When Microsoft released its new version of Visual Basic in 2002, many developers willingly upgraded to take advantage of the new web functionality, security, and performance provided by the .NET platform on which it was built. But in doing so, many also felt they were leaving behind the features that had made Visual Basic 6.0 such a popular tool for the rapid development of Windows applications in the first place.
The release of Visual Basic 2005 (VB 2005) is in many ways a return to Visual Basic's roots as the Rapid Application Development (RAD) tool of choice. Many of the most popular features of earlier versions are back, such as Edit and Continue, along with dozens of new controls, better IntelliSense, an improved debugger, and a host of other tools that speed up programming, debugging, testing, and deployment.
Besides the many tools added to its interactive development environment (IDE), Visual Basic 2005 provides more support than ever for developing the next generation of network-enabled Windows clients and web applications, while a new set of functionality unique to VB 2005 the My namespace gives you the means by which to perform many common tasks without having to work your way through the complex types of the .NET class libraries.
The best way to learn about Visual Studio 2005 is by using the tool to build an application. In the following sections, you'll assemble a straightforward Windows client that enables users to connect to a database and browse or update the information they find there. You'll work with the authors table of the pub's database that ships with SQL Server 2005. You'll also see how you can extend the application using some of the features new to VB 2005, such as project templates and application configuration tools. Figure 1-1 shows how the main window of the the completed application will look when you've finished your work.
Figure 1-1. The completed pubs database Windows client