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Visual Basic 2005: Maximizing the VB Experience with New and Old Features

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John Traenkenschuh loved Visual Basic 6, but he has a new amour: VB 2005. It's not just a better-looking interface; Microsoft has apparently listened to users and built a new version that incorporates the best of the old. See if you agree.

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In my last article, we touched on the fast access to the .NET Framework provided by Visual Basic (VB) 2005. (Someone else referred to it as "speed dialer for the Framework.") I hope you agree that the My object is a great way to return to the "click and learn" feel of earlier Visual Basic versions. In this article, I'll show you other ways in which VB 2005 brings us back to a more approachable Visual Basic while opening the doors to improved coding.

Many of us did a lot of great things with VB 6. There were several features that made it a great version. Those three CDs (one application and two for MSDN) opened a lot of doors in 1999, when this version first came out. The install was easier than fumbling over a lot of floppies, and the programming experience was immediate. The online help was cutting-edge, with two CDs that covered everything from VB to InterDev. A new set of web hooks improved our web development experiences as well.

Those days are over, sadly. Microsoft seems to be suggesting that mainstream support for the product has died, at least for the Enterprise version so many career coders use. Coding is difficult enough with vendor support. Consider the impact now: The architecture won't be patched for those security gremlins for free. Do you have an issue with a feature not working as promised? Expect little support. There may be a ripple effect throughout your code. If you use custom controls, those vendors won't produce a version for VB 6 forever. You're painting yourself into an old corner.

Even if you use the Framework within your VB 6 code, you're denying yourself the better VB 2005 features, including the My object. It's time to consider upgrading. Security is very important to those who buy or use your software, and you need to assure them that you use a supported development environment.

If you haven't done so, it's time to take a good look at VB 2005. Let's discuss the ways in which VB 2005 brings us back to the VB 6 click and learn—and then goes a step farther.

Installation

VB 6 packed a lot of abilities and features onto CDs. The install process seemed long when first released; but as time went on, the installation seemed pretty quick as other software products got larger and larger. What infuriated most VBers who went from VB 6 to Visual Basic .NET 2002? It was agonizing installing .NET. Some six CDs needed inserting and removal at strange times. Do CD1 to get the install screen. Remove it to put in the Prerequisites CD. Now return to CD1. This was a lengthy install, and it needed your direct involvement.

VB 2005 will repair a lot of the inconvenience. Yes, there's a lot to install, more features, but the installation media is a DVD, and the installation process is one you can kick off and then leave unattended. Forget the lengthy confusion of 2002's "Dance of a Thousand CDs." We're getting back to lock, load, and code.

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Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 Unleashed

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Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 Unleashed

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