Some Unique Features ofVisual Basic 2008 Express

By and large, the Express products are slimmed-down versions of their Visual Studio 2008 counterparts and are primarily targeted at .NET hobbyists and students. Like SharpDevelop, Visual Basic 2008 Express provides various object browsing tools, a Windows Forms designer, the Add References dialog box, IntelliSense capabilities, and code expansion templates.

However, Visual Basic 2008 Express offers a few (important) features currently not available in SharpDevelop, including the following:

• Rich support for Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) XAML applications

• IntelliSense for new VB 2008 syntactical constructs including LINQ query statements

• The ability to program Xbox 360 and PC video games using the freely available Microsoft XNA Game Studio

Consider Figure 2-7, which illustrates using Visual Basic Express to author the XAML markup for a WPF project.

Because the look and feel of Visual Basic 2008 Express is so similar to that of Visual Studio 2008 (and, to some degree, SharpDevelop), I do not provide a walk-through of this particular IDE here. However, do remember that this tool is completely free to use and will provide you with all the features you need to work through the remainder of this text.

Figure 2-7. Visual Basic 2008 Express has integrated support for .NET3.0 and .NET 3.5 APIs.

Note You are free to use Visual Basic Express as you work through this edition of the text. Again, do be aware, however, that some of the chapters may call out menu options, tools, or keyboard shortcuts that are specific to Visual Studio 2008.

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