Practical Standards for Microsoft Visual Basic

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The same attributes that make the Visual Basic development system exceptionally productive and easy to use can also inadvertently lead to sloppy programming. But "Practical Standards for Microsoft Visual Basic" introduces developers to the proven practices that allow them to exploit the power of rapid development — without creating hidden land mines in performance and maintainability. Designed for the recreational as well as the professional programmer, this book uses illustrative code samples — many from ...

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The same attributes that make the Visual Basic development system exceptionally productive and easy to use can also inadvertently lead to sloppy programming. But "Practical Standards for Microsoft Visual Basic" introduces developers to the proven practices that allow them to exploit the power of rapid development — without creating hidden land mines in performance and maintainability. Designed for the recreational as well as the professional programmer, this book uses illustrative code samples — many from real-world commercial projects — to demonstrate practical solutions to programming just about any process — with better, more reliable code!

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Visual Basic isn't just about hacking around and quick-&-dirty prototyping any more. It's serious business, and yesterday's sloppy code and voodoo variables no longer cut it. If you're serious about writing solid, high-performance, maintainable VB code, you want Practical Standards For Microsoft Visual Basic.

In this book, James D. Foxall offers specific standardization "directives" for each key aspect of Visual Basic development. For instance, he starts by offering specific recommendations and techniques for creating object and project templates that promote reuse and application consistency—from common splash screens and switchboard forms to half-completed applications containing intricate code, such as multiple document interfaces.

Next, you'll learn the best ways to design modules and procedures. Using plenty of examples, Foxall shows how to give procedures and modules descriptive names, give each procedure a single exit point and clearly defined scope, and call your procedures in a consistent, self-documenting manner.

There are chapters on naming conventions; more effective use of constants and enumerations; variables, error handling; formatting and commenting code; looping structures and code flow; and especially user interaction and team development—including practical tips for version and source code control, and working with Visual SourceSafe. There have been programming standards guides before, but few have focused entirely on Visual Basic. If you're one of the 3,000,000+ VB developers out there,you'llbe glad this one did.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780735607330
  • Publisher: Microsoft Press
  • Publication date: 7/26/2000
  • Series: DV-MPS General Series
  • Edition description: BK&CD ROM
  • Pages: 450
  • Product dimensions: 7.39 (w) x 9.11 (h) x 1.23 (d)

Meet the Author

James Foxall is vice president of development and support for Tigerpaw Software, Inc. (http: //—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: // ) Copyright Pearson Education. All rights reserved.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 5: Using Constants and Enumerations

When you hard-code numbers in your procedures, a myriad of things can go wrong. Hard-coded numbers are generally referred to as "magic numbers" because they're often shrouded in mystery; the meaning of such a number is obscure because the digits themselves give no indication as to what the number represents. This chapter discusses the drawbacks of magic numbers and offers alternatives using constants and enumerations.

Using Constants

A constant is much like a variable; you create a name and assign it a value. However, unlike a variable, a constant is given its value at design time, and this value cannot be changed at run time. You should always use constants in place of magic numbers, for reasons I'll discuss in this section.

When you hard-code a string in a procedure, the effect is similar to that of using magic numbers. All the reasons for eliminating magic numbers also apply to eliminating hard-coded strings; if you know the value at design time, use a constant rather than hard-coding the text or the number.

Magic Numbers Are Prone to Data Entry Problems

One of the critical problems with magic numbers is that you can easily mistype a number, transposing its digits. When you type the number 10876, for instance, it's not at all difficult to mistakenly type 10867 or 18076. In contrast to the way it handles variables and reserved words, Microsoft Visual Basic's compiler takes no issue with transposed or incorrect numbers—it's happy to use whatever magic number you supply it. Sometimes the problems caused by asimple mistake don't surface immediately, and when they do they can appear as random miscalculations that are difficult to pinpoint. When you use a constant in place of a magic number, Visual Basic checks the validity of the constant at compile time. If the constant does not exist, Visual Basic tells you so and refuses to compile. This eliminates the problem of inaccurately typed numbers; as long as the single constant has the correct value, all the code that uses that constant will use the correct value as well.

If you don't include the Option Explicit statement within the Declarations section of a module and you mistype a constant name, Visual Basic implicitly declares a variable with the incorrect name of the constant, causing inaccurate results. This is just one more reason to explicitly declare your variables. See Chapter 6, "Variables," for more information on explicit vs. implicit variable declaration.

Magic Numbers Are Difficult to Update

Another serious drawback to magic numbers is that they're difficult to keep updated. Say you're developing a financial application and the current mortgage interest rate is 7.25 percent. Also assume that this value is hard-coded in a number of procedures that perform calculations based on the interest rate. What do you do when the rates change (which they do regularly)? You could perform a global search and replace, but that exposes your code to errors. Another loan rate used within the application might also have the value 7.25. If you perform a global search and replace on 7.25 percent, you'll change that loan rate as well. If you manually change each value in the code, you risk transposing or otherwise mistyping the new values. A selective search and replace with a confirmation on each change would be time-consuming. If you use a constant instead, you simply change the value once (in the constant's declaration), and every line of code that uses the mortgage interest rate instantly uses the new, updated rate.

Constants Make Code Easier to Read

A by-product of using constants to create more error-free code is code that is much more readable. Generally, magic numbers are anything but intuitive. They might be obvious to you, but they can be difficult for others to decipher. By intelligently naming your constants, the code that uses those constants becomes a bit more self-documenting and a lot easier to read. Consider the following two code statements. Which makes the most sense to you?

Magic numbers:

curInterestAmount = (curLoanAmount * .06) / 12

Named constants:

curInterestAmount = _      (curLoanAmount * c_sngInterestRate) / c_intMonthsInTerm

One last note on constants: it's quite acceptable to give constants higher scope, unlike when you use variables, a situation in which it's highly advisable to reduce scope. As a matter of fact, you should never create the same constant twice within an application. If you find that you're duplicating a constant, move the original declaration to a higher scope until the constant becomes available to all procedures that reference it.

Using Enumerations

Enumerations are similar to constants in that they are named entities that are assigned values. However, enumerations behave like groups of public constants in a module. They're treated as data types, and you use them to create constants of suitable values for variables and properties. You might already be using enumerations in Visual Basic. For instance, when you use the MsgBox statement, Visual Basic's Auto List Members feature displays a drop-down list (commonly referred to as the "code helper drop-down list") for the Buttons parameter. (See Figure 5-1.)

The time that the developers of the MsgBox statement invested to provide the Buttons parameter's values in an enumeration pays you dividends as a programmer. You never have to remember the numeric values of the parameter, and the chance of incorrectly specifying a value is greatly diminished. Although you can still specify a numeric value for a parameter rather than the name of an enumeration member, you should never do so. To actually use a magic number when an associated member name is available is just south of insane.

Creating Custom Enumerations

You create enumerations much like you do user-defined data types. In the Declarations section of a module, you type the word Public or Private, type Enum, and then type the name of your custom enumeration. The following is a sample enumeration:

Public Enum otBorderStyle   otNone = 0   otRaised_Light = 1   otRaised_Heavy = 2   otSunken_Light = 3   otSunken_Heavy = 4
End Enum

This enumeration creates an enumerated type with five values. Although you always refer to the name of an enumeration member when you write code, the name simply represents its numeric value, much like a constant. All members of enumerations are long integers; you can't use other data types.

Using a Custom Enumeration

Once you've created an enumeration, you can use it as the data type for any variable, Function procedure, or Property procedure within the scope of the enumeration. For instance, to create a BorderStyle property that uses the enumerated type shown previously, you can declare a procedure like this:

Public Property Let BorderStyle(lngNew_BorderStyle _      
As otBorderStyle)   
End Property

This property procedure accepts a value into the parameter lngNew_BorderStyle. lngNew_BorderStyle is a long integer because it is declared as an enumerated type and all members of enumerations are long integers. When you reference this property in code, Visual Basic displays the code helper drop-down list with all the enumeration members, as shown in Figure 5-2.

