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Build a Program Now

samzenpus posted more than 8 years ago | from the available-now dept.

Microsoft 281

Graeme Williams writes "My experience with Visual Studio was several years ago, and limited to a support role. My only serious programming experience was more than twenty years ago, so I'm the kind of hobbyist programmer that Visual Basic 2005 Express and this book is aimed at. Microsoft Visual Basic 2005 Express Edition: Build a Program Now! doesn't attempt to teach you programming in general or Visual Basic in particular. It's focused on introducing the features of the Express Edition of Visual Basic 2005. I think this focus serves the book and the reader very well." Read on for the rest of Graeme's review.

At the moment, the book is only available in PDF form as a free download from Microsoft when you register Visual Basic 2005 Express. According to Barnes & Noble, it will also be available as a paperback some time this month. The paperback will include a CD with both Visual Basic 2005 Express and SQL Server 2005 Express. This review is based on the PDF.

The PDF is an inconvenient form for an ebook. It's protected so that you can't create your own bookmarks, and Microsoft doesn't provide any, and there are no clickable links -- in the table of contents, for example. There's a menu item for find, but the text doesn't seemed to be stored as text, so find doesn't actually find anything.

The book starts off with brief descriptions of .NET, object-oriented programming and the new features in Visual Basic 2005 Express. I guess it makes sense as a general introduction, and you can skip it if you like. It's certainly not a thorough explanation of object-oriented programming, but it's enough to let someone know that there's more to learn.

The next chapter leads you through installing the software. This is of doubtful value, since it basically advises you to stay with the defaults, which you almost certainly could have done on your own. If you have a problem, the book points you to some online resources, but that's all. I had a problem because my 'My Documents' folder is on a server, and this was enough to break the default security settings. The installation offers to install SQL Server 2005 Express, but neither the installation nor the book tells you that this will leave SQL Server running all the time.

Once the software is installed, you can start programming. The examples in the book are great. Starting with a simple console application to add two numbers might seem silly, but it makes sense in Visual Basic 2005 because you can't just start typing – you have to start somewhere in particular, and you need to know how to do that. Following that, you build a Windows application to add two numbers, a web browser, a database application, and an application that retrieves data from a web service. Each example builds nicely on the one before, and they're functional enough to be useful in their own right.

As important as the examples is what you learn along the way about the tools that make up the Visual Basic 2005 system. The book shows how simple it is to use the built-in components in Visual Basic 2005 to add features and functions to your application including forms, buttons, menus, toolbars, a splash screen, an about box, web services and database connections. This is where the book really shines. It shows you very clearly how to take advantage of the time (and work) saving features of the system.

The book is pretty good at explaining how to design a form. Form design was just awful in previous versions of Visual Basic, but the book clearly explains the new features that make it a little easier. The system is still not perfect – you can't automatically create three equally spaced textboxes (input fields), for example – but that's not the fault of this book.

The book also does a good job explaining the mechanics of starting a project, building applications and libraries, debugging, and "publishing" your application. "Publishing" is what Microsoft calls the process of turning your completed program into an installer which anyone can run to install your program. There's also an excellent introduction to database tables and how to create and use them within the system.

The graphic design in the book could be better. Each step in the instructions is indicated by a large numbered green bullet, which works well when there are only a few steps on a page, but you can easily get lost when one page has ten bullets and five tables. Also, you spend a considerable amount of time setting object properties. The value for each property is shown in a table, but sometimes a single table will include more than one object and sometimes it won't, which can be confusing. Finally, the screenshots aren't very clear. These may seem like quibbles, but an introductory book has a responsibility to be as clear as possible, and then some.

As you work through the examples in the book, you can really feel yourself gaining momentum. The flip-side of this is that as you go through the book, you get less and less explanation for larger and larger chunks of code. The largest single piece of code is 56 lines long. In context, it's presented clearly enough that it's still easy to digest. One way of measuring the success of an introductory book like this is whether it gives you the confidence to keep going on your own, and I think this book does just that.

But what if you're new to programming? If you're an absolute beginner, this book won't teach you how to program in Visual Basic. For example, the book never mentions structures or recursion. You can't do any serious programming just with what you'll learn about programming from this book, but that's not its purpose. The instructions in this book ARE clear enough that you'll be able to follow along, but if you want to get the most out of this book you'll have to spend some extra time working through the examples and with learning the language, even if it's only via the online help.

On the other hand, I don't think you can know so much that this book won't be very useful. Microsoft in its wisdom changes terminology regularly (toolbar is now toolstrip??) and there are many new features in this version of Visual Basic, so it's a good idea to hire a guide.

Depending on your level of experience, you may need other resources to learn everything you want to about programming in Visual Basic 2005, but this is a great place to start."


You can purchase Microsoft Visual Basic 2005 Express Edition: Build a Program Now! from bn.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.

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It's not bad (3, Interesting)

bwd (936324) | more than 8 years ago | (#14186827)

Although severely crippled when compared to the enterprise edition, Microsoft's express edition of their Visual Studio products are actually decent. You can get basic programs coded in Express without a lot of the overhead (or features) of the professional editions.

Re:It's not bad (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14186935)

Better than all so-called FOSS-IDEs, that's sure (and yes, dear Java-gobblers, this includes the monstrosity so appropriately called Eclipse).

