1. Computing

About Visual Basic and About This Site

If you're new to Visual Basic or you want to know what this site is all about..

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Visual Basic is the most successful programming language in the history of programming and this site is designed to tell you all 'About' it. I'm Dan Mabbutt, your About.com Guide to Visual Basic. I write all of the content for this site. The purpose of this article is to orient you with an overview of both Visual Basic and this site.

About Visual Basic is one of the many About.com sites. The 'parent' of this site is About.com and it's your source of information that helps you:

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To help you learn even more about Visual Basic, you might want to sign up for the free About Visual Basic Newsletter (no spam). Each week, I tell you about new articles at the site to help you program VB better, faster, and smarter.

Visual Basic - What is it?

In the beginning, there was BASIC and it was good. Really! I mean, really the beginning. And yes, really good. BASIC ("Beginner's All purpose Symbolic Instruction Code") was designed as a language to teach people how to program by Professors Kemeny and Kurtz at Dartmouth College w-a-a-a-y back in 1963. It was so successful that soon a lot of companies were using BASIC as their programming language of choice. In fact, BASIC was the very first PC language because Bill Gates and Paul Allen wrote a BASIC interpreter for the MITS Altair 8800, the computer most people accept as the first PC, in machine language.

Visual Basic, however, was created by Microsoft in 1991. The main reason for the first version of Visual Basic was to make it a lot faster and easier to write programs for the new, graphical Windows operating system. Before VB, Windows programs had to be written in C++. They were expensive and difficult to write and usually had a lot of bugs in them. VB changed all that.

There have been nine versions of Visual Basic up to the current version. The first six versions were all called Visual Basic. But in 2002, Microsoft introduced Visual Basic .NET 1.0, a completely redesigned and rewritten version that was a key part of a whole computer software revolution at Microsoft. The first six versions were all "backward compatible" which means that later versions of VB could handle programs written with an earlier version. Because the .NET architecture was such a radical change, any programs written in Visual Basic 6 or earlier had to be rewritten before they could be used with .NET. It was a controversial move at the time, but VB.NET has now proven to be a great programming advance.

One of the biggest changes in VB.NET was the use of a object oriented software architecture (OOP). (Tutorials on the site explain OOP in much more detail.) VB6 was 'mostly' OOP, but VB.NET is totally OOP. The rules of object orientation are recognized as a superior design. Visual Basic had to change or it would have become obsolete.

What's On This Site

This site covers all aspects of Visual Basic programming. Even VB6 is still covered to a degree. (Nearly all new articles are about VB.NET, however.) You can expect to find clear explanations where terms are explained and examples show you how things work. The site includes a forum, a newsletter, and new developments in VB are covered as they happen.

The best way to find specific answer at About Visual Basic is to use the search box at the top of the home page. Try searching for "object oriented" to see what's on the site. (Hint: Put phrases in double-quotation marks for better results.)

If you are completely new to VB programming, the course you want is Visual Basic .NET 2008 Express - A "From the Ground Up" Tutorial. All of the software you need, including first class VB.NET development software, is completely free from Microsoft.

Programming in VB.NET - An Introduction in Three Steps

Even if you've never programmed before, you can write a first program in VB.NET.

  1. Download and install VB.NET Express Edition from Microsoft from http://www.microsoft.com/Express/VB/.
  2. Start the program and click File, then New Project ..., then accept all the default values and click OK.
  3. Press the F5 function key.

An empty Form1 window will pop up on the screen. You've just written and executed your first program. It doesn't do anything, but it's a program and you've taken the first step. The rest of the journey is just taking the next step and then the next and then the next ...

That's where About Visual Basic comes in.

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