You can also use an enumerated type as the data type returned by a function or a Property procedure. For instance, to create the Property Get procedure that corresponds to the previous Property Let procedure, you can use code like this:

Public Property Get BorderStyle() 
As otBorderStyle   
End Property

Note that simply declaring a parameter as an enumerated type does not guarantee that the value passed to the parameter will be one of the defined enumeration members. As a matter of fact, this is one of the most common misconceptions about enumerated types. When you define an enumeration, you define a list of named values, but these are not the only values that a parameter of that enumerated type will accept. As mentioned previously, parameters that are defined as enumerated types are actually long integers. As such, they accept any value that fits into a long integer; Visual Basic does not confirm that the number passed into a parameter corresponds to a member of the enumeration. For this reason, you should always validate the data passed to a parameter declared as an enumerated type, as I'll discuss in Directive 5.8.

Goals of Using Constants and Enumerations

The goals of using constants and enumerations include

  • Reducing errors caused by transposing or mistyping numbers
  • Making it easy to change values in the future
  • Making code easier to read
  • Ensuring forward compatibility


5.1 Prefix all constants with c_ and a scope designator.

In the past, one convention for denoting a constant was to use all uppercase letters for the constant's name. For instance, when you created a constant to store a column index in a grid, you would use a statement like this:


Typing anything in code in all uppercase letters is now considered antiquated and undesirable. Mixed-case text is much easier to read. However, since variable and procedure names are also entered in mixed case, it's important to denote when an item is a constant. A better convention is to prefix the constant name with c_. For example, the constant shown above would be declared like this:

Const c_Column_Index = 7

This constant name is a bit easier to read, and you can still immediately tell that you're looking at a constant as opposed to a variable. The second underscore is optional. Some developers (including me) prefer not to use an underscore in this way. This is fine, as long as your approach is consistent. The same constant declaration without the second underscore would look like the following line of code. (Remember that you'll always have an underscore in the constant prefix.)

Const c_ColumnIndex = 7

Labels for use with GoTo are one of the few exceptions to using mixed-case letters. Such labels, which should be used sparingly, appear in all uppercase letters. Refer to Chapter 11, "Controlling Code Flow," for more information on using these labels.

Another identifying characteristic of a constant as opposed to a variable is the lack of a data type prefix. For instance, if you were storing the column indicator in a variable, you would probably declare the variable by using a statement like this:

Dim intColumnIndex 
As Integer

Some external libraries still use uppercase constants. For instance, if you use the API viewer to locate and copy API-related constants, you'll often see these constants in uppercase letters. In such cases, leave the constants as they are to promote cross-application consistency.

Many developers don't realize that you can actually create a constant of a specific data type. For instance, the following statement is completely legal:

Const c_InterestRate 
As Single = 7.5

You can specify a data type for a constant, but it adds complexity, and I don't know of a good reason to do so. If you decide to do it anyway, you should use the variable-naming prefixes discussed in Chapter 4, "Naming Conventions." The previous declaration, for instance, is not correct—according to the directives presented in this book—because the data type prefix is omitted. The proper declaration would be as follows:

Const c_sngInterestRate 
As Single = 7.5

Although the prefix for constants is different from the prefixes for variables, you should still use the same prefix scheme for indicating the scope of constants that you use for variables. For constants declared locally (within a procedure), no scope indicator is necessary. For constants declared as Private in the Declarations section of a module, you should use the prefix m. For global constants (constants declared as Public within a standard module), you should use the prefix g. The following are declarations of the same constant at different levels of scope:

Const c_InterestRate = 7.5
Module (private):     
Private Const mc_InterestRate = 7.5
Public Const gc_InterestRate = 7.5

Constants are declared Private by default if you don't explicitly declare them with the Public keyword. As with procedures and variables, constants should always have a clearly defined scope. If you want to create a private constant, explicitly declare the constant using the Private keyword.

By consistently specifying the scope of a constant in addition to denoting the constant with c_, you'll make your code easier to read and to debug. If you're ever unsure where a constant is declared, simply place the cursor anywhere within the name of the constant and press Shift+F2. Visual Basic will take you directly to the constant's declaration.

Practical Applications

When you uniquely identify constants and denote their scope, you create more readable code.

5.1.1 Declare constants using mixed-case characters, prefixing each constant with c_. Remember that identifying constants by using all uppercase letters is out.


Const USDATE = "mm/dd/yyyy"


Const c_USDate = "mm/dd/yyyy"
Const c_KeyControl = 17

Also correct:

Const c_US_Date = "mm/dd/yyyy"
Const c_Key_Control = 17

5.1.2 Denote a constant's scope using a scope designator prefix. Knowing a constant's scope is extremely important for debugging. All constants declared in the Declarations section of any type of module need a g or an m designator.

Incorrect (module level or global level):

Private Const c_US_DATE = "mm/dd/yyyy"
Public Const c_KeyControl = 17


Private Const mc_US_Date = "mm/dd/yyyy"
Public Const gc_KeyControl = 17

5.2 Use constants in place of magic numbers, regardless of scope.

I hope that the first part of this chapter has convinced you of the importance of replacing hard-coded numbers (magic numbers) with constants, regardless of scope. It might be tempting to use a hard-coded number within a procedure because it seems silly to create a constant for a single use in a single place. Certainly, maintaining the value is easy enough; you don't need to perform a search and replace when the number exists only once. However, readability is still a problem. Magic numbers are called "magic" for a reason. When someone else looks at the code, how can you be sure that the number will make complete sense to him or her? Regardless of scope, you should always replace magic numbers with constants. All together now: "Use constants in place of magic numbers, regardless of scope."


'* Fill a most recently used list.
For intCount = 1 
To 4   strFileName = RetrieveRecentFileName(intCount)  
'* If an entry was found, add it to the list.   
If strFileName <> "" 
Set objItem = lvwRecent.ListItems.Add()      objItem.Text = strFileName      objItem.SmallIcon = "Database" 
 End IfNext intCount


'* Fill a most recently used list.
Const c_Max_Recently_Used = 4
For intCount = 1 
To c_Max_Recently_Used   strFileName = RetrieveRecentFileName(intCount)  
'* If an entry was found, add it to the list.   
If strFileName <> "" 
Set objItem = lvwRecent.ListItems.Add()      objItem.Text = strFileName   objItem.SmallIcon = "Database" 
 End IfNext intCount

5.3 Use enumerations whenever they are available.

When a procedure or a parameter is declared as an enumerated type, it's common courtesy—nay, it's your duty—to reference the enumeration member names rather than their values. When you use an enumeration, your code is much easier to read and less likely to contain errors. Your code is also less likely to fail if someone later breaks backward compatibility by changing the values that correspond to the member names. For instance, say you're using an ActiveX component and one of its properties is BorderStyle. The developer has designated 0 - Flat and 1 - 3D as the possible values and has exposed them as members of an enumeration, as shown here:

Public Enum BorderStyle   psFlat = 0   ps3D = 1
End Enum

Say that you use the literal values rather than the enumeration's member names and you're updating to a new component. The developer has added a new BorderStyle value called Chiseled to the component. However, he wasn't really thinking of backward compatibility, and he changed the enumeration structure to the following:

Public Enum BorderStyle   psFlat = 0   psChiseled = 1   ps3D = 2
End Enum

You can see that if you hard-code 1 to designate a 3-D border, you'll get unexpected results after you upgrade. Obviously, component developers should not break backward compatibility in this way, but it does happen. If you use the member's name rather than its value, your code will not be affected by such an oversight. Whether to use enumerations shouldn't even be a question. If a function supports them, use them. In new versions of software components, enumerations are often provided where there were none before. As enumerations and constants become available, make sure to change your code appropriately to use them.


