If you want to learn a modern programming language and write programs that run on Microsoft Windows, then you should take a serious look a Microsoft C#, Express Edition. C#, Express Edition won’t break your budget. In fact it’s completely free, and if you have high speed Internet you can download it and install it in about an hour; and in just a few more minutes you can write your first C# program and run it under Microsoft Windows or distribute it to your friends.
If you have never used Microsoft Visual Studio or a Microsoft Integrated Development Environment (IDE), there are a few things you should understand.
1. Visual C# Express is put together from pieces. One of those pieces is the C# compiler; the compiler (and some related components) translates your programs from C# text into a format that can be run on your computer. Another piece is the “Class Libraries”; Class Libraries are “classes” that extend C# and give it the power to do things such as read/write files or create Windows forms. The IDE is the top level view of Visual C# Express, it configures a lot of the lower level pieces, so you never have to deal with them directly.
2. Visual C# Express does a bunch of the work for you in setting up Windows programs. To write a Windows Program, all you need to is click on the “File” menu item, click on “New Project”, and click on the “New Project” icon when the “New Project” dialog box pops up. BOOM! Visual C# Express sets up a basic default project with a starter form included, ready to build and run immediately.
3. In Visual C# Express you customize forms by adding “controls” from the “Toolbox”. The Toolbox is is typically located on the left side of the IDE and it has all kinds of goodies such as text boxes, lists, buttons, and check boxes. These are the pieces that people will use to interact with the forms you create. The cool thing is that all you have to do is drag and drop these components onto your form. No programming necessary.
4. Most C# Windows Programs are “event driven”. What does this mean? This means that pretty much nothing happens in your program unless you click on button, or hit an enter key, or otherwise interact with a form or the controls on the form. When you write a Windows Program, what you are really writing is a bunch of smaller routines that react to different events on your form.
5. Building and testing your program is super easy. To test a basic Windows project all you need do is hit the F5 Key and your program will be compiled, linked, and run. If the IDE detects errors in your program it pops up an “Error List” window, and lists them, you can click on the errors to go directly to them and fix them.
This article gave an overview of what Microsoft Visual C# Express is all about. Future articles will focus on how to actually use Visual C# Express to write Windows programs. If you want to learn more or download the package go to the Microsoft Visual C# Page. Happy programming.