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Introduction

Welcome to your Visual Basic .NET support package. That's what this book has been written to be: your complete Visual Basic .NET support package. It has been designed to be the one you turn to first, the one that gives you more of what you want than any other.

I've crammed as much Visual Basic .NET into this book as possible, broken down into hundreds of easily-accessible topics, each short and to the point, and each with an example. The format here is like no other computer book series, and it's designed to give you exactly what you want, when you want it.

And that's not an easy job, because the subject of this book, Visual Basic .NET, is huge. I've used and written about Visual Basic even before version 1.0 came out and in those 10 years, Visual Basic has grown in power and complexity enormously. The changes in Visual Basic .NET are immense, and this book has been entirely rewritten from its predecessor, the Visual Basic 6 Black Book.

That book was a bestseller, but this, the entirely new edition, is far better. (At least in my opinion, and I wrote both books.) There's much more material here, in greater depth, and there are many more of the programming "nuggets" that programmers want to see.

This book has been designed to give you the Visual Basic .NET coverage you just won't find in any other book. Other books often omit not only the larger topics, like deploying your program after you've created it, but also the smaller ones like covering just about every Windows and Web control that comes with Visual Basic .NET in depth-from the text box control to three-state checkboxes, from datetime pickers to hot tracking tab controls, and from Web page validation controls to ad rotators. And the advanced topics are here too, like creating your own Windows and Web controls, writing Windows and Web services, distributed data applications, multithreading, deploying applications, and more.


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How This Book Works

The task-based format we use in this book is the one many programmers appreciate, because programming is a task-based business. Rather than reading about subjects in the order I might think best, you can go directly to your topic of interest and find the bite-sized nugget of information you need.

And best of all, there's a working example in code for almost every programming topic in the book. The actual process of programming is not abstract; it's very applied, and so instead of vague generalities, we get down to the specifics-all the specifics-that give you everything you need to understand and use Visual Basic .NET.

In the old days, programming books used to be very top-down, with chapters on subjects like "Conditional Branching," "Loop Structures," "Variable Declarations," and so forth. But who sits down to program by saying, "I'm about to create a conditional program flow branch"?

Instead, programmers are more interested in performing useful tasks, like adding buttons, menus, list boxes, or toolbars to a window; creating graphics animation; creating dialog boxes; creating setup programs; working with files; linking to Web pages; multi-threading; supporting online help; and so on. And this book is written for programmers.

Because this book is written for programmers, each chapter is broken up into dozens of practical programming tasks. After selecting the chapter you want, you can turn to the Table of Contents, the Index, or the first page in that chapter to find the task you're interested in. Hundreds of tasks are covered in this book, chosen to be the ones that programmers want to see.

In addition, this book is filled with examples-nearly eight hundred examples- covering nearly every Visual Basic .NET programming area there is. These examples are bite-sized and to the point, so you don't have to wade through a dozen files trying to understand one simple topic. And they're as comprehensive as I could make them, covering every programming area in the book.

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