MsgBox "Print all documents?", 36


"Print all documents?", vbYesNo Or vbQuestion

5.4 Use constants when you refer to elements of a control array.

One area in which constants really shine but are often underused is as references to indexes of control arrays. When you create a control array, you end up with a number of controls all with the same name. To reference a particular control, you use its shared name and its unique index. When you hard-code an index, you create a magic number—complete with all the drawbacks discussed earlier. The problem with hard-coding index references is that your code can be difficult to debug if you've referenced the wrong index. Since controls within a control array are always of the same type, you can switch indexes all day long with little chance of generating an error message because all the actions you might perform on one member can be performed on another member.

To diminish the possibility of errors when you use control arrays, you should create constants that relate to each index. For example, say you have three text boxes that store a home phone number, work phone number, and mobile phone number, respectively. You use a control array because you have some standard code that runs on the Validate event to verify that each number is indeed a valid phone number. If you hard-code indexes, you have to remember which index references which type of phone number. If you're in a hurry or you haven't had your morning Mountain Dew, you can easily confuse the numbers. However, if you assign a constant to each index and always reference a control by its constant, never by its index directly, it's easier to ensure accuracy. Control arrays can make certain development situations much easier, and they can make an application less resource-intensive. However, the more elements you create for a control array, the more likely it is that an incorrect element will be referenced in code. Constants can help reduce the chances of this happening. In general, module-level scope is best for constants that reference elements of a control array, although local scope might be appropriate in some cases. The following constants have been given the prefix txt to denote that they reference the indexes of a text box control array.




Const c_txtHomePhone = 0
Const c_txtWorkPhone = 1
Const c_txtFax = 2txtPhone(c_txtHomePhone).TexttxtPhone(c_txtWorkPhone).TexttxtPhone(c_txtFax).Text

5.5 Use an application or company prefix for enumeration members.

Just as it's important to use a naming convention for variables, it's important to use a naming convention for enumeration members. You don't have to use a prefix to denote the type of an enumeration member because all members are always long integers. However, you should use a unique prefix that indicates that the values are from your application or component.

You should prefix your enumeration members with an identifier because when Visual Basic encounters an enumeration member name, it might get confused if other referenced type libraries contain the same name. For example, all of Visual Basic's system constants have the prefix vb. When you encounter a constant such as vbFixedSingle, you immediately know that the constant belongs to Visual Basic's type library. Although Visual Basic uses two-character prefixes, you should use three or four, but no more than that. If you were to use two characters, you would find it difficult to come up with an identifier that isn't used by another application or vendor. For instance, my company is called Tigerpaw Software. When we declare enumeration members, we use the prefix tps, as shown in the enumeration declaration on the following page.

Public Enum tpsPrintDestination   tpsScreen = 0   tpsPrinter = 1
End Enum

It's also acceptable to prefix the name of an enumeration (as well as the names of its members), as I have done in the previous example.

No application is an island. Even the simplest program uses many external libraries. To confirm this, just create a new Standard EXE and then choose References from the Project menu to see all the ActiveX components being referenced. With the increasing complexity of integrated components comes the need to be more aware of the potential for collisions between components. For this reason, give your enumeration members names that make such collisions unlikely.


Public Enum BackTrackItem   Account = 0   ServiceOrder = 1   Quote = 2   Contact = 3   PriceBookItem = 4   PurchaseOrder = 5   Task = 6
End Enum


Public Enum BackTrackItem   tpsAccount = 0   tpsServiceOrder = 1   tpsQuote = 2   tpsContact = 3   tpsPriceBookItem = 4   tpsPurchaseOrder = 5   tpsTask = 6
End Enum

Also correct:

Public Enum tpsBackTrackItem   tpsAccount = 0   tpsServiceOrder = 1   tpsQuote = 2   tpsContact = 3   tpsPriceBookItem = 4   tpsPurchaseOrder = 5   tpsTask = 6
End Enum

5.6 Use system constants when enumerations aren't available.

Creating custom enumerations for your modules is highly encouraged, but Visual Basic has been slow to adopt them for all of its own objects. For instance, when you set the WindowState property of a form, there are only three possible values: 0 - Normal, 1 - Minimized, and 2 - Maximized. Looking in the Properties window shows you this. Each value (0, 1, and 2) has a name associated with it. These names look very much like members of an enumeration—well, in the Properties window, at least.

Although Visual Basic should use true enumerations for these properties, more often than not it doesn't. Figure 5-3 shows what the code window looks like when you attempt to change the WindowState property of a form. Notice that there is no code helper drop-down list in which you can select from a set of values.

Visual Basic doesn't have defined enumerations for most of its objects, but it does often support system constants for the values. System constants are global constants that are part of the Visual Basic type library. You don't have to define them or reference a library to use them because they're always available. However, since system constants don't appear in the code helper drop-down list, as enumerations do, many developers are unaware that these constants exist. Whenever you must type a numeric value as a parameter of a Visual Basic function or as the value of a standard Visual Basic object property, chances are good there's an associated system constant.

To determine whether a system constant exists for a property, type the property name (such as WindowState), place the cursor anywhere within the property text, and press F1. The help displayed for the property will usually include a list of any constants that are available, as shown in Figure 5-4.

Many parameters, such as the Buttons parameter of the MsgBox statement, have associated system constants.

To use a system constant, you simply enter it as if you were referencing a constant that you've defined. For instance, to change a form to maximized, you can use a statement such as this:

Me.WindowState = vbMaximized

One way to know whether you've typed a system constant correctly is to type it in all lowercase letters. If the constant is valid, Visual Basic converts it to its proper case. If the constant remains in all lowercase letters, you've typed the name wrong and you have to correct it. Unlike enumerations, system constants can be used anywhere in code, not just with variables defined as an enumerated type. Therefore, you must be careful not to use the wrong constant because Visual Basic can't detect this type of error. Anything you can do to eliminate magic numbers is a good thing. If an enumeration is available for a procedure, use it. If not, check to see whether a system constant is defined. If that fails, consider creating your own constant to replace the magic number.


With Me   .BorderStyle = 1   .WindowState = 0   .ScaleMode = 3   .DrawMode = 13
End With


With Me   .BorderStyle = vbFixedSingle   .WindowState = vbNormal   .ScaleMode = vbPixels   .DrawMode = vbCopyPen
End With

5.7 Use an enumeration whenever a parameter accepts a limited number of values.

Even developers who truly believe in enumerations sometimes miss the opportunity to use them. As you develop code, you might not always think about creating an enumeration because an enumeration might seem like overkill in certain situations. In general, whenever a procedure accepts a limited set of values, use an enumeration. For instance, if you have a procedure in which a parameter can use one of two values only, that parameter is a prime candidate for an enumeration.

Creating an enumeration for two values might seem excessive, but it's not. You still get the benefits of avoiding magic numbers, including reduced data entry and greater legibility. Also, if you decide to add members in the future, an enumeration will make it easier to do so. Whether the values are strings or numbers is irrelevant; you can benefit from using an enumeration in both situations.


Public Sub ShowAVIFile(lngType 
As Long)


Public Enum tpsAVIFile   tpsFileCopy = 0   tpsFileDelete = 1   tpsFileDeleteToRecycle = 2   tpsFileNuke = 3   tpsFindComputer = 4   tpsFindFile = 5   tpsFileMove = 6   tpsSearch = 7
End EnumPublic Sub ShowAVIFile(lngType 
As tpsAVIFile)

5.8 Validate values that are passed as enumerated types.

You must validate any value passed to a parameter declared as an enumerated type to ensure that it is acceptable. When a parameter is declared as an enumerated type, it's really a long integer with a fancy code helper drop-down list. While other developers should use the named enumeration members, they are free to pass the parameter any valid long integer. Unfortunately, Visual Basic does not have the capability to automatically require that parameters be valid members of the enumeration. I hope this is added someday; it would greatly reduce the amount of code you have to write when you use many different enumerations.

There are essentially two methods you can use to validate the data:

  • If the values fall within a range (such as 1 to 10), use an If...End If construct to validate the data.
  • If the values form a discrete set that doesn't fit nicely in a range, use a Select Case construct.

In general, unless you are validating that the value falls within an acceptable range, use the Select Case construct rather than If...End If. The Select Case construct gives you more flexibility if you need to add more values to the enumeration later.

