What is Visual Basic?
An introduction to Visual Basic and it's concepts.
Author: Jens G. Balchen

If you ever felt that there was something you were missing, but couldn't point your finger at it.. well, now you've found it!

Microsoft released Visual Basic in 1991. It was the first visual development tool from MS, and it was to compete with C, C++, Pascal and other well-known programming languages. From the start, VB wasn't a hit. It wasn't until release 2.0 in 1993 that people really discovered the potensial of the language, and with release 3.0 it had become the fastest-growing programming language on the market.

By now, VB has earned itself the status of a professional programming language, and has almost freed BASIC of the reputation of a children's language. There are several USENET newsgroups devoted to VB, like comp.lang.basic.visual.misc, comp.lang.basic.visual.3dparty, comp.lang.basic.visual.database and so on.

The most important aspect of VB's success is found in the group comp.lang.basic.visual.3dparty. This is the place where you can learn of the Visual Basic eXtension, or VBX for short. VBXs are add-ons that make VB do things it doesn't normaly do. If you want to make a phone dialer from VB, you use a VBX that can handle modem dialogs. Today, there are millions of third-party add-ons to Visual Basic, some free- and shareware, some commercial. If you want to do a special task, you can always count on a VBX to be out there somewhere.

VB compiled programs are small. The reason is VBRUN###.DLL, that ships with every Visual Basic application. Even if you don't have VB, I'll bet there's a copy of VBRUN###.DLL on your harddisk somewhere. Just look for it, and you'll find it. Unfortunately, there is no way for VB programmers to leave this file at home and compile big programs. Therefore, people tend to say VB's compiler is far behind the compilers of Pascal and C.

Another thing adding to this thought is VB's pseudo-code. VB executables aren't real executables, like those of Pascal and C. They contain special codes that only VBRUN###.DLL can interprete and pass on as real commands. For this reason, VB is called an interpreted language. This is also the reason why Vb programs usually are slow compared to Pascal and C. What you gain in size, is usually eaten by loss in speed.

All in all, VB is the preferred language of many, and a joke to just as many. If you want to start programming Windows, and don't know how to start, try VB. I can't guarantee success, but it's worth a try.