VB .NET Uncovered: Getting Started
So you've installed VB.NET, huh? Excellent!
In this short section, we'll briefly explore the new Visual Basic development environment, plus create a mini 'Hello World' program.
First off, fire up Visual Basic.NET:
- Click Start, Programs, Microsoft Visual Studio.NET 7.0, Microsoft Visual Studio.NET 7.0
After a little whirring — ok, a lot of whirring — you'll be presented with a 'Start' page.
Top Tip: Beta One of Visual Studio.NET has been in no way optimised. This essentially means it's incredibly slow. Just grin and bear it. Or send hate mail to Bill Gates. Choice is yours.
Now this is your 'Profile' page. It allows you to tell Visual Studio what sort of a person you are. In future, it's rumoured you'll be able to enter your name, age, sex (a boolean field) and favourite hobbies — and will automatically be matched up with matching geeks and geekesses from around the globe.
Erm, but for now you can just tell it what sort of developer you are and what sort of keyboard layout you have. How exciting.
Click the groovy 'Profile' combo box and select 'Visual Basic Developer'
This tells the development environment that you are used to VB, so enjoy seeing a Properties window and pressing F5 to start your application. Etcetera.
- Hit the 'Get Started' link at the bottom of the page
So, let's create a new project:
- Select the 'Create New Project' link
This will present you with a list of possible project types.
Top Tip: Notice how you can also create Visual C++, Visual C# and Visual FoxPro projects from this dialog? All of these tools use the one singular development environment there's no longer a separate program for each language. You can even debug programs created in two separate languages together using this one interface!
Now, quickly take a peek at all those options in the 'Templates' window. The 'Windows Application' is what you used to call a Standard EXE. The 'Class Library' is essentially an ActiveX DLL/EXE.
Moving on and the 'Windows Control Library' allows you to effectively create ActiveX controls. This is similar to the 'Web Control Library', which allows you to create an ActiveX control that can be used on a Web site, though is spewed out in HTML code and requires no extra downloads.
Playing on the Web theme, you'll also see a 'Web Application', which essentially allows you to build a fully HTML-based Web site as you would a regular Visual Basic application — no extra knowledge required. You'll also find a 'Web Service' option there, which is effectively DCOM on a longer wire. We'll look at both of these in more detail later in this series.
The 'Windows Service' allows you to create a service for Windows (D'OH!) — something that was previously incredibly difficult without slipping Dan Appleman a huge wad of cash. And finally, 'Console Application' lets you create your own DOS-style text display/input application with ease — also something that was very difficult in VB6 unless you followed the console tutorial here on VB-World (link).
Now some VB .NET whizz kids will probably get annoyed with me comparing a .NET 'Windows Control Library' project with an VB6 'ActiveX Control' project. They are very different, but the core concept is still the same. And we'll be exploring many of these new types in greater detail later in this series.
- Select 'Windows Application'
- Change the Name and Location (ahem, if you get the urge)
- Click OK
Let's explore the new development environment...
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