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Your First VB.NET Application

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If you're looking to get your feet wet with VB.NET, you've come to the right place. In this sample chapter, Craig Utley walks you through your first VB.NET application, pointing out the vistas and valleys along the way.
This chapter was selected from A Programmer's Introduction to Visual Basic.NET (Sams, June 2001, 067232203X).
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Your First VB.NET Application

It's time to jump in and start working with VB.NET. First, you need to learn a little bit about the new IDE. The new VB.NET IDE might look somewhat familiar to you, but there are some significant changes that make it a more useful environment. However, it could be frustrating to experienced VB developers because many of the keystrokes have changed, windows have different names, and the debugging tools work differently. VB.NET is part of Visual Studio.NET, which finally consolidates all the development languages into one place: VB.NET, C++.NET, C#, and FoxPro.NET. You can even create a single solution (containing multiple projects) in which the individual projects are written in separate languages.

The Start Page

The very first time you start Visual Studio.NET, you are asked to configure the IDE because it takes you straight to the My Profile page discussed later. After your first visit to that page, when you launch Visual Studio.NET, you arrive at the Start Page, as shown in Figure 1. The start page contains a number of sections, as shown by the links along the left side. These links are:

  • Get Started—This option allows you to open a recent or existing project, or create a new one.

  • What's New—This option covers new language features in Visual Studio.NET, including each individual language and the Visual Studio.NET environment.

  • Online Community—This provides links to the Microsoft newsgroups. These are newsgroups accessible with any newsreader, but they are served from Microsoft's news server (msnews.microsoft.com), not normal Usenet news servers.

  • Headlines—This provides a place for links to news about .NET. In Visual Studio.NET Beta 1, the only link is to MSDN Online.

  • Search Online—This searches the MSDN online library.

  • My Profile—This screen lets you choose the overall layout of Visual Studio.NET. You can set the keyboard mappings to the same scheme as in previous versions of Visual Studio, such as Visual Basic 6. You can also set the window layout to match previous versions of Visual Studio Projects, and you can automatically filter help using the Profile.

Figure 1 The Visual Studio.NET Start screen.

NOTE

The Start page has changed significantly in Beta 2.

Help is now more tightly integrated into Visual Studio. To see this, click on the What's New link on the Start Page. A list of links appears, so click on What's New in Visual Basic and C#. Notice that when you do this, the help is added as a new tab in the main window, as shown in Figure 2. As you will see later, it is even possible to have help running continuously while you work, searching for topics associated with whatever you are working on at the moment.

Figure 2 Help has been added as a tab in the main work area.

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