Sebastopol, CA--The move to .NET may be a daunting task for Visual Basic developers, but once they learn what essentially is a new language--Visual Basic .NET--these developers will have access to a comprehensive program library that was never really available to them with Visual Basic. Microsoft's substantial .NET Framework Class Library (FCL) offers VB.NET developers thousands of reusable type classes, which encapsulate the functionality of core system and application services to make programming easier and faster. But, like the VB.NET language itself, the FCL gives newcomers to .NET a lot to absorb.
"The FCL is huge," comments Ted Neward, who, with Budi Kurniawan, wrote the newly released VB.NET Core Classes in a Nutshell (O'Reilly, US $44.95) as a quick reference to the most essential classes in the .NET FCL. "Programmers simply don't have the time to pore through reams of documentation to find the information they need. With any luck, we've already done the heavy lifting on that, and dissected it down to the crucial stuff they need to know."
As is the case with other titles in O'Reilly's "Nutshell" series, "VB.NET Core Classes in a Nutshell" is a technical reference that programmers can consult when working through everyday development tasks. One thing that is unique about this book is the accompanying CD that enables readers to integrate the book's contents directly into the Dynamic Help inside Visual Studio .NET, thanks to a special partnership between O'Reilly and Microsoft. "VB.NET Core Classes in a Nutshell" contains detailed descriptions of more than 700 types found in 22 core .NET namespaces. Each entry describes a type's significance, explains how it's used in .NET applications, and lists the type's members and their signatures in readable VB.NET syntax.
The book, which is a perfect companion volume to "VB.NET Language in a Nutshell, Second Edition" (Roman, Petrusha & Lomax, O'Reilly, US $44.95), addresses programmers familiar with previous versions of Visual Basic who have not yet explored .NET. The benefits of learning this new object-oriented programming environment, Neward says, go well beyond simply upgrading from one generation of Visual Basic to another. "Technologies like .NET are critical to the success of enterprise systems in general," he explains. "The 'dot-com' days of infinite resources and million-dollar advances may be over, but the aggressive deadlines and management expectations aren't. Developers need every edge they can get to help their businesses find the competitive advantage over their competitors, particularly in lean times like the ones we find ourselves in right now. Managed environments, like that of .NET, are crucial to gaining that edge."
Visual Basic programmers will find the .NET FCL to be a significant improvement over libraries they're accustomed to using. The Win32 API, for example, is a procedural library that contains functions called primarily from C language code, whose type systems are incompatible with Visual Basic. COM automation is better, but because of the Component Object Model's complexity, Visual Basic fails to give developers full control over COM, and VB programmers often lack sufficient familiarity with COM to take advantage of the features that they are able to control.
VB.NET, on the other hand, is an integral part of the .NET Framework, which simplifies application design, development and deployment. Within this environment, the .NET FCL offers a vast collection of classes, interfaces, structures, delegates and enumerations that developers can use to manipulate the file system, access databases, serialize objects, and launch and synchronize multiple threads of execution, among many other functions. Once developers install the CD that comes with "VB.NET Core Classes in a Nutshell," they will be able to browse through the book's large Quick Reference section using the Visual Studio .NET Help Contents window. The online reference offers links to related information in MSDN documentation, and Quick Reference updates from O'Reilly Help.
"We want to help programmers become more comfortable with the .NET environment as quickly as possible," Neward says. "The sooner this happens, the sooner widespread adoption of .NET can occur, and the sooner we can reap its benefits."
An article by the authors, An Introduction to the .NET FCL
Chapter 1, Introduction is available free online
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