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InformIT Visual Tutorial 6: Vampire Bots in C# (Part 1 of 2)

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In this first of a two-part tutorial, Nick and Nancy Flor walk you through the process of downloading the free (beta) C# compiler and writing a simple C# program.
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Vampire bot is a term we made up for programs that gather or "suck" content out of other sites. We use vampire bots as a context for learning the new C# language. But before you can write a vampire bot in C#, you need a C# compiler. In this first of a two-part series, we walk you through setting up the C# compiler on Windows 2000 or Windows ME, and writing your first C# program.

Introduction

Undoubtedly you've noticed the huge number of articles and books published or about to be published on .NET, ASP.NET, C#, VB.NET, and ADO.NET. And chances are that you've read at least some of the material but didn't quite understand it. You're not alone. In our opinion, .NET is a collection of floating abstractions, and you'll never have a deep understanding of it without grounding the concepts in practical experience. With that in mind, we wrote this InformIT Visual Tutorial for total beginners with minimal programming experience who want to get a better handle on .NET and C#, and aren't afraid to get their hands dirty. Now, because this tutorial is aimed at total beginners, we go into many more details than would a C# book or article aimed at more experienced programmers. So bear with us if you're an experienced programmer—or just wait for the next article on vampire bots.

The best way to learn C#—and, more generally, Microsoft's whole .NET framework—is by using it. To get hands-on experience with C#, you need to download Microsoft's .NET Framework Beta 2. This package contains not only the C# and Visual Basic .NET compilers, but the files needed to run ASP.NET scripts. There are also a ton of useful utilities. But first we need to issue a warning.

CAUTION

You are about to download beta software. This is pre-release software that mostly works. The problem is that when it doesn't work, in the worst case, "very bad things™" can happen to your system—information and applications on your system may be corrupted, or even deleted.

Bottom line: DO NOT download and install Microsoft's .NET Framework Beta 2 on any computer system with valuable information and/or applications.

Given the above warning, if you still want to download the framework, click here or enter the following URL in your browser's address box (note that it must be typed on one line in the address box):

http://msdn.microsoft.com/downloads/sample.asp?
url=/msdn-files/027/000/976/msdncompositedoc.xml

Your browser should then display a Web page that looks similar to Figure 1.

Figure 1 Download page for Microsoft's .NET Framework Beta 2.

If you have a fast connection, you can now download the full .NET Framework Beta 2. Click the link labeled .NET Framework Full SDK, near the upper-right corner of the screen. This is a huge download (127 megabytes), so if you have a slow connection and you can't tie up your computer for an extended length of time, you might want to download the 13 pieces of the SDK separately, by clicking each of the links labeled Split SDK Part nn of 13, where nn ranges from 1 to 13.

Finally, it's although not required for this article, if you plan to experiment with databases and ASP.NET programming, which we highly recommend, you should first download Microsoft Data Access Components 2.7 by clicking the link with that name and following the instructions on the page that appears. You can see this link in the lower-left corner of Figure 1.

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