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Visual Basic Concepts

Visual Studio 6.0

Welcome to Visual Basic

Welcome to Microsoft Visual Basic, the fastest and easiest way to create applications for Microsoft Windows®. Whether you are an experienced professional or brand new to Windows programming, Visual Basic provides you with a complete set of tools to simplify rapid application development.

So what is Visual Basic? The "Visual" part refers to the method used to create the graphical user interface (GUI). Rather than writing numerous lines of code to describe the appearance and location of interface elements, you simply add prebuilt objects into place on screen. If you've ever used a drawing program such as Paint, you already have most of the skills necessary to create an effective user interface.

The "Basic" part refers to the BASIC (Beginners All-Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) language, a language used by more programmers than any other language in the history of computing. Visual Basic has evolved from the original BASIC language and now contains several hundred statements, functions, and keywords, many of which relate directly to the Windows GUI. Beginners can create useful applications by learning just a few of the keywords, yet the power of the language allows professionals to accomplish anything that can be accomplished using any other Windows programming language.

The Visual Basic programming language is not unique to Visual Basic. The Visual Basic programming system, Applications Edition included in Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Access, and many other Windows applications uses the same language. The Visual Basic Scripting Edition (VBScript) is a widely used scripting language and a subset of the Visual Basic language. The investment you make in learning Visual Basic will carry over to these other areas.

Whether your goal is to create a small utility for yourself or your work group, a large enterprise-wide system, or even distributed applications spanning the globe via the Internet, Visual Basic has the tools you need.

  • Data access features allow you to create databases, front-end applications, and scalable server-side components for most popular database formats, including Microsoft SQL Server and other enterprise-level databases.

  • ActiveX™ technologies allow you to use the functionality provided by other applications, such as Microsoft Word word processor, Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, and other Windows applications. You can even automate applications and objects created using the Professional or Enterprise editions of Visual Basic.

  • Internet capabilities make it easy to provide access to documents and applications across the Internet or intranet from within your application, or to create Internet server applications.

  • Your finished application is a true .exe file that uses a Visual Basic Virtual Machine that you can freely distribute.

Visual Basic Editions

Visual Basic is available in three versions, each geared to meet a specific set of development requirements.

  • The Visual Basic Learning edition allows programmers to easily create powerful applications for Microsoft Windows and Windows NT®. It includes all intrinsic controls, plus grid, tab, and data-bound controls. Documentation provided with this edition includes the Learn VB Now CD plus the Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN™) Library CDs containing full online documentation.

  • The Professional edition provides computer professionals with a full-featured set of tools for developing solutions for others. It includes all the features of the Learning edition, plus additional ActiveX controls, the Internet Information Server Application Designer, integrated Visual Database Tools and Data Environment, Active Data Objects, and the Dynamic HTML Page Designer. Documentation provided with the Professional edition includes the Visual Studio Professional Features book plus Microsoft Developer Network CDs containing full online documentation.

  • The Enterprise edition allows professionals to create robust distributed applications in a team setting. It includes all the features of the Professional edition, plus Back Office tools such as SQL Server, Microsoft Transaction Server, Internet Information Server, Visual SourceSafe, SNA Server, and more. Printed documentation provided with the Enterprise edition includes the Visual Studio Enterprise Features book plus Microsoft Developer Network CDs containing full online documentation.