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Windows Forms Programming in Visual Basic .NET

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Windows Forms Programming in Visual Basic .NET


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Striking a balance between theory and practice, "Software Legend" Chris Sells has written the definitive book on WinForms Programming.

° The WinForms team at Microsoft praises Chris as a definitive authority; Microsoft has named Chris one of eight "Software Legends"

° The content and structure are based on years of experience both building apps with WinForms as well as teaching other developers about WinForms

° Alan Cooper, the "father of Visual Basic", has provided the foreword for the book


  • Copyright 2004
  • Dimensions: 7" x 9-1/4"
  • Pages: 736
  • Edition: 1st
  • Book
  • ISBN-10: 0-321-12519-3
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-321-12519-4

Praise Page for Windows Forms Programming in Visual Basic .NET

“This is the .NET WinForms book to have. If you have been looking for a good Windows Forms book for your bookshelf, here it is. Windows Forms Programming in Visual Basic .NET covers everything from ‘Hello World’ to multithreading the user interface. Sells and Gehtland definitely understand Windows Forms and VB and are able to bring many new .NET techniques and concepts to the VB masses.”

         —Darrin Bishop, Senior Technical Specialist

“Not only does Sells do a great job of breaking down all the quintessential components that anyone developing a Windows Forms application should know, but he also covers the critical pieces of functionality, like multi-threaded programming and resource management, which every Windows Forms developer should incorporate into his or her applications.”

         —Colin Bowern, Senior Consultant, Microsoft Corporation

“With its excellent content, this book is easily an important component for any Visual Basic .NET developer’s toolbox.”

         —Amit Kalani, coauthor of MCAD/MCSD Developing and
             Implementing Windows®-based Applications with
             Microsoft Visual C#™ .NET and Microsoft Visual Studio®.NET
             Exam Cram 2 (Exam Cram 70-316)

“If you are a VB.NET developer—or one coming from a ‘classic’ VB background—and you want a no-nonsense guide to the key elements of WinForms development, this book is for you. In-depth practical experience shines through each chapter.”

         —Martin Naughton, Independent Freelance Software Consultant

“If you’re planning on using the .NET Framework, this book is an invaluable resource. Chris dives straight into the heart of what makes the Windows Forms Framework tick. He has a real talent for striking the proper balance between showing you the theory behind the software and demonstrating coding techniques that will make you instantly productive.”

         —From the Foreword by Ted Pattison, VB .NET Guru and author of
             Building Applications and Components with Visual Basic .NET

“This book contains consistent and detailed hands-on examples about Windows Forms. Whether you are new to programming in .NET or already experienced, Chris Sells gives you the thorough grounding you need to write Windows Forms applications.”

         —Erick Sgarbi, Software Engineer

“This is a great book for programmers who need to get work done with WinForms, and don’t have time to read a 1,200-page tome. Unlike many of the other WinForms books out there, it goes beyond the available Microsoft documentation and gives you critical tips and tricks you won’t find in the manuals. Chris really knows his stuff when it comes to WinForms programming and lays out in-depth information clearly and logically. His actual working experience with WinForms is obvious throughout the book, which has the information you need to know if you want to get beyond simple demos and write serious WinForms applications. The chapter on Web deployment is worth the price of admission just by itself. I’d definitely recommend this title to anyone who is serious about WinForms development.”

         —Henry Stapp, Software Development Lead, Youbet.com, Inc.

"If you are just beginning to use WinForms, or even if you are already an experienced hand, you will find this book an antidote for confusion and a friendly companion on the road to writing modern applications."—Alan Cooper, Father of Visual Basic

Windows Forms Programming in Visual Basic .NET is the ultimate guide to using the Microsoft .NET forms package. Readers will learn how to build applications that take full advantage of both the rich user interface features of the Microsoft Windows operating system and the deployment features traditionally associated with HTML-based applications.

Authors Chris Sells and Justin Gehtland draw upon their WinForms research and programming experience to go beyond the Windows Forms documentation to give you a clear picture of exactly how Visual Basic .NET programmers can use WinForms. Readers will gain an understanding of the rationale behind aspects of WinForms design and learn how to avoid or solve common problems. Throughout the book, detailed illustrations of WinForms user interface features and working code samples demonstrate best practices. All code has been tested with Visual Studio .NET 1.1 and is available at www.sellsbrothers.com, where readers will also find updates to the book.

This book focuses on the topics developers need to know in order to build real-world applications, including:

  • Form layout
  • Multiple top-level and non-rectangular windows
  • Classes outside the System.Windows.Forms namespace, including System.Drawing and System.Security
  • Custom drawing
  • Hosting and building controls
  • Design-time integration of controls and components
  • Data binding
  • Multithreaded user interfaces
  • Deploying WinForms controls and applications over the Web
  • Moving from Visual Basic 6

Well-written and easy to navigate, Windows Forms Programming in Visual Basic .NET is the tutorial for Windows programmers who are serious about mastering Windows Forms.


Author's Site

Link to author site. Link to free code samples are also available here.

Sample Content

Table of Contents

 1. Hello, Windows Forms.

 2. Forms.

 3. Dialogs.

 4. Drawing Basics.

 5. Drawing Text.

 6. Advanced Drawing.

 7. Printing.

 8. Controls.

 9. Design-Time Integration.

10. Resources.

11. Applications & Settings.

12. Data Sets & Designer Support.

13. Data Binding & Data Grids.

14. Multi-Threaded User Interfaces.

15. Web Deployment.

Appendix A: Moving From VB6.

