The VB 2008 Command Line Compiler vbcexe

There are a number of techniques you may use to compile VB 2008 source code. In addition to Visual Studio 2008 (as well as various third-party .NET IDEs), you are able to create .NET assemblies using the VB 2008 command-line compiler, vbc.exe. While it is true that you may never decide to build a large-scale application using the command-line compiler, it is important to understand the basics of how to compile your *.vb files by hand. I can think of a few reasons you should get a grip on the process:

• The most obvious reason is the simple fact that you might not have a copy of Visual Studio 2008.

• You may be in a university setting where you are prohibited from using code generation tools/IDEs in the classroom.

• You plan to make use of automated .NET build tools such as MSBuild or NAnt.

• You want to deepen your understanding of VB 2008. When you use graphical IDEs to build applications, you are ultimately instructing vbc.exe how to manipulate your VB 2008 input files. In this light, it's edifying to see what takes place behind the scenes.

Another nice by-product of working with vbc.exe in the raw is that you become that much more comfortable manipulating other command-line tools included with the .NET Framework 3.5 SDK. As you will see throughout this book, a number of important utilities are accessible only from the command line.

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