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Vistual Program Environments

By Xwindowsjunkie ·
I spent 2 hours today working my way through a Virtual Lab on Microsoft's dotNet Visual Basic InterOp applications. The virtual lab idea has merit.

I liked the idea but the implementation stank. Inside a browser window the trainer opened Visual Studio 2005 and worked his way haltingly through his demo and managed to make 3 errors that did nothing to convince me that InterOp was such a good idea. The video was of poor enough quality that most of the tiny labels, menu drop-downs, tabs and etc were unreadable and I have VS 2005 at home and use it every night!

If the lesson was setup in such a way that the trainer or his technical assistant could zoom into the virtual desktop and show in closer detail what he was doing it would be a lot more sensible.

The entire lesson was broken up into 3 exercises and that's not bad but to accomplish the goal of the labs, you had to successfully work your way through all three labs in sequence. If one of the steps didn't work for you, you were lost. I got confused and managed to not get step 2 completed properly. I admit I got lost when a path shown on the PDF lab manual didn't come up on the virtual lab desktop. There wasn't a "parachute" option, a bailout or a way to force a successful completion to a step so that you could go on.

The final part of the lab was a VB6 form with one command button on it that allowed the VB6 runtime to open a dotNet data form with 2 components on it. Yippee. At that point I was pretty disgusted. A batch file would have worked as well to open a dotNet application. I'm still puzzling over what was the point of that exercise? Am I missing something or is this a technique that will have limited potential?

The lesson was set for 90 minutes which is a long time to be sitting at a desk doing something that might not directly contribute to the corporate bottom line. I spent 2 hours. If pressed for an answer by my manager, I can't justify the time I spent. At this point I feel like I was led down a garden path by a Microsoftie or maybe I was a part-time flying monkey for MS. Has anybody else out there done one of these virtual labs and had a similar experience?

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