Tell Me More: Resources for Learning Visual Basic

After completing all of the lessons in the Visual Basic Guided Tour, you will have learned enough to begin writing you own programs, but you certainly won't be an expert. Even seasoned Visual Basic professionals never stop learning—there is no one person who knows everything there is to know about Visual Basic 2008. The following are some suggestions for learning more about Visual Basic.


If you are using Visual Basic Express, some of the Help links on this page may be unavailable, depending on the options that you chose during installation. For more information, see Troubleshooting Visual Basic Express.

For many people, the best way to learn is by doing. The easiest way to get help while working in the Visual Basic Express IDE (integrated development environment) is by pressing the F1 key to display context-sensitive Help.

  • Pressing F1 when a window in the IDE is selected displays a Help topic that describes the window and how to use it.

  • Pressing F1 in design mode when a control is selected displays a Help topic about that control.

  • Pressing F1 in the Properties window displays Help for the selected property.

  • Pressing F1 in the Code Editor displays the Language Reference topic for the language keyword nearest the current cursor location.

To display context-sensitive Help.

  1. On the File menu, click New Project.

  2. In the New Project dialog box, in the Templates pane, click Windows Application.

  3. Select the form, and in the Properties window select the KeyPreview property.

  4. Press F1.

    A Help topic explaining the KeyPreview property appears.


    You may have noticed that some Help topics include syntax and code examples for languages other than Visual Basic. If you want to show only Visual Basic syntax and code, click the drop-down arrow for the Language Filter list, located near the top of the Help topic, and clear the check boxes for all entries except Visual Basic. Your setting will be stored until you change it again.

  5. Double-click the form to open the Code Editor, and enter the following in the Form1_Load event handler.

    Dim CurrentUser As String
    CurrentUser = My.User.Name
  6. Place the cursor inside the word Name and press F1.

    A Help topic for the My.User.Name property appears.

  7. Place the cursor inside the word User and press F1 again.

    A Help topic for the My.User object appears.

The product documentation for Visual Basic 2008 contains a great deal of information for learning Visual Basic, including numerous "How to" topics, walkthroughs, and in-depth conceptual information, as well as reference topics for every member of the .NET Framework. Taking some time to browse through the documentation is a good way to learn about features of Visual Basic 2008 that you might not know about.

Depending on the choices that you made when you installed Visual Basic Express, you may find that some of the topics are not available. The Help files that are included with Visual Basic Express are a limited subset of the MSDN Library for Visual Studio Express Editions, which is, in turn, a subset of the full MSDN Online Library. During installation you had the option of installing the MSDN Library for Visual Studio Express Editions—if you chose not to install it, you should consider doing so now.

Additional product documentation and updated versions of topics included in the MSDN Library for Visual Studio Express Editions are available in the MSDN Online Library. To access the MSDN Online Library, on the Start Page, click Visual Basic Developer Center, and then, on the Microsoft Visual Basic Developer Center home page, click Library.


To access the MSDN Online Library, you must have an active connection to the Internet, and any proxy server or firewall must be configured to allow access.

With several million programmers worldwide using Visual Basic, it's not surprising that there are numerous Internet resources for learning more about Visual Basic. An MSN search on the keyword Visual Basic returns over 49 million results. With that many Internet resources, where do you start?

The best place to start looking for Internet learning resources is the Microsoft Visual Basic Developer Center, available from the Start Page. The Developer Center is constantly updated with new articles on Visual Basic, as well as links to online books, multimedia and Webcasts, walkthroughs, and much more. Just click the Learn tab on the Microsoft Visual Basic Developer Center home page.

You can also find content, including feature tours and videos for beginning developers, in the Beginner Developer Learning Center, available from the Start Page.

On the Coding4Fun web site, you can learn how to create fun software projects by using the Visual Studio Express Editions.

Another good starting place is the CodeWise Community. The CodeWise Community site is an Internet resource for third-party tips, code samples, advice, and news from independent experts on Visual Basic and Visual Basic 2008. Members of the CodeWise Community have established expertise in Microsoft developer tools and technologies. They provide a wide range of content through their Internet communities and opportunities to share your opinions and learn from others.

If you prefer more traditional methods of learning, there are many additional opportunities available.

There are numerous books available covering Visual Basic 2008, ranging from beginner-level books to books on specific uses for Visual Basic 2008, such as programming games. You can browse the Computer Programming section of your local library, bookstore, or online bookseller to see what is currently available.


Make sure that the books that you select cover Visual Basic 2008 and not an earlier version of Visual Basic. Although much of the material written for older versions still applies, in some cases there are newer and better techniques available in Visual Basic 2008.

Many colleges, universities, and technical schools offer courses covering Visual Basic 2008, some even specifically focused on Visual Basic Express. Check in your area to see what courses are available.

In this lesson, you learned about some of the ways to continue learning Visual Basic. In the next lesson, you will learn how to find and use sample code.

Next Lesson: Reusing Code: Making Things Easier.