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Overview

Praise Page for Windows Forms Programming in Visual Basic .NET

“This is the .NET WinForms book to have. If you have been looking for a good Windows Forms book for your bookshelf, here it is. Windows Forms Programming in Visual Basic .NET covers everything from ‘Hello World’ to multithreading the user interface. Sells and Gehtland definitely understand Windows Forms and VB and are able to bring many new .NET techniques and concepts to the VB masses.”

         —Darrin Bishop, Senior Technical Specialist

“Not only does Sells do a great job of breaking down all the quintessential components that anyone developing a Windows Forms application should know, but he also covers the critical pieces of functionality, like multi-threaded programming and resource management, which every Windows Forms developer should incorporate into his or her applications.”

         —Colin Bowern, Senior Consultant, Microsoft Corporation

“With its excellent content, this book is easily an important component for any Visual Basic .NET developer’s toolbox.”

         —Amit Kalani, coauthor of MCAD/MCSD Developing and
             Implementing Windows®-based Applications with
             Microsoft Visual C#™ .NET and Microsoft Visual Studio®.NET
             Exam Cram 2 (Exam Cram 70-316)

“If you are a VB.NET developer—or one coming from a ‘classic’ VB background—and you want a no-nonsense guide to the key elements of WinForms development, this book is for you. In-depth practical experience shines through each chapter.”

         —Martin Naughton, Independent Freelance Software Consultant

“If you’re planning on using the .NET Framework, this book is an invaluable resource. Chris dives straight into the heart of what makes the Windows Forms Framework tick. He has a real talent for striking the proper balance between showing you the theory behind the software and demonstrating coding techniques that will make you instantly productive.”

         —From the Foreword by Ted Pattison, VB .NET Guru and author of
             Building Applications and Components with Visual Basic .NET

“This book contains consistent and detailed hands-on examples about Windows Forms. Whether you are new to programming in .NET or already experienced, Chris Sells gives you the thorough grounding you need to write Windows Forms applications.”

         —Erick Sgarbi, Software Engineer

“This is a great book for programmers who need to get work done with WinForms, and don’t have time to read a 1,200-page tome. Unlike many of the other WinForms books out there, it goes beyond the available Microsoft documentation and gives you critical tips and tricks you won’t find in the manuals. Chris really knows his stuff when it comes to WinForms programming and lays out in-depth information clearly and logically. His actual working experience with WinForms is obvious throughout the book, which has the information you need to know if you want to get beyond simple demos and write serious WinForms applications. The chapter on Web deployment is worth the price of admission just by itself. I’d definitely recommend this title to anyone who is serious about WinForms development.”

         —Henry Stapp, Software Development Lead, Youbet.com, Inc.


"If you are just beginning to use WinForms, or even if you are already an experienced hand, you will find this book an antidote for confusion and a friendly companion on the road to writing modern applications."—Alan Cooper, Father of Visual Basic

Windows Forms Programming in Visual Basic .NET is the ultimate guide to using the Microsoft .NET forms package. Readers will learn how to build applications that take full advantage of both the rich user interface features of the Microsoft Windows operating system and the deployment features traditionally associated with HTML-based applications.

Authors Chris Sells and Justin Gehtland draw upon their WinForms research and programming experience to go beyond the Windows Forms documentation to give you a clear picture of exactly how Visual Basic .NET programmers can use WinForms. Readers will gain an understanding of the rationale behind aspects of WinForms design and learn how to avoid or solve common problems. Throughout the book, detailed illustrations of WinForms user interface features and working code samples demonstrate best practices. All code has been tested with Visual Studio .NET 1.1 and is available at www.sellsbrothers.com, where readers will also find updates to the book.

This book focuses on the topics developers need to know in order to build real-world applications, including:

  • Form layout
  • Multiple top-level and non-rectangular windows
  • Classes outside the System.Windows.Forms namespace, including System.Drawing and System.Security
  • Custom drawing
  • Hosting and building controls
  • Design-time integration of controls and components
  • Data binding
  • Multithreaded user interfaces
  • Deploying WinForms controls and applications over the Web
  • Moving from Visual Basic 6

Well-written and easy to navigate, Windows Forms Programming in Visual Basic .NET is the tutorial for Windows programmers who are serious about mastering Windows Forms.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780321125194
  • Publisher: Addison-Wesley
  • Publication date: 10/22/2003
  • Series: Microsoft .NET Development Series
  • Pages: 680
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 9.22 (h) x 1.41 (d)

Meet the Author

Chris Sells is a content strategist on the Microsoft MSDN content team. Previously, he was the director of software engineering at DevelopMentor. Chris is the author of Windows Telephony Programming (Addison-Wesley, 1998) and Windows Forms Programming in Visual Basic .NET (Addison-Wesley, 2004), and coauthor of Effective COM (Addison-Wesley, 1999), ATL Internals (Addison-Wesley, 1999), and Essential .NET, Volume 1 (Addison-Wesley, 2003).

