Murach's Visual Basic 6: A resource designed for beginners and pros alike

Is it time to learn Visual Basic 6, or perhaps refresh your VB skills? Murach's Visual Basic 6 may just be the resource you've been looking for.

Whether you need to get a handle on Visual Basic (VB) 6 fundamentals or you’re already VB savvy and want to enhance your knowledge, you’ll find valuable information in Murach’s Visual Basic 6.

The book is written for people who are new to VB, yet it contains information that even VB professionals can use to complete a project. The first chapter provides a crash course for the novice user. Within a matter of a few pages, it explains how to build a simple program. As the book progresses, the lessons become much more advanced, from writing simple counting programs to developing complex database-driven software. Murach believes that once you finish the book, you will know VB 6 by heart.

Okay class; get ready for a pop quiz
The book includes a set of exercises at the end of each chapter to help reinforce what you’ve learned. For example, in the first chapter, you must build a calculator. The exercise for that chapter breaks down the information and provides step-by-step instructions to help you build the program from the ground up.

Each chapter also concludes by offering you an overview of what you have just accomplished, a summary of what you’ve learned, and what the next chapter will present. A list of “terms you should know” appears at the bottom of the page for reference.

My own experience with the book
Since the book claimed it was for novice users as well as pros, I decided to take its crash course to see if I could actually create a program. (I definitely qualify as a novice. My IT background includes Web development and end-user support, but I wouldn’t know a VB module from a breakpoint.) So I installed Microsoft’s VB 6 on my machine at work and then opened the book to the first page of chapter one.

As I read along, the book explained to me what forms and controls were and how I could use them together to start creating a program. It then explained that by using properties, methods, and events, I would be able to build a form and make the controls within it functional.

I was instructed to start VB 6 and to choose STANDARD.EXE from the New Project window that appeared when I clicked New. When VB loaded, I was presented with a blank form, a toolbox, a properties window, and a project explorer window. The book identified each window and explained its function.

The book then walked me through the process of adding controls to the form using the toolbox window and explained where I needed to put each textbox, button, and label so that my project would look exactly like the example.

Next, the book explained how to use the properties window with the form and directed me to change the values for several properties. Once I’d made those changes, I learned how to save my project and form and how to test the program. Sure enough, a little window popped up and there was my program. However, since there was nothing programmed into the software, it did not function.

For my next task, the book explained how to code an event procedure and introduced a few variables that I would be using in the process. The book supplied the necessary VB code for the program, and I plugged it in where it belonged. Finally, I saved the project and tested the program within VB—and it worked beautifully!

Once I had the program up and running, I read the book’s instructions on how to make an .EXE file and proceeded to make my new program into an executable file. You can see my creation in Figure A.

Figure A
I created this program from the ground up, thanks to Murach’s Visual Basic 6.

Final thoughts
The crash course in Murach’s Visual Basic 6 seems to have been very effective. The process of creating my application was straightforward, and the book did an excellent job of guiding me through each step while explaining the underlying concepts as I went along. The hands-on approach has given me a solid introduction to VB, and I'm confident that I’ll be able to build on those fundamentals as I develop my programming skills.

Since my experience with the language is limited, I can’t gauge the usefulness of the book for VB pros. I did, however, ask several of our TechRepublic developers whether they thought the book would be a worthwhile investment for someone already experienced in VB. They suggested that, although the book is not as robust on certain topics as some other books they’ve read, they would find it handy as a reference tool.

Toward the end, the book is tailored to someone already proficient in VB and requires a certain level of experience to understand the concepts. To get the most out of this book, I think you should follow it from beginning to end. By the time you get to the last page you will have arrived at a deeper understanding of VB.
Murach’s Visual Basic 6 by Ed Koop, Anne Prince, and Joel Murach617 pages; soft-coverPriced at $45; can be purchased through the Murach Web site.

Ed Engelking is a regular TechRepublic contributor and co-owner of

Have you read Murach’s Visual Basic 6? What did you think of it? Have you read another VB book you’d recommend to your peers? Post a message below or send us a note.

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