Still in search of .Net nirvana, Karl Moore checks out a course that promises to turn you into a Visual Basic 7 guru within two days. But can this VBUG offering deliver what it promises or is it perhaps a little too light on content? Read on.
I am an incredibly unlucky chap.
No, it's true. Readers of my weekly newsletter will testify that no matter how hard I try, learning about the new and elusive VB.Net technologies often turns into one big disaster.
Last year, the Microsoft press office accidentally overbooked at the .Net conference and left me standing at the gates. Is it me? They've since apologised for the confusion and informed me I'm on their "priority one" list, a group of journalists scheduled to be flown across the Big Pond to check out the latest hot tools. But dammit, I missed the plane.
So I headed down to London for DevWeek 2001 a short while ago, in anticipation of lots of juicy content, plenty of material to write about here at VB-World. Unfortunately the VB.Net speaker was a flop (sorry, Jeffrey) poorly prepared, terrible at not answering questions (no matter how unrelated) and never actually using the VB.Net development environment during his talks. In fact, I think he snatched much of his material from my own articles here on the site.
Yes, it's fair to say that I'm an incredibly unlucky .Net chap.
So when the Visual Basic User Group here in the UK offered me a place on one of their two-day VB.Net courses, I was dubious.
But, glutton for punishment, I accepted. And the outcome was very unexpected.
Costing #595 / $890 for the two days, this Rob Macdonald course promises to get you up to speed with all the latest VB.NET technologies. It's a hands-on course for Visual Basic 6 developers with a reasonable knowledge of the language.
And it all started off well. Sort of.
After getting lost on the tube, I finally managed to land at my intended destination - Ladbroke Grove station. From there, I experienced taxi troubles. Erm, there weren't any. However I finally arrived - and one coke later, it was time for the ten delegates to invade the course room.
And this is where the fun began. Sitting down, we were all presented with a full training kit; everything from a copy of the latest VB.Net Beta One Programming book from Wrox, through to a bound version of all the up-and-coming presentation slides. Pen, notepaper, resource CD and full copy of VB.Net Beta One were also provided.
I was already impressed. Everything seemed much more professional than I had expected. And the pen was exceptionally groovy, also.
After the mandatory introductions, Rob Macdonald of ADO-book fame and whom I later learned is developing the six-week training course for Microsoft VB.Net technicians started off by taking us on a grand tour of the .Net strategy, showcasing the new wizzy features and demonstrating how it all fits into the real world.
He then moved onto language features covering everything from data type changes through to constructors and inheritance followed shortly after by Web Services. Over the next two days we went on to cover how .Net works, ADO.Net, Windows Forms and Web Forms.
Now, this course could have been exceptionally boring. If Rob would've simply droned on about VB.Net and how it was going to change our lives, I'm sure I would've left the first day. But he didn't after the initial introduction, it was hands-on and exercise-time. And that was pure fun.
It was fast-paced, no doubt about it. And I'm sure a Visual Basic newbie simply wouldn't be able to cope. But this course wasn't aimed at those just starting out with the language. It was aimed at developers looking to get a head start in using some of the latest technologies.
There was also plenty of time for questions and Rob seemed to have an infinite number of answers. It was also nice to see a trainer so completely unbias; no big time plugs, no unnecessary hype, no "I'm a Bill Gates love child" sticker.
It was just two days of friendly faces and the facts.
And so, I was pleased.
Slanderous reviews are often the easiest to write. It's easy to point, be critical and suggest what the other should've done better.
It's rather less easy to give compliments. However this course undoubtedly deserves them.
Well-executed, professional and friendly, this course oozes with fresh knowledge. It's a huge brain dump of all we know about VB.Net to date, explained in a manner even a geezer such as myself can understand.
It nicely covered all the core concepts, plus removed a lot of the fear from the previously unknown world of Beta One. And it really isn't all that scary.
All in all, I have no doubt in calling this an exemplary course. Well done, VBUG I have no qualms in recommending it.
The Rob Macdonald VB.Net course is currently touring the United Kingdom. The VBUG is also hosting its Spring conference from April 2nd. For more information on any of these events, click here to visit their site.