When you use Select Case, always include an Else clause to deal with an invalid value passed into the procedure.
Practical Applications

Making assumptions is one of the leading causes of errors in code. Visual Basic won't ensure that values passed to an enumerated type actually correspond to named members within the enumeration. Never assume you have good data.

5.8.1 Always validate data by using comparisons to the named members, not to magic numbers. Refrain from using magic numbers for data validation, just as you refrain from using magic numbers elsewhere in your code.


Public Enum tpsPrintDestination   tpsScreen = 0   tpsPrinter = 1
End EnumPublic Sub PrintReport(
ByVal strFileName 
As String, _      
ByVal lngDestination 
As tpsPrintDestination)  
'* Verify that a valid location has been specified. 
 If lngDestination < 0 
Or lngDestination > 1 
 End If      
'* Print the specified report.      
End Sub


Public Enum tpsPrintDestination   tpsScreen = 0   tpsPrinter = 1
End EnumPublic Sub PrintReport(
ByVal strFileName 
As String, _      
ByVal lngDestination 
As tpsPrintDestination)   
'* Verify that a valid location has been specified. 
 If (lngDestination <> tpsScreen) 
And _ 
       (lngDestination <> tpsPrinter) 
 End If     
'* Print the specified report.     
End Sub

5.8.2 Use Select Case to validate that a value is a valid member of a discrete set of values. Don't forget to include the Case Else clause to handle invalid data.


Public Sub PrintDocument(lngCallingForm 
As tpsCallingForm)     
'* Perform necessary actions based on the calling form.   
Select Case lngCallingForm      
Case Is = tpsContactView               
Case Is = tpsServiceOrderView               
Case Is = tpsCustomerInventoryView          
    Case Else         
'* The value passed as the calling form parameter         '* is invalid!         MsgBox 
"An incorrect calling form " & _                "has been specified!", vbInformation         
 End SelectEnd Sub
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Table of Contents

Special Characters
& (ampersand)
    concatenating strings, 99-100, 106-7
    creating command button access keys, 303-4
    creating menu access keys, 282
' (apostrophe), 189-91
* (asterisk), 186, 189
: (colon)
    label control captions and, 268
    line labels and, 117
    multiple statements and, 150
... (ellipsis), 282
( ) (parentheses)
    clarifying expressions with, 242-43
    function calls and, 46
+ (plus sign), 99-100, 106
_ (underscore)
    as line continuation character, 151-56
    simulating spaces in names, 35, 86

    avoiding, in comments, 192-93
    procedure names and, 34, 35
    variable names and, 83-84, 87-88
About dialog boxes, version numbers in, 22, 332-33, 333
About Face: The Essentials of User Interface Design, 251
accelerator keys, 253, 285-88, 286
access keys. See also shortcut keys
    command button, 303-4, 304, 305
    menu, 282, 282, 303, 304
ActiveBar software, 286
active error handler, 122
ActiveX components, backward compatibility of, 333-41, 338, 340
    Binary Compatibility level, 340
    conditions for, 336-37
    Project Compatibility level, 339
    overview of, 334-36
    relinquishing, 338
    version compatibility vs., 333-34
    Visual Basic levels of, 337, 338
ActiveX controls, 57, 273. See also controls
add-in menu, Visual SourceSafe, 352-53, 353
AddNew method, indentation and, 162, 166
Admin user, 351
aligning statements, 154-55
Alt key, 303
ampersand (&)
    concatenating strings, 99-100, 106-7
    creating command button access keys, 303-4
    creating menu access keys, 282
API viewer, 65
apostrophe ('), 189-91
application consistency, 253
application names in object templates, 21-22
application prefixes, 71-73
application titles, 320, 320
App object properties, 20-22, 333
    control, 70-71, 276-77
    looping through, 226-27
    naming, 55
    of Variants, 100
asterisk (*), 186, 189
author information, 195
Auto List Members feature, 61-62, 62

background compilation, 110-12, 111
backing up files, 339, 342. See also copying projects
backward compatibility, 334. See also ActiveX components, backward compatibility of
BeginTrans method, indentation and, 162, 166-67
Binary Compatibility level, 337, 338, 340
binary files, 15, 356, 360
blank lines, grouping statements with, 169-77
Boolean data type, 97
Boolean expressions, comparing, 241
Boolean operators, 155-56
Boolean variables, 89-91, 241-42
border styles, form
    default, 254-55
    Fixed Dialog, 255, 255
    Fixed Single, 256-57, 257
    Fixed ToolWindow and Sizable ToolWindow, 258-59, 259, 260
    none, 255-56, 256
    Sizable, 255, 257, 258
boxes, comment, 188-89
branching constructs. See flow control constructs
breaking statements, 154-56
    command (see command buttons)
    menu items for toolbar, 288-89
    message box, 61-62, 62, 74, 321-23, 323
ByRef and ByVal keywords, 41-42

calling procedures, 45-47, 156, 158
Call keyword, 45-46
call stack, error handlers and, 122-24, 125
Cancel command buttons, 302-3
CancelUpdate method, indentation and, 162, 166
capitalization. See case of characters
captions, 268
Case Else statements, 77, 78, 236-37
case of characters
    in comments, 193
    constant names, 65, 67
    formatting code and, 146
    GoTo labels, 65, 118, 246-47
    procedure names, 34-35
    system constant names, 75
    variable names, 86-87
Case statements
    indentation and, 162, 164
    multiple result values in, 234
    ordering, 237-39
central error handlers, 127-34, 130
    case of (see case of characters)
    comment lines of solid, 185-88
    maximum, of code per line, 153-56
    using special, for each developer, 190-91
check box controls, 268, 278, 279
checking files in and out
    using Visual Basic IDE, 361-64, 362, 363
    using Visual SourceSafe Explorer, 359-61, 360, 361
Class IDs (CLSIDs), 336, 340
class modules, 28
cleanup code, 36, 38-39
CLSIDs (Class IDs), 336, 340
Code Complete (McConnell), 9, 148
code helper drop-down lists, 61, 62, 63, 63, 73-74, 73
coding standards, 1-11
    benefits of, 3-5
    commenting violations of, 182
    constructs (see commenting code; flow control constructs; formatting code; looping constructs)
    conventions (see constants; enumerations; error handling; naming conventions; variables)
    design (see modules; object templates; procedures; project templates)
    team projects (see Microsoft Visual SourceSafe; projects; version control)
coding standards, continued
    this book about, 9-11
    user interfaces (see interface design)
    Visual Basic and necessity for, 5-9 (see also Microsoft Visual Basic)
    Visual SourceSafe violations of, 345, 365
coercion, 6, 94, 99
cohesion, modules and, 26-28
    looping through object, 223-28
    of procedures, modules as, 26-28
colon (:)
    label control captions and, 268
    line labels and, 117
    multiple statements and, 150
colors, system, 289-93, 290, 291
combo box controls, 265-67, 266, 267, 278, 278
command buttons
    assigning access keys to, 303-4, 304, 305
    creating default and cancel, 302-3
    disabling vs. hiding, 270, 270, 271
comment boxes, avoiding, 188-89
commenting code, 179-203
    avoiding comment boxes, 188-89
    benefits of, 179-80
    documenting changes with, in Readme files, 341-42
    documenting code processes with inline, 198-203
    documenting code purposes, 180-82
    documenting expected errors, 182-84
    documenting variables with end-of-line, 203
    explaining violations of coding principles, 182
    goals of, 180
    If...End If constructs, 170-71
    indentation and, 168, 193
    line continuation and end-of-line, 153
commenting code, continued
    nested constructs, 239-40
    in object templates, 23-24
    parameters, 42
    procedures, 193-98
    as pseudocode, 184-85
    readability and, 191-93
    using apostrophes for, 189-91
    using solid-character lines, 185-88
CommitTrans method, indentation and, 162, 166-67
Common database, Visual SourceSafe, 349
company prefixes, 71-73
comparing file revisions, 367-70, 367, 368, 369
compatibility, types of, 333-34. See also ActiveX components, backward compatibility of
    data types and errors, 227
    incrementing version numbers at, 330-32, 331
    options, 110-12, 111
compile errors, 109-12, 111, 227
compound conditions, short-circuiting, 232-34
concatenating strings, 99-100, 106-7, 152
consistency, 138-41, 252-54
constants. See also enumerations
    default scope of, 66
    global, 20-21
    goals of using, 64
    magic numbers vs., 21, 59-61, 67-68
    naming, 64-67
    system (see system constants)
    using, 59-61
    using, in For...Next loops, 208, 212
    using, as references to elements of control arrays, 70-71
container controls, 275-76, 279-80, 301
context menus, 307-11, 308, 315-17
continuation lines
    indenting, 156-59, 162, 164-65
    using, 151-56
    ActiveX vs. standard, 273
    advanced interface techniques and, 265
    avoiding picture box, 279-80
    benefits of naming conventions for, 51
    check box captions, 268
    denoting default properties, 53
    disabling, vs. hiding, 269-70, 270, 271
    displaying lists with combo box, 278, 278
    displaying lists with list box, 277, 277
    displaying static lists with option buttons, 275-77, 275
    displaying text with text box, 274, 274
    height of single-line, 265-67, 266, 267
    looping through arrays of, 276-77
    prefixes for ActiveX, 57
    prefixes for standard, 56-57
    referencing, in control arrays, 70-71
    setting maximum length of data-bound, 305-7, 306, 307
    standardizing appearance of, 265-73
    tab order and, 299-301, 301, 302
    toggling options with check boxes, 278, 279
    transparent backgrounds for labels, 269, 269
    using frame, 280
    using scroll bar, 280-81, 280
    using Tag properties, 271-73
    vertical alignment of labels, 268, 268
conventions. See constants; enumerations; error handling; naming conventions; variables
    frame control, 280
    variables for, 83
copying projects, 358-59, 358, 359. See also backing up files
copying text in Visual SourceSafe, 370
copyright information, 196
counter variables, For...Next, 209, 212-15
critical messages, 318, 319
Ctrl+C key combination, 370
Ctrl+F5 key combination, 110, 111
Currency data type, 98

