2.2. Variables


In VB 2005, you declare a variable with the Dim (dimension) keyword and you specify its type using the As keyword:

      Dim num1      Dim num2 As Integer 

The first statement declares num1, by default, to be an Object type. The Object type is the base class of all the classes in the .NET Framework. You can think of the Object type as equivalent to the Variant type in VB 6.

The second statement explicitly declares num2 to be an Integer variable.

The following statements declare num1 as a Short type and then assign a value to it:

  '---range: -32768 <--> 32767  Dim num1 As Short  num1 = 32767 

You should always specify the data type of a variable, because this assures the variable is strongly typed. Strong typing reduces the likelihood of runtime errors and makes your application much more efficient.

In VB 2005, to ensure that variables are declared with a data type (strongly typed), you should add the Option Strict On statement at the top of your code file. All variables must now be declared with a type.

You'll learn more about the importance of strong typing, also known as early binding, in Chapter 3.


In VB 2005, you must declare all of the variables that you use, although you can work around this restriction and use variables without first declaring them with the Option Explicit Off statement. VB 2005 turns on Option Explicit On by default.

VB 6 Tip: VB 6 turns on Option Explicit Off by default. In both VB 6 and VB 2005, it is advisable for you to turn Option Explicit on, because using variables without first declaring them can easily inject potential bugs into your program.


Scope of Variables

The scope of a variable determines which parts of a program can access it. Consider the following VB 6 code:

      For i = 0 To 10         Dim j As Integer         …      Next i      j = 0 '<-- j is still accessible 

Notice that the variable j was declared within the For loop. Outside the loop, j is still accessible.

In VB 2005, accessing a variable outside the scope in which it was declared is not allowed. Hence trying to access j outside the For loop will result in a compile-time error.


As shown in Figure 2-1, when you assign the value of one value type to another (num2 = num1), VB 2005 or more correctly, .NET makes a copy of the value type:

     Dim num1 as Short Dim num2 as Short num1 = -32768 num2 = num1 

Figure 2-1. Representation of a value type in memory


Contrast this to the reference type. When you assign the value of a reference type to another, it causes the second variable to make a reference to the first without creating another copy of the value. The following example assigns one string variable to another:

 Dim str1, str2 As String str1 = "VB" str2 = str1 

The memory allocation of str1 and str2 is as shown in the Figure 2-2.

Figure 2-2. Representation of a reference type in memory


Unlike VB 6, with VB 2005, you can declare two variables to be of the same type in a single statement, as follows:

 Dim num1, num2 As Short 

VB 6 Tip: In VB 6, if you declare two variables in the same statement, as in the following Dim statement, the results are not the same:

 Dim num1, num2 As Short 

Here, num1 is of the Variant type and num2 is of the Short type.


In VB 2005, you can also declare two variables of different data types in the same statement:

 Dim num1 As Short, num2, num3 As Integer 

In this case, num1 is declared as Short, and num2 and num3 are both of type Integer.

Unlike VB 6, in VB 2005, you can declare and initialize a variable in the same statement:

 Dim num1 As Short = 56 

VB 2005 now supports three new unsigned data types: UShort, UInteger, and ULong.

In VB.NET 2002 and 2003, you can use the .NET Frame-work's unsigned types, but you cannot perform mathematical operations on them. With the new unsigned data type support in the new VB 2005, you can now do so.


The following statements declare unum as an unsigned 16-bit integer:

 Dim unum As UShort unum = 65535 

Type Characters

Instead of using the As keyword to specify the data type of a variable, you can append one the following type characters to the end of the variable name instead:

  • Integer: %

  • Long: &

  • Decimal: @

  • Single: !

  • Double: #

  • String: $

For example, the following statement declares num to be an Integer type:

 Dim num% num = 5 

While type characters in VB 2005 preserve a popular feature found in VB 6, many .NET developers feel they should be avoided and that spelling out the type name makes for code that is easier to maintain and read.




Visual Basic 2005 Jumpstart 2005
Visual Basic 2005 Jumpstart
ISBN: 059610071X
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2005
Pages: 86
Authors: Wei-Meng Lee

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