WARNING: This is a speculative post. Caveat emptor.
Several weeks ago, I gave a presentation entitled Bringing Scripting (Back) to Visual Basic at the Lang .NET 2008 conference. A video of the presentation has now been posted, so you can check it out for yourself. (The presentation was also covered by EWeek in an article entitled Bringing Sexy Back to Visual Basic.)
The main theme of the presentation is the same one I’ve been talking about on and off over the past year or two: moving Visual Basic back towards it’s scripting roots. The main thrust of this presentation was the technical side of the story–namely, what we would need to do to the existing Visual Basic compiler to be able to effectively use it as a scripting engine. The presentation talks some about the way the compiler is structured, how it might change and some of the things were thinking about enabling. In particular, what we’d like to see is not just that Visual Basic can be embedded anywhere, but that all the services that the compiler provides–parsing, semantic analysis, code generation–are available to be used by any program that needs them. The DLR is a key part of this, but there’s a lot of work on top of that.
I also showed some fun demos of some prototypes that we’ve whipped up using our current codebase. Nothing we’re committing to at the moment, but it gives you some of the flavor of what we’re thinking about.
One thing this presentation didn’t cover (and which Ted Neward brought up in the Q&A afterward) is what we might do to the language itself to make it more scripting-friendly. That’s an area where things are less well-defined and even more speculative than what I talked about, so I left it out for now. Maybe soon I can talk more about it…