Getting Started with the
Visual Studio IDE
The Visual Studio integrated development environment (IDE) plays a central role in
Visual C# development. In this lesson you explore the IDE. You learn how to configure it
for Visual C# development, and you learn about some of the more useful of the IDE’s win-
dows and what they do. When you finish this lesson, you’ll know how to create a new proj-
ect. It may not do much, but it will run and will prepare you for the lessons that follow.
Visual Studio is a development environment that you can use with several pro-
gramming languages including Visual C#, Visual Basic, Visual C++, and F#.
C# is a high-level programming language that can read inputs, calculate results,
display outputs to the user, and perform other operations typical of high-level
programming languages.
Visual C# is the combination of C# used in the Visual Studio development envi-
ronment. You can use a text editor to write C# programs without Visual Studio,
but its a lot of work and is not the focus of this book.
Visual C# and C# go together like politicians and bickering: if you mention one,
most people assume you’re also talking about the other. Most people simply say
C#, so this book does, too, unless there’s a reason to distinguish between C# and
Visual C#.
The .NET Framework also plays an important role in C# programs. It includes
classes that make performing certain tasks easier, runtime tools that make it
possible to execute C# programs, and other plumbing necessary to build and
run C# programs.
Normally you don’t need to worry about whether a feature is provided by Visual
Studio, the C# language, or the .NET Framework. They all go together in this
book, so for the purposes of this book at least you can ignore the difference.
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LESSON 1 GettinG Started with the ViSual Studio ide
Before you can use C# to write the next blockbuster first-person Xbox game, you need to install it.
So if you haven’t done so already, install C#.
You can install the Express Edition at If you think you
need some other version (for example, you’re working on a big project and you need test manage-
ment, source code control, and other team programming tools), go to
and install the version that’s right for you.
It’s a big installation, so it could take a while.
Developers talk about different generations of programming languages ranging
from the very primitive to quite advanced. In a nutshell, the different generations
of languages are:
Machine language. This is a series of 0s and 1s that the machine can
understand directly.
Assembly language. This is a translation of machine language into
terse mnemonics that can be easily translated into machine language. It pro-
vides no structure.
A higher-level language such as FORTAN or BASIC. These provide
additional structure (such as looping and subroutines) that makes building
complex programs easier.
An even higher-level language or development environment that helps
build programs, typically in a specific problem domain.
A language where you specify goals and constraints and the language
figures out how to satisfy them. For example, the database Structured Query
Language (SQL) allows you to use statements like
. You don’t need to tell the database how to get the names; it fig-
ures that out for you.
Visual Studio provides code snippets that let you copy standard chunks of code into
your program, IntelliSense that helps you select and use functions and other pieces
of code, refactoring tools that help you rearrange and restructure your code, and
more. That makes Visual C# a 4GL (or perhaps a 3.5GL depending on how high
your standards are).
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