What is Visual Basic

Visual Basic is a programming language from Microsoft that enables rapid development of graphical user interface applications. It is often referred to using just the initials, VB. The basis of this language is an earlier programming language called BASIC that was invented by Dartmouth College professors John Kemeny and Thomas Kurtz. Learn more here History of Visual Basic.

You will find Visual Basic to be an ideal beginner's programming language, because its graphical features make it more intuitive and helps easy development of applications. It strips out some difficult parts of programming by giving an easier to use interface.

Visual Basic was one of the first products to provide a graphical programming environment and a paint metaphor for developing user interfaces. Programming in VB is a combination of visually arranging components or controls on a form, specifying attributes and actions of those components, and writing additional lines of code for more functionality. Since default attributes and actions are defined for the components, a simple program can be created without the programmer having to write many lines of code. It is also called an event-driven language because each object can react to different events such as a mouse click or a press of a key.

Since its launch in 1990, the Visual Basic approach has become the norm for programming languages. Now there are visual environments for many programming languages, including C, C++ and Java. From a programmer's point of view VB is the first programming language you may want to learn, before moving on to other languages. However, you may become comfortable enough and make it your primary programming language, even for building complex applications.

What is Visual Basic for Applications (VBA)?

VBA is a version of Visual Basic 6.0, used as an internal programming language in many Windows applications, notably Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Access. It is a shared library that applications can use to extend their capabilities and can normally run code within a host application rather than a standalone.

With Visual Basic for Applications you can write macros that automate tasks and combine functions of programs that enable developers to build custom solutions using the full power of Visual Basic. For example, a program could be written that will make Excel create an accounting balance sheet using a series of accounting entries in a spreadsheet at the click of a button.

What is Visual Basic Script (VBScript)?

VBScript is a subset of Visual Basic 6.0, designed for use on the web and to script tasks that run directly on a PC running Microsoft Windows. It can be compared to other scripting languages such as JavaScript and Perl.

When employed in HTML pages, VBScript is similar in function to JavaScript, as a language to write executable functions that are embedded in or included from HTML pages to perform tasks not possible in HTML alone. VBScript is also used for server-side processing of web pages, most notably with Microsoft Active Server Pages (ASP). VBScript is a prerequisite for ASP developers and should be learned thoroughly before attempting any sophisticated ASP programming.

What is Visual Basic .NET?

Until 2002, Visual Basic 6.0 was the flagship language and millions of programmers created world class systems using it. Visual Basic .NET is the current set of Visual Basic versions available for writing programs; namely Visual Basic 2003, Visual Basic 2005 and the latest Visual Basic 2008. As part of Microsoft's .NET platform these versions compile and run using the .NET Framework. The whole of .NET is a truly revolutionary package and gives programmers highly efficient and flexible ways to write computer software. Most programmers agree that Visual Basic& .NET is a huge leap forward.

At the time of writing this article, Visual Basic 2008 is the latest evolution of VB and is engineered for productively building object-oriented applications. It enables developers to target Windows, Web, and mobile devices, programs written in Visual Basic 2008 also benefit from .NET platform's security and language interoperability features. This generation of VB continues the tradition of giving you a fast and easy way to create simple and complex applications.

That's about it for this article on What is Visual Basic. The programming language of choice for millions of programmers across the world.

Back to Visual Basic for Beginners