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Visual Basic .NET: A Punch of a Tool

The newest version of Visual Basic now has support for full object-oriented programming, provides access to the .NET Framework and uses the power and flexibility of the Common Language Runtime. Never have there been more reasons for VB developers to consider making the move to Visual Basic .NET. Yet, amidst the excitement surrounding the .NET platform, some major productivity features have been lost in the shuffle.


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he move from Visual Basic 6.0 to Visual Basic .NET is undeniably substantial. Visual Basic .NET offers more power and flexibility while maintaining its signature appeal and emphasis on productivity. The goal of this article is to demystify some of the new object-oriented programming (OOP) features of VB.NET as well as unearth some powerful productivity enhancements you may have previously overlooked. Visual Basic .NET is the result of a significant rebuild of Visual Basic for the .NET platform. The .NET platform consists of three major components: the Common Language Runtime (CLR), the .NET Framework, and integrated support for Web services. The CLR provides support for easy multithreading, memory management through garbage collection and built-in security. The .NET framework provides a vast array of built-in class libraries, basically eliminating the need to call methods from the Win32 API. Finally, Visual Basic .NET offers Web services by implementing components from the SOAP toolkit, providing XML serialization and adhering to the Web service Description Language (WSDL) standard. This release is intended to bring the platform to the Visual Basic developer, or any developer, who wants a fast, RAD product.

Fast Facts
Visual Basic underwent a substantial transformation with the release of Visual Basic .NET. This article demystifies the fundamental language enhancements in Visual Basic .NET, such as inheritance and overloading, designed to fully reflect the powerful new platform. It also brings to light important features in the Visual Basic .NET development environment, such as background compilation, that will make you a more productive programmer.
The excitement surrounding the .NET platform has eclipsed some of the productivity features designed for the Visual Basic .NET programmer.
The goal of Visual Basic will always be productivity. While the fundamental tools from the .NET platform give obvious productivity gains, what have the language and environment gained from this release? The excitement surrounding the .NET platform has eclipsed some of the productivity features designed for the Visual Basic .NET programmer.

Objects: What's the fuss?
Many considered the release of Visual Basic 4.0 to be the passage of VB into the universe of OOP. In that release, Microsoft added support for classes, modules and interface implementation. Yet without true class inheritance, it seems more appropriate to say that Visual Basic 4.0 supported some features of OOP but was not truly object oriented. Not so with VB.NET—there is no question that VB.NET is an object-oriented, first class language. So what is the difference; what is true class inheritance? The net gain, pardon the pun, is simply code reuse.



There is no question that Visual Basic .NET is an object-oriented, first class language.
The Visual Basic 6.0 interface-based development model requires each class to perform the full functionality the interface prescribes. Implementing an interface is basically like signing a contract; the object is expected to fulfill the requirements the interface lays out. But implementation of interfaces is only that—a contract. If several classes adhere to the same contract, the code to implement them has to be written or, more often, copy-and-pasted into the functions to fulfill those expectations. With Visual Basic .NET and class inheritance, a class is defined once. Derived classes can be defined which inherit from it to directly reuse the implementation. The implementation contained in the base class is implicitly copied into child classes.




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