Overview

The Goals of this Module

■ Know what a programming language is and does

■ Understand the meaning of "event-driven" and "object-oriented" programming

■ Differentiate between an object's properties, methods, and events

■ Understand the relationship between an object and a class

Programmers often refer to Visual Basic as "RAD." To a teenager, "RAD" means "radical," something novel and fascinating. To programmers, "RAD" means rapid application development, which may no longer be novel, but definitely is important—not just to programmers, but also to business people who hire programmers. The more time required to develop a product, the greater its cost. A product's sales will be hurt if lengthy development time means the product is not available until several months after its competition. Increased costs and decreased revenue have never been a formula for success. As the rate of change accelerates in our Internet economy, the time available to develop an application correspondingly shrinks. Thus, programmers who can develop quality applications quickly are in great demand and are paid accordingly. By contrast, programmers who are unable to cope with the pace of change have plenty of time to enjoy the great outdoors as they stand at freeway offramps with cardboard signs advertising their availability to program in exchange for food.

Visual Basic is so popular among programmers because of the many ways it enables RAD. In the very next module, you will be using Visual Basic to rapidly create your first Windows program. In fact, beginning programmers often are seduced by how easy Visual Basic makes creating a Windows application. They just plunge in and start writing programs with out really understanding the code they are writing or how the different parts of the program fit together. That is a mistake. You would not want someone building a house for you to start hammering nails without having a plan and understanding how the various components (foundation, framing, electrical, plumbing) fit together.

Prior versions of Visual Basic let you write simple programs almost without knowing what you were doing. That's not the case with .NET, which requires some familiarity with certain programming concepts and terminology before you begin. These basics are covered in this module.

I have found a "chicken or the egg" conundrum in teaching programming over the last several years to community college students. Students need to understand the underlying programming concepts to intelligently write programs, but until they actually start writing programs, the underlying theory seems abstract and vague and therefore difficult to understand. This module strikes a compromise, providing an overview to familiarize you with the concepts and terminology you will encounter when you start programming in Visual Basic .NET, but deferring an in-depth discussion of these concepts until they arise in the programming projects in the upcoming modules.

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