Microsoft Offers Free Code, Components in VB.NET Kit

Microsoft and a few of its partners have pulled together a massive Visual Basic.NET Resource Kit CD, aimed at jump starting VB developers participation with .NET projects for Windows, web services and mobile applications. The free kit offers more than 100 code samples, 4 key end-to-end sample Web applications and a library of free components third-party partners. See more detail on what's inside, and how to get one free.

Tags: Developers, Kit, Devs, Flores, Web Services, Resource Kit, Starter Kit,

Microsoft and a few of its key partners have pulled together a massive Visual Basic.NET Resource Kit CD, aimed at jump starting VB developers participation in a broader array of .NET projects for Windows, web apps, web services and mobile applications.

The kit, available free of charge starting this week, includes more than 100 code samples, end-to-end reference applications for common Web development scenarios and a library of free components from third-party .NET partners.

"Many VB developers have been primarily creating rich client application," Christopher Flores, Microsoft's Visual Studio.NET product manager told IDN. "Now, our message to the VB community is: 'You can do many more things with your skill sets, including enterprise programming, mobile development and even more easily interact with Java and other systems."

Another key motivation behind the 300 MB kit, Flores said is "to show Visual Basic developers that Visual Basic .NET is a first class citizen in the .NET Framework. VB developers are now realizing that choosing C# or VB won't prohibit them from developing enterprise-caliber .NET applications. VB, like all of the other languages within the Visual Studio .NET suite, has great support for building and consuming web services. We think that by showing VB developers [those capabilities] as well as the Best Practices for building them, we're helping web services be a core part of where VB developers can be."

End-to-End Templates with Code, Components
A core offering in the kit are several end-to-end, real world web-based applications or "Starter Kits" as they are called, Flores said, which come with source code that VB devs are free to use as-is, share or even modify for business use.

"These kits, with components and code, are aimed to give VB developers a head start creating Web applications," Flores told IDN. "Having the code and reusable components all available, and then making it so VB developers can use, reuse or modify that code is important" to the usefulness and customization of their applications

The 4 Web Starter Kits are: Portal, Commerce, Time Tracker and Reports. Here are some details on what VB devs will receive with the end-to-end applications/templates:

  • The VB.NET Starter Kit for Web Portals includes 10 basic portal modules, a pluggable framework, XML-based definition of portal content, pre-built roles-based security for viewing and adding/deleting content and even support for mobile access.

  • The VB.NET Starter Kit for Commerce lets developers build a basic online store using pre-defined catalog templates, an order entry applet, search and shopping cart. Featured technologies include: Cross-browser support for Netscape and Internet Explorer; Clean code/html content separation using server controls; 3-tier ADO.NET data access using SQL stored procedures; authentication using a database for usernames/passwords; and SOAP XML web services for B2B order entry and status

  • The VB.NET Starter Kit for Time Tracking lets developers build a line-of-business application to track time worked on projects, and logs log work completed and track time for each portion/job of the project. This kit features components for charting and a variety of user controls.

  • The VB.NET Starter Kit for Time Reports shows developers a simple data reporting solution for displaying multiple views on data, creating charts, and rendering any type of data in a Web application. Key features include controls to help devs create graphics with the System.Drawing classes and controls using GDI+.
    The downloads are also available under Microsoft's Shared Source licensing, which allow devs to build and share both non-commercial and commercial apps with very few restrictions. The main provision is the licensing agreement requires devs to include notice where their code has been modified from the original download, and that support is not available.

    More VB.NET Resources
    Aside from the end-to-end apps, Microsoft has also included a variety of documentation and code samples to help VB devs with learning various aspects of .NET, and how they can apply their current skills to broader .NET development.

    Among these features are:

  • "How to" articles on creating, testing and deploying web services, with special attention to supporting middle tier apps;
  • Step-by-step walk-through that show VB devs the individual 5-10 steps for creating and consuming a web service (including an animated, multimedia step-by step model);
  • An online skills assessment, where VB devs can take a self-test on their knowledge of .NET and web services. Depending upon the results, the web site will offer devs suggestions for free resources that will help them rapidly upgrade their skills, where needed; and
  • A library of key .NET Best Practices which show VB devs several key app functions beyond the UI layer, including: (1) log-in authentication, (2) security/identify verification; (3) granting database access; and (4) ways to input and extract data from backend databases.
  • An XML Prime for VB devs, which shows them how XML works and why it is and will be important to VB devs. Flores insists this is not to say that VB devs will need to hand-code their XML. "VB has some of the strongest XCML support of any language today," Flores told IDN. "But we realize with its growing importance that some VB developers will want to know much more about it. But, just like I can build a website without knowing HTML, a VB developer can also build a web service using VB without needing to know how XML or how it works over the wire."

    Third-party Microsoft partners have also contributed code and other IP to the VB.NET Resource Kit. Flores conservatively estimates the kit contains more than $1,000 worth of core components software from Microsoft partners. The third-party contributions include:

  • Component One Enterprise Studio --- 30+ reusable Windows and Web components for data , reporting, charting, data access, creating powerful user interfaces, Web based ecommerce, among others;
  • Dundas -- charting components
  • Sax Software - serial port communications for monitoring data acquisition from a number of sources, including factory floor devices; and
  • Infragistics -- web and Windows controls for site navigation

    The VS.NET Resource Kit is available free as a download (300 MB) at (Using high-speed DSL, the full resource kit could take less than 1 hour to download, Flores estimated.) It is also available by mail from Microsoft for a small shipping and handling charge. Also, the Resource Kit CD will be available free to VB devs at all Microsoft-sponsored events for the rest of this year and into 2004, starting with Microsoft's Professional Developers' Conference later this month, Flores said.