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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Now’s a great time to get started with Microsoft Visual Basic .NET. Microsoft’s just released a new version, Visual Basic .NET 2003. It smooths out some of the rough edges inevitable in any “1.0” release, makes VB.NET significantly easier to use, and allows you to migrate more of your code from VB6 (though not by any means all of it). Since VB.NET 2003 supports the new .NET Framework 1.1, it even provides integrated tools for programming some 200-plus mobile web devices.
No matter where you’re coming from, if you want to learn Visual Basic .NET 2003, you’ll welcome Microsoft Visual Basic .NET 2003 Step by Step.
Michael Halvorson’s crafted this tutorial to offer three specific learning paths: for those new to programming, those upgrading from Visual Basic 6, and those moving from any other version of BASIC.
Beginners and upgraders alike will appreciate the simple hands-on walkthroughs of the Visual Basic/Visual Studio .NET environment; writing your first program; and working with toolbox controls, menus, and dialog boxes.
Beginners will devour the programming fundamentals section. Those moving from Visual Basic 6 or VB.NET “1.0” can skim much of it. But even they should still pay special attention to the extensive upgrade notes, Halvorson’s practical guidance on debugging, and his chapter on error handling, which has been radically revamped in VB.NET.
With the basics in place, you’re on to more serious stuff. You’ll learn how to create standard modules, user-defined functions, and Sub procedures -- essential for any larger or team-based development project. You’ll master arrays (familiar to all experienced programmers) and collections (a feature many programmers haven’t used). There’s a full chapter on string processing and manipulating the contents of text files.
Next, Halvorson shows how to control Microsoft Office XP applications from VB .NET. While Office still relies primarily on VBA, not VB.NET, the forthcoming Office 2003 is expected to add significant new .NET support. Even, now, however -- as Halvorson shows you -- you can incorporate powerful Office functionality in your applications. (Halvorson’s examples, drawing on Excel, include a mortgage payment calculator that uses Excel’s Pmt function.)
In developing .NET, Microsoft’s given significant attention to deployment -- and so does Halvorson. You’ll learn how to add a deployment project to your solution; how to create a setup program for your application; customize your setup program using properties and build settings; and how to test installs and uninstalls.
Next, Halvorson turns to advanced user interface design: Windows Forms techniques; (judiciously) adding graphics and animation effects to your software; inheriting forms using the Inheritance Picker; and working with printers.
You’re likely to find the coverage of printers especially useful. As Halvorson notes, “printing support doesn’t come automatically in Visual Basic .NET.” So he offers plenty of code you can plunk into your applications almost intact. (The accompanying CD-ROM contains this and all the other code in the book.)
You’ll find two full chapters on database programming with ADO.NET and .NET’s powerful DataGrid control, which makes presenting data about as easy as it’s ever been. There’s also a simple introduction to Web development with Web Forms. Halvorson concludes by taking a closer look at migrating your old VB code -- when it makes sense, when to start fresh, and when to leave well enough alone. Bill Camarda
Bill Camarda is a consultant, writer, and web/multimedia content developer. His 15 books include Special Edition Using Word 2000 and Upgrading & Fixing Networks for Dummies, Second Edition.