VB Introduction

Introduction to the Visual Basic Programming Language

Visual Basic Express is a fast and easy way to create programs for Microsoft Windows. Even if you are new to Windows programming, with Visual Basic you have a complete set of tools to simplify development.

So what is Visual Basic? "Visual" refers to the method used to create what the user sees the graphical user interface, or GUI. "Basic" refers to the BASIC (Beginners All-Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) programming language, a language used by more programmers than any other language in the history of computing. You can create useful programs by learning just a few of its features. The following links will get you started with Visual Basic programming; each link includes examples, as well as access to additional information.

How Programming Works

A computer is essentially just a big bunch of small electronic switches that are either on or off. By setting different combinations of these switches, you can make the computer do something, for example, display something on the screen or make a sound. That's what programming is at its most basic telling a computer what to do.

Inside the Visual Basic Language

The language you write and speak has structure: for example, a book has chapters with paragraphs that contain sentences consisting of words. Programs written in Visual Basic also have a structure: modules are like chapters, procedures are like paragraphs, and lines of code are like sentences.

When you speak or write, you use different categories of words, such as nouns or verbs. Each category is used according to a defined set of rules. In many ways, Visual Basic is much like the language that you use every day. Visual Basic also has rules that define how categories of words, known as programming elements, are used to write programs.

Programming elements in Visual Basic include statements, declarations, methods, operators, and keywords. As you complete the following lessons, you will learn more about these elements and how to use them.

Written and spoken language also has rules, or syntax that defines the order of words in a sentence. Visual Basic also has syntax at first it may look strange, but it is actually very simple.

What is Visual Basic?

VISUAL BASIC is a high level programming language which evolved from the earlier DOS version called BASIC. BASIC means Beginners All-purposeSymbolic Instruction Code. It is a very easy programming language to learn. The code look a lot like English Language. Different software companies produced different versions of BASIC, such as Microsoft QBASIC, QUICKBASIC, GWBASIC ,IBM BASICA and so on. However, people prefer to use Microsoft Visual Basic today, as it is a well developed programming language and supporting resources are available everywhere. Now, there are many versions of VB exist in the market, the most popular one and still widely used by many VB programmers is none other than Visual Basic 6. We also have VB.net, VB2005, VB2008 and the latest VB2010. Both Vb2008 and VB2010 are fully object oriented programming (OOP) language.

What is the Visual Basic .NET Framework?

Like the old Visual Basic runtimes, the Microsoft .NET Framework is combined with specific .NET programs written in Visual Basic .NET or any other .NET language to provide a complete system. The Framework is much more than a runtime, however. The .NET Framework is the basis of the entire .NET software architecture. One major part is a huge library of programming code called the Framework Class Library (FCL). The .NET Framework is separate from VB.NET and can be downloaded free of charge from Microsoft. The Framework is an included part of Windows Server 2003 and Windows Vista.

What is Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) and how does it fit in?

VBA is a version of Visual Basic 6.0 that is used as an internal programming language in many other systems such as Microsoft Office programs like Word and Excel. (Earlier versions of Visual Basic were used with earlier versions of Office.) Many other companies in addition to Microsoft have used VBA to add programming ability to their own systems. VBA makes it possible for another system, like Excel, to run a program internally and provide what is essentially a custom version of Excel for a particular purpose. For example, a program could be written in VBA that will make Excel create an accounting balance sheet using a series of accounting entries in a spreadsheet at the click of a button.

VBA is the only version of VB 6 that is still sold and supported by Microsoft and only as an internal component of Office programs. Microsoft is developing a completely .NET capability (called VSTO, Visual Studio Tools for Office) but VBA continues to be used.

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