Anybody going to develop for .NET ?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Mike St.Louis, Feb 10, 2002.

  1. Mike St.Louis

    Mike St.Louis Supporting Actor

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    With the latest version of Visual Studio just days away and a plethora of .NET books in the stores I've been wondering what I'm going to do.

    I've been a VB programmer since version 3 and am currently using VB 6. I haven't really embraced the new technologies like COM and such because I haven't needed to and I've been too busy to try and learn it.

    I've been looking through some .NET information at the bookstore and the Microsoft site. It is a bit confusing as to what .NET is. From what I can tell it is a platform to develop applications on much like Windows was a platform in earlier versions. Also, many languages can be used to develop for .NET (VB, C++, C#, ASP, etc.).

    Any VB apps I have built have been standalone programs that do not even interact with the internet.

    Lately I have been developing a lot of interactive websites on an OS X server using PHP and MySQL. I have been able to do quite a lot with PHP/MySQL.

    I think of a web based application as web page(s) with forms that connect to a database. Is this what VB.NET will do?

    These are the things I'm wondering:

    What would VB.NET offer me over PHP/MySQL?

    Can VB.NET still be used for standalone apps?

    Do VB.NET apps run through a browser?

    Any insights? Any takers? Is .NET the future or a bunch of hype?
     
  2. Steven K

    Steven K Supporting Actor

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    Hey Mike,

    From what I can tell, .NET is similar to COM (Microsoft's Component Object Model). So if you are familiar with VB, you are probably familiar with Active X controls, which are basically COM objects with an added layer on top of them.

    I'm primarily a CC++ programmer, with a little bit of VB. Several of our products rely heavily on COM, so I've taken up COM quite a bit in the past year. I dont know how excited I am about C-Sharp (C#) but, I'm sure that I'll be delving into it before long.

    I really like COM, but it has quite a large overhead involved. Supposedly C# reduces this overhead quite a bit.

    One thing I am NOT excited about is switching to Dev Studio 7. I really, really like Dev Studio 6 (by far, it's Microsoft's best product) and I've done a little beta testing in v7. Visual C++ now has a more VB look to it, which I don't really like.
     
  3. Mike St.Louis

    Mike St.Louis Supporting Actor

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    That's what I read. That .NET was going to replace COM development.
     
  4. Chad Ellinger

    Chad Ellinger Second Unit

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    I'm not sure how familiar you are with Java, but in a lot of ways .NET is Microsoft's answer to Sun's Virtual Machine. When you compile programs in VB.NET, C#.NET or C++.NET, you actually create byte code that is decoded through the .NET virtual machine. Of course, since the .NET languages and virtual machine are all optimized for the Windows platform, you'll get improved performance over Java apps.

    The really cool part about .NET is that different languages are interoperable. For instance, an object in VB can call methods from a C# object and vice versa. You can easily develop different components of an application in the languages that suit them best.
     
  5. Steven K

    Steven K Supporting Actor

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  6. Andre F

    Andre F Screenwriter

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    I'll be moving to .NET pretty soon I'm sure. It really depends on what my clients want. I've already had requests to convert some regular web appplications to Web Services. Overall I'm excited about the new CLR, VB.NET and C#. The only thing I don't like is the new pricing direction on .NET. Last time I heard it was per application. Hopefully they have changed this aspect of .NET.

    -Andre F
     
  7. Kelley_B

    Kelley_B Cinematographer

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    I for one am looking forward to ASPX and the .NET web platform. We have already started to dev. in ASPX and .NET and so far its really neat some of the things we have been able to do.
     
  8. Mike St.Louis

    Mike St.Louis Supporting Actor

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  9. Steven K

    Steven K Supporting Actor

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    Perhaps a web service is similar in concept to an NT Service. A Windows NT Service is basically an application (executable of some kind) that can run in the background even when users are not logged on to the systenm. For instance, you have an app that you run on a box that you need to run all the time, regardless of whether or not someone is logged into the system or not.
     
  10. Andre F

    Andre F Screenwriter

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    Mike,

    I'm no expert on what a Web Service is supposed to be, but I can tell you I will be learning much more soon. However, let me describe the application that I was speaking about in my previous post.

    First I have some ASP pages that speak to a dll (by virtue of a 'CreateObject'). The dll is a wrapper to another dll, thus I expose only what I want to the client developer. That dll speaks to an ActiveX exe which does the real work. I can split this configuration to work on all on the same machine or take the wrapper dll and ASP and make a socket connection to the 'main' dll (the one that speaks to the exe). This may sound like a weird configuration but this is what he client requested and it works rather well. Anyway, the request for a Web Service is for the wrapper dll. For more on that look below.

    Here is a definition of a Web Service from Internet.com:

    "Web Services are a very general model for building applications and can be implemented for any operation system that supports communication over the Internet. Web Services use the best of component-based development and the Web. Component-base object models like Distributed Component Object Model (DCOM), Remote Method Invocation (RMI), and Internet Inter-Orb Protocol (IIOP) have been around for some time. Unfortunately all these models depend on an object-model-specific protocol. Web Services extend these models a bit further to communicate with the Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) and Extensible Markup Language (XML) to eradicate the object-model-specific protocol barrier (see Figure 1).

