MsgBox "" vs MsgBox() in VBScript

user1862387 Source

I'm trying to write a VBScript and I'm using functions such as Randomize, and MsgBox. I'm curious as to what is the difference of using () and not using them. For example:

Randomize - This line works.

Randomize() - This line works also.

MsgBox "Hello world!" - This works.

MsgBox ("Hello world!") - This works as well.

The script will be running on multiple machines with different versions of Windows (at least Windows XP). I'm wondering if I would be getting any compatibility/syntax issues in using these functions.



answered 6 years ago Tom #1

You have to distinct sub routines and functions in vba... Generally (as far as I know), sub routines do not return anything and the surrounding parantheses are optional. For functions, you need to write the parantheses.

As for your example, MsgBox is not a function but a sub routine and therefore the parantheses are optional in that case. One exception with functions is, when you do not assign the returned value, or when the function does not consume a parameter, you can leave away the parantheses too.

This answer goes into a bit more detail, but basically you should be on the save side, when you provide parantheses for functions and leave them away for sub routines.

answered 6 years ago Martin Liversage #2

To my knowledge these are the rules for calling subroutines and functions in VBScript:

  • When calling a subroutine or a function where you discard the return value don't use parenthesis
  • When calling a function where you assign or use the return value enclose the arguments in parenthesis
  • When calling a subroutine using the Call keyword enclose the arguments in parenthesis

Since you probably wont be using the Call keyword you only need to learn the rule that if you call a function and want to assign or use the return value you need to enclose the arguments in parenthesis. Otherwise, don't use parenthesis.

Here are some examples:

  • WScript.Echo 1, "two", 3.3 - calling a subroutine

  • WScript.Echo(1, "two", 3.3) - syntax error

  • Call WScript.Echo(1, "two", 3.3) - keyword Call requires parenthesis

  • MsgBox "Error" - calling a function "like" a subroutine

  • result = MsgBox("Continue?", 4) - calling a function where the return value is used

  • WScript.Echo (1 + 2)*3, ("two"), (((3.3))) - calling a subroutine where the arguments are computed by expressions involving parenthesis (note that if you surround a variable by parenthesis in an argument list it changes the behavior from call by reference to call by value)

  • WScript.Echo(1) - apparently this is a subroutine call using parenthesis but in reality the argument is simply the expression (1) and that is what tends to confuse people that are used to other programming languages where you have to specify parenthesis when calling subroutines

  • I'm not sure how to interpret your example, Randomize(). Randomize is a subroutine that accepts a single optional argument but even if the subroutine didn't have any arguments it is acceptable to call it with an empty pair of parenthesis. It seems that the VBScript parser has a special rule for an empty argument list. However, my advice is to avoid this special construct and simply call any subroutine without using parenthesis.

I'm quite sure that these syntactic rules applies across different versions of operating systems.

answered 6 years ago Ekkehard.Horner #3

A callable piece of code (routine) can be a Sub (called for a side effect/what it does) or a Function (called for its return value) or a mixture of both. As the docs for MsgBox

Displays a message in a dialog box, waits for the user to click a button, and returns a value indicating which button the user clicked.

MsgBox(prompt[, buttons][, title][, helpfile, context])

indicate, this routine is of the third kind.

The syntactical rules of VBScript are simple:

Use parameter list () when calling a (routine as a) Function

If you want to display a message to the user and need to know the user's reponse:

Dim MyVar
MyVar = MsgBox ("Hello World!", 65, "MsgBox Example")
   ' MyVar contains either 1 or 2, depending on which button is clicked.

Don't use parameter list () when calling a (routine as a) Sub

If you want to display a message to the user and are not interested in the response:

MsgBox "Hello World!", 65, "MsgBox Example"

This beautiful simplicity is messed up by:

The design flaw of using () for parameter lists and to force call-by-value semantics

>> Sub S(n) : n = n + 1 : End Sub
>> n = 1
>> S n
>> WScript.Echo n
>> S (n)
>> WScript.Echo n

S (n) does not mean "call S with n", but "call S with a copy of n's value". Programmers seeing that

>> s = "value"
>> MsgBox(s)

'works' are in for a suprise when they try:

>> MsgBox(s, 65, "MsgBox Example")
Error Number:       1044
Error Description:  Cannot use parentheses when calling a Sub

The compiler's leniency with regard to empty () in a Sub call. The 'pure' Sub Randomize (called for the side effect of setting the random seed) can be called by


although the () can neither mean "give me your return value) nor "pass something by value". A bit more strictness here would force prgrammers to be aware of the difference in

Randomize n


Randomize (n)

The Call statement that allows parameter list () in Sub calls:

s = "value" Call MsgBox(s, 65, "MsgBox Example")

which further encourage programmers to use () without thinking.

(Based on What do you mean "cannot use parentheses?")

answered 6 years ago Shivam Gupta #4

You are just using a single parameter inside the function hence it is working fine in both the cases like follows:

MsgBox "Hello world!"
MsgBox ("Hello world!")

But when you'll use more than one parameter, In VBScript method will parenthesis will throw an error and without parenthesis will work fine like:

MsgBox "Hello world!", vbExclamation

The above code will run smoothly but

MsgBox ("Hello world!", vbExclamation)

will throw an error. Try this!! :-)

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