ASNA Visual RPG Classic: Overview
25 years old and still ticking!
ASNA Visual RPG for COM (AVR Classic) was introduced in 1994. Since then, AVR Classic has been used around the world by thousands of RPG programmers to create graphical Windows-based application with real-time read/write connectivity to the IBM i (and the AS/400-i Series-System i generations that preceded IBM i) and Microsoft SQL Server platforms.
With the advent of .NET and the availability of ASNA Visual RPG for .NET in 2003, demand for COM development tools has dropped substantially. For today's new development needs, ASNA Visual RPG for .NET is superior in many ways to AVR Classic. That said, many ASNA customers have an enterprise dependence on legacy AVR Classic applications. For these customers, the continued use of AVR Classic is critical.
The demise of Windows XP
Microsoft discontinued support for Windows XP in 2014. Knowing that AVR 4.x products had lots of issues with Windows 7/8/10 platforms, we introduced AVR 5.0 in 2012 and AVR 5.1 in 2019. The AVR 4.x product line was compiled with a C++ from the 1990s. With AVR 5.0, we moved its code base to the newer .NET-based C++ compiler and AVR 5.1 uses an even new C++ compiler. Using this new compiler helps resolves Windows 8/10 issues for AVR 5.x Be aware though, that AVR 5.x doesn't not work on any Windows platform earlier than Windows 10. If you're using AVR Classic, we strongly recommend upgrading to AVR Classic 5.1 as soon as possible.
Weak link in the chain: Third-party controls
Although we've recompiled AVR 5.1 for use on Windows 10 and 11 you may have issues with third-party controls on these new platforms. Nearly every COM/OCX control vendor has long since gone out of business or left the COM marketplace. Rarely do you find a COM/OCX control that's been updated for, and guaranteed to run, on Windows 10 or 11. If you use third-party controls with AVR 5.x we strongly recommending testing carefully--and doing all you can to elminate, or at least minimize your third-party control dependencies.
A gentle nudge
on life won't last forever!
The image of the watch that leads this article is apt. AVR Classic has been at work around the world for thousands of customers for a long time and just keeps right on ticking. The advent of AVR Classic 5.x provides AVR Classic a renewed lease on life in the Windows 8/10 world. However, another timepiece-inspired image for AVR Classic is also apt: the hourglass to the left showing time running out.No one really knows how much longer the COM platform will continue to be a viable platform for hosting AVR applications. However, we do know that AVR Classic 5.x works well with Windows 10 and 11.
Other pressing issues for owners of AVR Classic apps is the disappearance of the third-party COM marketplace and the increased challenge of finding qualified COM programmers. Virtually every major vendor that provided ActiveX/OCX custom controls at the height of COM popularity has since gone away (FarPoint, Sheridan, and Mabry to name a few). COM ecosystem erosion is a factor in the long-term considerations for your AVR Classic apps. COM programmers, especially those familiar with AVR Classic, are very hard to find. Without them, maintaining or updating an AVR Classic app is quite a challenge.
AVR 4.x customers need an upgrade plan!
In the longer term, it's important for AVR Classic customers to acknowledge that AVR Classic won't persist forever— due to external forces beyond our control. How COM's destiny plays out in the upcoming versions of Windows is unknown. Given this unknown, the demise of the ActiveX/OCX eco system, and COM programming talent being hard to find, we think it's prudent that you craft a plan to ultimately upgrade or replace your AVR Classic apps.
The ASNA worldwide Services Team has experience in upgrading and replacing AVR Classic apps. Use the "Ask us a question" button to ask us about how we can help you craft a long-term plan for your legacy AVR Classic apps.