    Web Services basically uses Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) and SOAP to make business data available on the Web. It exposes the business objects (COM objects, Java Beans, etc.) to SOAP calls over HTTP and executes remote function calls. The Web Service consumers are able to invoke method calls on remote objects by using SOAP and HTTP over the Web. "

    Hope this helps.

    -Andre F
     
  11. Steven K

    Steven K Supporting Actor

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  12. Brian Hepler

    Brian Hepler Stunt Coordinator

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    I think we're going to be moving to the .NET platform quite soon now. I'm looking foward to it. I've been playing with the VS7 betas and I really like the changes they've made to the interface.
    I find it amusing that Steven K was commenting how C# is more like VB than C++. I was thinking that VB.NET now looks an much more like C++ now. [​IMG]
    While I think the .NET technology is pretty nifty, I'm still having trouble coming up with a good example of how it can be used. Most of my stuff is web applications using COM objects. I don't really see how .NET is going to change what I do.
    However, if they can get rid of the byte-compatibility problems I've had with my DLLs, I'm all for it.
     
  13. Andre F

    Andre F Screenwriter

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    Steve,

    I'm not too familiar with exporting functions, maybe you can provide more detail on that subject. However, I do have a reason for the approach the I took with two seperate dll's.

    I originally built a 'shell' for the cient with only one dll and it worked fine. There were some thoughts from the developers of our product in our company (my job is to design and implement custom solutions for our clients, we have a separate division that handles development of our software). Since the 'main' dll is proprietary I figured I better do what they say. The main thought was that making a call throught a dll to another dll would be faster than making a call through ASP. Thus the debate is what's faster VB or VBScript. I went with two dll's because that was the recommended approach from my company. There is one more benefit to this approach. I can make the life of future developers easier by exposing only necessary functions. For example:

    1. Request Something from dll

    2. Retreive request from dll

    This is easier than giving a someone a list of functions that need to be called to initialize the environment. All that stuff can be done in the 'main' dll.

    Of course this makes my life more difficult by having to write a wrapper but that only takes a few minutes to do. However, I like the sound of exporting functions and would like to hear more about it.

    By the way, I like these kind of dicussions, especially in this forum. Let's keep it up!

    -Andre F
     
  14. Mike St.Louis

    Mike St.Louis Supporting Actor

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    Thanks for the info Andre. This is good stuff alright!
    Regarding web services, there was an article today on ZDNet about it. The article is entitled: "What are Web Sevices Anyway?"
    Pretty timely. Here's the link
    http://techupdate.zdnet.com/techupda...846997,00.html
    I guess I should go out and get that COM book I was looking at!
     
  15. Andre F

    Andre F Screenwriter

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    Mike,

    If you are moving to .NET soon make sure you get a new COM book that deals COM+ etc. I learned COM on a project that was on site and it was a nightmare. I got through it eventually but there are some many little things that can go wrong. One word of advice, learn about project compatibility. It can be a real life saver.

    My first COM project was as follows: ASP pages speaking to a dll that passed on information to an NT Service (my exe that did all the work...) using disconnected recordsets. There was a lot more to the architecture than what I've mentioned but believe me you don't want to here the rest.

    Anyway, in my opinion COM is ugly and if .NET can simplify some things then I'm all for it.

    -Andre F
     
  16. Andre F

    Andre F Screenwriter

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    I just wanted to 'bump' this thread up, because I thought the discussions where very good. I'd love to hear some more thoughts on .NET.

    -Andre F
     
  17. Chris Mannes

    Chris Mannes Stunt Coordinator

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  18. Andre F

    Andre F Screenwriter

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    Chris,

    Great article. That was a good explanation and covered a lot of ground. I recommend it others thinking about .NET.

    -Andre F
     
  19. Steven K

    Steven K Supporting Actor

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    Well, COM is definitely ugly... but I don't see how something as complex as COM could be any less complicated (and somewhat sloppy). Even using COM objects is complicated, nevermind having to create your own... The first time I looked at a C program that was creating an instance of a COM object, I looked at the object creation function ( CoCreateInstance() ) and looked at the last parameter ( (void**)&pInterface ) and thought "what the hell is going on!"

    I've been working heavily in COM since then, and have learned alot.

    BTW: as long as we're on the subject of COM, perhaps someone here can help me with a little dilemma.

    I'm getting "Unresolved external symbol" errors (linking errors) when using COM objects if I use a pre-compiled header. Basically, I have my precompiled header (stdafx.h) and its have it entering thru stdafx.cpp, and all other files in the project use that PCH. Now, the only way I can get around this error is if I have a seperate source file (which I call GUIDSEG.CPP) that contains the same includes that are in stdafx.h, except for initguid.h. I do NOT use a precompiled header for this file.

    When I use this setup, everything works fine... it looks like there is a problem with initguid.h being defined multiple times, or not even at all. Anyway, I probably need to hit the programming forum with this one, but perhaps someone here knows the answer.
     
  20. Mike St.Louis

    Mike St.Louis Supporting Actor

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    Have any of you guys ever dabbled in Delphi?

    I've heard you can create COM objects with it. I wonder if it is any easier or better.
     

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