VBScript (“Microsoft Visual Basic Scripting Edition”) is an Active Scripting language developed by Microsoft that is modeled on Visual Basic. It allows Microsoft Windows system administrators to generate powerful tools for managing computers with error handling, subroutines, and other advanced programming constructs. It can give the user complete control over many aspects of their computing environment.
VBScript uses the Component Object Model to access elements of the environment within which it is running; for example, the FileSystemObject (FSO) is used to create, read, update and delete files. VBScript has been installed by default in every desktop release of Microsoft Windows since Windows 98; in Windows Server since Windows NT 4.0 Option Pack; and optionally with Windows CE (depending on the device it is installed on).
A VBScript script must be executed within a host environment, of which there are several provided with Microsoft Windows, including: Windows Script Host (WSH), Internet Explorer (IE), and Internet Information Services (IIS). Additionally, the VBScript hosting environment is embeddable in other programs, through technologies such as the Microsoft Script Control (msscript.ocx).
VBScript began as part of the Microsoft Windows Script Technologies, launched in 1996. This technology (which also included JScript) was initially targeted at web developers. During a period of just over two years, VBScript advanced from version 1.0 to 2.0, and over that time it gained support from Windows system administrators seeking an automation tool more powerful than the batch language first developed in the early 1980s.
On March 6, 1988, Alan Cooper showed Bill Gates his shell prototype that allowed widgets to be added dynamically. On March 20, 1991, Microsoft adopted “Quick Basic”. This allowed users to create Windows apps quickly and easily with a GUI. Finally, on August 1, 1996, Internet Explorer was made with features that included VBScript.
In version 5.0, the functionality of VBScript was increased with new features including regular expressions; classes; the With statement; the Eval, Execute, and ExecuteGlobal functions to evaluate and execute script commands built during the execution of another script; a function-pointer system via GetRef, and Distributed COM (DCOM) support.
In version 5.5, SubMatches were added to the regular expression class in VBScript, to finally allow script authors to capture the text within the expression’s groups. That capability had already been available in JScript.
With the advent of the .NET framework, the scripting team took the decision to implement future support for VBScript within ASP.NET for web development, and therefore no new versions of the VBScript engine would be developed. It would henceforth be supported by Microsoft’s Sustaining Engineering Team, who are responsible for bug fixes and security enhancements. For Windows system administrators, Microsoft suggests migrating to Windows PowerShell. However, the scripting engine will continue to be shipped with future releases of Microsoft Windows and IIS.
VBScript is also used for server-side processing of web pages, most notably with Microsoft Active Server Pages (ASP). The ASP engine and type library, asp.dll, invokes vbscript.dll to run VBScript scripts. VBScript that is embedded in an ASP page is contained within <% and %> context switches. The following example of an ASP page with VBScript displays the current time in 24-hour format, but it is also used as the default script for error messages with the Windows operating systems.
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