We routinely spend a lot of time at our customers' site, to help them in their migration needs. If you haven't written an application's source code, understanding what the migration challenges are is a difficult and time-consuming process. It gets quickly much worse if the application is scattered over dozens or hundreds VB6 projects, as is often the case with N-tier (DNA) Visual Basic applications. In such cases, even getting a broad idea of how large the application is, how many forms it has, which controls it uses, and which technologies it relies on is a nightmare. On top of that, if the application is really huge, few people in the company (if any) have a 360° view of the entire application.

For this and other reasons, this week I decided to lock my office door and build the VB6 Bulk Analyzer tool. It's a simple command-line utility that gathers a lot of information about all the VB6 projects and source files inside a specified directory tree and then creates a concise but quite thorough report. You can download the beta build here.

Using this tool is quite easy: just open a command window, move to the root of the directory tree that contains all the VB6 source files that you want to parse, and run the utility. I will show the name of the files being processed, and then a summary of all the code it has parsed. If you parse more than a few dozens files, odds are that the relevant information will scroll away from the window, but you also have a permanent copy in the file named VBAnalyser_Report.txt, in the current directory. The tool supports a few options too, such as /quiet for omitting file names, /out to select a different report file, and /help to display a short explanation. You can also specify multiple folder names, in case your source code is scattered in directories that don't have a common root, as in this example:
       VB6ANALYZER c:\firstapp c:\secondapp  /out:c:\report.txt

The report file contains much useful info, including:

  • number of projects and source files, grouped by type
  • statistics about the source code (code lines, empty and remark lines, etc.), number of methods, properties, etc.
  • statistics about ActiveX classes (grouped by their Instancing property, number of MTS classes, etc.)
  • all the type libraries used in all projects, with how many times the typelib is referenced
  • names of all used controls and components, with a count beside each control
  • list of all the Declare definition, with number of occurrences of each declare
  • list of problematic keywords (GoSub, On...Goto/Gosub, VarPtr, ObjPtr, StrPtr, etc.), with number of times the keyword is used
  • list of problematic data types (Variant, fixed-length strings, etc., with number of times the keyword is used
  • list of problematic control properties, methods, events (e.g. members related to classic Drag-and-drop or DDE)
  • list of problematic constants (e.g. adOpenDynamic and adOpenKeyset means that a piece of ADO code can't be easily ported to ADO.NET)
  • list of COM classes that are instantiated via CreateObjects
  • list of OLEDB data providers explicitly mentioned in a connection string

VB6Analyzer is quite precise, especially if you consider that it doesn't really interpret the VB6 source code. It uses plain regular expressons, yet it doesn't suffer from "false matches" (eg. a keyword that appears in a remark or in a quoted string). Regular expressions make it very fast: on a 3GHz system it analyzes over 600K characters per second, or nearly 9,000 lines per second. 

Please keep in mind that this build is just a beta version which I rolled out in a couple days. Please write me if you find any problem or inconsistent result.

PS: if you are interested in our VB Migration Partner or our migration services, just run VB6 Bulk Analyzer on your project and then send its report from the Contact Us page.