This is a free tutorial to help beginning programmers get up to speed using Microsoft Visual Basic 2010 Express. To get the most from this tutorial, you might want to start at the beginning. A complete index to the course is also in the front of the first lesson.
Part 1 - A "From the Ground Up" Tutorial - An introduction to the course.
The Reality of Online Learning
The basics that you need to code in Visual Basic .NET are explained in this segment of the About Visual Basic VB Express tutorial. This lesson doesn't cover all of the language in detail because you can get that at Microsoft's site and in the Help for VB.NET Express. What it does is show is a guide to where you can find more help and a brief explanation of the basic structure of the VB.NET language with an emphasis on explaining the concepts in VB.NET rather than the specific language rules.
The reality of online learning is that the best way to get help and instruction is from a variety of sources. So, if you want to learn VB.NET, I think my tutorial is a great way to do it. But I expect that you will also try other web pages and maybe a book or two as well. And there is no way that I can duplicate the thousands of pages of documentation about VB.NET that you can find online, so I don't even try.
What I do is explain things in a way that I hope is easier for you to understand than the documentation at Microsoft. I use examples you can understand and I don't try to impress you with the biggest words I know. And I do tell you how to find those other sources of information.
Where To Go For More Help
The first stop for detailed help is MSDN - the Microsoft Developers Network. Microsoft uses the name MSDN for a lot of things. It's the name of a magazine and a way of buying their software on a subscription basis. But it's also the name of their web site for help with detailed questions about language syntax and rules and it's a better source for that kind of information than any other source I know.
The home page for the MSDN web site is: MSDN.Microsoft.com but the site is so huge that starting at the top and browsing is a time-wasting way to get what you need. The best way is searching. And here's a tip: Never search for "VB". Always spell it out: "Visual Basic". Microsoft doesn't use the shorthand VB on their site (there must be a rule against it) so you just won't find much that way.
Microsoft works hard at trying to provide developer resources. Here are just a few:
- Forums, Social Networks, and Support
- User Submitted Code
- Channel 9
KnowledgeBase is a structured library of problems and solutions written by Microsoft engineers. If your question is actually more of a bug, KnowledgeBase is a good place to look for an answer. If you see a reference to a code that starts with the letters "kb" (like, for example, "kb327433"), then it's a knowledgebase document that describes some specific issue. You see these referenced in a lot of other places too. You can enter that number directly into a Microsoft search and go right to the article.
KnowledgeBase used to be the main source for just about everything, but in recent years it hasn't been emphasized as much. Another problem with Knowledgebase (and it's actually a problem across all of Microsoft) is that the documents look like they were written by engineers and then edited by a team of lawyers. (That's where my page comes in. I write in your language!)
Forums, Social Networks, and Support can be a good source of information, but I would try these after other sources don't work. Don't make the mistake of thinking that you're "talking to Microsoft" in these forums. These are volunteer operations and they look like it. Some of the volunteers are very smart and capable ... and some aren't. A lot of questions simply go unanswered. So you can burn through a lot of time just reading useless comments. The forum for Visual Basic can be found here.
After watching Google eat their lunch in recent years, Microsoft is now making a real effort to reach out to some social networks like Twitter. (You still won't find Microsoft videos on YouTube - they're owned by Google. But you will find a lot at Microsoft.) For example, when Visual Studio 2010 launched, the Channel 9 (see below) questions were submitted through Twitter.
Although there is a wealth of self-help at Microsoft, real Microsoft support - Microsoft engineers, not volunteers - is generally available only when you pay for it. They also drop support for outdated products. For example, VB6 isn't supported at all anymore. But there is some free support for purchased products. For example, paid versions of Visual Studio generally come with two support "incidents". When I have used real Microsoft support, I've found it to be excellent. You can see what your options are at Microsoft Support Home.
User Submitted Code is something Microsoft is also trying hard to encourage. For example, Microsoft sponsors a lot of "open source" projects these days at a site called CodePlex. You can also find code at the Visual Studio Code Gallery.
Blogs are another way that Microsoft is trying to "capture" developer input. Many are written by Microsoft employees. The best thing about their blogs is that the information is often "cutting edge". There almost seems to be a competition for who can write about the most advanced topics. Some of the most advanced developers inside Microsoft write blogs. The thing that is wrong about them is that their blogs are not organized and the quality isn't consistent, but if you're after some of the most advanced and technical topics, you can find them at Microsoft Blogs.
Channel 9 In the "readme.txt" link, they write, "Channel 9 is all about the conversation. ... Channel 9 is not a marketing tool, not a PR tool, not a lead generation tool." An old rule says that when people insist "It's not about ... 'something'" then you can be sure that "It really is about it!" Still, Channel 9 has been getting better as Microsoft works at it. At the Visual Studio launch, they were broadcasting live. It's not Letterman yet, but it's not bad.
On the next page, we look at the "better way" to find information. Simply search the web.