Xcode and half-measures (Possibly OT) (1, Interesting)

veg (76076) | more than 8 years ago | (#14187125)

What is VB for ?
Is it for beginners ? If so then well done - people who don't understand the essentials of coding can now knock out their dodgy apps at a faster rate.

Is it for experienced developers ? Only Joking.

Is it for everyone across the board ?
No! You have to go out of your way to develop a serious app in VB because the abstractions that make it attractive to the uninitiated are a bugger to get round.

OK, in honesty, I don't like IDEs, debuggers or any of that stuff, but if you want it simple then the problem was cracked years ago.
There's a movie in existence (I have it if you want a copy) of Steve Jobbs creating a full-on-graphical app, that does database lookups and does the washing-up, and he proudly adds "and I still haven't had to write a single line of code!". This was in 1992 and on the NeXT. The wonderful development environment he was on about has grown into XCode and is given away FREE with OS-X.

Now, the idea of writing apps without needing to write code scares the pants off me...but Xcode also lets you, and indeed encourages you, to get deeper - *and makes it easier to do so*
You don't even need to spark-up the IDE.

If I *had* to design a graphical dev environment then XCode is what I'd use as a reference.

But I prefer vi and gcc...so what do I know ?

Re:It's not bad (3, Interesting)

EvilMonkeySlayer (826044) | more than 8 years ago | (#14187196)

It's severely crippled when compared to the standard edition dude.

For example, no crystal reports, you can only connect to a sql 2005 mdf file for a database. (No connecting via odbc or ole)

That said...

The express editions (and free until november 2006) are pretty good if you're wanting to do general programming (non-sql/db) stuff.

However, let me advertise something i've used in the past Sharpdevelop [icsharpcode.net] which can create programs written in VB.NET, C# and C++ (requires MS Visual Studio 2003 C++ Toolkit).
Version 1.0 only has a database viewer type thing, version 2.0 [sharpdevelop.net] (which is still a work in progress.. classed as alpha I think) is apparently at some point going to have a proper database explorer akin to VS 2005 where you can drag and drop db fields etc into a program you're creating.

Interesting (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14186828)

Interesting, learn how to use VB! Anyone can program now!

fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14186831)

hahahahaha hahahah

hmm.. (5, Insightful)

naelurec (552384) | more than 8 years ago | (#14186846)

Book Title: Microsoft Visual Basic 2005 Express Edition: Build a Program Now!
From Review: If you're an absolute beginner, this book won't teach you how to program in Visual Basic.

Brilliant!

Re:hmm.. (1)

sammy baby (14909) | more than 8 years ago | (#14186968)

I think you mean, "Brillant [thedailywtf.com] !" And that was Java.

Why a 9? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14187177)

Aside from that, what about the fact that the book is crippled, without even chapter bookmarks or links?

So it fails at it's stated goal and without the ability to search, it fails as a reference book. As an e-book, it can't even be used as a doorstop... how much did this reviewer get paid to give it a "9"?!

Re:hmm.. (1)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 8 years ago | (#14187228)

No he said if your a beginner to programming in general. I for instance have done a few small programs in C++ and even some Access Visual Basic, but I'm never really done anything with true VB. This book would be perfect for me.

Build a Program Now (4, Funny)

SpooForBrains (771537) | more than 8 years ago | (#14186850)

I had high expectations when I read this book, and I'm pleased to say that I was more than satisfied. My Visual Studio "Hello World" program ROCKS!

Re:Build a Program Now (1)

chris_mahan (256577) | more than 8 years ago | (#14187031)

But does it send "hello world" via email?

Firefox programmers have done it again... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14187097)

I just caught my Firefox browser with 2 tabs open using 121MB of memory. My computer had slowed to a crawl. Once I killed FF, everything returned to normal. Way to go, Firefox programmers! Way to grasp the concept of memory management!

AC has done it again... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14187328)

It seems you have not managed to buy more memory.

Can you really call it a program though? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14186866)

Wouldn't it be like a book called "Build a House Now" about building your house out of cardboard boxes? Sure, it's house-like, and you can live in it, but do you really want to take credit for it?

How interesting. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14186879)

Does it have anything that can be applied to GAMBAS? We need a good tutorial for that. I'd like to teach my junior op to code but I'm an Old Fart C and ASM coder. Don't do Visual anything.

but can I write Mutt worms with it?!! (1)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 8 years ago | (#14186936)

Holy crap weirdbeard, thanks for the passing reference, I had never heard of that before! Next time, be nice a post a link [sourceforge.net] .

omg! (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14186889)

torrent plz!

Could be worse (2, Insightful)

ezweave (584517) | more than 8 years ago | (#14186903)

Everyone has to learn somewhere, although if you are serious, VisualBasic is not the place to start. In my experience, the typical VisualBasic developer is just that. A good developer needs to understand concepts outside of the frame of wizards and such. Probably one of the biggest flaws in VisualStudio in general. MS loves wizards.

Re:Could be worse (2, Insightful)

pilkul (667659) | more than 8 years ago | (#14186953)

You'd be right if this was VB6, but VB.NET is basically C# with different syntax. There's no reason why you couldn't learn proper programming with it.

Re:Could be worse (1)

Loconut1389 (455297) | more than 8 years ago | (#14187145)

exactly, so why bother with VB syntax when c# syntax gets you that much closer to 'real-world' programming?

I used to be a VB coder once upon a time, then .net came out and it was so different it hurt. I stuck with vb6.

