- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
Ships from: fallbrook, CA
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
Ships from: Chatham, NJ
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
I have a confession to make. As recently as a year ago, Visual Basic was not my preferred tool to develop client/server applications. I have been developing database applications for two decades and have used many languages and tools. While I will never claim to know it all, I have a good sense for what works in the real world and what doesn't work. As far as client/server development is concerned, Visual Basic 5 seemed to me to be right on the edge as far as being a viable tool for large applications. Visual Basic 6 has changed my attitude.
The client/server developer needs a development tool, not a language. The tool needs to be robust, needs to support a myriad of different backends (data sources) and needs to be able to produce a variety of different types of applications from single-user desktop solutions to multi-tiered applications deployed on the Internet. Visual Basic 6 is a superb tool adaptable to those types of projects and more.
VB 6 is not best of breed in all categories. Weaknesses remain in areas such as object-orientation and data modeling. The tools that are there sometimes lack a little in how well they are integrated. Even still, VB6 is today's best choice for rapid application development of data driven applications in a client/server environment.
In this book, my co-author Kurt Cagle and I have gleaned what works and what doesn't from months of work with VB6 betas using a variety of backends and application platforms. Between us, we have almost four decades of real-world experience. We have put together a book that is neither a rehash of the Help files nor a pie-in-the-sky Microsoft marketing brochure. We have assembled a guide to the development of client/server applications that will scale as you need and that will comfortably accommodate the rapid changes in technology. We have kept our eye to the target audience, the experienced Visual Basic developer, while acknowledging that "experienced" means many different things in many different environments. We do not insult the reader's intelligence with blow-by-blow details of using the Application Wizard, for instance. But, we also do not assume that the reader has previously built large-scale, multi-tiered, client/server systems. In fact, very few VB developers have built such applications. So, we lay the groundwork as we incrementally build the core knowledge from chapter to chapter.
Chapters 1 through 3 concentrate on the environment within which the Visual Basic client/server application will be running. We discuss the whys and therefores of client/server in terms of the network and the database. We discuss and summarize network issues and database platform issues. We show you how to intelligently design a database and how to use SQL.
In Chapter 4, we cover the gamut of Visual Basic 6 database access techniques, including DAO, RDO, ODBC, VBSQL, and ADO. We offer specific advice on when to use what as well as our opinions on the relative merits (and de-merits) of each approach. Chapters 5 and 6 cover development using DAO and RDO respectively. While most developers will eventually move to ADO, both DAO and RDO will be around for some time to come.
Chapter 7 introduces ADO and OLE DB. We then show you how to use these new tools, taking the time to compare and contrast with the more familiar DAO and RDO models. In Chapter 8 we guide you through the conversion of existing DAO and RDO projects to ADO. We use as scenarios example projects built in Chapters 5 and 6 and provide detailed step-by-step guidance. Again, we provide this guidance in a real-mode manner, resorting to brute-force techniques when such techniques work best.
Chapter 9 gets into more advanced and efficient techniques using ADO and OLE DB. We show you some of the newer tools with detailed examples. We discuss the DataEnvironment object, the DataRepeater object, the Format object, and so on. We make no bones where things are a little rough around the edges, showing you how to get around the flaws in hierarchical data presentations and similar gotchas.
Chapter 10 is where we start hammering away at solid object-oriented development techniques instead of just paying lip service to them. We detail the advantages and disadvantages of different approaches to
object-oriented development using classes. We discuss the efficiencies and inefficiencies in different binding techniques. From there, we develop business objects from classes that act as data providers to different objects, optimizing each for the circumstances under which they are deployed. We show you critical gotchas when moving the local business object to a remote platform and, frankly, show you how to plain make it work.
Chapter 11 takes advantage of the knowledge assembled in the first ten chapters to explore advanced database techniques, including the creation and use of stored procedures and triggers. We deliberately placed this chapter at this point in the book both because these techniques help to solidify the traditional client/server application and because the techniques are absolutely critical to the success of Web-based applications, which we discuss in the remainder of the book. Because so much is said about stored procedures and triggers, and because so few shops actually make effective use of them, we explore unusual uses of them both in terms of data validation and in the creation of a self-referencing data dictionary.
