April 29, 2005
"Visual Basic 2005: A Developer's Notebook": Hands-On Projects to Get up to Speed with the New VB
Sebastopol, CA--When Microsoft unveiled the beta edition of Visual Basic
.NET in 2001, many VB programmers resisted the change to a managed-code
environment, but other bold individuals gave up the convenience of VB 6 to
explore the potential of this new platform. "Four years later, it's clear
that the rewards of moving to .NET make up for the steep learning curve,"
comments Matthew MacDonald, author of Visual Basic 2005: A Developer's
Notebook (O'Reilly US $24.95). "Developers who made the jump have a
powerful set of tools--a set that other programming frameworks are hard
pressed to match."
The second major release of .NET is now available in a public beta 2
edition, including Visual Basic 2005 and the new version of the popular
developer toolkit, Visual Studio 2005. The changes this time are not
"seismic," McDonald points out, but represent improvements to what has
become a mature platform. "Microsoft architects have ironed out
inconsistencies and corrected flaws," he says. "They've added dozens of
requested features, from VB 6's edit-and-continue debugger to new Windows
and web controls for displaying data."
Visual Basic 2005: A Developer's Notebook is the first guide available
for early adopters who want to get up to speed with VB 2005 before its
official release later this year. The book is not a tutorial in the usual
sense: instead of offering an introduction to the language, McDonald jumps
right into the new features of VB 2005 for those who want to hit the
"The most important requirement is a solid familiarity with VB .NET 1.0 or
1.1, and some experience building .NET applications," McDonald cautions.
"My book covers very little of the material that experienced VB .NET
programmers already know. They'll be able to take advantage of all the new
frills and features in .NET 2.0 without rehashing the basics. Beta 2
editions are traditionally the most stable milestones in the pre-release
schedule. It's a great time for developers to start learning about new
To get programmers straight to work, the Developer's Notebook approaches
its subject much differently than the typical programming book. The first
distinction is its look and feel, which is just what the title implies: a
notebook with text on graph paper that invites readers to jot comments as
they go. And rather than long discussions, readers will find code--lots of
code. Its six chapters consist entirely of hands-on labs, and each lab
introduces a new feature. Programmers have a chance to learn features
through direct practical application, rather than simply read about them.
"This book gives a snapshot of changes across the whole .NET platform,"
McDonald explains. "It walks through all of the basic changes readers
might encounter, from changes in Visual Studio to the framework for
building Windows and web applications to the VB language itself. They'll
learn everything through concise, focused examples, all of which are just
a short download away."
With VB 2005, he notes, Microsoft is focused once again on programmer
productivity by returning features that made VB 6 such a popular rapid
application development tool. That includes the compile-and-run feature
and dozens of interactive tools and controls that speed up programming.
The widely anticipated addition of "generics" enables developers to create
type-safe code that's easy to maintain, so they can dramatically cut down
the amount of code--and time--it takes to develop new applications.
Before introducing generics and the other new features of VB 2005--such as
the My object, nullable types and partial classes--the book covers changes
to Visual Studio 2005, including the "code snippets" feature that allows
programmers to insert blocks of pre-made code into their projects.
Remaining chapters demonstrate new features for creating applications with
Windows Forms, ASP.NET web applications, ADO.NET data access, and
additions to the .NET class library.
"Visual Basic 2005 and .NET 2.0 are sure winners," McDonald exclaims.
"They keep all of the great features of previous .NET versions and add
more useful tools. As a result, companies and enthusiasts are likely to
adopt this version faster than ever. By getting familiar with the changes
now, VB developers will be ready for this adoption."
Visual Basic 2005: A Developer's Notebook
ISBN: 0-596-00726-4, 243 pages, $29.95 US, $41.95 CA
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