Then i went to college, learned some assembly, c/c++, php, java, shell scripting, etc, and learned c#. I've never used VB since.

VB is essentially C#, yet VB syntax knowledge helps you very little in the real world whereas C# syntax is way more useful to the java and somewhat to the c programmer.

Re:Could be worse (2, Insightful)

Malc (1751) | more than 8 years ago | (#14186960)

I'll not argue with you about what it takes to make a good developer. But what hobbyist programmers, like say the author of the story? It strikes me that they have different needs and interests.

Re:Could be worse (4, Interesting)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 8 years ago | (#14186989)

If you're just starting out programming, you probably shouldn't even be using anything as complex as Visual Studio, any edition. At most you should be using something that has code highlighting, and maybe some code completion. A full fledged IDE is not a good tool for teaching programming. Mind you, eventually people should learn how to use and IDE, but only after they actually know how to program. I find that this is where a lot of courses lack. They either get you using the IDE from the start, and you don't learn anything, or they never teach you about the IDE, and therefore you don't know how to use really useful features such as the debugger.

Re:Could be worse (2, Insightful)

Swamii (594522) | more than 8 years ago | (#14187017)

Not all wizards are bad. When machines do things for us, there's the benefit that the machine will do it the same way time, whereas human coding is error prone and different every time. Intellisense (auto-complete) is one such "wizard" feature I love about IDEs, and I've found VS's auto-complete to be superior to several other IDEs I've tried. Other wizards such as Eclipse's "Add a class" wizard and Visual Studio 2005's properties & settings UI are examples of useful wizards that save time and are tedious for a human to do.

What you're really arguing is that real developers should understand what's going on under the hood. Yes, that is a valid, up to a point. Eventually, the software & hardware worlds begin to blur, and frankly, I don't care how a particular piece of hardware handles my register variables, simply because I'm almost always coding for a variety of hardware.

Also, I would argue this book is not targetted at "real" developers. VB jokes aside, a book shouting at you "write a program now!" is probably geared more towards hobbyist devs, and people new to VB & programming in general.

Re:Could be worse (4, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 8 years ago | (#14187056)

buit they have fixed that recently. VB.net is NOTHING like Vb of yesteryore. they got tired of all the bitching about how VB is not a real language so they convoluted it into a bastardized C++,C# mess.

Honestly most VB dev's I know still have a copy of VB6 around to do the stuff they need running in a hurry... you can not program anything fast in VB.net Even printing is a major PITA compared to the old VB6 days.

Many are abandoning it for other RAD languages. Python for example it's better cross platform and with the right setup your GUI looks good across platforms as well as able to compile to a single EXE.

Re:Could be worse (2, Insightful)

amliebsch (724858) | more than 8 years ago | (#14187336)

so they convoluted it into a bastardized C++,C# mess.

Huh? It is almost exactly the same as C#, but with different syntax. I don't get what's so hard about printing, either. Create a PrintDocument class, add graphics elements to its Graphics(GDI+) class. What's a PITA about that?

Re:Could be worse (1)

plover (150551) | more than 8 years ago | (#14187071)

Wizards are not necessarily evil. Why should a programmer have to go through all the syntactically redundant crap every time they want to create a class? It doesn't make you a better programmer to learn how to type "class foo { public: foo(); virtual ~foo(); };" all the time, it just makes you a more experienced typist.

If you were using a framework in the pre-.NET days (such as the old MFC stuff) the wizards would generate a lot of the required macro code and skeleton classes for you. Since the underlying framework itself was so hideous, there didn't seem to be a real need for everyone to understand what the wizards generated then either.

Yes, a guru can come along later and trim the macros, optimize the code, whatever, but hey, why not let the wizard do the crap work? Let the beginning programmer work out the application logic without worrying about the windowing code. That stuff can come later.

Re:Could be worse (2, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 8 years ago | (#14187271)

"If you were using a framework in the pre-.NET days (such as the old MFC stuff) the wizards would generate a lot of the required macro code and skeleton classes for you. Since the underlying framework itself was so hideous, there didn't seem to be a real need for everyone to understand what the wizards generated then either."
I think you said it all right there. The Wizards in VS allowed MFC to flourish. IT was a nightmare and if you have a lot of MFC code you are stuck with it until you port it all to the new .net framework. Wizards like just about any tool can be useful. The problem is that hey can also be abused, which MFC did.

Re:Could be worse (1)

plover (150551) | more than 8 years ago | (#14187358)

Good point.

I learned something related earlier this year that was kind of a "duh!" moment for me. If you're going to have generated code, then the "source" for the generator is what you need to save, as far as source control goes. Save it off as a first-class source module.

What that gives you is the ability to re-generate the generated code in the future. It's even portable, assuming someone can put together a translator to generate the new output from the old source. But you can't do much of that with a "skeleton generator" or a "click-here-to-write-code" wizard.

M$ Even uses it... (0)

garrett714 (841216) | more than 8 years ago | (#14186904)

Microsoft Visual Basic 2005 Express Edition: Build a Program Now!

This must have been the main source of influence for M$ engineers working on Windows.

This isn't news and doesn't matter (-1, Troll)

Nathan Cassano (3234) | more than 8 years ago | (#14186908)

I review on a VB book for beginners? Come on. This isn't news and I don't think it matters.

A summary: (0, Troll)

mustafap (452510) | more than 8 years ago | (#14186912)

This book is to programming as the instructions on the back of a pot noodle are to cooking.

