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I have three applets designed in VB6 a decade ago. They interface with some instruments (one via serial port; two via ADC card) and provide an on-screen display of an instrument's reading along with other information. The applets make the data available through DDE links and we supply a sample Excel file to show how to access the data and convert that (through a function or look up table) into the value the customer needs. The customer provides the conversion function. (The instruments are photometers, measuring absorbance; the conversion is the inverse of absorbance = f(x) where x is the independent variable.)

It's time to update these and I am looking at C# (each program is less than 1000 LOC; conversion should not be difficult). I know DDE is deprecated; I've been researching the alternatives but I'm not clear what will be easiest for our customers to implement and still be flexible. For example, while we supply a sample Excel [spreadsheet] a customer might want to [use] a different spreadsheet program or a database; hence, creating an Excel add-in may not be the way to go.

Any recommendations on how to proceed? Links to resources are appreciated. If I decide to expand these applets to be a database of the readings what controls [or library package/framework] are available to allow the user to enter their own formula?

Edits in [] for clarity
Updated 25-Oct-11 5:54am

1 solution

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Solution 1

First put Visual Studio at work to convert and upgrade your projects, and see how much work you need to do.

Second if your code base is just 1000 lines then rewriting could be simpler than wading through the errors.

Third a simple web service interface for your data could help your out and be future resistant for your integration problem (most Excel type applications can read XML from a web service nowadays).
JRickey 26-Oct-11 12:52pm
Thanks, Mehdi. Your suggestion led me to an MSDN article on ExcelWebServices that should help. I'm definitely getting into topics I haven't worked with before.

I'll look at converting the VB6 project since the first step of that is easy. Even if that goes rather smoothly I may rewrite/redesign/refactor the code to allow better testing and to better integrate patches and enhancements done over the years.

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