Visual Basic 2005 Programmer's Reference Paperback – Oct 21 2005
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From the Back Cover
Visual Basic 2005 Programmer's Reference
Visual Basic 2005 adds new features to Visual Basic (VB) that make it a more powerful programming language than ever before. This combined tutorial and reference describes VB 2005 from scratch, while also offering in-depth content for more advanced developers. Whether you're looking to learn the latest features of VB 2005 or you want a refresher of easily forgotten details, this book is an ideal resource.
Well-known VB expert Rod Stephens features the basics of Visual Basic 2005 programming in the first half of the book. The second half serves as a reference that allows you to quickly locate information for specific language features. It's a comprehensive look at programming using the increased set of language options offered with the VB 2005 release, confirming that there has never been a better time to learn Visual Basic than now.
What you will learn from this book
- The fundamental concepts of object-oriented programming with Visual Basic, including classes and structures, inheritance and interfaces, and generics
- How an application can interact with its environment, save and load data in external sources, and use standard dialog controls
- The syntax for declaring subroutines, functions, generics, classes, and other important language concepts
Who this book is for
This book is for programmers at all levels who are either looking to learn Visual Basic 2005 or have already mastered it and want some useful tips, tricks, and language details.
Wrox Programmer's References are designed to give the experienced developer straight facts on a new technology, without hype or unnecessary explanations. They deliver hard information with plenty of practical examples to help you apply new tools to your development projects today.
About the Author
Rod Stephens started out as a mathematician but, while studying at MIT, discovered the joys of programming and has been programming professionally ever since. During his career, he has worked on an eclectic assortment of applications in such fields as telephone switching, billing, repair dispatching, tax processing, wastewater treatment, and training for professional football players.
Rod has written 14 books that have been translated into half a dozen different languages, and more than 200 magazine articles covering Visual Basic, Visual Basic for Applications, Delphi, and Java. He is currently a columnist for Visual Basic Developer (www.pinnaclepublishing.com).
Rod’s popular VB Helper Web site (www.vb-helper.com) receives several million hits per month and contains thousands of pages of tips, tricks, and example code for Visual Basic programmers, as well as example code for this book.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The book begins with a fairly quick overview or introduction to the IDE, the language and an introduction to programming. This lasts about a third of the book, maybe a bit more. At the end of this time you will have a good overview of the language. Part II of the book covers object oriented concepts, classes, structures, namespaces, collection classes, generics. Part III is called graphics, but it also includes things like printing and producing reports using Crystal Reports. Part IV is called Interacting with the Environment and is on using external resources such as the system registry, files, streaming data and so on. By the end of Part IV, you will be a fairly accomplished programmer.
The last third of the book is a series of appendicies. These provide a concise reference book for the language. This is a convenient way to combine the tutorial approach with the reference book approach that will give the book greater usefulness as you actually work in the language.
For me this book is just the right level. It doesn't assume your are an idiot or waste time on Windows basics. The 1058 pages (I have the electronic version) are full of concise explanations, just the right level of detail and hardly a page goes by without a relevent screen shot or code example (code is king!). There is a 6.7M zipped file of code samples that are full of really useful examples.
For anyone struggling with printing in Visual Basic 2005 then this is the one. For me the jewel in this book was code to easily print paragraphs and page numbers on multiple pages and I have slightly modified this to produce a little report writer to print paragraph chunks of text in any font, in any place and on multiple pages. I have struggled with this for so long. By far the best discussion of printing I have ever seen in a Visual Basic text.
Rod is very adept with handling graphics in VB and I have only touched on some of his routines for handling screen graphics. And a good introduction to OOP.
28 chapters and 18 appendices cover a lot of ground. As a bonus Rod has an excellent web site and a regular newsletter full of useful tips.
This is a terrific book. My opinion as an Aussie who finds it relaxing to write VB code is that you are unlikely to be disappointed and that it is a dinki-di bonzer book and you'd be a mug not to get it. Well that's my 2 bobs worth.
1) Unlike most VB books, he separates IDE (Integrated Devel. Env.) issues from the actual coding examples. In other words, while the IDE treatment is good, one needn't concern oneself with the IDE in order to understand the fundamental attributes - both syntactic and semantic - of the language. To put it as simply as possible: my objective was to know *what the code looks like, and what it does* as a language, not as a language-cum-development environment. (It's also worth noting that Visual Studio is *not* the only available development environment.)
