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April 29, 2005

"Visual Basic 2005: A Developer's Notebook": Hands-On Projects to Get up to Speed with the New VB

Sebastopol, CA--When Microsoft unveiled the beta edition of Visual Basic .NET in 2001, many VB programmers resisted the change to a managed-code environment, but other bold individuals gave up the convenience of VB 6 to explore the potential of this new platform. "Four years later, it's clear that the rewards of moving to .NET make up for the steep learning curve," comments Matthew MacDonald, author of Visual Basic 2005: A Developer's Notebook (O'Reilly US $24.95). "Developers who made the jump have a powerful set of tools--a set that other programming frameworks are hard pressed to match."

The second major release of .NET is now available in a public beta 2 edition, including Visual Basic 2005 and the new version of the popular developer toolkit, Visual Studio 2005. The changes this time are not "seismic," McDonald points out, but represent improvements to what has become a mature platform. "Microsoft architects have ironed out inconsistencies and corrected flaws," he says. "They've added dozens of requested features, from VB 6's edit-and-continue debugger to new Windows and web controls for displaying data."

Visual Basic 2005: A Developer's Notebook is the first guide available for early adopters who want to get up to speed with VB 2005 before its official release later this year. The book is not a tutorial in the usual sense: instead of offering an introduction to the language, McDonald jumps right into the new features of VB 2005 for those who want to hit the ground running.

"The most important requirement is a solid familiarity with VB .NET 1.0 or 1.1, and some experience building .NET applications," McDonald cautions. "My book covers very little of the material that experienced VB .NET programmers already know. They'll be able to take advantage of all the new frills and features in .NET 2.0 without rehashing the basics. Beta 2 editions are traditionally the most stable milestones in the pre-release schedule. It's a great time for developers to start learning about new features."

To get programmers straight to work, the Developer's Notebook approaches its subject much differently than the typical programming book. The first distinction is its look and feel, which is just what the title implies: a notebook with text on graph paper that invites readers to jot comments as they go. And rather than long discussions, readers will find code--lots of code. Its six chapters consist entirely of hands-on labs, and each lab introduces a new feature. Programmers have a chance to learn features through direct practical application, rather than simply read about them.

"This book gives a snapshot of changes across the whole .NET platform," McDonald explains. "It walks through all of the basic changes readers might encounter, from changes in Visual Studio to the framework for building Windows and web applications to the VB language itself. They'll learn everything through concise, focused examples, all of which are just a short download away."

With VB 2005, he notes, Microsoft is focused once again on programmer productivity by returning features that made VB 6 such a popular rapid application development tool. That includes the compile-and-run feature and dozens of interactive tools and controls that speed up programming. The widely anticipated addition of "generics" enables developers to create type-safe code that's easy to maintain, so they can dramatically cut down the amount of code--and time--it takes to develop new applications.

Before introducing generics and the other new features of VB 2005--such as the My object, nullable types and partial classes--the book covers changes to Visual Studio 2005, including the "code snippets" feature that allows programmers to insert blocks of pre-made code into their projects. Remaining chapters demonstrate new features for creating applications with Windows Forms, ASP.NET web applications, ADO.NET data access, and additions to the .NET class library.

"Visual Basic 2005 and .NET 2.0 are sure winners," McDonald exclaims. "They keep all of the great features of previous .NET versions and add more useful tools. As a result, companies and enthusiasts are likely to adopt this version faster than ever. By getting familiar with the changes now, VB developers will be ready for this adoption."

Additional Resources:

Visual Basic 2005: A Developer's Notebook
Matthew MacDonald
ISBN: 0-596-00726-4, 243 pages, $29.95 US, $41.95 CA
order@oreilly.com
1-800-998-9938; 1-707-827-7000

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