Welcome to Start-to-Finish Visual Basic 2005! I know you're going to enjoy it; I've read it five times already. You're probably anxious to get to Chapter 1, but I recommend you read this preface to make sure you paid for the right book.
Who Is Reading This Book?
Writing a book is a lot like writing a Visual Basic application. Well, except for the parts about finding a publisher and working with an editor. And then there's that pesky rule about correct spelling. Come to think of it, they're really quite different. But in one way, books and programs are similar: They are both written to meet the needs of the user. When writing software applications, the user's needs drive the organization and features of the final program. When writing a book, like the one you're looking at now, the needs of the userthat's you, the readerdrive the organization and features of the final text.
So it was with you in mind that I set out to write this book. Oh, there's the fame and the prestige, but it's really about you. You, the person who seeks to understand Visual Basic and the .NET Framework on which it is built. When I thought about you and your needs, I came up with these ideas:
I put all of these ideas into 25 easy-to-read chapters and had Addison-Wesley glue the pages together for your convenience. When you reach the index, you will have learned how to write complete programs in Visual Basic and .NET. It will be a programming adventure, so let's get started!
What's in This Book?
Since we are going to be spending a lot of time together, you probably want to know something about me. Well, my name is Tim Patrick, and I live just up the street from the big Microsoft campus. I've been writing programs for nearly 25 years. I spend my days writing custom database-oriented Visual Basic applications for small- to medium-sized businesses. And I'm not alone. Most Visual Basic developers write business-level software. If that's what you do, or plan to do, then you're in great company.
As you move through the pages of this book, you will read about the major .NET and Visual Basic activities that drive the development of business-level and general consumer applications. If you plan to do some other type of programming, such as games development, this book will be somewhat helpful, but I don't talk about advanced or specialized features such as interactive 3-D models or geometric transformations.
Each chapter discusses a major programming topic and then follows it up with a practical implementation of that topic: the creation of the Library database program. I don't show every line of code in the book; if I did, the book would weigh 53 pounds and cost $254.38, plus tax. To get every line of source code, you'll have to download the accompanying source code from the book's web site (www.awprofessional.com/titles/0321398009). The code and the book's text are united in one purpose: to train you in the skilled use of Visual Basic on the .NET platform, so that you can develop the highest-quality applications possible. The text and the source code both include valuable resources that you can use every day in your programming life.
What's in the Software Download?
You're going to like the download. It contains all the source code for the Library database project. What's cool is that when you install the source code examples, they become part of Visual Studio. Once installed, you can create a new chapter-specific project right from the File New Project menu in Visual Studio. Appendix A, "Installing the Software," has all of the download and installation details.
The project code was written using Visual Basic 2005 Professional Edition. Some portions may not be compatible with earlier .NET versions of the language. None of it is compatible with Visual Basic 6.0 or earlier, so don't even bother trying. The source code will work with any edition of Visual Basic 2005, including the Express Edition.
The source code also uses SQL Server 2005 for its database storage. You can use any edition of SQL Server 2005, including the Express Edition. Chapter 4, "Designing the Database," introduces databases and SQL Server 2005. If you will be using the database in an IT department-controlled network environment, you may need to talk with your IT department representative about installing the sample database. The SQL code I use is pretty vanilla, so it should work on previous versions of SQL Server, and it could be easily adjusted to work with Oracle, DB2, Microsoft Access, or other common database engines.
You can use the downloadable source code for your own projects, but please give credit where credit is due. There is a license agreement associated with the code (see Appendix B, "Software License Agreement"), so please don't go selling the software as your own work. Just to be on the safe side, I've added a few hard-to-find bugs. Just kidding! No, I'm not!