Oh the humanity!! (3, Funny)

Trolling4Columbine (679367) | more than 8 years ago | (#14186915)

Saying "serious programming" in the same sentence as "Visual Basic" makes the Baby Jeebus cry.

Bash build a program now in 10 easy seconds (-1, Redundant)

jurt1235 (834677) | more than 8 years ago | (#14186921)

vi program.sh
i
#!/bin/bash
echo "Hello World!"
ZZ
chmod +x program.sh
./program.sh
output:
Hello World!

Re:Bash build a program now in 10 easy seconds (5, Funny)

brys (151801) | more than 8 years ago | (#14186972)

With GUI:

echo "alert('Hello world');" >hello.html
firefox hello.html

(9 seconds ;)

Re:Bash build a program now in 10 easy seconds (1)

jurt1235 (834677) | more than 8 years ago | (#14187287)

You went straight to HTML. You just ruined me! That was supposed to be book number 2 in the series!

Re:Bash build a program now in 10 easy seconds (1)

cloudmaster (10662) | more than 8 years ago | (#14187005)

I'm not sure that program would work. You might want to thrown an "escape" in there, probably just before the ZZ. Then maybe it'd work. :)

Re:Bash build a program now in 10 easy seconds (1)

jurt1235 (834677) | more than 8 years ago | (#14187261)

I actually did, but using the preview function to see if it survives it into the post might not have been a bad idea.

PHP build a program now in 5 easy seconds (1)

De_Boswachter (905895) | more than 8 years ago | (#14187049)

pico x
[ctrl-x]y
chmod +x x
php x

Re:PHP build a program now in 5 easy seconds (1)

De_Boswachter (905895) | more than 8 years ago | (#14187070)

Damn /. filter!

pico x
<?echo"Hello World!\n";?>[ctrl-x]y
chmod +x x
php x

Re:Bash build a program now in 10 easy seconds (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14187193)

You never get out of insert mode, try adding a ^C after "Hello World!".

This book is evil! (-1, Troll)

brys (151801) | more than 8 years ago | (#14186923)

This book is evil! This book was published by micro$oft!

Write a Program Now! (3, Funny)

segedunum (883035) | more than 8 years ago | (#14186932)

Afterall, I'm not going to be around to maintain it or be responsible for its crappiness.

Re:Write a Program Now! (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 8 years ago | (#14187352)

Your overconfidence is misplaced, Sanjeev: the results are so evil that they will follow you back to India and thrash your karma!

Is programming getting much harder? (3, Insightful)

ATeamMrT (935933) | more than 8 years ago | (#14186974)

Back in the 80's, my first language was basic on an Apple II+. It was a very easy language to learn, every line of code was numbered, and everything was logical. Line 10 would run before line 20, and so on. For those who have never seen it before, a very simple password protection program might be:

10 Home
20 Print "What is the password: "
30 Get A$
40 If A$ = "b" then goto 70
50 Print "Wrong!"
60 Goto 20
70 Print "Right"
80 End

Now compare that kind of linear logic to a Java program with classes and { () and all that jazz. I remember when starting Java, thinking why do I need 3 different classes imported just to do a simple hello world? VB was no different, they had forms where you needed to drag and drop control boxes, and the like. Very little is straight forward, where a user/programmer could figure out the logic without a teacher/tutor.

I wonder how much more difficult the learning curve is? Maybe the programs will be better, and the programmers more skilled, but there was an element of fun in a language that is so simple a 7 year old can write his own code. Compare that to my college level Java class, which started 28 strong, and ended with only 16 students for the final exam.

What happened to a computer language that is intuitive and very easy, that anybody can learn?

Re:Is programming getting much harder? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14187079)

Damn, you guessed my password! You must be psychic! I'll have to change it to something like 12345!

Start luggage jokes here.

Re:Is programming getting much harder? (1)

I'm Don Giovanni (598558) | more than 8 years ago | (#14187080)

10 Home
20 Print "What is the password: "
30 Get A$
40 If A$ = "b" then goto 70
50 Print "Wrong!"
60 Goto 20
70 Print "Right"
80 End


I do remember programs like the above (the old Compute! magazine provided listings of old-style BASIC programs each month), but such code is the very definition of "spaghetti". ;-)

80's magazines with code (1)

ATeamMrT (935933) | more than 8 years ago | (#14187224)

10 Home
20 Print "What is the password: "
30 Get A$
40 If A$ = "b" then goto 70
50 Print "Wrong!"
60 Goto 20
70 Print "Right"
80 End

I do remember programs like the above (the old Compute! magazine provided listings of old-style BASIC programs each month), but such code is the very definition of "spaghetti". ;-)

I remember those magazines too. It was such a fun way to learn, they would have code which anyone could type and save. The real fun started with changing the code in the magazine to do something new. One new 50 line program could provide a months worth of learning and playing. I remember looking at one months 50 lines of code, and remembering something from last year which I thought would be cool to add, and digging through a stack of magazines looking for that code.

I doubt there is any magazine like that for Java or C++, that a new user could type in notepad, and run without doing anything special. And I bet it would be difficult for new users to decipher C++ code, if they never had any real training.

The learning curve is definitely more difficult.

The only thing like old Basic might be HTML. There are no numbers, but the learning is the same. Anyone can look at the source, and re-arrange the code to make a new looking page. But even basic HTML is being pushed aside for CSS and scripting.

