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Free VB.NET Resources From Microsoft

June 12th, 2007

Free VB.NET Stuff From Microsoft!Microsoft often makes books, videos, code example and other media available online to developers in the MSDN library. Here are a few you should take advantage of if you’re making the move from VB6 to VB.NET or if you just want to improve your knowledge and productivity. It’s surprising that many developers simply don’t bother to check out all the freebies Microsoft makes available to us.

The first book is one written with the VB6 programmer in mind, Upgrading Microsoft Visual Basic 6.0 to Microsoft Visual Basic .NET. It goes into ways to fix the inevitable upgrade issues, outlines the differences between VB6 and VB.NET, and provides some architectural and design advice. The appendix sections have a cross-reference of function and control differences that is quite valuable. Unfortunately, you’ll have to buy the book to get the code on the CD though.

Another book that’s available for download is Introducing Microsoft Visual Basic 2005 for Developers. The introductory chapters are quite helpful to a VB6′er who’s going straight to VB 2005. The rest of the book covers a lot of the changes in VB 2005, usually in a lot of helpful detail.

Next, let’s take a look at VB At The Movies. This is a set of instructional videos on a wide range of topics such as deployment, using XML, and many others. While the ‘movie posters’ promise an exciting ‘Hollywood’ video they’re actually pretty plain instructional videos. It’s good info though and it’s well worth your time to view them.

If you’re just getting started learning VB in general, check out the Beginner Developer Learning Center. You can use it to go at your own pace to learn VB on a well laid out learning path.

If you want to hop right into code, have a look at the Visual Basic Starter Kits & Power Packs. Here you’ll find template code for such useful things as Shareware licensing, PayPal integration, eBay auction management, web log analysis, time tracking, RSS management and many others. There’s even an example of how to program Lego Mindstorms robots. You will also want to download the Samples for Visual Studio 2005. These sets of examples cover the basics of coding for a wide range of topics. Most of the code in these samples can be easily moved to your applications so it’s not only of great instructional value but can be a timesaver as well.

If you have a LCD monitor, you might want to download the Consolas Font Pack. The letters of this monotype font are easier on the eyes than the usual Courier New but they only work well on a ClearType enabled LCD monitor.

The last freebie I’ll cover here is Refactor!. This is a handy tool to have since it assist you in reordering parameters, encapsulating property values, creating overloads and more. Since it operates modelessly it doesn’t get in your way as you code but it’s always there to help you if you want it to.

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