Code Samples, Tips, Tricks and
other Neat Stuff for the VB developer

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VB Petition

Many of you may not be aware that Microsoft's mainstream support for VB6 officially ended on March 31st, 2005.  Now that this has occurred, it becomes increasingly more likely that future updates to Windows may break existing VB code.  If you are concerned about this and/or are concerned about migration issues associated with bringing existing VB code to the .NET platform, please take a moment to read and sign the petition asking Microsoft to extend there COM based VB product line.  The impetus behind the petition is the desire to give companies and individuals with substantial investments in existing VB code a path forward to the latest development platform without the current requirement for wholesale rewrites of existing code.  Thanks for your support!

Bryan

   

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How To Find Answers "On Your Own"

This section is dedicated to helping point out the vast number of resources available for finding answers to your VB and API programming questions.  In my humble opinion, the number one skill necessary for becoming a good programmer is that of knowing where to look for answers when you have questions.  

It should be obvious that there is far more information available about programming for the Windows platform than any single person can remember.  There are just too many aspects to keep track of!  So, how do those who always seem to have the answers remember all of that stuff?  I don't believe they do remember all of it.  Instead, I think they are just very skilled at mining the resources at hand.

What and where are these resources?  Well....  If your question is VB language related, you usually don't need to look any further than your VB help file.  For other types of questions, the Microsoft web site is a good place to start.  There you will find the Microsoft Developers Network (MSDN) (especially the Win32 Platform SDK API section) as well as the Knowledge Base (KB).  These both contain vast searchable databases that are growing daily with new topics relating to Windows programming.  The trick here is refining your searching technique so that your queries will return topics that can best answer your question.  I tend to use specific keywords.  For example, if I were going to search for an API replacement for the VB PrintForm method, I would supply the following keywords in a search of the KB: "visual basic PrintForm API"  This should return several hits that answer the question quite well.  If your query doesn't turn up what you are looking for, refine it and try again.

What to do if you don't find what you are looking for at the MS site?  This depends on the subject matter of your question.  There are hundreds of sites with millions of lines of sample code related to VB programming.  Of the hundreds, there are probably 20 or so top sites that contain a large amount of well written, categorized samples and explanations of just about any question you could want to ask.  Your task as a VB professional is to accumulate a personal database (i.e. your favorites list in your browser) of the sites that you find most useful.  You can find these sites by examining links from on other sites or links found in listserv or newsgroup postings.  You should categorize the sites by their content to make finding what you are looking for that much easier.

This brings us to e-mail lists and newsgroups.  Posting questions to e-mail lists and newsgroups can be an effective method for obtaining answers to specific questions IF you have a lot of time on your hands.  This is, of course, because all you can do once you post a question is sit and wait, hoping someone will take the time to respond with an answer.  If you are anything like me, when you need an answer, you need it NOW and waiting any amount of time is unacceptable!  The best part about lists and newsgroups is that some have archives that contain posts that in some cases date back several years.  These are an excellent source for tracking down answers.  Once again, the trick is knowing how to phrase your query when you perform a search.  

Books are another excellent resource and the nice thing about having a personal library is that you can read and learn while you aren't sitting in front of a computer.  I just looked at my bookshelf and counted at least 100 books relating to programming in one way or another.  There is a huge amount of knowledge just waiting for you at your local or online computer bookstore.  You can find book recommendations on many of the web sites I referred to a couple of paragraphs ago.

The bottom line....  If you really want to advance your skills as a programmer, it is up to you to gather as many resources as you can find and add them to your personal "answers" database.  You will find that over time, there will be a few that will always have what you are looking for and your list will narrow.  However, until then, you will need to pore over the information you have until you find the answer you are looking for.  This doesn't sound easy, does it?  Well, nobody ever said it was!  In fact, it is a lot of work but if you look at it as a personal challenge, you can make it fun!  There is no greater satisfaction than finding the answer to a difficult programming problem and creating a really elegant solution, all by yourself!

OK, let's get down to some links.  The following is my ever growing list of quality resources for finding answers to VB and API related questions.  I hope you find them useful.

Visbas-Beginners E-Mail List

Visbas-L E-Mail List

VBData-L E-Mail List

VB FAQ

CodeHound Search Engine

Microsoft's Public Newsgroups

Microsoft's MSDN

Microsoft's Knowledge Base

Randy Birch's VBnet

Brad Martinez' VB-32 Programs & Samples

Karl E. Peterson's One-Stop Source Shop

Klaus H. Probst's VB Box

Mattias Sjogren's Samples

Other Visual Basic MVP sites

www.mvps.org Home

VB Explorer (for VB beginner oriented content)