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Learning Visual Basic
Part 1: Start Here!
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"The source of expertise is not in the memorization of the minute details of a subject but in the thorough understanding of the fundamental concepts on which it is based."
Dan Appleman
opinionated author


If you're new to Visual Basic, or even new to programming, this is the place! Visual Basic from the very ground up will be explained. Those of you who are more code-wise might find this article slightly boring from a technical perspective ... but Hey!, you're welcome here too!

The first thing you need to know, and I mean know, about programming is that it's not magic and you can do it. The people who have trouble learning to program are the ones who expect to have trouble. If you think it's going to be easy, it probably will be for you. So plan on having fun! It's the best way to learn.

The second thing is to realize is that the computer is really dumb! I mean stupid, idiotic, and just plain dense. That's why it has to be told each and every thing to do ... at some time. The TV and movie plots where the computer is this scheming, thinking, entity are completely wrong. If a computer doesn't have instructions to do something, it will not do anything. Your task as a programmer is to provide those instructions. The flip side of this is that if it's not doing what you intend, then it's because the instructions that it was given were wrong.

The main flaw in this is that YOU don't give the computer all of the instructions. It gets a lot of them from other programmers at other times in the form of software like the compiler (the program that turns a 'programming language' like Visual Basic into instructions that the computer can actually understand), the operating system (the program that turns things like your keystrokes into instructions that the computer can actually understand), and software objects (little packages of self contained program code that do things that a lot of people need). So to really understand the instructions that the computer received, you have to have an idea about what all the other instructions are. Welcome to programming!

Therefore ... our task in learning Visual Basic is to understand how Visual Basic combines with your instructions (and all the other stuff) to form a complete program.

Fortunately, Visual Basic takes care of virtually all of the details for you. But it's a good idea to know what's happening "under the covers". Here's a picture of what all this looks like. 

By the way, this is usually called a 'Flow Chart'. A lot of people insist that you draw a flow chart of any program before you try to write it. It's a good idea, especially for people just starting out. But remember rule number 1: If it's not fun, don't do it.

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