Justin Gehtland is a founding member of Relevance, LLC, a partnership dedicated to elevating the practice of software development.

0321125193AB10162003

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Read an Excerpt

AS A FAIRLY PUBLIC figure in the Windows developer community, Chris often gets asked if he thinks that .NET is going to "take off." He always answers the same way: it's not a matter of "if," it's a matter of "when."

Microsoft's .NET Framework has so many benefits that even C++/Win32 veterans find it hard to resist the siren song of a managed development environment. It's ironic that the temporary dip in the economy has caused folks to avoid anything new just when .NET came along to deliver significant reductions in time to market and cost while simultaneously increasing code quality. The organizations that have already adopted .NET know that it's going to have a long and happy life, especially as it gets pushed further and further into Microsoft's own plans for the future of the Windows platform, both on the server and on the client.

The primary server-side technology in .NET is ASP.NET, which provides the infrastructure needed to build Web sites and Web services. ASP.NET gives developers the reach to deploy Web sites to anyone by aiming at the baseline of features offered by the middle-generation Web browsers. To provide the highest level of functionality possible, ASP.NET does most of the work on the server side, leaving the client-side HTML as a thin wrapper to trigger server-side requests for new pages of data. The server side handles almost everything, from data manipulation to user preferences to the rendering of simple things like menus and toolbars. This model provides the greatest availability across operating systems and browsers.

If, on the other hand, your targeted customers are Windows users, an HTML-based experience limits your users to alowest-common-denominator approach that is unnecessary. In fact, in an attempt to provide a richer client-side experience, many organizations that know they're targeting Windows users require specific versions of Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE) Web browser. As soon as that kind of targeting happens, IE becomes less of a browser and more of an HTML-based application run time. For that purpose, the HTML object model is fairly primitive, often requiring that you do a lot of work to do things that are usually simple (like keeping track of a user's session state). If you're targeting Windows users, the .NET Framework gives you a much richer set of objects for building interactive user interfaces.

This brings us to the subject of this book: Windows Forms (WinForms). WinForms is the face of .NET on the client, providing a forms-based development environment meant to embody the best of the UI object models that have come before it. In addition, it has one feature that no Windows based development framework has provided to date: the deployment features of HTML-based Web applications. The ability to combine the richness of Windows applications with the deployment of Web applications signals a completely new world for Windows developers, one that makes us more than happy to give up the mess of unmanaged code. Who Should Read This Book?

When writing this book, we had two target audiences in mind. We wanted to provide real-world WinForms coverage for both the programmer who has already programmed in .NET and for the programmer who hasn't. Toward that end, we briefly introduce core .NET topics as they come up. However, the .NET Framework itself is a large area that this book doesn't pretend to cover completely. Instead, when we think more information would be useful, we reference another work that provides the full details. In particular, we find that we've referenced Essential .NET, by Don Box, with Chris Sells, a great deal, making it a good companion to this book. In this same category, we also recommend Pragmatic ADO.NET, by Shawn Wildermuth, Advanced .NET Remoting, by Ingo Rammer, .NET Web Services, by Keith Ballinger, and Applied Microsoft .NET Framework Programming, by Jeffrey Richter. (For more details on these books, see the Bibliography.)

Two core .NET topics are of special importance to WinForms programmers, and we cover them in more detail in Appendix B: Delegates and Events and in Appendix C: Serialization Basics. The coverage of delegates and events is particularly important if you're new to .NET, although I don't recommend diving into that topic until you've got a WinForms-specific frame of reference (which is provided about one-third of the way through Chapter 1: Hello, Windows Forms).

One other note: This book covers none of the standard controls completely. Instead, as each control is interesting in the context of the current topic—such as the DataGrid control in Chapter 13: Data Binding and Data Grids—that control is covered appropriately. Also, Chapter 8: Controls and Chapter 9: Design-Time Integration introduce the broad range of categories of controls that WinForms provides, including the category of nonvisual controls called components in .NET.

Finally, to give you a visual to go with all the controls and components and to introduce you to each one's major functionality, Appendix D: Standard WinForms Components and Controls provides a list of the standard controls and components. We wouldn't think of wasting your time by attempting to be more thorough than the reference documentation that comes with the .NET Framework SDK and Visual Studio .NET. Instead, this book focuses on the real-world scenarios that aren't covered in detail elsewhere.Conventions

If you have decided to take the plunge with this book, we'd like to thank you for your faith and express our hope that we live up to it. To aid you in reading the text, we want to let you in on some conventions we've used.

First and foremost, the wonderful thing about WinForms is how visual it is, and that's why we use a lot of figures to illustrate its features. Some of those pictures really need to be in color to make the point, so be sure to check the color pages at the center of this book for those color plates.