Appendix B: Delegates & Events.

Appendix C: Serialization Basics.

Appendix D: Standard WinForms Components & Controls.


Foreword #1

Years ago Gary Kildall, the late computer scientist and guru of operating systems and programming languages, was infamous for his documentation. It was precise, accurate and complete, but so terse and austere that it was next to useless. But amazingly, once you had learned about his software the hard way, you could read his doc and see that the answers had always been right there, hidden in plain sight. That same "right-but-useless" style of documentation continues to plague us today, and .NET is certainly a devil's playground of three-inch-thick books packed with facts that don't help. The book you have in your hand right now is different.

When I began to use .NET as a platform, the first secret weapon I discovered was Chris Sells. He is a master at not just giving you the facts, but also sufficient context to really understand how to get the most from the platform. That context includes insights into what WinForms is doing, hints on good .NET programming doctrine and style, and some of the most useful source code examples I've ever seen. Too many books and blogs give snippets of source code that are too brief to be useful (Gary Kildall would have been proud). Other books and Websites give excruciatingly long source listings that obscure as much as they teach. I call Chris's source examples Goldilocks code because they are "just right." Chris can do this because he has satisfied the three big prerequisites: 1) he knows the material cold; 2) he has used it in real-world coding; and 3) he has taught it to others.

Chris is a most prolific author, speaker and commentator on all things .NET. He knows how to help you get practical, real-world software onto your screen with WinForms better than anybody and is deservedly famous for his contributions. While not alone in this field, he is one-of-a-kind in clarity and usefulness with his natural knack for making the most obscure technical processes clear and obvious. When I found myself banging my head against some unclear, uncooperative object, I could always turn to the draft manuscript of this book (which Chris had generously shared with me) and find the answer right away. Along with the answer, I could always depend on finding a concise and clear explanation of what was really going on with WinForms, along with some useful insight into how to make my code cleaner and clearer, not to mention faster.

Chris has followed the same idea in Windows Forms for Visual Basic .NET Programmers that guided me while creating the visual programming paradigm of Visual Basic: It's nice to know how everything works, but it's nicer still to know how to work everything. The result was a tool that was powerful, but that could adapt to the user's level of expertise. Like VB, regardless whether you are an alpha-geek or a newbie, this book will serve you well. Chris's explanations and detailed examples gently speak to both.

I have another author's excellent WinForms book that, in chapter one, declares the IDE to be a crutch for wimps and goes on for a thousand pages without mentioning the IDE again. I admire that purist sentiment, but most of us are going to use the IDE to build our programs because we have deadlines to meet. I have still another book on my shelf that starts on page one with a screen shot of the IDE, taking me step-by-step through the construction of WinForms software inside the IDE without ever offering up any useful understanding of what the IDE is doing behind my back. Experienced programmers believe in "trust, but verify" when it comes to programming environments. It's up to me to know what is really going on so that I can fix it when it doesn't. Chris's book, on the other hand, book uses the IDE more judiciously, giving a precise blending of the "How-to" and the "Why," which arms you to solve your own problems.

Chris Sells writes from his heart as much as from his prodigious brain. He really loves .NET, and he cares that you are a success with it. As you read, you can hear his calm voice speaking, guiding, and supporting as you steer your way around the dangerous rocks and shoals of .NET complexity. He becomes your navigator and guide, gently steering you towards understanding and competence. If you are just beginning to use WinForms, or even if you are already an experienced hand, you will find this book an antidote for confusion and a friendly companion on the road to writing modern applications.

—Alan Cooper,
Father of Visual Basic

Foreword #2

I have been programming in VB for more than a decade. I started long ago in the days of Visual Basic 1.0. Way back then, most folks didn't know what to think of a VB guy. End users thought we were programmers. C programmers thought we were end users. We have always been hard to categorize because we are the World's first type of mammal that has the characteristics of being both a programmer and a human at the same time. As luck would have it, this particular combination of skill sets was just the ticket for rapidly creating business applications that were actually useful.

If you're a VB guy, the .NET Framework is probably the biggest opportunity you've ever had. The days of those arrogant C++ programmers with their semi-colons, their curly braces and their case sensitivity kicking silicone in your face are over. The playing field couldn't be any more level. There's nothing that's stopping you from using inheritance, multithreading or low-level security APIs. The world is yours for the taking.

The .NET Framework introduces Windows Forms as the modern framework for building desktop applications. If you're planning on using this framework, this book is an invaluable resource. Chris dives straight into the heart of what makes the Windows Forms framework tick. He has a real talent for striking the proper balance between showing you the theory behind the software and demonstrating coding techniques that will make you instantly productive. Furthermore, Chris has the respect to treat you the way you deserve to be treated; as a first-class developer who's not afraid of hearing how things really work.

You should you read this book because it will help you to build a solid understanding of how forms, dialogs, controls and advance graphics work in the Windows Forms framework. This book is also a great resource for teaching you how to utilize resources and how to localize your applications for users who speak different languages. Furthermore, this book takes on several advanced topics such as how to use data binding and how to use background threading in a safe and responsible manner.

The bottom line is that this book will give you the critical skills you need to develop and deploy Windows Forms applications. You'll be able to create desktop applications that look better and do more than ever before. This is something that will make your users very happy. It will probably also prompt all those C# developers to ask you what you did to make your latest application so successful. Whether you tell them or not is up to you.

—Ted Pattison
June 2003


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