When I was in high school, my family sometimes shopped at a local grocery warehouse named Fedmart. Signs on the window clearly stated that there was "no connection between Fedmart and the Federal government," but people continued to shop there anyway. They had these small one-dollar frozen cheese pizzas that my mom would buy in bulk for me and my friends, teenage boys who didn't care much about what went down the esophagus.
Most of the store stocked the typical grocery products, but there was one aisle near the south border of the store that only sold "generic" products. Walking into this section was like walking into a black-and-white television; all of the product labels were plain clear or white, with simple black lettering. And they were cheap. They did the job, but just barely. You would never want to run out of name-brand ketchup in the middle of a celebratory barbeque with your friends, and offer up a bottle of generic ketchup as a replacement. Somehow I remember clearly reading the black lettering on the white label of that watery ketchup substitute, about how it met the requirements for federal ketchup standards. At that moment I had an epiphany, a sudden realization that would change the way I thought about life in these United States forever: The government has a federal ketchup standard!
Sadly, Fedmart closed down before I finished my senior year, leaving a vacuum in the generic ketchup and aluminum foil marketplace. But as a Visual Basic programmer, you can still gain access to generics, through .NET's generics technology. Genericsthe ability to use placeholders for data typesis new in Visual Basic 2005 and the related .NET Framework 2.0. This chapter provides you with the "specifics" on generics.