As useful as figures are, we think primarily in code. Code is shown in

System.Console.WriteLine("Hello, WinForms.")

Console application activation is also shown in monospace type:

C:\> vbc.exe hello.vb

When a part of a code snippet or a command line activation is of particular interest, we mark it in bold and often provide a comment:

' Notice the use of the .NET System namespace
System.Console.WriteLine("Hello, WinForms.")

When we want to direct your attention to a piece of code even more fully, we replace superfluous code with ellipses:

Class MyForm
  Inherits System.Windows.Forms.Form
... '
fields
 Private Sub MyForm_Load(sender As Object, e As EventArgs)
MessageBox.Show("Hello from MyForm")
  End Sub
End Class

Furthermore, to make the printed code more readable, we often drop namespaces and protection keywords when they don't provide additional information:

' Shortened "System.Windows.Forms.Form" base class
Class MyForm
Inherits Form
 ... ' fields

 ' Removed "Private" specifier and "System.ComponentModel" namespace
 Sub MyForm_Load(sender As Object, e As EventArgs)
MessageBox.Show("Hello from MyForm")
  End Sub
End Class

Conversely, when showing .NET attributes, we use their full name:

<SerializableAttribute()> _
Class MyCustomType ... End Class

Some languages, such as C#, let you drop the "Attribute" suffix for convenience, but that makes it hard to pin down the details of the attribute class in the online documentation.

Also, we sometimes omit error checking from the printed code for clarity, but we try to leave it in the sample code that comes with this book. In the prose itself, we often put a word or phrase in italics to indicate a new term that we're about to define. As an example of this kind of term and its definition, hegemony is a preponderant influence or authority, as well as a potent business practice.

Finally, we often mention keyboard shortcuts because we find them convenient. The ones we mention are the default Visual Studio Developer key bindings. If you're not using those key bindings, you'll need to map he keyboard shortcuts to your own settings.Contact

The up-to-date information for this book, including the source code and the errata, are maintained at http://www.sellsbrothers.com/writing/wfbook. This site also provides a way for you to send feedback to us about the book, both complimentary and less so.

—Chris Sells
www.sellsbrothers.com

—Justin Gehtland
www.relevancellc.com

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

1. Hello, Windows Forms.

2. Forms.

3. Dialogs.

4. Drawing Basics.

5. Drawing Text.

6. Advanced Drawing.

7. Printing.

8. Controls.

9. Design-Time Integration.

10. Resources.

11. Applications & Settings.

12. Data Sets & Designer Support.

13. Data Binding & Data Grids.

14. Multi-Threaded User Interfaces.

15. Web Deployment.

Appendix A: Moving From VB6.

Appendix B: Delegates & Events.

Appendix C: Serialization Basics.

Appendix D: Standard WinForms Components & Controls.

Read More Show Less

Preface

AS A FAIRLY PUBLIC figure in the Windows developer community, Chris often gets asked if he thinks that .NET is going to "take off." He always answers the same way: it's not a matter of "if," it's a matter of "when."

Microsoft's .NET Framework has so many benefits that even C++/Win32 veterans find it hard to resist the siren song of a managed development environment. It's ironic that the temporary dip in the economy has caused folks to avoid anything new just when .NET came along to deliver significant reductions in time to market and cost while simultaneously increasing code quality. The organizations that have already adopted .NET know that it's going to have a long and happy life, especially as it gets pushed further and further into Microsoft's own plans for the future of the Windows platform, both on the server and on the client.

The primary server-side technology in .NET is ASP.NET, which provides the infrastructure needed to build Web sites and Web services. ASP.NET gives developers the reach to deploy Web sites to anyone by aiming at the baseline of features offered by the middle-generation Web browsers. To provide the highest level of functionality possible, ASP.NET does most of the work on the server side, leaving the client-side HTML as a thin wrapper to trigger server-side requests for new pages of data. The server side handles almost everything, from data manipulation to user preferences to the rendering of simple things like menus and toolbars. This model provides the greatest availability across operating systems and browsers.

If, on the other hand, your targeted customers are Windows users, an HTML-based experience limits your users to a lowest-common-denominator approach that is unnecessary. In fact, in an attempt to provide a richer client-side experience, many organizations that know they're targeting Windows users require specific versions of Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE) Web browser. As soon as that kind of targeting happens, IE becomes less of a browser and more of an HTML-based application run time. For that purpose, the HTML object model is fairly primitive, often requiring that you do a lot of work to do things that are usually simple (like keeping track of a user's session state). If you're targeting Windows users, the .NET Framework gives you a much richer set of objects for building interactive user interfaces.

