I'm A VB: William "Bill" Sheldon, Visual Basic MVP




Blog: http://www.nerdnotes.net/blog


·        How long have you been using VB?

I picked up a VB for Dummies book back in ’98 and taught myself the language.  At the time I was doing my main work in C++ and Mumps, and I knew I was leaving Mumps.  The syntax was simple and I could quickly create GUI’s but I still preferred the C++ structure.  With the launch of .NET I learned both C# and VB.NET, which was now a first class language. Over time I’ve grown to really like the VB programming model in .NET


·        What industry do you work in?

Software… oh you mean for what industry do I create software? I just changed jobs and I’m on the IT staff for Rubio’s (RUBO) in the restaurant industry.


·        How big is your development team?

We have a total of ~8 people on our IT staff less than half are developers.


·        What kind of apps do you most commonly build?

Silverlight, Winforms, and VSTO in that order thus far.  We have some older computers at the stores with limited connectivity and in these scenarios WinForms offers a good way of providing a rich experience without being concerned about too many dependencies.


·        What’s the most interesting app you’ve ever built?

I find all applications interesting… I’ve worked on several hospital applications – all interesting whether they managed data with a limited UI or were UI focused like The Scripps Research Institute application.


·        Please tell us about an app that you’re working on at the moment.

I’m working on a VB Silverlight 2.0 application.  We have a VB Winform which allows users to enter data at the store (my last project) and then within corporate we are maintaining the control data and displaying the store entered results using Silverlight.  Since we have more control over the environment, and since Silverlight integrates with MOSS, this makes for a rich development environment.


·        What other technologies do you most commonly use?

Well I’d be remiss if I didn’t admit that C# is pretty common. Pretty much everything I do is data driven so SQL Server. Of course, I work on ASP.NET as well.  I’ve also added Code-It-Right and DevExpress (both tools and user controls) to my list of technologies.  Of course TFS back-ends our source control and I think I’m going to be getting into some Great Plains here in the near future.  I know our POS leverages Windows CE, so I think I’m also going to get to play with the Compact Framework in the near future.


·        What are some of your favorite VB features?

I really like XML literals (I’m literally getting ready to do some work right now with them) and the real-time compilation/errors.


·        What do you like most about VB as a programming language?

Maintainability… I can look at code in VB and it tells me what it is doing.  I think the marketers originally called this ‘verbosity’ – but the point wasn’t whether it was verbose but whether it was easy to understand. Having a development tool that produces an easy to understand product by default makes it easier to follow complex logic, in the reverse the lack of clarity can cause additional complexity.  At the same time VB has implicit conversions and typing by default.  I like that I can turn these off and review where during my RAD I’ve leveraged these features incorrectly or at risk and then make updates to prevent run time problems – but I can also keep them for scenarios like COM interop and LINQ where they not only make sense but are in some cases almost required.


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