    data entry problems with magic numbers, 60
    enumerated (see enumerations)
    hard-coded (see hard-coded values; magic numbers)
    input/output procedures, specialized, 31
    numerical conditions in If...End If constructs, 231
    object templates and sharing, 20-22
    passing, between procedures using parameters, 41-44 (see also parameters)
    return values (see return values)
    True and False values, 89, 231, 238-39, 241
    types (see data types)
    validating (see data validation)
database object prefixes, 58
databases, Visual SourceSafe
    adding users to, 351-52, 351, 352
    creating, 349, 349
    .ini file extension, 350, 351
    opening, 349-51, 350
data-bound controls, maximum length of, 305-7, 306, 307
data ink, 187
data types
    choosing, for variables, 94-98, 95
data types, continued
    coding standards and, 6
    collection elements, 223-24, 226, 227
    constants and, 65-66
    enumerations as, 61, 63 (see also enumerations)
    Hungarian notation and, 52-53
    indentation and user-defined, 168-69
    for parameters, 41
    prefixes for variable names, 53-55
    suffixes, 52
    using specific in For Each...Next loops, 227-28
    Variant (see Variant data type)
data validation
    constants, 60
    enumerated type parameters, 64, 76-78
    parameters, 42-44
date, code modification, 195-96
Date data type, 98
debugging code
    enabling and disabling error handlers, 125-27, 126, 127 (see also error handling)
    single exit points and, 35-36
    specialized procedures and, 29
    tightly coupled procedures and, 30
decision structures. See flow control constructs
    of enumerations, 62
    explicit, of constants, 66
    explicit, of parameters, 41
    explicit, of variables, 5, 60, 79, 91-94, 93
    indentation and, 168-69, 170, 174-75
    indenting procedure, 156, 157-58
    single, of variables per line, 101-2
Declarations section, 23, 60, 62, 168-69
default command buttons, 302-3
default message box buttons, 322
default project templates, 16-17, 16, 17
default properties of controls, 53
descriptive names. See also names; naming conventions
    for procedures and modules, 33-35
    for variables, 82-86
design. See coding standards; interface design; modules; object templates; project templates; procedures
design consistency, 253-54
Developing User Interfaces for Microsoft Windows, 251
dialog boxes. See also forms
    About, 332-33, 333
    border styles, 255, 255
    design consistency and, 253-54
    tool windows, 258-59, 259, 260
differences, file revision, 368-70, 369
Dim statement, 53, 91, 103
directories. See folders
disabling error handlers, 124-27, 126, 127
disabling items on forms, 269-70, 270, 271
disabling menu commands, 283
disabling object templates, 18-19, 19
Dispatch IDs, 337
display resolution, 153
documentation, Readme files and, 341-42. See also commenting code
Do...Loop loops, 216-23
    commenting, 201-2
    GoTo statement vs., 221-23, 244-46
    indentation and, 162, 164
    testing exit conditions, 219-21
    While...Wend loops vs., 223
Double data type, 98
dynamic lists, 275, 277, 277, 278, 278

Edit menu commands, 284
Edit method, indentation and, 162, 166
element variables, 223-24
ellipsis (...), 282
ElseIf statement, 235
Else statement, 162, 163
enabled error handler, 122
Enabled property, 269, 283
enabling error handlers, 125-27, 126, 127
enabling object templates, 18-19, 19
encapsulation, 28, 31
End Function statement, 140
End If statement, 231-32
endless loops, 139
end-of-line comments, 153, 203, 239-40
End Property statement, 140
End Sub statement, 140
Enter key, 302-3
enumerations. See also constants
    custom, 62-64, 63
    goals of using, 64
    indentation and, 169
    naming conventions, 71-73
    parameters and, 44, 75-76
    system constants vs., 73-75, 73, 74
    using, 61-62, 62, 68-69
    validating passed values, 76-78
Enum keyword, 62
environmental errors, 109
Err object, 112-13, 114-15
error handling, 109-41
    call stack and, 122-24
    Case Else statements and, 236-37
    central, 127-34, 130
    creating consistent blocks, 138-41
    data types and, 227
    disabling, with On Error GoTo 0, 124-25
    documenting expected errors, 182-84
    enabling and disabling, in debugging, 125-27, 126, 127 (see also debugging code)
    Err object and, 112-13
    goals of, 134
    logging errors to text files, 130-34
error handling, continued
    object templates and, 18
    overflow errors, 94-95, 95
    single exit points and, 140-41, 244
    trapping expected errors with On Error Resume Next, 114-16, 136-38
    trapping unexpected errors with On Error GoTo, 116-22, 134-36
    types of, 113-28
    types of errors, 109-10
    using GoTo with, 244
    Visual Basic compilation options, 110-12, 111
Esc key, 302
Event procedures, documenting, 196
    backward compatibility and, 336-37
    mouse, 310-11, 315-17
evil type coercion (ETC), 99
exclamation icon, 318, 319, 321
execution flow. See flow control constructs
Exit Do statement, 218,
Exit For statement, 210, 215-16
Exit Function statement, 35, 118, 119
exit points for procedures, 30-31, 35-39, 140-41, 244
Exit Property statement, 118, 119
Exit Sub statement, 35, 118, 119
expected errors
    documenting, 182-84
    trapping, 113, 114-16, 136-38
explicit declaration
    of constants, 66
    of parameters, 41
    of variables, 5, 60, 79, 91-94, 93
    breaking statements between, 155-56
    comparing Boolean, to True or False, 241
    formatting, 241-43
    indenting continuation lines, 156, 158-59
    using parenthesis in, 242-43