And that brings us to the last third of the book: VB6 and the Internet. While client/server applications are, by definition, network applications, the Internet is the mother of all networks. The Internet connects 79 million people in the United States alone. With servers in excess of 10 million and Web pages in excess of 300 million, the Internet only continues to accelerate its growth.
The astonishing thing is each of those 79 million plus people are all connected to one another and to many millions more around the globe, each one redefining what we mean by client/server programming. As cable modems and DSL lines begin to replace 28Kbps and 56Kbps analog modems, the number of people and uses for the Internet will jump astronomically as will the expectations of users.
Client/server programming is all about getting data to and from the user. Visual Basic 6 dramatically redefines the boundaries between client and server, between data and user, offering a combination of one of the best RAD development environments on the planet with all the power of Active Server Pages and Dynamic HTML. In essence, with Visual Basic 6 you can create sophisticated Web applications targeted to the widest possible audience using the same tools that you have already mastered for other client/server development.
The final four chapters of this book focus on this new technology, with an in-depth look at Internet Information Services applications and Dynamic HTML applications. Additionally, one of the hottest topics in data communications, Extensible Markup Language (also known as XML), is explored in detail, showing how you can take advantage of this new data standard in your own programs. Finally, this book looks at several useful technologies for the Internet-savvy database engineer, including remote component servers, client- and server-side scriptlets, data persistence, and more.
There is no right way or wrong way to use this book. (Well, using it as a door stop or as something to raise your monitor probably isn't the best use we could imagine.) The experienced client/server developer may skim or skip over the first three chapters. Those readers new to client/server may wish to spend extra time on those chapters. Those readers that are making a commitment to ADO should at least read Chapters 7 and 9 before skipping ahead to the fun stuff (Web development). Those looking to check out the viability of Web-based development may well want to skip ahead to Chapter 12 before coming back to other portions of the book. We have tried to include at the front of each chapter some keywords to highlight topics to be covered and have tried to include at the end of each chapter some suggestions for where you may want to go next.
Also be sure to check out the code samples on the enclosed CD-ROM. Several people checked each piece of code. Although we have strived to make sure that every application works properly, the nature of the material is such that it was not possible to test on every single combination of platforms. As an example, you may need to make minor alterations in SQL syntax depending on what database you are connected to. Please pay particular attention to the fact that you will need to do some setup on your own system. Many of the examples use an ODBC data sourceafter creating the database (we have included the SQL statements to do so on the CD-ROM), you will need to set up the ODBC data source in the Control Panel. The paths to the data in some of the examples may need to be changed to reflect your paths. Also, pay particular attention to the fact that some samples connect to server applications. Since these sever applications need to be registered (see Chapter 10 in particular), you will need to compile them, go to the References dialog box, and reselect the references. Otherwise, you will get mysterious error messages. For the Internet chapters, please note that many of the examples were done using Internet Explorer version 5. You may wish to download that from the Microsoft Web site. We would have included it on the CD-ROM but it was in beta as this book was going to press and a more current release will surely be posted before you read this.
You can use Access for most of the examples from this book if you want to experiment at home or otherwise do not have access to a relational database. You can also download trial versions of a number of different good single-user database engines. Sybase SQL Anywhere (renamed Sybase Adaptive Server Anywhere as this book was going to press) is an easy-to-set-up and use product available from www.sybase.com/products/anywhere/index.html for a free 60-day trial.
If you like the book, please buy a couple dozen more. You can give them to your kids, your spouse, your mother (she will be impressed and thankful) and your boss (he or she will also be impressed and will give you a raise). Coriolis always invites comments, suggestions, criticisms, and so on. Visit their Web page at www.coriolis.com to find contact information or to check out any updates to the book.
Michael MacDonald (email@example.com)
Kurt Cagle (firstname.lastname@example.org)