This brings us to the subject of this book: Windows Forms (WinForms). WinForms is the face of .NET on the client, providing a forms-based development environment meant to embody the best of the UI object models that have come before it. In addition, it has one feature that no Windows based development framework has provided to date: the deployment features of HTML-based Web applications. The ability to combine the richness of Windows applications with the deployment of Web applications signals a completely new world for Windows developers, one that makes us more than happy to give up the mess of unmanaged code.

Who Should Read This Book?

When writing this book, we had two target audiences in mind. We wanted to provide real-world WinForms coverage for both the programmer who has already programmed in .NET and for the programmer who hasn't. Toward that end, we briefly introduce core .NET topics as they come up. However, the .NET Framework itself is a large area that this book doesn't pretend to cover completely. Instead, when we think more information would be useful, we reference another work that provides the full details. In particular, we find that we've referenced Essential .NET, by Don Box, with Chris Sells, a great deal, making it a good companion to this book. In this same category, we also recommend Pragmatic ADO.NET, by Shawn Wildermuth, Advanced .NET Remoting, by Ingo Rammer, .NET Web Services, by Keith Ballinger, and Applied Microsoft .NET Framework Programming, by Jeffrey Richter. (For more details on these books, see the Bibliography.)

Two core .NET topics are of special importance to WinForms programmers, and we cover them in more detail in Appendix B: Delegates and Events and in Appendix C: Serialization Basics. The coverage of delegates and events is particularly important if you're new to .NET, although I don't recommend diving into that topic until you've got a WinForms-specific frame of reference (which is provided about one-third of the way through Chapter 1: Hello, Windows Forms).

One other note: This book covers none of the standard controls completely. Instead, as each control is interesting in the context of the current topic—such as the DataGrid control in Chapter 13: Data Binding and Data Grids—that control is covered appropriately. Also, Chapter 8: Controls and Chapter 9: Design-Time Integration introduce the broad range of categories of controls that WinForms provides, including the category of nonvisual controls called components in .NET.

Finally, to give you a visual to go with all the controls and components and to introduce you to each one's major functionality, Appendix D: Standard WinForms Components and Controls provides a list of the standard controls and components. We wouldn't think of wasting your time by attempting to be more thorough than the reference documentation that comes with the .NET Framework SDK and Visual Studio .NET. Instead, this book focuses on the real-world scenarios that aren't covered in detail elsewhere.

Conventions

If you have decided to take the plunge with this book, we'd like to thank you for your faith and express our hope that we live up to it. To aid you in reading the text, we want to let you in on some conventions we've used.

First and foremost, the wonderful thing about WinForms is how visual it is, and that's why we use a lot of figures to illustrate its features. Some of those pictures really need to be in color to make the point, so be sure to check the color pages at the center of this book for those color plates.

As useful as figures are, we think primarily in code. Code is shown in

System.Console.WriteLine("Hello, WinForms.")

Console application activation is also shown in monospace type:

C:\> vbc.exe hello.vb

When a part of a code snippet or a command line activation is of particular interest, we mark it in bold and often provide a comment:

' Notice the use of the .NET System namespace System.Console.WriteLine("Hello, WinForms.")

When we want to direct your attention to a piece of code even more fully, we replace superfluous code with ellipses:

Class MyForm Inherits System.Windows.Forms.Form
... ' fields
Private Sub MyForm_Load(sender As Object, e As EventArgs)
MessageBox.Show("Hello from MyForm")
End Sub End Class

Furthermore, to make the printed code more readable, we often drop namespaces and protection keywords when they don't provide additional information:

' Shortened "System.Windows.Forms.Form" base class Class MyForm Inherits Form
... ' fields

' Removed "Private" specifier and "System.ComponentModel" namespace Sub MyForm_Load(sender As Object, e As EventArgs)
MessageBox.Show("Hello from MyForm")
End Sub End Class

Conversely, when showing .NET attributes, we use their full name:

<SerializableAttribute()> _
Class MyCustomType ... End Class

Some languages, such as C#, let you drop the "Attribute" suffix for convenience, but that makes it hard to pin down the details of the attribute class in the online documentation.

Also, we sometimes omit error checking from the printed code for clarity, but we try to leave it in the sample code that comes with this book. In the prose itself, we often put a word or phrase in italics to indicate a new term that we're about to define. As an example of this kind of term and its definition, hegemony is a preponderant influence or authority, as well as a potent business practice.

Finally, we often mention keyboard shortcuts because we find them convenient. The ones we mention are the default Visual Studio Developer key bindings. If you're not using those key bindings, you'll need to map he keyboard shortcuts to your own settings.

Contact

The up-to-date information for this book, including the source code and the errata, are maintained at http://www.sellsbrothers.com/writing/wfbook. This site also provides a way for you to send feedback to us about the book, both complimentary and less so.

—Chris Sells
www.sellsbrothers.com

—Justin Gehtland
www.relevancellc.com

0321125193P10162003

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