F1 key, 74
F5 key, 110
False value, 89, 231, 241
fan-in and fan-out, 31-32, 32
File menu commands, 283
    backing up, 339, 342
    binary, 15, 356, 360
    .ini file extension, 350, 351
    logging errors to text, 130-34
    Readme, 341-42
    Visual Basic (see projects)
    Visual SourceSafe database (see databases, Visual SourceSafe)
Fixed Dialog style, 255, 255
Fixed Single style, 256-57, 257
Fixed ToolWindow style, 258-59, 259, 260
flow control constructs, 229-47
    avoiding GoSub statements, 243-44
    documenting, 243
    documenting nested, with end-of-line comments, 239-40
    formatting expressions, 241-43
    goals of, 230
    GoTo statements, 244-47
    If...End If, 230-34
    overview of, 229-30
    Select Case...End Select, 234-39
    using On Error Goto for, 116-22
focused variables, 80-81, 82
    designating working, 356-57, 357, 358
    for object templates, 14-15, 14, 15, 19-20, 19
    paths and object templates, 21
    for project templates, 16, 17
    sharing working, 357
    Visual SourceSafe database, 349, 349
For Each...Next constructs, 223-28, 277
formatting characters for each developer, 190-91
formatting code, 145-77
    benefits of, 145-49
    expressions, 241-43
    goals of, 149
    indenting comments, 193
    indenting continuation lines, 156-59
    indenting declarations to show subordination, 168-69
    indenting For...Next constructs, 210, 215
    indenting to show organizational structure, 160-68, 160
    menus, 281-85, 282
    using line continuation character, 151-56
    using single statements per line, 102, 150-51
    using white space to group statements, 169-77
forms, 254-65
    assigning access keys to command buttons, 303-4, 304, 305
    avoiding morphing, 264-65
    border styles, 254-59, 255, 256, 257, 258, 259, 260
    controls on (see controls)
    creating command buttons, 302-3
    disabling templates, 18, 18
    keyboard navigation, 298-99 (see also keyboard navigation and interaction)
    pop-up menus (see pop-up menus)
    setting maximum length of data-bound controls, 305-7, 306, 307
    setting tab order of, 299-301, 301, 302
    startup positions, 260-64, 261, 262, 263
    templates, 14-15, 14
    unloading, 264
For...Next constructs
    commenting, 201-2
    GoTo statement vs., 221-23
    looping through arrays, 226-27
    using, 205-16
frame controls, 275-76, 279-80, 301
Friend keyword, 39-41
functionality, backward compatibility and, 337
Function keyword, 26
Function procedures. See also procedures
    calling, 45-46
    defined, 25, 26
    documenting return values, 198
    retrieving return values, 45, 46-47
    Variant return values, 101

global constants, 20-21, 30, 66. See also system constants
globally unique identifiers (GUIDs), 336
global scope, 39
global variables
    commenting, 202-3
    parameters vs., 20-21, 30, 41
    problems of, 103-4
GoSub statement, 243-44
GoTo statements
    case of line labels, 65, 118, 246-47
    indentation of line labels, 167-68
    line numbers and labels, 117
    looping constructs vs., 221-23
    single exit points and, 36
    using, 244-47
grammar mistakes, 324
Guest user, 351
GUIDs (globally unique identifiers), 336

hard-coded values
    numbers (see magic numbers)
    in object templates, 20-22
    strings, 59
height of single-line controls, 265-67, 266, 267
Help menu commands, 285
    items on forms, 269-70, 270, 271
    menu commands, 283
history, file revision, 367-68, 367, 368
hot keys, 282, 282, 285-88, 286
hourglass pointer icon, 312-13
Hungarian notation, 52-53, 79. See also prefixes

    message box, 318, 320, 320, 321
    mouse pointer, 311-15
    source code control, 355, 355, 362
IDE. See integrated development environment (IDE)
If...End If constructs
    blank lines and, 170-71
    commenting, 199-200
    indentation and, 156, 159, 162-63
    numerical conditions, 231
    Select Case...End Select vs., 235
    short-circuiting compound conditions, 232-34
    using, 230-34
    using End If statements with, 231-32
    validating enumerated values, 76-78
ignoring errors. See expected errors
image controls, 279
    of comments, 193
    of continuation lines, 156-59
    of For...Next constructs, 210, 215
    self-documenting code and, 148
    to show organization structure, 160-68, 160
indexes of control arrays, 70-71
information messages, 318, 319
.ini file extension, 350, 351
inline comments, 182, 198-203
input, specialized procedures for, 31. See also interface design; user input
Insert menu commands, 284
installation programs, 332
Integer data type, 97
integrated development environment (IDE). See also Microsoft Visual Basic
    checking files in and out using, 360, 361-64, 362, 363
    run-time errors in, 110
    setting in error trapping, 126-27, 126, 127
interactive duality, 297
interface design, 251-93
    benefits of standards, 4-5
    consistency in, 252-54
    controls (see controls)
    forms (see forms)
    goals of, 254
    menus (see menus)
    using system colors, 289-93, 290, 291

jargon, avoiding, 324-25
keyboard navigation and interaction, 295, 298-325
    assigning access keys to command buttons, 303-4, 304, 305
    dialog box command buttons and, 302-3
    setting maximum length of data-bound controls, 305-7, 306, 307
    setting tab order of forms, 299-301, 301, 302
keys. See access keys; shortcut keys

label controls, 268-69, 268, 269, 274, 274
labels. See line labels
line continuation character (_), 151-56. See also continuation lines
line labels. See also GoTo statements
    case of, 65, 118, 246-47
    indentation and, 167-68
    line numbers and, 117
line labels, continued
    PROC_ERR, 117
    PROC_EXIT, 36, 118, 119, 140, 244
line numbers, 117
list box controls, 277, 277, 315-17
    dynamic, 277, 277, 278, 278
    selecting items before displaying pop-up menu, 315-17
    static, 275-77, 275
local constants, 66
local variables, 84, 103
logging errors to text files, 130-34
log in, Visual SourceSafe, 353, 353
Long data type, 98
looping constructs, 205-28
    benefits of, 205
    blank lines and, 170, 173
    commenting, 201-2
    Do...Loop, 216-23
    For Each...Next, 223-28
    For...Next, 205-16
    goals of, 205
loops, endless, 139
loosely coupled procedures, 30
lowercase. See case of characters

