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Book Review: Visual Basic 6.0 Internet Programming

  • November 19, 2002
  • By Karl Moore
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These days, everyone wants in on the Internet revolution.

And wired content can be found everywhere from phone booths to cars, microwaves to wristwatches.

So does your application utilise the Internet? Sorry? Was that no?

Well in front of me, I have a book that claims it can help Visual Basic 6.0 Internet Programming, #26 / $40 from Wiley, by Carl Franklin.

VB6 Net Programming

I've personally used the Internet in my own applications for a pretty long time. I know about protocols, the Winsock control, NTP, HTTP, FTP and about a dozen other acronyms so I thought it would be interesting to see if this publication could teach me anything new.

It did.

This 425-page simple-looking book starts with a general and fairly standard introduction to the Internet. Nothing ground-breaking here, just a quick look at some of the elementary stuff all VB Internet programmers need to know about from sockets to stacks, ports to protocols.

I'm usually nodding off by this point, but it's good to see author Carl Franklin of rival www.cgvb.com fame keeps the subject light with his friendly writing style.

The book soon spins off basic stuff with talk of Winsock programming, and by chapter three has you performing 'WHOIS lookups' and 'FINGERING' in Visual Basic. Then, rather more usefully, accessing Usenet discussion groups is covered, as well as the bog standard sending and receiving of e-mail.

Next up, sending files across the Internet (FTP) is dealt with, followed by methods of accessing the Web (HTTP).

Now every one of these chapters has a good and bad side. The good side is that each newly introduced feature is walked through step-by-step alongside a number of really excellent examples.

And for my grumbling? Well, the majority of these sections don't use the standard Winsock control that virtually all Visual Basic developers have. Instead, they utilise the dsSocket control from Dolphin Systems (www.dolphinsys.com) - which requires registration if used for more than thirty days.

I don't like that. It's like buying a Ford Escort, then realising the wheels come separately.

Still, the book does hold a number of saving graces. In chapter nine, Franklin introduces an Internet DLL he created from techniques presented earlier in the book. This product with full source code on the accompanying CD simplifies Net access immensely.

Even further in the publication, creating CGI programs plus Internet Information Server are all covered. And the great thing here is that they're discussed from a Visual Basic standpoint and how it affects us.

Finally, the book finishes with a full reference of all covered commands.

Conclusion

On the good side: well presented, easy to read, features all the major Internet technologies, great for building customised Net applications, covers the practical "how to" plus a full accompanying reference

On the bad side: many samples force you to use the commercial dsSocket control, some techniques are more for power users, doesn't cover the Inet or WebBrowser control nor any Winsock chat-type techniques

Overall, a cute little number for anyone wanting to add real customisable Internet power to their applications. Easy to read and with a huge wad of neat samples. Well done, Carl!






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