Welcome to Visual C# Express
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Welcome to Visual C# Express
|© 2006 Peter Wright|
|This tutorial—Welcome to Visual CSharp Express—is from Beginning Visual C# 2005 Express Edition, by Peter Wright. Copyright © 2006 Peter Wright. All rights reserved. This article is reproduced by permission. This tutorial has been edited especially for C# Online.NET. Read the book review!|
Welcome to C# Express
Of all the Microsoft Express products, Visual C# 2005 Express is, in my opinion, the most complete. That’s not to say that the others are in some way missing something; it’s just that C# Express has the most extensive set of tools and options of the entire Express family. In addition, I think C# Express feels the most focused of all the Express tools.
In this chapter I’m going to set the stage a little. If you’ve never programmed before and you’ve already installed and taken a look at C# Express, you’re probably a little daunted by all the strange icons, words, and images the user interface has plastered all over it. I’ll demystify it all for you in this chapter.
If you’re an old hand, perhaps an accomplished Visual Basic or Java developer, or perhaps a .NET developer looking to learn new things with Express, this is the chapter where you’ll see some of the most obvious and stunning changes that Microsoft has made to its integrated development environments. A lot of the functionality in C# Express actually comes from Visual Studio 2005, so you’ll get a glimpse into just what that product can provide, if perhaps you are viewing it as a target for the future.
Whoever and whatever you are, though, this is the chapter where I hope to show you just some of why C# Express is, in my mind, one of the most significant product releases Microsoft has ever made.
I see C# Express as the Visual Basic of the new millennium. Visual Basic has gotten a bad rap since the release of the .NET platform, with many people calling classic Visual Basic a toy, an amateur programming environment that’s great for prototyping ideas, but not really that great when it comes to producing high-performance, easy-to-maintain applications of any complexity. That’s ignoring something vital, though. Visual Basic was designed to make Windows programming accessible to everyone. It didn’t matter whether you were a professional programmer, a graduate, a high school dropout, or a retired garbage collector, Visual Basic was designed to put everyone on an even playing field when it came to making great-looking, functional software.
In addition, Visual Basic was an extremely focused piece of software. Visual Basic let you do one thing (create Windows applications) and do it very well indeed. It was only later in Visual Basic’s life that it was integrated into Visual Studio, and as a result had access to facilities for creating server-side components and web applications.
As a result of its use and strong focus on doing just one thing very well indeed (producing Windows applications), Visual Basic brought a few million new developers to the world of Windows, and not only helped propel Windows even further into the hearts and minds of millions of people all over the world, but also helped set the benchmark for just what writing a computer program should really be like. You only have to look around the market today at products such as Borland’s Delphi, JBuilder, and C#Builder, and of course Microsoft’s Visual Studio .NET to instantly spot similarities between those tools and good old-fashioned classic Visual Basic. Figure 1-1 shows the welcome screen of Visual C# 2005 Express.
C# Express is pitched exactly the same way. Just as classic Visual Basic was geared totally toward doing one thing exceptionally well, so too is C# Express. The difference of course is the benefit of hindsight. Ten years after Visual Basic was first released, programmers all over the world have very different opinions on just what makes them productive and what makes a tool great and easy to use. C# Express pretty much wraps all the lessons learned from Microsoft’s early mistakes, as well as all the fabulous features that made Visual Basic great, up into one shiny, accessible, and, most important of all, inexpensive product.
In addition, just as Visual Basic was designed to make programming easy, so too is Visual C# Express—but in ways that to be quite frank I could not even imagine when I first drooled over Visual Basic all those years ago. C# Express is like an old friend when you start to work with it: always there to help you, support you, and offer guidance when you need it. When you work with C# Express, you don’t feel like you are fighting some mindless computer program. You feel like you are partnering with something special to get the job done. For beginners in particular, that’s a really strong motivation.
As if all that wasn’t enough, C# Express has everything the experts need as well. No one stays a beginner forever, so it’s important in a development tool such as C# Express that there is enough room to grow. C# as a programming language has everything the experts could ever want, including full object-orientation support (if you don’t have a clue what I’m talking about right now, bear with me, all will become clear), a fantastically lean coding style, and incredible performance. When you couple that with the power of the .NET platform to deliver anything from a simple number counter to an incredibly complex Customer Relationship Management system serving thousands of people all at once, then you have a recipe for success by anyone’s standards.