A lot of people have been asking me, "When are you going to have a tutorial about Visual Basic .NET 2005?"
The "Complete Course" is a 23 lesson tutorial for VB.NET version 1.0 that uses the Microsoft Press book "Microsoft Visual Basic .NET Step By Step". The idea was to create an educational experience that would cost hundreds of dollars to get anywhere else. In line with that, I tried to copy a class room experience as closely as possible given the limitations of a web site and email lessons.
A lot of people learned a lot from the Complete Course ... and so did I.
First, I learned that you can't have an actual classroom experience. The essence of the classroom is people learning from each other as they all study the same topic at the same time. And that's precisely what you can't do online. The great advantage of online courses is that you can learn at any time and you can study anything that you wish. You have complete freedom to learn at your own pace and study only what you want. So in this new course, I'm giving up the goal of a pseudo classroom experience and going back to the strengths of online tutorials.
Second, I learned that basing a course on an actual textbook is another thing that works for lecture halls but doesn't work as well online. Each lesson in the Complete Course extends and explains a chapter of the Microsoft Press book; it doesn't duplicate it. That's the way books are used in the courses I have taught and courses I have taken in actual class rooms. But that doesn't work as well online because most people just don't want to make the investment in a $50 book. So this new course will be completely self contained. It will be difficult to duplicate the thoroughness of an actual text book, but I'll do my best.
One thing that has changed for the better (at least for the next year) is that it's now possible to make this course entirely free, not just low cost. The Complete Course was based on the Microsoft Press Step By Step book in part because you could get a fully legal VB.NET Standard Edition for just a little more than the cost of the book. It was the cheapest way I knew of to move up to VB.NET.
Visual Basic .NET 2005 Express Edition has made that idea obsolete. For the next year (until November 6, 2006), Microsoft will allow you to download Visual Basic .NET Express Edition free of charge. You can use it forever. But getting a copy in the first place will not necessarily be free forever. Since Microsoft has a history of changing their corporate mind on things like this, we'll just have to see what they say next November to be sure.
The really good news is that Visual Basic .NET 2005 Express Edition is an ideal learning tool for beginners. It's based on exactly the same Framework 2.0 that the (much, much) more expensive versions are and there is not that much missing. My advice is, get VB.NET 2005 Express and only buy a copy of the others when you absolutely have to.
Just to get you interested, here's the list of topics:
- What is VB.NET 2005 Express Edition?
- What's this course all about?
- Why should I learn VB.NET?
- Getting and Installing VB.NET 2005 Express Edition
- Writing your first program
New lessons will be announced in the weekly About Visual Basic newsletter every week until the course is complete.