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Visual Basic Express

Discussion in 'Computing and ICT' started by DEmsley, Dec 15, 2010.

  1. DEmsley

    DEmsley New commenter

    Those of you who know me will know how difficult this post has been to write.
    I'm contemplating introducing the use of Visual Basic Express in school for GCSE Computing and AS/A2.
    Is there any reason why I'd need the full blown version rather than the freeby version?

  2. DEmsley

    DEmsley New commenter

    Those of you who know me will know how difficult this post has been to write.
    I'm contemplating introducing the use of Visual Basic Express in school for GCSE Computing and AS/A2.
    Is there any reason why I'd need the full blown version rather than the freeby version?

  3. No.
    There isn't.
    Great software choice, though. [​IMG]
  4. autismuk

    autismuk New commenter

    Thought you didn't like .NET stuff ?
  5. fingertapper

    fingertapper New commenter

    I don't think you need the full version but if you use Microsoft Schools agreement then you can join the "Academic Alliance" for free, which will let you run the full version for free and let you give copies to relevant students for use at home.
  6. But compared to Java, Python etc etc?
    I'm not a masochist or a sadist to my students

  7. Hi there,
    VB.NET is an amazingly varied coding language, allowing the users to easily create many programs with ease. Also the code is simple to understand and as such I believe it is the perfect way to get students involved in coding. I personally started learning with VB.NET and since have gone on into C#, C++ and F#. All of these generally rely on the simple structure of VB.NET with slight changes.
    Also there is no reason for getting the full version, as the only real differences are that the 'publish' option is not available in the free version, so you will have to allow .exe files to run from the local machine, and just copy the file, and that there are a few complicated components not available, although this is only really an issue if you wish to go into software development.

    If you are looking for coding support in the future, I recommend Dream In Code, as they have a large and helpful community, although they require a good faith offering, meaning that you must post a bit of code to start with.

    Hope this helps, Daniel.
  8. Although VB is a fairly good choice. I still think you need to think some more. For example, let me give you a case for starting programmers on C# or Java (very similar in syntax and structure):
    1. They are strongly typed languages whereas VB isn't. This gets programmers off to the correct thinking about variable declaration right from the start.
    2. Robust and fully OO. Again, a sound foundation for the learning programmer.
    3. Java and C# will give them better transition into 1st year undergraduate courses (which tend to be almost exclusively Java). If you go with VB they will somewhat have to 're-think' what they know about programming and syntax.
    Although VB is a good choice for first time programmers (year 10 anyone?) compared to Java or C# it cannot compare; I would then argue becomes a poor choice for 6th formers.
    Why is everyone so scared of challenging students with something difficult? Yes Java or C# will be challenging, but so what? Its unquestionally better to go with.
    VB may be a cowards way out.
  9. @tosbrown. I think you're mistaking VB.Net and VB? They are very different.
  10. gedlad

    gedlad New commenter

    A pretty narrow view tosbrown, one which perhaps only considers the high fliers, I could understand (though not agree with) your view if you only teach A/B/C students, typically also doing Maths, Physics & Electronics but what about the D/Es, the 4th option - the (apoligies for the stereotype) English, Media & Psychology students aren't they allowed to do A level computing?
    At AS students are assessed on structured programming - the basics, algorithms, sub routines etc. no need for OO here.
    At A2 they need to produce a project, if the user has a cross platform or network requirement then perhaps Java would do nicely, but most A level projects are stand alone applications and in order to maximise their mark need to demonstrate the skills to the marking scheme. In most cases VB, Pascal/Delphi and others will do the job at AS and A2, with AQA strongly saying Pascal/Dephi.
    As for being a weakly typed language, don't get me wrong I hate the way variables morf in VB, but look at it as being more forgiving for our D/Es, at least they get a program and a project produced. For an A2 project, a program which runs can be tested, user docs produced - a full project from a D/E can attain 60%. The A/Bs can implement the robustness (with justification) needed to gain the higher mark.
    By the way, I've been teaching Java for many years - luv it, but not my choice for A level students. If a student wanted to do Java they could always come to my after class sessions and then make their own mind up.
    When going on to Computing at uni, Maths is a requirement/desireable, former programming experience (Java included) is not, but will be very useful of course.
    But consider ... those of us who's dastardly, nay cowardly act of selecting VB, Pascal/Delphi etc.instead of Java might just be doing the best by their students just as Python, C#, Java fans etc. may justify their selection.
    This is not an attempt to re-kindle the Lily - best language thread.

  11. autismuk

    autismuk New commenter

    Indeed they are nearly semantically identical. The downside of VB.Net (apart from non support for XNA) is the verbosity ; against that the VB.Net editor does syntax checking on the fly (or did, anyway) which C# did not.
    There are a few things VB.Net does which C# doesn't e.g. named parameters in calls. I would personally choose C# myself, but for pupils it is much more of a close call.
  12. Does anyone successfully run Visual Studios or VB Express on RM CC4 network?
    I am due to start teaching this in Jan but to date our network manager has not been able to install it and it is now starting to worry me that it wont be ready for when it is needed.

  13. DEmsley

    DEmsley New commenter

    Can anyone point me in the direction of tried and trusted CC or free tutorials? There seem to be loads of them out there but which work for your students?
  14. I'm teaching myself VB and have tried a few different things before coming across this:
    The online tutorials are free and I find them easy to follow with explanations that make perfect sense to me. So much so that I paid £10 and downloaded the pdf book with other languages which I hopefully will get to in the future.
    Hope this helps.

  15. I haven't got free resources (other than maconstate for .aspx vb.net for web apps) as my tutor at UNI, who though a VB guy was excellent, didn't release his course materials on creative commons or anything like that.

    One thing I will say to watch out for in VB.net is the idea that strings are immutable i.e. they can not be changed after they are created, I cursed that fact and still say it's a pain, although I'm sure there is no doubt some logical thinking behind it.

    This guy here thinks he knows why.

    All that said, I think .net and even humble vb.net is the best development language/framework/environment whatever Microsoft have ever made. I would suggest at some point getting students to produce a console only application, no forms, no generated code they don't really understand, just their brains, some hello world, working up to creating a bit of structured programming of their own writting (functions/subs/loops/conditionals etc), before putting them back into the autowizard world of vb.net, it really help you to get what is being done for you. Assuming they don't all leave in frustration...

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