Category Archives: Visual Basic

To Set Sail or Not

So I am getting the programming bug again big time… I’ve had it for nearly a year now. It’s always been a higher level interest of mine. I’ve long wanted to be a game programmer… ever since the early 80s and it really took off in the mid 80s when we finally had a home computer, an IBM PCjr. I remember collecting Compute Magazine, which had full programs you could program in the computer… they gave you the full source code that you had to type in, and entering the code in and then tracking down errors, which universally meant typing errors then… but it was fun. I learned a little IBM Basica… which I think I did on my Tandy PC… I made a couple programs, or more like, modifications of programs from those in the magazines back in those days. But I never learned enough to do anything complex from the ground up.

In college, for whatever reasons, I skipped computer courses and steered to other directions, but at Brown Mackie, I did eventually move to get a Programming and Applications degree. The problem of course, was Brown Mackie’s format, and lowering to the lowest common denominator. So you had one month to each class, but if the slowest people couldn’t go along, then the whole class seemed to stall out, and we just never got far into our programming lessons. I wouldn’t feel comfortable searching out a job as a programmer based on what I learned there… heck, I could teach most, if not all the computer related classes I took there just as well if not better than we learned them. This isn’t to say I didn’t have some really good teachers, but they were held back by the text the school used, the slowest students and the format.

Anyhow, time goes on. I teach myself a bit more Visual Basic, some C# and enough PHP to fix a few issues off and on with the blog. I goof around with them some, but then stop around 2006. More time goes on and around 2008 I start looking at the idea of mobile development. iOS development looks to be out as it comes with a few obstacles, a new language or two (Objective C and possibly some COCOA), but the bigger issue would be needing a Mac, which is a rather large investment, plus in 2008 I had more faith in Android. Come 2010 I start looking at the market again, and the job options look good, and I start thinking again about my future as a programmer, and again focus on mobile development. I start really looking at the options, start thinking about focusing on Java (for Android) and iOS.. By 2011 I start looking at Full Sail University Mobile Development program which would give me a Bachelor of Science degree… now a year later I am again considering it.

The problem is a few fold… First I was really burned by Brown Mackie and how they were a rip off, and fear the same thing. Continue reading To Set Sail or Not

Microsoft’s Beginner Developer Learning Center

Microsoft has launched their Beginner Developer Learning Center which takes people from no programming experience to a basic level of experience. It teaches Visual Basic and/or C# whichever one want. The first thing you decide is which track you want, Web Development for dynamic web sites, web applications and services, or Windows Development for making Windows applications and games (they don’t have a game tier, at least yet). After deciding which track you want, you choose a tier. Tier 1 is an introduction to the basic concepts and an introduction to the language of your choice. Tier 2 gets you grounded in the basics of .Net programming and gets you to make an basic application in the language of your choice. Tier 3 gets into data access, data binding and other such concepts.
I haven’t had a chance to use the site to learn from yet myself, but it looks like it will be a nice site to use. It however won’t beat Murach’s C# 2005 and Visual C# 2005 How to Program (2nd Edition) (How to Program), both of which I highly recommend, but the site is free and seems to do a good job of getting the basics.

Visual Studio Express News

Visual Studio Express was to be free for 1 year from November 7th. Microsoft has had a change of heart, and has made it free forever (story). That link also has information on a .Net interface for Lego Mindstorms (I want that Mindstorms kit so bad… that particular kit I linked is the new NXT kit which comes out in July), more starter kits, a video series that teaches how they made a video game using Managed DirectX and Visual C# Express Edition(Learn How to Create Rocket Commander) a reminder of the Made in Express contest, and more.

Guidelines, a hidden feature for the Visual Studio editor

I discovered this little gem today, which helps me keep the code I write to an 80 character limit: Guidelines, a hidden feature for the Visual Studio editor.
My settings: RGB(243, 243, 243) 4, 79. Per one of the Feedbacks that said that gives it a light gray, which worked well for me, and the original post that the above links to, that says for Visual Studio 2005 that the numbers are 0 based. I hardly notice the lines, but it is nice they are there. I now have to wonder why Microsoft doesn’t enable this in the editor itself somewhere, rather then having to edit the Registry.
A small change of where it was at for me from where they have it do to the fact I am using the Express edition of C#:
[HKEY_CURRENT_USER]\Software\Microsoft\VCSExpress\8.0\Text Editor
I’ll apparently have to change it for Visual Basic Express to:
[HKEY_CURRENT_USER]\Software\Microsoft\VBExpress\8.0\Text Editor

The DailyWord Jumps ship… again

My, The DailyWord program has jumped ship again. This time from Visual Basic .Net to C# and the .Net 2.0 platform. My enjoyment of learning C# grows and I think it is the best language to move The DailyWord to. As you may have noticed I have changed the name from “The Daily Word” to “The DailyWord.” More a style choice then anything else.
Design work continues in my head, and I should really document it on paper so I have a clear design goal to move to that isn’t just in my head. Here are a few things that I’ll share right now:

  • Everything moves to a database.
    The original VB 6.0 version had the verses and everything hard coded. This was done for time reasons only however, and had I more time to actually learn how to read and write to a database, I would have done it that way. Odds are this will be built on ADO.Net. I am working out table designs in my head now, and there are quite a few tables in use. One table will be for users and their preferences (originally this was going to be in an .ini file). One table for each Bible reading format. One table that links to the reading formats and is the master list of the formats available. I may need to make more, unfortunately, good and proper database design wasn’t one of the things they taught us in school. The database classes at school were for Access, not general database design, or SQL which would have been better, but I digress.
  • Massive improvements to the user interface.
    The original interface, while minimally functional, was the result of time constraints, and the limits of VB 6.0. Thanks to the improvements that Microsoft has made to Visual Studio since then, the user interface can be made better, that and fact I don’t have just a month to finish it…
  • A “registered version” will be made available.
    While the program will still be free to use and be fully functional. Additional features can be had by making a donation to help support the program’s further development. For example the registered version may include the ability to edit the database yourself, adding your own reading schedule.
  • Develop program to become a portfolio piece.
    This is the ultimate goal. To design, develop and build a program that stands as a portfolio piece.

