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Posted Feb 10, 2003

How to run a DTS VB package in the .NET framework

By DatabaseJournal.com Staff

James Horne


Data Transformation Services (DTS) remain an important tool in the arsenal of database administrators and web designers that need to move data between data repositories. These repositories can include SQL Server 2000, a variety of other databases as well as text files, and Excel files. You're also being compelled to move towards the Visual Studio .NET framework as you move forward with software development based on the Microsoft platform. Therefore, you will invariably run into the problems outlined below.

With ten minutes of cleanup, you can use a DTS package generated by SQL Server 2000 within the Visual Studio .NET framework. You'll have all the benefits of running in the Visual Studio .NET framework, and be able to programmatically control the behavior of the DTS package. This article will get you there quickly while navigating a path that isn't always straight forward.

There are two important reasons why you'll want to do this.

  • The .NET environment provides the common language runtime (CLR) with improved memory management. Utilizing the CLR is critical in a web-based application that needs to run for multiple days without running out of memory.
  • If you develop your web application against a development SQL Server and then run it against a production SQL Server, you'll find it cumbersome to configure the data source/destination of a DTS package saved as meta data or in structured storage. However, you can easily configure the data connections in your saved VB package to reflect the various stages of your release process.

The rest of this article explains exactly how to do this upgrade, and then how to apply some of the common edits required to bring the code completely up to standard. Microsoft has also provided documentation on the changes to the Visual Basic language. You can also reference Visual Basic .NET upgrade guide. or Upgrading Applications Created in Previous Versions of Visual Basic for further information.


Microsoft has built an upgrade tool into the .NET environment to migrate old VB code into the CLR of the .NET framework. You will need this tool since SQL Server 2000 service pack 2 still generates VB code targeted to Visual Basic 6.0. This code makes assumptions that are not valid in the .NET framework

As a test case, I created a very simple DTS package that reads two columns from one text file and writes the exact same columns into another text file using a Transform Data Task. The compiler errors in this article are typical. You may get different or additional errors depending on how you've set up your package.

Upgrade Steps:

  1. Use SQL Enterprise Manager to edit your DTS Package and make sure that it works. I personally like to get things working as well as possible in this environment because it's harder to manually make changes to the saved VB package.
  2. Save the package as a VB program dtsPackage.bas. (You can use any name.)
  3. Create a VB .exe project in Visual Basic 6.0.
  4. Reference into the new project "Microsoft DTS Custom Tasks Object Library," "Microsoft DTSDataPump Scripting Object Library," and "Microsoft DTSPackage Object Library."
  5. Include dtsPackage.bas in the new project.
  6. Compile and run the project. This will give you confidence that the package will really work in the Visual Basic 6.0 environment.
  7. Save/close the project.
  8. Launch Visual Studio .NET.
  9. Open the 6.0 project from Visual Studio .NET. This will automatically invoke the upgrade wizard. The upgrade wizard will do the following:
    • Create a new project folder and copy all the relevant Visual Studio 6.0 files into this folder.
    • Create a new project and solution file.
    • Create Interop dll's for each COM library that was referenced by the Visual Studio 6.0 project.
    • Upgrade dtsPackage.bas as well as any other VB code in the project. The upgraded code has hyperlinks to guide you to more descriptive documentation about the nature of the problems found.
    • Create an upgrade report that summarizes what happened in the upgrade (_UpgradeReport.htm).
  10.   Fix the remaining errors as outlined below.
  11.   Compile/run the project within Visual Studio .NET.

Note: Creation of Interop DLL's

All the referenced DTS dlls shipped with SQL Server 2000 run as COM libraries. To interface these libraries into the Visual Studio .NET environment, wrapper dll's are created which provide the necessary metadata information required by the common language runtime to interface with the DTS COM libraries. (Interop.DTSCustTasks.dll, Interop.DTSPump.dll, and Interop.DTS.dll) The good news is that these wrappers are provided for free by the upgrade tool. More Info

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