2) The author spends a lot of time on definitions, and doesn't assume any pre-existing knowledge of the language. Syntax charts appear before presentation of any language construct, so that the reader can clearly see what options are available for that language construct *before* the author begins to actually describe the variations.
3) The examples rely on forms *only* when necessary. From what I can tell, most VB books are addressed to VB programmers - who seem to think of the entire language as being built around forms. (While this may be a historically understandable view, clearly it's inaccurate, given that it's possible to write form-independent and useful component code, such as for use in an ASP .NET application.)
Let me close by saying that after struggling through a number of VB books that were clearly oriented towards forms and/or holding the reader by the hand when it came to walking through the IDE in *every single example*, but were relatively weak when it came to the fundamental syntactic and semantic characteristics of the language, it was a pleasure to read this text, in which *definitions* and *semantics* came first!
If you are looking to have your hand held so you can walk through each example with the IDE, or seeking a "cookbook" that will tell you how to write such-and-such a routine, this may not be the right book for you. But as a programmer who has learned many languages, the first thing I want to know with any new language is: *how to write the code in plain text, and what the code I've written will actually do*.
After reading another Wrox tome (the title of which I won't mention), browsing at my local B&N, and consulting many possible resources on line, this is the best text that I've found which satisfies that seemingly simple-minded criterion. And at Amazon's excellent price, this is a bargain you can't afford to pass up!
The author has an easy to read style, which doesn't avoid technical terms, but doesn't wallow in them just to impress you either. The book contains four main parts covering a wide range of VB2005 topics, plus a very useful set of Appendices.
Part 1:Visual Studio IDE.
I think there is always a dilemma for authors when describing the IDE. On the one hand, if they are not careful they end up producing a long boring list of toolbars, windows, menus, etc, which will soon have the reader nodding off over the book. On the other, if they describe each of these elements in detail, you would probably end up with a 1000 page book that never gets past the IDE description.
The author has walked the line between these two extremes, dropping in additional detail on key areas as necessary. For instance in the section on Project Properties and the Compile Tab, he makes use of the opportunity to reinforce the positive reasons for having Option Explicit and Option Strict turned on.
Similarly, he includes real world examples of how you might find particular Debug menu windows useful.
Part 2: Object Oriented Programming
The section on OOP contains a good introduction to key principles and practices in this area. Clear code samples to demonstrate points and useful diagrams to clarify the tricky areas all help demystify what can be a difficult subject for newcomers.
I particularly liked the detailed section on Collection Classes, but would have liked more on the relatively
new area of Generics .
As OOP is a topic that many Classic VB upgraders will have to get to grips with, this Part of the book will give them a useful introduction to the subject.
Part 3: Graphics.
This Part of the book is really excellent. If you have visited the VB-Helper web site you will know that Rod Stephens is an absolute master in this field and his skills shine through in this section.
He manages to explain a whole range of graphics topics very clearly - and not just the relatively easy stuff. Difficult techniques such as Transformations and Graphics Paths are well explained with description, code samples and screenshots.
I found that the downloadable sample code was particularly useful in this part as I was able to copy/paste and recycle some of the advanced examples for a project I was working on at the time.
Part 4: Interacting with the Environment.
This final Part includes coverage of a range of topics, including Configuration, Resources (much improved in VB2005), Streams, Useful Namespaces, and a wide review of File and IO issues.
It is clearly written. The Graphics section is extremely good. In fact it is the best coverage of the topic of GDI+ for VB.NET that I have yet seen.
Overall this is a good Programmer to Programmer level book which has plenty of code samples, clear narrative and comprehensive coverage of important topics. Apart from anything else, personally I think this book is worth the asking price just for the information contained in the Graphics Part alone.
Of equal importance: when I had a problem with the printing routine, I went to the web site ([...]) and was able to discuss the problem directly with the author - this is invaluable to me as I am not a programmer by profession, but use VB.NET to write software for our anesthesiology practice. Mr. Stephens' responses were prompt and very useful.
Alan G. Mowbray