MCSD in a Nutshell: The Visusal Basic Exams

Overview

Since their introduction, the MCSD certification exams have been enthusiastically received by VB programmers who consider certification very important to their professional credibility.Programmers tend to be specialists—they tend to do the same kind of programming over and over. The MCSD exam is targeted at technical generalists—developers familiar with a broad array of Microsoft technologies and development approaches that are incorporated into Visual Basic. With its comprehensive overview of core technology ...

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Overview

Since their introduction, the MCSD certification exams have been enthusiastically received by VB programmers who consider certification very important to their professional credibility.Programmers tend to be specialists—they tend to do the same kind of programming over and over. The MCSD exam is targeted at technical generalists—developers familiar with a broad array of Microsoft technologies and development approaches that are incorporated into Visual Basic. With its comprehensive overview of core technology areas, MCSD in a Nutshell is the perfect study guide and resource to help developers master technologies that are less familiar to them. In fact, its thorough review of Visual Basic-related development technologies also makes this an excellent tutorial for experienced VB programmers who wish to get up to speed on speed on some technology with which they work infrequently, if at all.Most certification books are really tutorials in disguise. In contrast, this book focuses on the advanced topics about which developers are actually tested on the exam.Topics include:

  • Understanding COM
  • Creating ActiveX Code Components
  • Creating ActiveX Controls
  • Creating and Using ActiveX Documents
  • Creating Internet-Aware Applications
  • Testing and Debugging
  • Integrating Help with an Application
  • Optimizing an Application
  • Package and Deployment
  • Incorporating Microsoft Transaction Server (MTS)
Incredibly, most certification books appear to assume that the reader has no prior experience with VB programming. In contrast, this book assumes an intermediate to advanced programmer who is concerned with learning more about each of the core technologies that are covered by the exam. And unlike some certification books,MCSD in a Nutshell is written by an author who has successfully passed the certification exams.

With its comprehensive overview of core technology areas, "MCSD in a Nutshell" is the perfect study guide and resource to help developers master technologies with which they relatively are inexperienced.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781565927520
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 10/28/2000
  • Series: In a Nutshell (O'Reilly) Series
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 632
  • Product dimensions: 6.02 (w) x 8.99 (h) x 1.15 (d)

Meet the Author

James Foxall is vice president of development and support for Tigerpaw Software, Inc. (http: //www.tigerpawsoftware.com)—a Microsoft Certified Partner in Omaha, Nebraska, specializing in commercial database applications. James manages the Tigerpaw Business Suite, an award-winning CRM product designed to automate contact management, marketing, service and repair, proposal generation, inventory control, and purchasing. James's experience in creating certified Office-compatible software has made him an authority on application interface and behavior standards of applications for the Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office environments.

James has personally written more than 200,000 lines of commercial production code in both single-programmer and multiple-programmer environments. He is the author of numerous books, including Sams Teach Yourself C# in 24 Hours and Practical Standards for Microsoft Visual Basic .NET, and he has written articles for Access-Office-VBA Advisor and Visual Basic Programmer's Journal. James has a bachelor's degree in management of information systems (MIS), is a Microsoft Certified Solution Developer, and is an international speaker on Microsoft Visual Basic. When not programming or writing about programming, he enjoys spending time with his family, playing guitar, doing battle over the chess board, listening to Pink Floyd, playing computer games (Raven Shield multiplayer), and (believe it or not) programming! You can reach James at http: //www.jamesfoxall.com/forums. ) Copyright Pearson Education. All rights reserved.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 7: Working with Data

One of the biggest changes in Visual Basic 6 is the way in which you access data (or the way in which Microsoft wants you to access data). Microsoft is making a conscious effort to create a paradigm in which data is accessed through a common interface, regardless of the data's underlying format. In the past, developers often used a number of data access techniques, including the two common data access object models, data access objects (DAOs) and remote data objects (RDOs), as well as directly using APIs such as the ODBC API. Usually, code used to access data with one method is incompatible with code that accesses data using another method, which creates a number of drawbacks. For instance, scaling a database (such as migrating from a Jet database to a SQL database) often means rewriting the majority of data access code. In theory, if the mechanism used to communicate with different data sources remained consistent, using different back-end data sources would require little or no code modifications.

The Technologies and the Exams

Although ActiveX Data Objects (ADO) is covered on both exams, the Desktop exam only covers ADO at a superficial level, focusing mostly on the ADO Data control. The Distributed exam, however, takes off the kid gloves and delves into more hard-core subject matter. If you are taking only the Desktop exam, use Table 7-1 as a guideline to which material to focus on.

