Visual C# Express 2010

It seems like a long time since I studied to be a programmer. In fact it was back in 1999 that I completed my Dip BC in the programming stream at CPIT. A stint of Access development over some holidays convinced me I was not cut out for that line, and when I returned to CPIT later on I did more of the support stream courses. My current work is in the support stream with a little bit of programming thrown in. With my previous experience and having a copy of Delphi 5 Desktop I have written the occasional small console app in order to run in logon scripts and the like.

But of course as time rolls on, Delphi 5 becomes obsolete. Now, with the free Express editions of Visual Studio available, it has long seemed that a switch to one of these .NET-based development tools would suffice, but even though I did a VB course way back in 1997 or something, .NET is all different and new and unfamiliar. My current interest mainly comes from our switch to Live@Edu, and tinkering to see if it is possible to knock up a simple GUI to edit custom mailbox attributes that aren’t exposed in the Outlook Live Control Panel. When I first went looking for the Visual Studio Express Edition downloads I was kind of torn between VB.NET and VC#, it would be “easy” to go with VB, but I never liked programming in BASIC, and even though I disliked C, especially case sensitivity, most of the code examples you will see out there now are for VC# (or VC++) because VB isn’t really taken seriously as a development environment. Anyway I did C programming as well so it is not all new (I’ve done heaps of different languages: Pascal, Delphi, FORTRAN, COBOL, Jade, Logo, C, Java, BASIC, assembler, etc). The learning curve has not been that sharp for VC#.

Whether I can turn a hacked together console application made up of various code snippets put together into something worthwhile, that can change these custom attributes easily (we would use them to populate dynamic distribution groups) remains to be seen. There is some other potential in VC# Express’s database capability, particularly being able to connect to a Access database. However its lack of reporting functions means you can’t spit out any output. So really for our purposes its main functions would be non databasey. Still, if we needed more, we could buy an AE edition of Standard or Pro, which I presume would come with Crystal Reports. If I ever need to do some custom reporting that is beyond what we can do in Access then that is a path I might look at going down in the future.

Anyway the IDE and development environment in general is very, very good, with all the syntax highlighting, code completion, immediate error checking and what have you. This really promises to be fun!