magic numbers. See also hard-coded values
    constants vs., 21, 59-61, 67-68
    data validation and, 77-78
    loops and, 208
MaxLength property, 305-7, 306, 307
memory resources
    picture box controls and, 279
    scope and, 103, 104
    unloading forms to free, 264
    Variants, 100
Menu Editor, 282, 286
menus, 281-89
    access keys, 282, 282
    basic and extended shortcut keys, 288
    Edit menu commands, 284
    File menu commands, 283
menus, continued
    formatting and organizing Windows style, 281-85, 282
    Help menu commands, 285
    Insert menu commands, 284
    items corresponding to toolbar buttons, 288-89
    keyboard access, 298
    pop-up, 307-11, 308, 315-17
    shortcut keys, 253, 285-88, 286
    tools for creating, 286
    Tools menu commands, 285
    View menu commands, 284
    Visual SourceSafe add-in, for Visual Basic, 352-53, 353
    Window menu commands, 285
message boxes, 318-25
    avoiding technical jargon, 324-25
    button enumerations, 61-62, 62, 74
    choosing appropriate, 318-20, 319, 320
    choosing buttons, 321-23, 323
    error handling and, 139
    notification messages and, 297-98
    proofreading messages, 324, 324
    backward compatibility and, 336-37
    indentation of Recordset, 162, 166-67
    PopupMenu, 309-10
    SetFocus, 136, 183-84
Microsoft Office, 4-5, 252-53
Microsoft Outlook-style navigation bars, 265
Microsoft Visual Basic
    Auto List Members feature, 61-62, 62
    compilation options, 110-11
    data types, 97 (see also data types)
    declarations settings, 5, 60, 92-93, 93
    default scope, 40
    IDE (see integrated development environment (IDE))
Microsoft Visual Basic, continued
    levels of ActiveX component compatibility, 337, 338
    levels of scope in, 103
    necessity for standards for, 5-9 (see also coding standards)
    projects (see projects)
    project templates, 16-17, 16, 17
    setting in error trapping, 126-27, 126, 127
    source code control (see Microsoft Visual SourceSafe)
    system constants, 71 (see also system constants)
    tab stop settings, 160, 160
    template settings, 19-20, 19
    viewing multiple procedures, 32-33, 33, 176, 177
Microsoft Visual SourceSafe, 345-72
    adding new files to projects, 364-65, 364
    adding users, 351-52, 351
    benefits and complexities of, 345-46
    checking files in and out with Visual Basic IDE, 361-64, 362, 363
    checking files out with Explorer, 359-61, 360, 361
    comparing revisions, 367-70, 367, 368, 369
    components and functions of, 347-48
    creating databases, 349, 349
    creating working copies of projects, 358-59, 358, 359
    designating working folders, 356-57, 357, 358
    opening databases, 349-51, 350
    placing projects under control of, 352-55, 353, 354, 355
    project development under, 355-70
    retrieving latest version of files, 365-67, 365, 366, 367
Microsoft Visual SourceSafe, continued
    setting up, with Administrator, 348-55, 348
    team development challenges, 346-47
    version control and, 343 (see also version control)
Microsoft Windows
    interface, 252-53, 281-85, 282
    viewing version numbers with Explorer, 330, 331
mixed-case. See case of characters
modules. See also projects
    alphabetizing procedures in, 32, 33
    compiling (see compilation)
    creating, 26-28
    Declarations sections, 23-24, 168-69 (see also declarations)
    descriptive names for, 33-35
    error handling and, 18 (see also error handling)
    goals of designing, 33
    procedures and, 25-26 (see also procedures)
    requiring variable declaration, 92-93, 93
module scope, 39-40, 41, 103
monitor resolution, 153
morphing forms, 264-65
mouse interaction, 295, 307-17
    pop-up menus, 307-11, 308
    selecting list items before displaying pop-up menu, 315-17
    using pointer for user feedback, 311-15
MousePointer property, 311-12
MsgBox statement, 61-62, 62, 74, 139, 297, 318. See also message boxes
multiline text boxes, 306
multiple-document interface (MDI) mode, 261-62, 262
multiple-line statements, 154-55
multiple procedures, viewing, 32-33, 33, 176, 177
multiple statements per line, 101-2, 150-51
multiselection list boxes, 277, 277

    alphabetizing procedure, in modules, 32, 33
    application, 21-22
    in comments, 181
    constant, 60
    conventions (see naming conventions)
    descriptive, for procedures and modules, 33-35
    descriptive, for variables, 82-86
    hard-coded application, in object templates, 21-22
naming conventions, 51-58
    for constants, 64-67
    data type suffixes, 52
    denoting variable data type, 53-55
    denoting variable scope, 55-56
    differentiating variables from controls, 51
    for enumerations, 71-73
    Hungarian notation, 52-53
    for modules, 26
    for objects, 56-58
navigation. See keyboard navigation and interaction
navigation bars, Outlook-style, 265
nested constructs
    commenting, 239-40
    indenting, 161
nested procedures, 122-24
No Compatibility level, 337, 338, 338
Nothing, setting forms equal to, 264
notifications. See also user input
    goals of, 298
    message boxes, 318-25 (see also message boxes)
    overview of, 295, 297-98
    as conditions in If...End If constructs, 231
    line, 117
    magic (see magic numbers)

Object data type, 223-24, 227
    controls (see controls)
    default properties, 53, 148
    Err, 112-13, 114-15
    error handling with, 116
    looping through collections of, 223-28
    prefixes for, 54, 56-58
    reusable, 13, 16
    templates (see object templates)
    Variant data type and, 98
object templates. See also project templates
    benefits of, 13
    comments in, 23-24
    editing, 15
    enabling and disabling, 18-19, 18, 19
    error handling and, 18
    goals of using, 20
    hard-coded values and, 20-22
    setting folder for, 19-20, 19
    using, 14-15, 14, 15
obj prefix, 54
OK buttons, 302-3, 321-22
On Error GoTo 0 statement, 117, 124-25
On Error GoTo statement, 113, 116-22, 134-36
On Error Resume Next statement, 113, 114-16, 136-38
option buttons, 275-77, 275
Option Explicit statement, 5, 60, 92-93
ordering Case statements, 237-38
organizational structure, indentation to show, 160-68, 160
output, specialized procedures for, 31
overflow errors, 94-95, 95

    backward compatibility and, 337
    documenting, 197
    enumerations for, 44, 64, 75-76
    global data vs., 20-21, 30
    passing data between procedures using, 41-44
    system constants for, 74, 74
    validating, 42-44, 76-78
parent controls, 275-76, 279-80, 301
parentheses ()
    clarifying expressions with, 242-43
    function calls and, 46
passing by reference vs. by value, 41-42
passwords, Visual SourceSafe, 351-52, 351
paths, object templates and hard-coded, 21. See also folders
performance, 7, 100-101, 223, 241
picture box controls, 279-80
pixels, 266280
plus sign (+), 99-100, 106
pointer, mouse, 311-15
pointing devices, 295
PopupMenu method, 309-10
pop-up menus, 307-11, 308, 315-17
positive form in Boolean variables, 89-91, 241-42
    application or company, for enumerations, 71-73
    constant, 64-67
    Hungarian notation and, 52-53
    object, 56-58
    variable data type, 53-55
    variable scope, 55-56, 105-6
Private keyword, 39-41, 66, 91, 103
procedural scope, 103
Procedure IDs, 337
    alphabetizing, in modules, 32, 33
procedures, continued
    blank lines and, 170, 176-77, 177
    calling, 45-47
    clearly defined scope for, 39-41
    comment headers for, 193-98
    descriptive names for, 33-35
    documenting code processes in, 198-203
    error handling in (see error handling)
    goals of designing, 33
    indenting continuation lines of, 156, 157-58
    minimizing fan-in and fan-out, 31-32, 32
    modules and, 25-28 (see also modules)
    object templates and Property, 22
    parameters to pass data between, 20-21, 41-44 (see also parameters)
    self-contained, 30-31
    single exit points for, 35-39
    specialized functions and, 28-30
    types of, 25-26
    viewing multiple, 176, 177
PROC_ERR label, 117
PROC_EXIT label, 36, 118, 119, 140, 244
programmer errors, 109
programming standards. See coding standards
Project Compatibility level, 337, 338, 339
Project Explorer, 355, 355, 361-64, 362, 363
projects. See also modules
    adding objects to, 14-15, 14, 15
    coding standards (see coding standards)
    compatibility at level of, 337, 338, 339
    compiling (see compilation)
    error trapping setting, 126-27, 126, 127 (see also error handling)
    source code control (see Microsoft Visual SourceSafe)
projects, continued
    team development challenges, 8, 346-47
    templates (see project templates)
    version control (see version control)
project templates. See also object templates
    benefits of, 13
    custom, 17-18
    goals of using, 20
    Visual Basic, 16-17, 16, 17
proofreading messages, 324, 324
    App object, 20-22, 333
    backward compatibility and, 336-37
    denoting default, of controls, 53
    determining system constants for, 74, 74
    Err object, 112-13
    exposing, for template objects, 22
    MaxLength of data-bound controls, 305-7, 306, 307
    MousePointer, 311-12
    tab order, of forms, 299-301
    Tag, 271-73
Property keywords, 26
Property procedures, 22, 25, 26, 196
pseudocode, comments as, 184-85
pseudosubroutines, 243-44
Public keyword, 39-41, 66, 91, 103
    of code, 180-82
    of procedures, 197
    of variables, 80-81, 82

qualifiers, variable name, 88-89
quantity, indicating, 280-81, 280
question messages, 318 319