Re:Is programming getting much harder? (0, Flamebait)

m50d (797211) | more than 8 years ago | (#14187114)

Java is ridiculous, it's a joke that nobody's got yet. Don't let it put you off programming. Try python - hello world is simply 'print "hello world"', no {} getting in the way, classes are there for when you want/need them (and at a very deep level, you can metaclass which I don't think you can do in e.g. java) but will stay out of your face until then. You can do anything you want to, without it getting more complicated than absolutely necessary.

A little... (4, Insightful)

everphilski (877346) | more than 8 years ago | (#14187133)

What happened to a computer language that is intuitive and very easy, that anybody can learn?

Security mostly. Scope is huge. Being able to define things that only exist within the curly braces is a blessing. Namespaces. Classes. Inheritance. All of that stuff that makes development such a joy. I'm not a computer scientist, I'm an aerospace engineer but I do simulation programming and all of these developments in object-oriented programming make my life so much easier. It is harder then when I was a kid and wrote my first programs in QBASIC, but man I'd much rather dig into a book and have to scratch my head a little learning C++ than go back to the old days...

-everphilski-

Re:Is programming getting much harder? (2, Interesting)

Gulthek (12570) | more than 8 years ago | (#14187137)

Ruby, Perl, Python?

Sure basic was easy, but it was very...basic.

Re:Is programming getting much harder? (1)

neutronica (863270) | more than 8 years ago | (#14187142)

I remember when starting Java, thinking why do I need 3 different classes imported just to do a simple hello world? Hmm, I don't need to import anything. Weird. Oh, do you mean a GUI program that can handle events and everything? Yeah, it's so weird that that isn't completely trivial. When Java is your hammer, everything starts to look like a thumb. (Steve Haflich) Dave

Re:Is programming getting much harder? (2, Insightful)

Jackmn (895532) | more than 8 years ago | (#14187156)

As far as learning goes, there are still toy languages available for people to cut their teeth on.

For serious programs, however, simply things like binary trees and linked lists can be all but impossible to create with old BASIC-style languages. A complete lack of pointers and references makes it very difficult to write reusable code, and even trivial changes can require modifications to the code in a large number of places.

Traditionally trivial code now has more overhead than it once did, but complex code is far more manageable.

Re:Is programming getting much harder? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14187204)

> What happened to a computer language that is intuitive and very easy, that anybody can learn?

They still exist. I'm sure you can get BASIC as a plain console program, somewhere. PHP seems manageable for a newbie.

Back in the "good old days" of the 80's there were languages more complex than BASIC. C++ (with { () and all that jazz) was around back in the eighties too, except for some reason you weren't exposed to it as a youngster. (Yes, I'm assuming you were young then.)

Re:Is programming getting much harder? (1)

rootneg1 (926993) | more than 8 years ago | (#14187209)

Try python... while raw_input('what is the password: ') is not 'b': print 'wrong!' print 'right'

Re:Is programming getting much harder? (2, Interesting)

RobinH (124750) | more than 8 years ago | (#14187225)

Actually, if you just want to get in an write some code quickly, back in the early 90's, QuickBASIC was the way to go. You didn't need to worry about line numbers, and it was structured.

I find VB6 is also a quick way for a beginner if they wanted to jump from console applications to GUI development. However, for the hobby programmer to jump from anything non-object oriented to VB.NET is going to be a huge jump.

At work we've used VB6 extensively to write front-end GUI's for our systems, where the mission critical stuff is run either on a server or in an industrial controller of some kind. We love that VB6 is a "RAD" development environment and has a huge volume of "howto"'s available online for any task you might want to do. It's just a good fit for what we were doing.

Now that we're looking at switching to VB.NET, we're finding it much more cumbersome. We agree that it's more powerful, but we don't need any of that extra power - we just want simplicity and speed (of development). There are just too many cases in .NET where you have to remember to modify the code in 3 places just to make one little change, and VB6 took care of more stuff for me (like the whole "do I use Dispose(True) or Dispose(False), and do I even need to call it on this particular object?"). Don't even get me started on the compact framework.

I would have liked to see a VB7 that had no connection to the .NET framework. As it stands we're going to be programming in VB6 for several more years until something better than VB.NET comes along.

Re:Is programming getting much harder? GET WHAT? (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 8 years ago | (#14187283)

30 Get A$

So when did it become Get, let alone accept lower case?

In my day it was:
30 INPUT A$

and that's all there was to it.

Re:Is programming getting much harder? (1)

bill_kress (99356) | more than 8 years ago | (#14187314)

What kind of moderators would moderate this as insightful and not the (hopefully) intentional funny or flaimbait??? This mod system is getting bizarre.

Re:Is programming getting much harder? (1)

prgrmr (568806) | more than 8 years ago | (#14187334)

What happened to a computer language that is intuitive and very easy, that anybody can learn?

You can download from IBM [ibm.com] a personal version of UniVerse, which is an extended relational database environment that uses a version of BASIC as the primary programming language.

