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I regularly get questions from teachers about Visual Studio and Visual Basic. This is my frequently asked questions list. Feel free to send me more questions about using Visual Basic in the classroom either by leaving a comment or by sending email to me at Alfred.Thompson at Microsoft.com
Why should I upgrade from Visual Basic 6.0 to Visual Basic .NET?
Why should I choose to teach using Visual Basic .NET?
Why should I upgrade from Visual Basic .NET 2002/2003 to Visual Basic .NET 2005?
When will support for Visual Basic 6.0 end?
How much does it cost for a high school to upgrade to Visual Basic .NET 2005?
What are the configuration requirements for Visual Basic .NET 2005?
The answer depends on “what do you mean by support?” The complete support explanation for Visual Basic 6.0 is available at http://support.microsoft.com/lifecycle/?p1=2971
The lunch speaker for ACET today was Diane Zak, noted text book author. This was the first time I have heard her talk or met her. She gave a very interesting talk about teaching with Visual Basic .NET. Like me, she is in the process of updating a book for Visual Studio .NET 2005 and excited about the new features that are coming. Of course she also complains a bit about how fast things in computer science change and how much work that creates for teachers. And that is an issue. It is a struggle to keep up with technology. One of the things I am hoping we at Microsoft can help with over the next year or so is ways to prepare teachers for these changes. I'm planning a number of web casts that I hope to start later this month.
The other think that Diane Zak talked about was the controversy over using console applications against GUI applications. Her opinion is to use both. That is what I have been doing in workshops lately. I still have mixed feelings about it. I like GUIs but I am aware of the issues that can cause. It will be interesting to see how she develops her ideas in a future textbook. I'm also always interested in what others think about this issue so feel free to leave comments.
By the way, tonight's dinner is at Billy Bob's Texas. Apparently they are the world’s largest honky tonk. Contrary to the suspicions of most students teachers do know how to have a good time so I am looking forward to this.
- Alfred Thompson
I found [via SlashDot] an interesting article at ZD/Net News. Howard Schmidt wants developers and their companies to be held liable for security issues in their code. But he doesn't completely blame developers. He also blames the companies they work for and their education.
Schmidt also referred to a recent survey from Microsoft which found that 64 percent of software developers were not confident they could write secure applications. For him, better training is the way forward.
"Most university courses traditionally focused on usability, scalability, and manageability, not security. Now a lot of universities are focusing on information assurance and security, but traditionally Web application development has been measured in mouse clicks — how to make users click through," said Schmidt.
I hear all the time from teachers who say they don't have time to include secure programming in their courses. The AP CS exam doesn't test it either. It seems to me that security along with ethics are two issues that must be concidered in all programming courses in today's world. It is just too late when someone starts programming for a living. It's all about priorities. Is there a particular coding concept that is more important than security? That's a loaded question of course. But we do need to start thinking about the value of adding one more data structure or one more type of sort weighed against adding a unit on secure design and programming.
- Alfred Thompson