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What's New in the Visual Basic Language

Visual Basic .NET has many new and improved language features — such as inheritance, interfaces, and overloading — that make it a powerful object-oriented programming language. As a Visual Basic developer, you can now create multithreaded, scalable applications using explicit multithreading. Other new language features in Visual Basic .NET include structured exception handling, custom attributes, and common language specification (CLS) compliance.

The CLS is a set of rules that standardizes such things as data types and how objects are exposed and interoperate. Visual Basic .NET adds several features that take advantage of the CLS. Any CLS-compliant language can use the classes, objects, and components you create in Visual Basic .NET. And you, as a Visual Basic user, can access classes, components, and objects from other CLS-compliant programming languages without worrying about language-specific differences such as data types. CLS features used by Visual Basic .NET programs include assemblies, namespaces, and attributes.

Visual Basic .NET supports many new or improved object-oriented language features such as inheritance, overloading, the Overrides keyword, interfaces, shared members, and constructors.

Also included are structured exception handling, delegates, and several new data types.

What's New in Visual Basic .NET 2003

Visual Basic .NET 2003 has added functionality that simplifies bit manipulation and loop variable declaration.

Bit Shift Operators
Visual Basic .NET now supports arithmetic left and right shift operations on integral data types (Byte, Short, Integer, and Long). Arithmetic shifts are not circular, which means the bits shifted off one end of the result are not reintroduced at the other end. The corresponding assignment operators are provided as well. For details, see Bit Shift Operators and Assignment Operators.
Loop Variable Declaration
Visual Basic .NET now allows you to declare a loop variable as part of a For or For Each loop. You can include an As clause for the variable in the For or For Each statement, provided no variable of that name has been declared outside the loop. The scope of a loop variable declared in this manner is the loop itself. For details, see For...Next Statements and For Each...Next Statements.

What's New in Visual Basic .NET 2002

Visual Basic .NET 2003 also includes the following features, which were introduced in Visual Basic .NET 2002.

Visual Basic .NET supports inheritance by allowing you to define classes that serve as the basis for derived classes. Derived classes inherit and can extend the properties and methods of the base class. They can also override inherited methods with new implementations. All classes created with Visual Basic .NET are inheritable by default. Because the forms you design are really classes, you can use inheritance to define new forms based on existing ones. For details, see Inheritance.
Exception Handling
Visual Basic .NET supports structured exception handling, using an enhanced version of the Try...Catch...Finally syntax supported by other languages such as C++. Structured exception handling combines a modern control structure (similar to Select Case or While) with exceptions, protected blocks of code, and filters. Structured exception handling makes it easy to create and maintain programs with robust, comprehensive error handlers. For details, see Exception Handling.
Overloading is the ability to define properties, methods, or procedures that have the same name but use different data types. Overloaded procedures allow you to provide as many implementations as necessary to handle different kinds of data, while giving the appearance of a single, versatile procedure. For details, see Overloaded Properties and Methods.
Overriding Properties and Methods
The Overrides keyword allows derived objects to override characteristics inherited from parent objects. Overridden members have the same arguments as the members inherited from the base class, but different implementations. A member's new implementation can call the original implementation in the parent class by preceding the member name with MyBase. For details, see Overriding Properties and Methods.
Constructors and Destructors
Constructors are procedures that control initialization of new instances of a class. Conversely, destructors are methods that free system resources when a class leaves scope or is set to Nothing. Visual Basic .NET supports constructors and destructors using the Sub New and Sub Finalize procedures. For details, see Object Lifetime: How Objects are Created and Destroyed.
Data Types
Visual Basic .NET introduces three new data types. The Char data type is an unsigned 16-bit quantity used to store Unicode characters. It is equivalent to the .NET Framework System.Char data type. The Short data type, a signed 16-bit integer, was named Integer in earlier versions of Visual Basic. The Decimal data type is a 96-bit signed integer scaled by a variable power of 10. In earlier versions of Visual Basic, it was available only within a Variant. For details, see Data Types.
Interfaces describe the properties and methods of classes, but unlike classes, do not provide implementations. The Interface statement allows you to declare interfaces, while the Implements statement lets you write code that puts the items described in the interface into practice. For details, see Interfaces in Visual Basic .NET.
Delegates — objects that can call the methods of objects on your behalf — are sometimes described as type-safe, object-oriented function pointers. You can use delegates to let procedures specify an event handler method that runs when an event occurs. You can also use delegates with multithreaded applications. For details, see Delegates and the AddressOf Operator.
Shared Members
Shared members are properties, procedures, and fields that are shared by all instances of a class. Shared data members are useful when multiple objects need to use information that is common to all. Shared class methods can be used without first creating an object from a class. For details, see Shared Members.
References allow you to use objects defined in other assemblies. In Visual Basic .NET, references point to assemblies instead of type libraries. For details, see References and the Imports Statement.
Namespaces prevent naming conflicts by organizing classes, interfaces, and methods into hierarchies. For details, see Namespaces.
Assemblies replace and extend the capabilities of type libraries by, describing all the required files for a particular component or application. An assembly can contain one or more namespaces. For details, see Assemblies.
Attributes enable you to provide additional information about program elements. For example, you can use an attribute to specify which methods in a class should be exposed when the class is used as a XML Web service. For details, see Attributes.
Visual Basic .NET allows you to write applications that can perform multiple tasks independently. A task that has the potential of holding up other tasks can execute on a separate thread, a process known as multithreading. By causing complicated tasks to run on threads that are separate from your user interface, multithreading makes your applications more responsive to user input. For details, see Multithreaded Applications.

See Also

What's New in Visual Basic and Visual C# | What's New in Visual Studio .NET | Language Changes in Visual Basic | Visual Basic Language and Run-time Reference | Visual Basic .NET Language Specification | Exception Handling | Overloaded Properties and Methods | Overriding Properties and Methods | Object Lifetime: How Objects are Created and Destroyed | Interfaces in Visual Basic .NET | Delegates and the AddressOf Operator | Shared Members | References and the Imports Statement | Namespaces | Assemblies | Attributes | Multithreaded Applications

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