Re:Is programming getting much harder? (1)

TheNarrator (200498) | more than 8 years ago | (#14187385)

/** Sorry bout the formatting.. Slashdot whitespace filter's fault ***/
package slashdot;
import java.io.BufferedReader;
import java.io.IOException;
import java.io.InputStreamReader;
public class DorkTest { public static void main(String argv[]) throws IOException {
System.out.println("What is the Password?");
InputStreamReader reader = new InputStreamReader(System.in);
BufferedReader read=new BufferedReader(reader);
String a=read.readLine();
if ("b".equals(a)) { System.out.println("Right!"); }
else { System.out.println("Wrong!"); } } }

Microsoft: Use of VB and VC is deprecated. (2, Funny)

managedcode (863136) | more than 8 years ago | (#14186976)

An IT manager from WAMU who had been to MS campus to work his strategies to migrate to .NET told me that he was asked by MS's PM to migrate his applications to VC#. Though MS will continue to support VB but are softly asking managers to move towards VC#.

I don't know a lot about VB but MS seriously is in deep shit with VC especially the language syntax in 2005. Not many liked it. They also didn't support STL.NET which majority of the folks wanted. Is this something new?

Re:Microsoft: Use of VB and VC is deprecated. (1)

harbichidian (803937) | more than 8 years ago | (#14187168)

I know an IT manager from Washington Mutual (WaMu) who was asked by his Project Manager (PM) to migrate his applications to Visual C-Sharp (VC#). He said that while Microsoft (MS) will continue to support Visual BASIC (VB) for now, they are softly asking managers to move towards VC#.
I don't know a lot about VB, but MS is in seriously deep shit with Visual C (VC): Not many liked the language syntax in Visual Studio 2005 (2005). It also didn't support STL.NET, which the majority of folks wanted! Is this something new?

Sry, too many abbr. for me :)

Re:Microsoft: Use of VB and VC is deprecated. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14187212)

Just wait for VD. That's as close as any slashdotter gets to a VD anyway.

I'm to be subjected to this language (1)

sycomonkey (666153) | more than 8 years ago | (#14186999)

Next quarter. At the community college (don't laugh) I'm going to it's a prerequisite to take Java. WHY? I have no clue. Maybe the Java Prof doesn't want to have to explain what a method is. I don't know. But I am going to have to go through an entire 3 months of this.

I am upset, because I allready know a lot of programming concepts, even if I'm not fluent in any particular language (I know a smidgen of Perl). I'd rather just jump right into Java, but I can't. (or, you know, C++. They don't even offer that. Stupid High School 2.0) Maybe I won't be totally ruined. I at least KNOW that VB isn't exactly the best language on the planet. And knowing is half the battle! Any help on keeping the mind clear of the crud and pulling any useful info from the class?

Re:I'm to be subjected to this language (1)

Shad_the_protector (931920) | more than 8 years ago | (#14187042)

If you want to learn JAVA, Sun microsystems offers a lot of online tutorial. It cover pretty all programming base and go further in JAVA. It's well explained and a good way to learn.

Re:I'm to be subjected to this language (1)

sycomonkey (666153) | more than 8 years ago | (#14187117)

Well, I'm sure that will come in handy Spring quarter. You see, I have to take classes because I'm working on a CS degree (I'm getting a transfer degree at the CC). I'll be transfering, idealy, to the University of Washington, which from what I hear has an excellent CS department. Though I'm more interested in hardware than programming, it's a very useful skill, and needed for the degree.

Re:I'm to be subjected to this language (2, Insightful)

RandoX (828285) | more than 8 years ago | (#14187091)

I at least KNOW that VB isn't exactly the best language on the planet. And knowing is half the battle!

How do you KNOW if you haven't had any exposure to it yet? Forget the moaning masses at /. and make up your own mind. I started with C, then C++, Java (and others I don't care much for, Cobol, Lisp, etc) then VB6 and now VB.Net. Professionally. Day in, day out. Guess what, it's not that bad.

Re:I'm to be subjected to this language (1)

sycomonkey (666153) | more than 8 years ago | (#14187170)

capitalizing "KNOW" was supposed to emphesis that I pay attention to general programming culture, not that I actually have a lot of factual knowledge about VB or any other language. And regardless of merits or lack thereof, it's at least a very unpopular language amongst the unix inclined. I didn't mean act like I actually know much about VB, or any other language except Perl and Ruby, except that VB is fairly automated and windows-centric. Although that's more an effect of the development program, not the language itself. I think. Hell, I don't know.

Re:I'm to be subjected to this language (1)

Frostalicious (657235) | more than 8 years ago | (#14187111)

And knowing is half the battle! Any help on keeping the mind clear of the crud and pulling any useful info from the class?

Go there to learn fundamental concepts of programming. Learn things like debugging, algorithms, encapsulation, threading etc... These will naturally transfer to any language. Go with a positive attitude, even if it is "just VB" or you won't learn anything.

Re:I'm to be subjected to this language (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14187176)

My advice ...

Realize that modern programming is not about language, but functionality. If you can encounter any programming language and see that they are all accomplishing the same thing, then you will better for it. VB might just suprise you.

Your a CS major... (1, Interesting)

everphilski (877346) | more than 8 years ago | (#14187188)

...not a (insert-language-here) programmer. Get that through your head. (the sooner, the better) A good CS major should be able to pick up any language because the concepts are mostly the same.

-everphilski-

Re:I'm to be subjected to this language (0)

Eberlin (570874) | more than 8 years ago | (#14187247)

I'm not a programmer by trade nor have I seriously coded in a long while. Doing mostly PHP for fun nowadays. Learning a programming language is simple enough unless you want to get to the nitty gritty specifics of it -- mostly pre-written stuff to remember, import, and instantiate.

