You can do a lot with Visual Basic by itself, but ultimately, you need data to build most systems. VB.NET is designed to work with a new way to access data: ADO.NET.
Chapter 19 of Microsoft Visual Basic Step by Step is a great intro, but again, it presents a view of ADO.NET through a Microsoft filter. There are a number of things that it doesn't say. We're going to say those things here in this lesson.
The name "ADO.NET" was invented by the Microsoft marketing department and you should not conclude that it's "just like ADO". Like VB.NET, ADO.NET is a completely new product with only a surface similarity to earlier versions. That's why it doesn't really matter that ADO once stood for "ActiveX Data Objects". It doesn't stand for that anymore.
The simplest definition of ADO.NET is that it is Microsoft's new .NET object library for data access. In one way, this is just the most recent of Microsoft's access methods (previous products were DAO, RDO and ADO). But in a more fundamental way, this is a new revolution in software. Prepare to bend your mind.
Microsoft's data technologies have been among their most successful products and a big part of the reason why is wrapped up in the word "standard". ADO.NET can be used with all ODBC data sources, XML, Oracle, SQL Server ... the list goes on and on.
The bottom line is that Microsoft has positioned ADO.NET as the universal data model:
- All programming languages
- All data sources
Or, at least as close to that ideal as they can come.