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February 3, 2006

Visual Basic 2005 in a Nutshell: The 'Chicago Manual of Style' for the VB Developer

Sebastopol, CA--With the release of Visual Basic 2005, Microsoft hopes to gain traction amongst the legions of intractable VB 6 programmers who turned their backs on VB.NET, claiming that it was an altogether new language. And so far, Microsoft's effort has met with success. This newest release of the popular language incorporates many familiar VB 6 features--the same features that previously built its fan base. But learning Visual Basic 2005 still poses a challenge for programmers and not just for those who are coming to the language for the first time, but also for those already experienced with .NET programming.

"Each major release of Visual Basic leaves shelves full of tutorial and training books in its wake," comments Tim Patrick, coauthor of Visual Basic 2005 in a Nutshell, Third Edition (O'Reilly, US $49.99) with Steven Roman, Ron Petrusha, and Paul Lomax. "VB 2005 is no exception, especially since Microsoft expects adoption of VB on the .NET platform to dramatically increase with this edition. The majority of VB books assume that readers are complete novices and slowly introduce them to basic concepts. This is a different kind of book."

According to coauthor Steven Roman, "The transition from VB 6 to VB.NET is perhaps the most difficult transition Microsoft has ever asked of its users." He observes that many VB programmers are drifting to C# rather than pursuing the newer VB offering. "Hopefully this book will serve to stem the flow and ease the transition to VB 2005."

Visual Basic 2005 in a Nutshell offers a detailed reference to the latest version of the language as an essential companion for anyone who uses VB. Programmers can use this reference to jog their memories about a particular language element or parameter and consult it when they want to make sure there isn't some "gotcha" they've overlooked. For experienced VB programmers, the book devotes considerable space to language differences among the versions from VB 6 to VB 2005.

"If someone seeks to develop professional Visual Basic code, it's essential that they have a firm grasp on the language and its features," Patrick explains. "As a writer, I keep a copy of the 'Chicago Manual of Style' close at hand. This book is the 'Chicago Manual of Style' for the Visual Basic developer."

The return of some of the rapid application development features that made VB 6 the most popular language in the world, such as "Edit and Continue," is hardly a compromise. VB 2005 offers a significant number of improvements over VB.NET with the addition of generics, the "My" namespace feature, and ClickOnce installation. "The best news of all is that Visual Basic is now an equal player with other languages, in terms of programming power and accessibility of Windows features and services," Patrick notes. "In the past, VB served as a wrapper that simplified and hid the complexity of Windows and its API. Now, VB programmers have full and easy access to all the features of the .NET and Windows platforms, just as Visual C++ and C# programmers do."

The first section of Visual Basic 2005 in a Nutshell includes a brief yet thorough introduction to the major programming concepts of Visual Basic, the .NET Framework, and general object-oriented development concepts, plus coverage of the new features. The bulk of the book presents an alphabetical reference to all major VB statements, procedures, functions, and objects, including the new "My" object hierarchy. Plus, there is an invaluable section for diagnosing or avoiding potential programming problems, and tips and warnings about undocumented behaviors. The book also describes the finer points of a language element's usage, which are often omitted from or glossed over in other sources.

"It's amazing how hard it is to find the information you want in the Visual Studio on-line help system," Patrick remarks. "Our book is nicely organized as a reference work and concentrates on the core information programmers need each and every day when writing software solutions."

Additional Resources:

Visual Basic 2005 in a Nutshell, Third Edition
Tim Patrick, Steven Roman, Ron Petrusha, and Paul Lomax
ISBN: 0-596-10152-X, 746 pages, $49.99 US
order@oreilly.com
1-800-998-9938; 1-707-827-7000

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