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Monday, December 17, 2001

Object-based development with VB
Sumesh Raizada

NEARLY a decade ago when Windows were in its evolution stage, Microsoft also developed application-based program called Visual Basic or VB. Its numerous applications made it suitable for Web programming, designing of computers games, graphics or clip arts, multimedia, etc. The VB and its subsequent variants are highly successful and popular among programmers and software developers all over the world since its very inception. It is also used for developing programs for e-mail accounts, network applications and designing of business solutions. VB is an effective tool for creating client/server, Internet or Intranet applications and is used for creating controls that can be used with languages like C++, etc. It is also used to build client/server applications that can work for database even if a user is not connected to Web, thereby adding utility to mobile users.

VB helps in building applications and components that operate on Microsoft Internet information server and are accessible from any browser or platform. VB is also used to build solutions using the Windows NT Option Pack, Microsoft Transaction Server 2.0, Microsoft Internet Information Server 4.0 and Microsoft Message Queue server. These tools help in developing sophisticated multi-user applications for the Web or local area network. VB has application in the development of re-usable data access components for use across multiple projects and helps in building view tables, modify data and create SQL queries.


The Visual Basic has numerous applications and therefore offers a vast career options for programmers, Web developers and software designers. The Visual Basic professionals are mostly employed as programmer analyst, system engineer, project manager, trainer, database administrator, application developer, LAN manager and Network manager. The other career option for qualified VB professionals is to work as a freelance consultant or as a faculty member at a computer-training institute. Besides Visual Basic, they have to be skilled in SQL server, MS Access, HTML, Oracle, Java, Pearl, etc. The salaries earned vary according to the qualification and experience of the candidate and may begin at Rs 1 lakh per annum or more for LAN executive, supporting staff, and network personnel. Emoluments are relatively higher for system analyst, application developers, consultants, and programmers whose average salary may range around Rs.2 lakh or more per annum.

The basic qualification required for a VB professional may vary according to the industry or nature of work. They may be MCA, graduates with degree or diploma in programming, engineer, etc. However, there are certificate courses like MCSE or MCSD offered by Microsoft or CNE by Novell that gives an edge to a professional in getting lucrative employment within and outside the country. Almost all major IT institute offer training on Visual Basic as part of their curriculum. Online courses are also available for those who wish to learn VB or its other versions. Some of the useful sites for online learning are www.cit.ac.nz/smac/vb6/default.htm, which is a self study guide for VB 6.0, www.appdev.com/FSdownload/Files/nsvbadoc.exe, explain how to develop MS Office 97 applications using VBA, tips on Visual Basic Editor, etc.,

The field is highly developing and therefore VB professional needs to continuously upgrade themselves according to the changing technology and environment. Those who are interested in getting advanced and latest information on VB can log on to some useful web sites. These are www.vbusers.com, which is resource guide for VB users. It contains applications including Excel workbook Rebuilder, NetSend 3, API, SQL, VBA code; www.freeskills.com, which provide guidelines for programmers to use the features and facilities of the VBA programming language. It also help developers to plan their applications systematically, efficiently and economically; in order to promote good design and development techniques; http://support.microsoft.com/support, explains how to create Visual Basic Active X Component in VBA based applications; www.microsoft.com/officedev/a, which explains how and when to create reusable class modules to use in Visual Basic and custom office applications; www.lacher.com/toc/tutvba2.htm, contains programs for the advanced VBA users.

Some of the career positions available for VB professionals are project manager, team leader (Web applications, client server), Developer (Web application, client server), etc. The project manager in a software company manages a team of skilled professionals who are working on software and Web technologies. Job requires extensive client interaction and responsibility for timely execution of project. Desired qualifications for this position are MCA, MBA or engineering with few years of experience. The manager should be able to use CASE tools and project management methodologies also. He must have excellent oral and written communication skills. A team leader for Web applications controls a team of professionals in developing Internet applications. The qualifications required for the position are MCA, MBA or engineering with experience of ASP, Java, XML, PHP, apart from Visual Basic, MS-SQL Server, C++, etc. Team Leader for Client Server works for developing extensive client interaction and are responsible for effective and timely execution of project. They must have experience in Visual Basic, MS-SQL Server. Developer for Web applications must be comfortable with all aspects of object-oriented Web-based development, including performance and security issues and database design, etc.

Visual Basic programmer or analysts assist staff members in the conversion of several DOS-based microfocus COBOL applications to Microsoft Access 2000. They must have a minimum of three years of progressively responsible experience in the rapid development of medium-sized applications using MS Access and Visual Basic for application programming. Also, a minimum of two years of new development experience in a GUI-based environment is a must and the person should be endowed with good communication skills. VB software engineers or developers specialise in component or object-based development with Visual Basic. They are required to work at client sites and should have acquired experience in full Life cycle projects in a software engineering capacity.

Senior software consultant gets in touch with clients to define their requirement and problems, conducts studies and surveys to obtain requirements and analyse results to recommend solutions. They are also involved in the subsequent development, deployment and integration of the customised solution for the client. Senior Visual C++ engineers are required to have extensive working knowledge of Microsoft Visual C++ programming with MFC in the Windows '95/NT environment. Additional skills like ActiveX, COM, Visual Basic, GUI design, Direct X, Video for Windows are an added advantage for the engineers. Excellent communication and problem-solving skills are required for most of positions. A VB professional should also be skilled in code optimisation and experience with multimedia or image processing. In a software firm, they design and develop new applications and also work for the improvement in existing applications. VB professionals work both as part of a team as well as independently as consultant.

With the introduction of Visual Studio.Net, Microsoft has now introduced advanced version of Visual Basic. The new languages are designed to allow developers to write and reuse Web services more effectively. A collection of programming interfaces for writing to Microsoft .Net is also included in Visual Studio.Net. Those who are planning a career in e-commerce based industry should become proficient in .net version of VB in order to secure better employment opportunity especially in the USA and other European countries.