    comments and, 6, 191-93
    constants and, 61, 68
    formatting and, 6, 148
Readme files, 341-42
read-only files, Visual SourceSafe and, 348
Recordset methods, indentation and, 162, 166-67
redundancy, 205
reentrancy, preventing, 104-5
Registry, 336
REM keyword, 189
reserved words, 154
resolution, monitor, 153
resources. See memory resources
restoring backup files, 342
return values
    documenting, 198
    enumerations, 64
    message box constants, 322-23
    retrieving, 45, 46-47
    Variant, 101
reusability, 13, 16, 20, 252
    comparing, 367-70, 367, 368, 369
    history, 196
RollBack method, indentation and, 166-67
rounding, 6, 94, 99
routines. See procedures
run time, disabling error handlers at, 124-25
run-time errors, 109-10

    denoting constant, 61, 64-67, 70
    denoting variable, 55-56, 105-6
    minimizing variable, 30, 41, 103-6
    of procedures, 39-41
scroll bar controls, 280-81, 280
Select Case...End Select construct
    blank lines and, 170, 172
    Case statements that are never True, 238-39
    commenting, 200-201
    determining selected option button, 236
Select Case...End Select construct, continued
    including Case Else with, 236-37
    indentation and, 162, 163-64
    ordering Case statements, 237-38
    using, 234-39
    validating enumerated type parameters, 77, 78
selecting list items before displaying pop-up menus, 315-17
self-contained procedures, 30-31
sentences, using complete, 191-92
SetFocus method, 136, 183-84
Shift+F2 key combination, 66
short-circuiting compound conditions, 232-34
shortcut keys, 253, 285-88, 286. See also access keys
Simonyi, Charles, 52
single declarations per line, 102
single-document interface (SDI) mode, 261, 261
single exit points for procedures, 30-31, 35-39, 140-41, 244
single statements per line, 150-51
Sizable style, 257, 258
Sizable ToolWindow style, 258-59, 259, 260
solid-character comment lines, 185-88
source code control. See Microsoft Visual SourceSafe; version control
source code standards. See coding standards
    splitting statements after, 154-55
    underscores for, 35, 86
special characters for each developer, 190-91
specialized procedures, 28-30, 31
speed, indicating, 280-81, 280
spelling mistakes, 75, 146, 324, 324
standard controls, 56-57, 273. See also controls
standards. See coding standards
startup position, form, 260-64, 261, 262, 263
    blank lines between groups of, 170, 175-76
    breaking, 154-56
    grouping, with blank lines, 169-77
    indentation and, 162, 164-65
    single, per line, 102, 150-51
Static keyword, 91
static lists, 275-78, 275, 277, 278, 279
static variables, 104-5
Step keyword, 205, 207-8, 212
String data type, 97
    breaking large, 152-53
    concatenating, 99-100, 106-7, 152
    eliminating hard-coded, 59
    passing, 42
strong cohesion, 27
Sub keyword, 26
Sub procedures, 25, 26, 46, 47. See also procedures
    data type, 52
    qualifier, 88-89
syntax errors, 109-10, 154
system colors, 289-93, 290, 291
system constants
    message box buttons, 321-23, 323
    message box icons, 320
    message box return values, 322-23
    mouse pointer icons, 311-12
    naming conventions, 71
    pop-up menu, 310
    system colors, 292
    using, 73-75, 73, 74, 83

Tab controls, 265
tablets, 295
tab order of forms, 299-301, 301, 302
tab stops, 160, 160
Tag properties, 271-73
team development, challenges of, 8, 346-47. See also Microsoft Visual Source-Safe; version control
technical jargon, avoiding, 324-25
Template folder, 14-17, 14, 15, 16, 17
templates. See object templates; project templates
temporary variables, 84-86
territorial statements, 151
text box controls
    displaying editable text, 274, 274
    height of, 265-67, 266, 267
    maximum length of text in, 306-7, 307
    referencing control array elements, 70-71
text copying in Visual SourceSafe, 370
text files, logging errors to, 130-34
tightly coupled procedures, 30-31, 32
time values, 98
timing errors, 109
toggling options, 278, 279
toolbar buttons, menu items for, 288-89
Tools menu commands, 285
tool windows, 258-59, 259, 260
touchpads, 295
trackballs, 295
trapping errors. See error handling
Tree view controls, 265
True value, 89, 231, 238-39, 241
twips, 280, 316
type coercion, 6, 94, 99
type_ prefix, 54-55

udt prefix, 55
underscore (_)
    as line continuation character, 151-56
    simulating spaces in names, 35, 86
unexpected errors, trapping, 113, 116-22, 134-36
unfocused variables, 80
unloading forms, 264
Until keyword, 217, 219-21
Update method, indentation and, 162, 166
update problems, 60-61
uppercase. See case of characters
user accounts, adding Visual SourceSafe, 351-52, 351, 352
user-defined data types
    indentation and, 168-69
    naming, 54-55
user input. See also notifications
    data entry problems, 60
    goals of, 298
    keyboard interaction,
298-307 (see also keyboard navigation and interaction)     mouse interaction, 307-17 (see also mouse interaction)
    overview of, 295, 296-97
    specialized procedures for, 31
user interfaces. See interface design

validating. See data validation
values. See data
variables, 79-107
    abbreviating names of, 87-88
    benefits of naming conventions, 51
    blank lines and blocks of, 170, 174-75
    choosing data types for, 94-98, 95 (see also data types)
    concatenating strings, 106-7
    data type prefixes, 53-55
    data type suffixes, 52
    descriptive names for, 82-86
    differentiating, from controls, 51
    documenting, with end-of-line comments, 203
    element, 223-24
    explicitly declaring, 5, 60, 79, 91-94, 93
    focused, 80-81
    For...Next counter, 209, 212-15
    global (see global variables)
    goals of using, 79
variables, continued
    Hungarian notation, 52-53, 79
    minimizing scope of, 30, 41, 103-6
    mixed case in naming, 86-87
    names in comments, 181
    passing, between procedures, 41-44 (see also parameters)
    positive forms for Boolean, 89-91, 241-42
    qualifiers for, 88-89
    scope prefixes, 55-56, 106
    setting, and indenting continuation lines, 156, 157, 158-59
    setting, to Function procedure result, 46
    temporary, 84-86
    using Variant data type for, 98-102
    voodoo, 5
Variant data type
    as default type of parameters, 41
    element variables of collections and, 223-24, 226, 227
    and initial values, 92
    type coercion problems of, 6, 98-102
version compatibility, 334
version control, 329-43
    backing up files, 342
    benefits of, 329-30
    displaying version numbers in About dialog boxes, 332-33, 333
    documenting changes in Readme files, 341-42
    goals of, 330
    incrementing version numbers at compilation, 330-32, 331
    maintaining backward compatibility in ActiveX components, 333-41, 338, 340
    Microsoft Visual SourceSafe and, 343 (see also Microsoft Visual SourceSafe)
version control, continued
    object templates and hard-coded version numbers, 22
View menu commands, 284
violations of programming style, explaining, 182
visibility. See scope
Visible property, 269, 283
Visual Basic. See Microsoft Visual Basic
Visual Display of Quantitative Information, The (Tufte), 187
Visual SourceSafe. See Microsoft Visual SourceSafe
Visual SourceSafe Administrator, 348, 348, 352
Visual SourceSafe Explorer, 357, 357, 358, 359-61, 360, 361, 363
voodoo variables, 5

warning messages, 318, 319
weak cohesion, 27
While keyword, 216-17, 219-21
While...Wend constructs, 223
white space, grouping statements with, 169-77
Window menu commands, 285
    tool, 258-59, 259, 260
    viewing multiple procedures in, 32-33, 33, 176, 177
Windows. See Microsoft Windows
Windows Explorer, 330, 331
Windows Interface Guidelines for Software Design, The, 251
With statement, indentation and, 162, 165
working copies of projects, 358-59, 358, 359
working folders, 35657, 357, 358

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2000

    Great book

    I just finished this book. It offers advice on how to write better code. The section on creating enumerations was very helpful, but you can read that chaptr on Microsoft Press's web site. The error-handling chapter was also very good. It also teaches some cool things with user interaction and interface. Every Visual Basic programmer should have this on their bookshelf! I'm sure I'll write better code because of this book!

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