Lesson1 : Introduction to Visual Basic 6

 

1.1 The concept of computer programming

Before we begin Visual Basic 6 programming, let us understand some basic concepts of programming. According to Webopedia, a computer program is an organized list of instructions that, when executed, causes the computer to behave in a predetermined manner. Without programs, computers are useless. Therefore, programming means designing or creating a set of instructions to ask the computer to carry out certain jobs which normally are very much faster than human beings can do.

 

A lot of people think that computer CPU is a very intelligent thing, which in actual fact it is a dumb and inanimate object that can do nothing without human assistance. The microchips of  a CPU can only understand two distinct electrical states, namely, the on and off states, or 0 and 1 codes in the binary system. So, the CPU only understands a combinations of 0 and 1 codes, a language which we called machine language. Machine language is extremely difficult to learn and it is not for us laymen to master it easily.  Fortunately , we have many smart programmers who wrote interpreters and compilers that can translate human language-like programs such as BASIC into machine language so that the computer can carry out the instructions entered by the users. Machine language  is known as the primitive language while Interpreters and compilers like Visual Basic are called high-level language. Some of the high level computer languages beside Visual Basic are  Fortran, Cobol, Java, C, C++, Turbo Pascal, and etc .  

1.2 What is Visual Basic?

VISUAL BASIC is a high level programming language which  evolved from the earlier DOS version called BASIC. BASIC means Beginners' All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code. It is a very  easy programming language to learn. The code look a lot  like English Language. Different software companies produced different versions of BASIC, such as Microsoft QBASIC, QUICKBASIC, GWBASIC ,IBM BASICA and so on. However, people prefer to use Microsoft Visual Basic today, as it is a well developed programming language and supporting resources are available everywhere. Now, there are many versions of VB exist in the market, the most popular one and still widely used by many VB programmers is none other than Visual Basic 6. We also have VB.net, VB2005, VB2008 and the latest VB2010. Both Vb2008 and VB2010 are fully object oriented programming (OOP) language.

VISUAL BASIC is a VISUAL and  events driven Programming Language. These are the main divergence from the old BASIC. In BASIC, programming is done in a text-only environment and the program is executed sequentially. In VB, programming is done in a graphical environment. In the old BASIC, you have to write program code for each graphical object you wish to display it on screen, including its position and its color. However, In VB , you just need to drag and drop any graphical object anywhere on the form, and you can change its color any time using the properties windows.

On the other hand, because  the user may click on a certain object randomly, so each object has to be programmed independently to be able to response to those actions (events). Therefore, a VB Program is made up of many subprograms, each has its own program code, and each can be executed independently and at the same time each can be linked together in one way or another.

1.3 What programs can you create with Visual Basic 6?

With VB 6, you can create any program depending on your objective. For example, if you are a college or university lecturer,  you can create  educational programs to teach business, economics, engineering, computer science, accountancy , financial management, information system and more to make teaching more effective and interesting. If you are in business, you can also create business programs such as inventory management system , point-of-sale system, payroll system, financial program as well as accounting program to help manage your business and increase productivity. For those of you who like games and working as games programmer, you can create those programs as well. Indeed, there is no limit to what program you can create ! There are many such programs in this tutorial, so you must spend more time on the tutorial in order to learn how to create those programs.

1.4 The Visual Basic 6 Integrated Development Environment

Before you can program in VB 6, you need to install Visual Basic 6 in your computer.

  

On start up, Visual Basic 6.0  will display the following dialog box as shown in figure 1.1. You can choose to either start a new project, open an existing project or select a list of recently opened programs. A project is a collection of files that make up your application. There are various types of applications that we could create, however, we shall concentrate on creating Standard EXE programs (EXE means executable program). Now, click on the Standard EXE icon to go into the actual Visual Basic 6 programming environment.
 

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