Universal Data Access

OLE DB is a low-level interface that introduces Microsoft's strategy of universal data access, or UDA. OLE DB is designed to be a high-performance mechanism for accessing data. Unlike previous technologies, OLE DB is not restricted to accessing Jet or ISAM databases, nor is it even restricted to accessing relational databases. Instead, OLE DB is capable of accessing data that resides in text files, mail servers, spreadsheets, and nonrelational data, in addition to the standard relational database formats. OLE DB makes this possible by way of OLE DB providers. An OLE DB provider is a component that exposes data through an OLE DB interface. The mechanics of how the data is retrieved, as well as the underlying format of the data, are of no consequence to OLE DB or to components accessing the data through OLE DB, as long as the provider makes the data available by way of the expected OLE DB interface.

Microsoft's UDA strategy creates an extended, layered approach to data access. At the lowest level, the OLE DB provider is designed to access some form of data and expose that data through a standard OLE DB interface. Using this interface, OLE DB itself is able to make requests and execute commands on the data. Just as OLE DB doesn't communicate directly with data (it communicates through one or more providers), client applications don't communicate directly with OLE DB. Instead, client applications use ADO to manipulate data. ADO provides a common application interface that simplifies the process of communicating with OLE DB. Figure 7-1 shows the layers of this architecture and how they communicate.

Tip:
Visual Basic is capable of creating OLE DB providers. Creating OLE DB providers is beyond the scope of the exams and therefore of this book as well.

Manipulating Data Using ActiveX Data Objects

ADO is a set of objects that act as a client interface to OLE DB. Table 7-2 lists the two primary data access methods that ADO is designed to replace: DAO and RDO. In theory, ADO takes the best of both of these data access methods and makes them better. There are differing opinions on how successful Microsoft has been in this endeavor, but one thing is for sure: ADO will replace DAO and RDO--it's only a matter of time.

Microsoft wants everyone one to believe, unequivocally, that ADO is superior to all previous data access methods. In many ways, this is true. The following lists some of the reasons you might choose ADO over DAO or RDO:

  • ADO can access many types of data in addition to relational and nonrelational databases.
  • ADO has a smaller footprint than the other methods of data access.
  • ADO has a simplified, or "flattened," object model.
  • ADO is the standard data access object model in Visual Studio.
  • ADO offers improved performance in most situations.
  • Microsoft is phasing out DAO and RDO.
Tip:
Although Microsoft would like you to believe that DAO and RDO are dead, in reality, there are times when a data access method other than ADO makes sense. For example, DAO is significantly faster at accessing native Jet databases, and ADO doesn't yet support the complete feature set of DAO when interfacing with Jet. DAO and RDO may be dying, but they're far from dead. Remember, however, that Microsoft is pushing ADO hard. If you encounter a question about which data access method would best fit a given situation, and ADO is one of the options, chances are that it's the "correct" choice.

In order to use ADO in a Visual Basic project, the Microsoft ActiveX Data Objects Library must be referenced, using the References dialog box accessed by choosing References from the Tools menu. Once ADO is referenced, its object model is made available to the project.

One of the benefits of ADO over DAO and RDO is that it supports a simplified (flattened) object model. This means that ADO uses fewer objects, yet more properties, methods, and events than other data access methods. If you're new to programming databases, this may make it easier to learn. However, if you're one of the many experienced developers using other data access methods such as DAO (which has a rather large object model), using ADO necessitates some rethinking. In particular, if you're a DAO developer, it may be more difficult to transition to ADO than it would be for an RDO developer, because ADO is more similar to RDO than to DAO. Figure 7-2 shows the ADO object model, while Table 7-3 explains each component of the ADO hierarchy.

Each of the ADO objects is described in the following sections.

The ADO Connection Object

In order to access data using ADO, a connection to the data source must be established. Connections can be established explicitly by creating a Connection object, or implicitly by supplying a connection to a Command object. Although an explicit connection isn't required in order to access a data source, you should create an explicit connection if you plan on referencing multiple recordsets or executing multiple commands against a single data source. Creating an explicit connection using a Connection object in cases such as this results in faster data access performance and lower overhead....
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Table of Contents



