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Introduction to Visual Basic 2005 Express

Visual Basic Express is the "lite" version of Microsoft's Windows applications development environment. It's a fully functional development tool for professional programmers, hobbyists, and people interested in learning how to program in Visual Basic.

For many years Microsoft's Visual Basic has been the programming environment of choice for the development of Windows programs. Visual Basic version 6 probably has the largest installed base of any programming environment on this planet. Why? Because the Visual Basic IDE (Integrated Development Environment) does so much "hand holding" for you.

What's Missing in the Express version?

Visual Basic 2005 Express lets you create complete distributable applications that can access a database or a web service. But you can only access a local data base, you can't access a remote data base, and it doesn't support the development of web applications or mobile device services. It also doesn't provide the environment needed for programmers who work in a team.

Visual Basic Express Project Types

Each application that you create is contained within its own project. All the files specific to that project are saved in the project's folder. When you select "New Project" in the Visual Basic Express menu, the "New Project" dialog box appears and displays icons for the project types that you can create.

You can choose to create a Windows application, a class library, or a console application. A Windows application project creates an executable file (.exe) with a visual interface. A class library creates a dynamic linked library file (.dll) which contains reusable classes or components that can be shared with other projects.

A console application is similar to a DOS command that you run from the DOS prompt. Use this project type when your application doesn't need a visual interface.

The "New Project" dialog box also presents you with icons to select "starter kits". A starter kit is a pre-built application that you can customize to get up and running quickly. Visual Basic Express comes with a starter kit for a Movie collection database and a starter kit for screen savers.

Object Oriented Programming

Visual Basic Express is an object oriented programming tool. In object oriented programming, you program by defining "classes". A class can have data fields, properties, methods, and events. A data field is a value that an object can hold, like a program variable.

A property is an attribute of an object, such as size, color, screen location, or the state of an object, such as enabled or disabled. A method is a unit of functionality, a behavior, something an object can do. One thing a method might do is manipulate the objects fields and properties.

Events are occurrences that objects can respond to. For example if the user clicks on a button object, the button object's event handling procedure tells the program what to do when the user clicks on that particular button.

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