Hi again, and welcome to the second article in our Visual Basic section. Last week we looked at why you would want to use Visual Basic, what you could do with it, and we discovered a little about VB’s history.
This week, we will be comparing different versions of Visual Basic and then installing and configuring Visual Basic. Granted, this is not the most interesting part of VB, but a necessary one nevertheless. And in the end, it will definitely be worth it!
Visual Basic Editions
Like most Microsoft products, Visual Basic comes in a few different versions as well. This makes it easier (and usually cheaper) for developers of different backgrounds to choose an edition that is right for what they want to be doing with the software.
For Visual Basic, Microsoft offers three different versions:
- Learning Edition: This edition is targeted at beginners. You get all the basic controls with this fully working version, so you can get easily started, and get used to VB.
- Professional Edition: This version is meant for developers who have some experience working with Visual Basic. It includes the full Learning Edition, along with extra controls, wizards, and tools to access databases.
- Enterprise Edition: The creme-de-la-creme of Visual Basic. This version targets advanced developers, offering even more controls, the option to create complex server-software, and provides a bunch of very useful tools.
Installing Visual Basic
I’ve used the Visual Studio 6.0 Enterprise Edition installation to take the included screenshots. It might be that you have some slightly different screens, but the basics ought to be more or less the same.
The very first screen (after you run the setup.exe program) is the introduction screen. As you can see, Microsoft doesn’t leave us a heluva lot of options there. you can read the readme, and that’s about it. So just click Next.
The next form is the end user agreement. If you want to read all of it, by all means, go ahead. It’s just some legal mumbo jumbo. When you’re ready to proceed, check ‘I accept the agreement’, and then on next.
The next screen is where you enter the registration number, and your own name, as well as the name of your company.
About now, you will be prompted for which form of installation you want. For this example, we’ll pick custom. This means we get to choose which parts of Visual Studio we want to install.
You’ll be prompted for the path where to install the common Visual Studio files now. Even if you DO pick a different path, parts will still be installed on your standard drive. (usually C:). You’ll also see how much space you will need. I’d recommend keeping the default installation path.
The next two screens aren’t really interesting. Just click on, and you will see the Installation guide will search your system for installed components.
If you picked ‘custom’ as the installation version earlier, you will now be asked to select which particular components to install. Feel free to install whatever you want, but for this guide, we’ll select the following components.
* Visual Basic
* Active X
* Data Access
* Enterprise Tools
A gray checkbox means that not all components are installed. To select those anyway, click on ‘change option’ button, and select all options in there. (There are some sublevels). Just select everything within the above mentioned components for now. We’ll get to what they are for in future articles.
You can see brief descriptions of what the individual options are in the Description frame. After you click Next, the REAL installation process will commence, and Visual Basic and the selected components will be installed onto your system.
Next, you’ll be prompted to reboot. Close everything, and let the Installation process reboot your computer. (This is necessary to remove all references of old components, and make sure you load the new ones into memory. This is also the reason why most install-programs tell you to close down all other applications during the install).
Next, you’re prompted for an (optional) installation of the Microsoft Developer Network Library (MSDN) now. (Think of it as Technet for Developers). I highly recommend doing so, as the MSDN provides a great deal of information and help.
You can optionally install some other software as well. In my case, it only showed Installshield. Select it if you want. After completing this step, you will have finished the installation process.
Basically, you have a clean installation of Visual Basic installed now. But we’re not there just yet. Before you start patting yourself on the back, there’s two other things I’d recommend installing.
The first is the latest Service Pack (Basically some patches, updates, and fixes to various problems). You can find the latest service packs here. Be sure to download this, even if you don’t want to install Visual Basic just yet. I suspect Microsoft is discontinuing all support for Visual Basic in the near future, in favour of their new .NET strategy. (They have already started doing this).
The link above is part of the online MSDN, by the way. The online version of msdn is available at http://msdn.microsoft.com. You can always find the latest updates and information there. Another nifty site for developers is the Microsoft Support Knowledgebase. This can be found at http://support.microsoft.com. The knowledgebase holds information about patches, updates, bugs, known errors, and frequently asked questions.
The second thing I’d recommend installing is a patch that solves a few license issues with components. (Don’t worry about this yet. The standard installation prevents you from using some components. This fix will solve that). The fix can be found here.