Preface

Chapter 1. Introduction

Chapter 2. Visual Basic Overview

     Forms

     Menus

     Controls

     Passing Parameters by Reference or by Value

     Naming Conventions

Chapter 3. Understanding COM

     The Technologies and the Exams

     COM and ActiveX: A VB Programmer's Perspective

     Understanding COM

     Putting ActiveX Objects to Work

     Creating ActiveX Objects

     Using the Object Browser

     In-Process Versus Out-of-Process Servers

     Creating Three-Tiered Client/Server Applications

     Key Facts

     Applying What You've Learned

     Highlighter's Index

Chapter 4. Creating and Testing ActiveX Code Components

     The Technologies and the Exams

     Creating ActiveX Code Components in Visual Basic

     Calling Object Servers Asynchronously Using Callbacks

     Creating System Callbacks Using AddressOf

     Creating Remote Servers

     Creating Multithreaded Components

     Testing and Debugging ActiveX Code Components

     Key Facts

     Applying What You've Learned

     Highlighter's Index

Chapter 5. Creating ActiveX Controls

     The Technologies and the Exams

     Understanding ActiveX Controls

     Creating a Control's User Interface

     Creating a Control's Developer Interface

     Integrating a Control with Its Container

     Setting Procedure Attributes

     Testing and Debugging ActiveX Controls

     Key Facts

     Applying What You've Learned

     Highlighter's Index

Chapter 6. Creating and Using ActiveX Documents

     The Technologies and the Exams

     Understanding ActiveX Documents

     Working with ActiveX Document Projects

     Effectively Using UserDocument Events

     Integrating an ActiveX Document with Its Container

     Creating Multiple Document Projects

     Asynchronously Receiving Data

     Testing and Debugging ActiveX Documents

     Key Facts

     Applying What You've Learned

     Highlighter's Index

Chapter 7. Working with Data

     The Technologies and the Exams

     Universal Data Access

     Manipulating Data Using ActiveX Data Objects

     Using the ADO Data Control

     The Data Environment Designer

     Key Facts

     Applying What You've Learned

     Highlighter's Index

Chapter 8. Creating Internet-Aware Applications

     The Technologies and the Exams

     Adding Browser Capabilities to a Program Using the WebBrowser Control

     Using Automation with Internet Explorer

     Using the Internet Transfer Control

     Using the Winsock Control

     Creating Dynamic Web Pages Using DHTML

     Key Facts

     Applying What You've Learned

     Highlighter's Index

Chapter 9. Testing and Debugging

     The Technologies and the Exams

     Implementing Error Handling

     Using Visual Basic's Debugging Tools

     Using Conditional Compilation

     Key Facts

     Applying What You've Learned

     Highlighter's Index

Chapter 10. Implementing Help

     The Technologies and the Exams

     A Brief History of Help

     Assigning a Help File to a Project

     Understanding Help Context IDs

     Linking Help Topics to Objects

     Adding What's This Help to a Form

     Displaying Help Using the Common Dialog Control

     Distributing Help with Your Application

     Key Facts

     Applying What You've Learned

     Highlighter's Index

Chapter 11. Optimizing an Application for Distribution

     The Technologies and the Exams

     Setting Compiler Optimizations

     Key Facts

     Applying What You've Learned

     Highlighter's Index

Chapter 12. Creating Microsoft Transaction Server Components

     The Technologies and the Exams

     What Is MTS?

     Installing MTS

     Configuring MTS

     Creating Packages

     Creating MTS Components Using Visual Basic

     Key Facts

     Applying What You've Learned

     Highlighter's Index

Chapter 13. Packaging and Deploying an Application

     The Technologies and the Exams

     Making Components Backward Compatible (or Not Breaking What Works)

     Understanding File Dependencies

     Creating a Setup Program Using the Package and Deployment Wizard

     Deploying a Package Using the Package and Deployment Wizard

     Managing Packaging Scripts

     Creating and Deploying Packages in Silent Mode

     Creating an AutoRun CD-ROM

     Using License Keys for ActiveX Controls

     Distributing a Component over the Internet

     Distributing DCOM Servers

     Managing the Windows System Registry

     Key Facts

     Applying What You've Learned

     Highlighter's Index

Chapter 14. Visual SourceSafe and the Visual Component Manager

     The Technologies and the Exams

     Microsoft Visual SourceSafe

     The Visual Component Manager

     Key Facts

     Applying What You've Learned

     Highlighter's Index

Index


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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2001

    Both succinct and comprehensive

    This book achieves a rare combination of being succinct and comprehensive. The author does a great job of packing a LOT of useful information into 600 pages. I particularly like his lab exercises, which are very well designed. Although no single book can possibly cover all the facets of VB, I think this book is a must for anyone who wants to learn VB as quickly as possible.

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