese, Japanese, or Korean are fully supported (there are Windows codepages for them).

Who Cares?

So, XYplorer is written in a dead language. Is that a problem? Say, you are thinking about getting a new coffee machine. It’s a fantastic machine, fast, elegant, looks good, even makes Espresso. And the price is okay, too. But then somebody tells you the construction plan used to build the machine is written in Latin! Is that a problem? I don’t know about you, but if the thing looks okay, works okay, and the coffee is good -- who cares?

It’s just a Tool

So let’s be pragmatic: You may evaluate the full version of XYplorer for 30 days for free. Then you decide on your own: Does it work for you? If yes, buy it, otherwise don’t.