James Foxall is vice president of Tigerpaw Software, Inc. (www.tigerpawsoftware.com), a Bellevue, Nebraska, Microsoft Certified Partner specializing in commercial database applications. He manages the development, support, training, and education of Tigerpaw CRM+, an award-winning CRM product designed to automate contact management, marketing, service and repair, proposal generation, inventory control, and purchasing. At the start of 2008, the current release of Tigerpaw CRM+ had more than 16,000 licensed users. Foxall’s experience in creating certified Office-compatible software has made him an authority on application interface and behavior standards of applications for the Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office environments.
Foxall has been writing commercial production Visual Basic code for more than 14 years, in both single-programmer and multiple-programmer environments. He’s the author of numerous books, including Practical Standards for Microsoft Visual Basic and MCSD in a Nutshell: The Visual Basic Exams. He also has written articles for Access-Office-VBA Advisor and Visual Basic Programmer’s Journal. Foxall has a bachelor’s degree in management of information systems (MIS). He is a Microsoft Certified Solution Developer and an international speaker on Microsoft Visual Basic. When not programming or writing about programming, he enjoys spending time with his family, playing guitar, listening to amazing bands like Pink Floyd and OSI, and playing computer games. You can reach him at www.jamesfoxall.com/forums.
Visual Basic 2008 is Microsoft's latest incarnation of the enormously popular Visual Basic language, and it's fundamentally different from the versions that came before it. Visual Basic 2008 is now more powerful and more capable than ever before, and its features and functionality are on par with "higher-level" languages such as C++. One consequence of this newfound power is added complexity. Gone are the days when you could sit down with Visual Basic and the online Help and teach yourself what you needed to know to create a functional program.
Audience and Organization
This book is targeted toward those who have little or no programming experience or who might be picking up Visual Basic as a second language. The book has been structured and written with a purpose: to get you productive as quickly as possible. I've used my experiences in writing large commercial applications with Visual Basic and teaching Visual Basic to create a book that I hope cuts through the fluff and teaches you what you need to know. All too often, authors fall into the trap of focusing on the technology rather than on the practical application of the technology. I've worked hard to keep this book focused on teaching you practical skills that you can apply immediately toward a development project. Feel free to post your suggestions or success stories at http://www.jamesfoxall.com/forums.
This book is divided into five parts, each of which focuses on a different aspect of developing applications with Visual Basic 2008. These parts generally follow the flow of tasks you'll perform as you begin creating your own programs using Visual Basic 2008. I recommend that you read them in the order in which they appear.
Part I, "The Visual Basic 2008 Environment," teaches you about the Visual Basic environment, including how to navigate and access Visual Basic's numerous tools. In addition, you'll learn about some key development concepts such as objects, collections, and events.
Part II, "Building a User Interface," shows you how to build attractive and functional user interfaces. In this part, you'll learn about forms and controlsthe user interface elements such as text boxes and list boxes.
Part III, "Making Things Happen: Programming," teaches you the nuts and bolts of Visual Basic 2008 programmingand there's a lot to learn. You'll discover how to create modules and procedures, as well as how to store data, perform loops, and make decisions in code. After you've learned the core programming skills, you'll move into object-oriented programming and debugging applications.
Part IV, "Working with Data," introduces you to working with graphics, text files, and programming databases and shows you how to automate external applications such as Word and Excel. In addition, this part teaches you how to manipulate a user's file system and the Windows Registry.
Part V, "Deploying Solutions and Beyond," shows you how to distribute an application that you've created to an end user's computer. In Hour 24, "The 10,000-Foot View," you'll learn about Microsoft's .NET initiative from a higher, less-technical level.
Many readers of previous editions have taken the time to give me input on how to make this book better. Overwhelmingly, I was asked to have examples that build on the examples in the previous chapters. In this book, I have done that as much as possible. Now, instead of learning concepts in isolated bits, you'll be building a feature-rich Picture Viewer program throughout the course of this book. You'll begin by building the basic application. As you progress through the chapters, you'll add menus and toolbars to the program, build an Options dialog box, modify the program to use the Windows Registry and a text file, and even build a setup program to distribute the application to other users. I hope you find this approach beneficial in that it allows you to learn the material in the context of building a real program.
Conventions Used in This Book
This book uses several design elements and conventions to help you prioritize and reference the information it contains:
Note - By the Way boxes provide useful sidebar information that you can read immediately or circle back to without losing the flow of the topic at hand.
Tip - Did You Know? boxes highlight information that can make your Visual Basic programming more effective.
Caution - Watch Out! boxes focus your attention on problems or side effects that can occur in specific situations.
New terms appear in a semibold typeface for emphasis.
In addition, this book uses various typefaces to help you distinguish code from regular English. Code is presented in a monospace font. Placeholderswords or characters that represent the real words or characters you would type in codeappear in italic monospace. When you are asked to type or enter text, that text appears in bold.
Menu options are separated by a comma. For example, when you should open the File menu and choose the New Project menu option, the text says "Select File, New Project."
Some code statements presented in this book are too long to appear on a single line. In these cases, a line-continuation character (an underscore) is used to indicate that the following line is a continuation of the current statement.
Onward and Upward!
This is an exciting time to be learning how to program. It's my sincerest wish that when you finish this book, you feel capable of creating, debugging, and deploying modest Visual Basic programs using many of Visual Basic's tools. Although you won't be an expert, you'll be surprised at how much you've learned. And I hope this book will help you determine your future direction as you proceed down the road to Visual Basic mastery.
I love programming with Visual Basic, and sometimes I find it hard to believe I get paid to do so. I hope you find Visual Basic as enjoyable as I do!
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