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Creating Windows Starter Kits for Visual Studio 2005

Microsoft has put renewed energy into its Starter Kits for Visual Studio 2005, but did you know you can create your own Starter Kit and export it to .vsi to share with others? Find out how to build a book search Starter Kit using the Amazon Web service.

n the days of ASP.NET 1.x, Microsoft first created ASP.NET Starter Kits to help developers jumpstart Web development. ASP.NET Starter Kits are sample ASP.NET applications that provide code as an extensible template for accomplishing common Web development tasks. Each Starter Kit is complete and well documented so that users can become productive right away.

For example, one Starter Kit that Microsoft created, the Personal Web Site Starter Kit, provides the basic framework on how to build an ASP.NET Web site that contains an online photo gallery, login facility for secure access, as well as a discussion forum. The Starter Kit will contain the base functionality and the developer will customize and enhance it to suit his purpose. This greatly increases the developer's productivity and provides a good way to learn through extending the original application. And in Visual Studio 2005, Microsoft has extended the Starter Kits to include Windows applications.

For a list of Starter Kits provided by Microsoft, check out the following URLs:

But Microsoft isn't the only one who can make a Starter Kit. In this article, I will show you how you can build a Starter Kit in Visual Studio 2005 and share it with the community. The application I will build is a personal library Windows application that catalogs detailed information about the books you own. The application identifies books you own using their ISBN numbers; this way, the application can use the Internet to retrieve data about that book and you don't need to type metadata for each book manually. You can add a book to the application by using a barcode scanner, if you have access to one, or you can enter the ISBN numbers manually. The application will then download the detailed book information (including the book cover) from Amazon's Web service. You can also search for books from Amazon and then add books to the local database.

This application will demonstrate the following techniques/technologies in Windows Forms 2.0:

  • Drag and drop data-binding
  • Data access
  • Changing the cursor
  • Multithreading using the new BackgroundWorker control
  • Accessing web services
Author's Note: The sample application is adapted from the case study in my latest book, "Visual Basic 2005 Jumpstart" (published by O'Reilly). For detailed information on how to build the sample application, check out Chapter 4: Developing a Windows Application.

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