Conditionals will be conditionals, loops will be loops, and there are a few quirks here and there for each language that will be easy enough to remember and forget. Whatever language you code in, write like you're writing it for someone else. It's easy to forget that when you're just one programmer writing code to be reviewed by your instructor.

Use lots of good comments, use meaningful variable names, and choose to write clearer code vs. "slicker" hacks. That will remain true for whatever language you're subjected to.

Learn VB if you have to, but be prepared to resist all that hand-holding because other programming languages don't cuddle you as much.

Re:I'm to be subjected to this language (1)

AutopsyReport (856852) | more than 8 years ago | (#14187282)

Poor kid having to sit through three months of Visual Basic (it's easy, not torturous). At least during high school you are being taught Java and VB. The same can't be said for thousands of other people... take for granted what you're being taught, please.

Re:I'm to be subjected to this language (1)

nogginthenog (582552) | more than 8 years ago | (#14187291)

Consider yourself lucky! I bet the majorority of people here had to learn Pascal!

Re:I'm to be subjected to this language (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14187386)

I at least KNOW that VB isn't exactly the best language on the planet. And knowing is half the battle! Any help on keeping the mind clear of the crud and pulling any useful info from the class?

Hopefully you are learning VB.Net and not pre-.Net VB (totally different languages with slight similarities in syntax). Although I haven't used it myself (seen some code examples though), VB.Net is supposedly the same as C# with different syntax (give or take some features). C# is a very good language and has some improvements over Java. You should try learning C# on your own while you are learning VB.Net. Maybe do your programming assignments in both langauges. MSDN has examples in both C# and VB.Net for everything.

Once you know C# you will find Java to be pretty similar. I actually prefer Java due to the excellent open source tools and libraries available, and the lack of Microsoft.

If you are learning pre-.Net VB, well it sucks but its not THAT bad.. Turn on static type checking and try to write some modular code. My first (and last) experience with VB (though I had used other types of BASIC in the past) was after I had a lot of experience with other languages (C, Pascal, assembly, C++, Java, etc) but no experience writing GUI's. It wasn't that painful (I was porting an old BASIC program to VB) and didn't screw up my ability to code in OO languages, but didn't give me much meaningful experience in the GUI department other than being able to use GUI designers.

Finding VB Express (4, Informative)

hotspotbloc (767418) | more than 8 years ago | (#14187003)

It seems VB Express (http://msdn.microsoft.com/vstudio/express/vb/defa ult.aspx [microsoft.com] ) is a free (445M) download.

VB Express (.img file)
http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?linkid=54764 [microsoft.com]

VB Express (.iso file)
http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?linkid=57033 [microsoft.com]

Re:Finding VB Express (1)

EvilMonkeySlayer (826044) | more than 8 years ago | (#14187276)

As a correction, it is only free until November 2006.

Also, VC# Express 2005, VJ# Express 2005 and VC++ Express 2005 are available until November 2006 too.

How to drive a car now! (1)

nhl420 (935070) | more than 8 years ago | (#14187010)

1) Insert key
2) turn on engine
3) put in drive
4) point car
5)step (I won't tell you which pedal...you'll figure out which one makes you move).

Re:How to drive a car now! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14187126)

I always find it hilarious when pubescent car thieves can't grok a standard (manual to you) transmission!

Everyone loves to bash MS and VB... (2, Insightful)

RandoX (828285) | more than 8 years ago | (#14187023)

Serious question. If you need to build a quick, simple, gui app for an end user (in a Windows environment), what's better? You can do a lot of useful stuff with a couple minutes worth of code.

Re:Everyone loves to bash MS and VB... (3, Interesting)

MosesJones (55544) | more than 8 years ago | (#14187077)

Heading for Karma hell on this one but...

I've used VS 2005, and I have to say that its poor at doing this sort of thing in comparison with a decent Java IDE these days. MS has lost a lot of its "ease of use" in this area (decent layout managers for instance) that it used to pride itself on.

I'll burn some Karma... but then I'm probably one of the few who has actually tested this stuff out.

Re:Everyone loves to bash MS and VB... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14187253)

Java coupled with the Netbeans IDE is a great developing environment. Unfortunately, you can't ask users to install Java and start manually typing commands at the command lin if you want them to use your program. And one of the things Netbeans is really bad at is creating Java applets. Maybe they think no-one wants to use those anymore, which is a pity because the browser is the one of the only ways to get Java stuff working seamlessly for most users.

Re:Everyone loves to bash MS and VB... (1)

slashrogue (775436) | more than 8 years ago | (#14187255)

I'm going to go ahead and say, "whatever you're most familiar with me." For me personally it happens to be C#, but there are definitely things about it I don't like.

Re:Everyone loves to bash MS and VB... (2, Interesting)

killjoe (766577) | more than 8 years ago | (#14187305)

I honestly don't know why companies like MS spend so much time trying to make programs easier to write. The initial building of the application is less then 10% of the lifecycle of the application and it makes no sense to try to make it faster to BUILD the application. They should instead concentrate on making it easier to maintain, debug, update, install, document, and deploy the application.

That's where Eclipse and the rest of the java stack beats the .NET stack hands down. Unit testing, build systems, xdoclet, maven, etc combined with the MVC frameworks are much better then anything MS gives you.

