In professional services, you are judged by your ability to hit deadlines and deliver on time. In this article, I will offer some tips and suggestions that will help you develop a process for getting started on your next VB project.
I have been programming since 1982 and have worked with IBM mainframes (COBOL), AS/400s (RPG), PCs (C/C++) and now Visual Basic. Throughout my career I have always struggled with getting organized for a new programming project. If you are like me, you probably receive several requests each week for program changes or new development. It seems that no matter how many times you complete a project, each one is unique in its own way.
So how do you prepare for the next project? How do you get organized? How can you avoid missing deadlines and disappointing your customers?
Starting a new Visual Basic project begins with an idea. You may have decided to develop a program because of a need at work, home, or school. You may have been working on a project and found that you needed additional functionality not available in your current tool set. Or you may have just been toying with an interesting idea for a cool new gadget. Regardless of the origin of your project idea, there are several steps you can take to help ensure that your project will be successful before you even write the first line of code.
Visual Basic programming is not just about writing code. In fact, writing code is probably one of the least important tasks in the process of creating a successful software application. Because Visual Basic is such a powerful RAD tool, it is easy to forget that building software is actually more about managing data than it is about writing code.
Just as a house has plans drawn up by an architect before any construction takes place, so should software projects be thoroughly planned out before one line of code is written. It doesn’t matter if you are developing databases or web applications; all projects should begin with careful planning and design.
Before starting a new project, it’s important to define the scope of your application and to determine what you plan on accomplishing. This is critical for the success of any Visual Basic programming project.
Here’s how we approach each new project:
1. Gather Information From the Client
First, we make sure that we understand exactly what the client wants. What are their goals? What are they trying to accomplish?
We listen carefully to the client and ask questions to make sure we have a clear picture of the requirements.
2. Define the Scope of Your Application
Next, we analyze information gathered from our meeting with the client and define precisely what needs to be accomplished. This includes defining all requirements, limitations and dependencies. This also includes setting a starting point and an ending point for your project (i.e., planning when it will be completed).
3. Determine Project Resources
We determine what resources are required to complete your project successfully. For example, do you have all of the tools you need? Do you have access to any specialized resources that may be required? Are there any dependencies that must be put in place before development can begin?
If you’re planning to develop a new Visual Basic application, you should know about some of the things that can help you get started. In this article, I describe several approaches that should make your programming life easier.
The first step in developing a Visual Basic application is deciding what it will do and who it’s for. You need to have a good idea about what the application will look like and how it will behave. You need to understand the type of user who will be using it and how they will use it. Once you understand these things, you can start making decisions about how to design the application.
When designing an application, I always start by drawing paper prototypes of the various forms that the application will contain. I write simple notes on each screen describing how the screen relates to other screens and what each control does. This process helps me decide what types of controls I’ll use and how many screens I’ll need for each part of the application. It also helps me see how things fit together.
One of the most important tasks the Visual Basic programmer faces is starting a new project.
At times, this task can cause sleepless nights. What should I do? How do I start? How do I make sure that I don’t miss anything? The first thing to remember is that you are not alone. Everyone goes through this same process every time they start a new project. The only way to eliminate it is to develop your own software factory. If you have done this, then you can simply build a new application from the parts in the factory.
The second thing to remember is that there are ways to make this task easier. Some of these steps can be automated, while others can be made more efficient by using various tools and techniques. All projects should be approached with the same basic methods, but some types of projects will require additional steps or modifications of these basic methods.
This article will explain how to get started on a project. It is intended for experienced developers who have worked with Visual Basic for some time, so it assumes you already know about the basic functions and concepts of Visual Basic.
It is not necessary to read every chapter. I would recommend beginning with the one that covers topics you are most interested in. If you are new to programming, start with Chapter 1 (Introduction).
If you’re starting a new project, be sure to select the right type of Visual Basic application. Your options include Standard EXE, ActiveX DLLs, ActiveX EXEs, ActiveX Controls and Active documents. Each type has advantages and disadvantages. For example, if you want to distribute your code as an ActiveX Server with no user interface over the Web or as part of a client/server scenario, choose either ActiveX DLL or ActiveX EXE.
When you select the type of application you want to create, the Visual Basic environment automatically creates a project file for your application. It also automatically adds references for all components needed for that type of application (for example, it adds a reference to the Microsoft Internet Controls object library if you are building an ActiveX Control).