These are just a few of the things I am toying around with at the moment.

Daily Word Update

As I said before The Daily Word is being redone from the ground up. Some of the changes one can expect:

Rather then put the daily reading onto a VB form, which has links to read the daily reading on the default browser, the new version puts the daily reading on a web page itself, which the user can click the link to read the daily reading online. Why this change? It makes it easier to customize the output. Say some church or somebody wants to have a customized version for them. If the web page is well designed, all I’ll have to do is change the CSS file and they would have their own page, or perhaps they could modify it themselves and distribute the results, depending on my final licensing scheme.
The user interface will be greatly refined. The user interface in the original alpha release wasn’t so great. It was functional, but it was too cluttered. The new interface will be much cleaner and nicer.

Some things that I plan on returning from the plans of the original design:

The program can customize itself for multiple users. So everyone in a home may choose their own reading options such as what they want to read, and in what translation the links should go to.
The program will minimize to the system tray, and the system tray menu hopefully will allow you to change users on the fly and perhaps even show the reading without links, and without having to open the browser, and hopefully the help text that pops up when you hover over the system tray icon will tell you which user the program is set for. All this depends on what exactly is possible with Visual Basic and system tray programs.

Visual Basic .Net 2005

If you have been following the saga of my The Daily Word program, you know I am developing it in Visual Basic. The current Alpha uses Visual Basic 6, and I was about to move development over to Visual Basic .Net, then realized that Visual Basic .Net 2003 was the current version so was about to move it to that, when I learned that all of the Visual Studio programs were being upgraded to a new 2005 version. Visual Studio 2005, currently in beta testing, will be out this year, so The Daily Word will finally settle on Visual Basic .Net 2005 as the platform on which it will be developed.
For a moment there I was about to ask for Visual Basic.NET How to Program, Second Edition, but Deitel, is about to update that book according to a new press release from them. So, we’ll wait for that one to come out. Meanwhile I covet C++ How to Program (5th Edition) so badly it’s kind of sad, even though I already have C++ How to Program (4th Edition) already.
I believe the Deitel books are the best way to learn programming, and I wish they had been the textbooks at my school, perhaps then I would have actually learned a thing or two, but I digress… When I worked at Borders, and people wanted a book on learning programming, they were the books I recommended over the Dummies, In 24 Hours, and other such books. I personally like their style. If you read the reviews on Amazon, some people don’t like the style, but for me, and obviously many others, it works. (Incidentally, for those who a feeling generous, the other C++ book I covet is Object-Oriented Programming in C++ (4th Edition) 😉 hehe.)
Anyhow… As the Visual Studio 2005 Professional Edition I want will cost $549 (and that’s the upgrade price, the full version is $799, either way it is the cheap version of the Professional Edition) and even the Standard Edition has an upgrade price of $199 ($299 for the full version) cost issues will probably make me go for the Express Editions. Visual Studio includes C++, C#, Visual Basic, J# (Microsoft’s version of Java), and all I would really want is C++ and Visual Basic, though I guess technically I should learn C# as well since I have seen plenty of ads for C# developers. The Express Editions lack the power and features of the Standard and obviously the far better Professional Editions, but you can get just the language you want, and the cost will be only $49 per language. It looks like these are an upgraded version of their old Learning Editions. I downloaded the free Beta of Visual Basic Express. and will start the process of making The Daily Word in that to see if the Express Edition will work for that project. The nice thing is, if it does, it looks like the Express Edition license will allow me to actually distribute the application, which the Learning Editions did not.

The Daily Word update

It has been a long time since I updated about the status of the program I was making for a school project called The Daily Word. Well, it was finished, to a degree. The project as it is has been scrapped and I have gone back to the drawing board. I am building it anew from the ground up in Visual Basic .Net. If you really want to test the old version, I can email it to you. It is a 3GB file and is missing the help file, and as I said, it is finished just to a degree, so lots of it doesn’t work. It gives you the Carson reading for any given day, and makes a link so you can read it on many translations online, but that is the extent of it in that version.

Microsoft’s Calendar Control 10.0

It took me ages to find out how to use Microsoft’s Calendar Control 10.0 in Visual Basic 6. All I wanted to do was figure out how to get the Calendar Control onto a form, then use it once it was there. Just to share with those that care, to test it out I made a simple form, I added two labels, one that just said “The date selected is:” then the other label I named lblDate. To this form I added the Calendar Control, which was one of the things I spent hours looking up, select Project from the menu, then Components, then select the Controls tab (it should be the default one to come up), then finally Microsoft Calendar Control 10.0, check it and click Apply. It is now part of the controls toolbar, and double clicking it will put it on the form.
I then applied the following code:

[vb]Option Explicit

Private Sub Calendar1_Click()
lblDate.Caption = Format(Calendar1.Value, “dd, mmmm, yyyy”)
End Sub

Private Sub Form_Load()
lblDate.Caption = Format(Calendar1.Value, “dd, mmmm, yyyy”)
End Sub[/vb]

And then the form worked. I have applied something similar to The Daily Word program. Hopefully, this will be of use to anyone doing a Google search for hours like I did.