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Visual Basic 2005 explained in free MS Press book

Anyone used to Visual Basic 6 will find Microsoft's free book, 'Introducing Visual Basic 2005 for Developers,' interesting if not downright compelling.

Anyone used to Visual Basic 6 will find Microsoft's free book, 'Introducing Visual Basic 2005 for Developers,' interesting if not downright compelling.

While the best things in life may be free, the most useful ones seldom are. In the area of software development technology, in fact, it often seems that the more useful a tool may be, the more it must cost.

One surprising (and extremely informative) exception to this rule is an online book available through VBRun, Microsoft's Visual Basic 6 Resource Center. Entitled Introducing Visual Basic 2005 for Developers, this book offers an introduction plus eight chapters' worth (about 250 pages) of material on the .NET Framework, VB 2005 and Visual Studio 2005.

Anyone already familiar with earlier Visual Basic implementations, such as Visual Basic 6, is sure to find this interesting, if not downright compelling. The presence of this tome at VBRun emphasizes the notion that this book's primary audience is the Visual Basic 6 developer, and those folks will find lots of useful tips and information to help them trade up to Visual Basic 2005 and Visual Studio 2005.

An annotated table of contents gives some clue to what interested reader will find between this e-book's virtual covers.

  • Introduction. Explains the structure of, coverage within, and best uses for this book.

  • Chapter 1: Microsoft .NET Framework Primer for the Visual Basic Developer This section talks about the changes and enhancements to the common language runtime (CLR) environment that the .NET Framework 2.0 introduces to the .NET Framework class library and related developer tools. It's a great introduction to those not already familiar with the .NET Framework 2.0 and Visual Studio 2005.
  • Chapter 2: Language Enhancements for Visual Basic 2005 This introduces generics, the popular My object (subject of several recent tips of our own) and new operators introduced in VB 2005.

  • Chapter 3: Visual Studio 2005 Integrated Development Environment Here the authors cover tools and enhancements that will boost developer productivity, including a new IDE (Integrated Development Environment) that makes it easier to create, code, debug, and explore projects, and also supports easy extensions and customizations.

  • Chapter 4: Building Datacentric Applications New objects that build on ADO.NET 1.0 are explored and explained in this chapter. These objects include a DataAdapter class, a new gird control in the toolbox, and a Data Sources window to help you manage such objects and create user interfaces.

  • Chapter 5: Constructing User Interfaces Though Visual Basic has always been good at building GUIs, Visual Studio 2005 offers numerous new and changed controls in its environment to help developers further. This chapter explores the ToolStrip control, a .NET wrapper for the ActiveX Web browser control, snaplines, and auto-complete properties added to many controls in this new implementation.

  • Chapter 6: Building Web Applications This section digs into ASP.NET 2.0, which aims to reduce coding requirements for building Web sites by 70 percent. It covers how components encapsulate data sources, bind a grid to a SQL Server data source and use other advanced UI tools and controls. It also explains and explores ASP.NET concepts of membership and personalization, as well as numerous individual controls developers will find helpful in building Web services.

  • Chapter 7: Microsoft .NET Framework Enhancements Here the authors discuss the Base Class Library and console and security enhancements. New classes, such as StopWatch and Trace-Source, are explored and explained. The same is true for enhancements to the System.NET and System.XML namespaces as well.

  • Chapter 8: Deploying Applications This covers extensions and enhancements to No Touch application deployment and introduces the concept of ClickOnce applications. This latter category may be installed by anyone, not just an administrator, and supports bootstrapping of other required software as part of an installation.

All in all this book offers lots of useful and helpful information for those interested in learning about Visual Studio 2005 and the .NET Framework 2.0 from a Visual Basic perspective. But developers already familiar with previous versions of VB (especially Visual Basic 6) should find it a great way to help them understand what new capabilities Visual Studio 2005 and Visual Basic 2005 bring to the table and how they may be used to build and deploy more compelling applications more quickly.

Ed Tittel is a writer and trainer whose interests include XML and development topics, along with IT Certification and information security. E-mail with comments, questions, or suggested topics or tools to review. Cool tools rule!

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