ROR, django, zope, webobjects etc are also fantastic frameworks that look to the long term and help ease the drugdery of maintaining and debugging complex applications.

VS.NET makes it all to easy to slap a few controls on a page, embed the SQL into the that page and display a gee-whiz grid but you pay for that every day the application is in existance.

Re:Everyone loves to bash MS and VB... (1)

AutopsyReport (856852) | more than 8 years ago | (#14187326)

Visual Basic, obviously. Not having touched VB for almost ten years, and breaking VB 2005 open just last week for a mini-project, it was the simplest thing in terms of GUI development. I had no trouble getting going. It just does not get any more simple than VB. I've tried Java, too cumbersome. PowerBuilder is close. But VB, well, it's just deserving of an applause in this sense.

VB = Virtually Braindead (1)

v3xt0r (799856) | more than 8 years ago | (#14187037)

even mIRC scripting code is more interesting to learn!!

The next generation of IE flaws is born! (1)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 8 years ago | (#14187039)

Microsoft Visual Basic 2005 Express Edition: Build a Program Now! doesn't attempt to teach you programming in general or Visual Basic in particular.

And so if you read this book you will get a microscopic and highly specialized view of programming in VB, minus all that unnecessary fluff like learning logic, pseudocoding, and documentation. Then you too can move to Redmond, get a good-paying job, and help create the newest set of flaws for IE, Office, Outlook and all other products in the ever-expanding Microsoft family of software!

Non-programmer question (2, Interesting)

grasshoppa (657393) | more than 8 years ago | (#14187048)

Why not just start with QT and BAM! Instantly portable app ( well, not instant. I'm sure there are considerations you have to keep in mind if you want portable, but it's easier at least )?

I do light programming, nothing professional, so maybe I'm just not in on the loop on this one.

Re:Non-programmer question (1)

PDHoss (141657) | more than 8 years ago | (#14187384)

well, not instant

That's probably why it's not a main candidate for a beginner's book. It's harder to get running on a newbie machine (which probably has Windows) and a key "plus" (portability) is both too far off in the future for the newbie to reeeeeeeaaaallly care about at that point AND that key plus (portability) is not exactly as advertised.

Not an argument as to merit of the environment, mind you.

PDHoss

Save THREE BUCKS!!! (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14187057)

Save yourself $3.74 by buying the book here: Build a Program Now [amazon.com] . And if you use the "secret" A9.com discount [amazon.com] , you can save an extra 1.57%!

Learn to build an interface (1)

ylikone (589264) | more than 8 years ago | (#14187063)

then try to figure out how to make it work. Isn't that how most programming newbies will treat VB? They'll make these great GUI's without a working backend and go "wow, I'm an amazing programmer". yeah.

Fun?! Sign me up! (1)

Ruff_ilb (769396) | more than 8 years ago | (#14187140)

"Overview: Easy to use - Fun - Easy to learn" Glad we got THAT straight. Somehow I don't think the little banner add off to the side telling me to visit the new Coding4Fun developer center will make Microsoft look more hip...

Sequel (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14187211)

I eagerly await future books in the series such as:

Visual Studio 2005: Laying the Groundwork for Future Exploitation
Visual Studio 2005: A Catalyst for System Compromise
Visual Studio 2005: Pseudo-Security; It Makes You Feel Better
Visual Studio 2005: Allowing Users to Do Things You Never Intended

Give this guy a prize (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 8 years ago | (#14187245)

Bill Gates should give the author a complemenary XBox 360 for contributions to better use of VBE 2005.

Yeah but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14187268)

...Basic causes brain damage!

Well... (5, Insightful)

TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) | more than 8 years ago | (#14187275)

Teaching a person how to create an application WITHOUT programming skills is edging on insanity. Its like teaching a person how to gut the fish, without learning how to get the fish in the first place.

I found that an uncle of mine going through a VB course focused on this kind of approach, learning how to write an application without learning how to program. The problem is, anytime he came across a programming problem he had to solve, he phoned me up and asked me how the code should look. Without understanding the fundamentals of conditional statements, loops, and functions, few can really start to develop a useable application.

The fact is, if you want to do anything NOT mentioned in the book (i.e. anything the examples don't cover), your out of luck, because you will not have learned the necessary skills to find out how to do more then what the book mentions.

I would think this books sounds best for those familiar with programming, but NOT with the VB.Net 2005, for instance, those that are wondering what that new ToolStrip object does. It's designed as a refresher for those looking to understand what new features are and how to use them.

In any regard, VB is a good tool to be able to develop an application with MINIMAL programming skills, but I would be hard pressed to find someone actually wanting to design an application without some desire to understand how to do some basic programming. Anyone earning a paycheck by writing application swithout understanding how to program should seriously consider the morality of cashing his paycheck.

what they need is to (1)

Captain BooBoo (614996) | more than 8 years ago | (#14187280)

put out a good book on "Visual Security" fake edit: please don't moderate this as a troll or flame bait...its funny...FUNNY I SAY :)

This review as a proverb. (1)

bradhannah (858646) | more than 8 years ago | (#14187319)

Give a man a fish, he eats for a night. Teach a man to fish, he lives for a lifetime.

Hu? (1)

pkulak (815640) | more than 8 years ago | (#14187355)

"The installation offers to install SQL Server 2005 Express, but neither the installation nor the book tells you that this will leave SQL Server running all the time."

So you're saying that normally when you install a database, it doesn't also install a service?
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