In the not so distant past, I wrote a four part series entitled Visual Basic 101 where I explained how to build a bandwidth calculator for SAM component monitors using nothing more than Visual Basic.net. That was a fairly popular series so I thought, "Why not go a step further?"

 

The Step Further.

I have no idea what your environment looks like or what browser you use. However, I can make the assumption that you're always looking to improve it to suit your needs. For example, what browser are you using with SAM and/or NPM? Chrome, Firefox? Do they offer the plug-ins and flexibility you desire? If not, do what I did (in less than an hour mind you). Build your own browser. Below is a screenshot of the Quad browser I just built which enables you to view four screens at once.

quad.png

Now this may not be very practical on a tablet or laptop. But toss it on a projector or an 80" LCD? Wow. Pretty slick! You can have SAM in one corner and NPM in another. You could have four different levels of SAM shown at one time if you like. The possibilities are limitless. The point is simple. This browser is not feature rich whatsoever. What it does do is demonstrate just how quick and easy it is to build your own environment to suit your needs.

 

Lesson 1 - Installation

Before we begin, you'll need to install Visual Basic Express 2010, free courtesy of Microsoft. Click this link to begin downloading, followed by the installation.

 

Lesson 2 - The Environment

Now open Visual Studio Express and select New Project from the File menu. A new window will pop open. From there, select Windows Form Application, then click OK. If you done everything successfully, your screen should now look like this:

ide.png

Now you have all you need to build the Quad Noc Browser, minus the code. Let me explain what you're looking at above:

  • Highlighted in red is a Form. A form, in essence, is a window; hence the name, Windows. A form is an empty workspace where all of your buttons and controls will live, once you put them there. (Notice the form of the browser above with all of its controls.)
  • Highlighted in green is the Toolbox. The toolbox contains all of the controls you will need to build almost anything, including the browser. These controls may be placed on the form as needed. As you can see in the browser, there are multiple web browsers, radio buttons, labels, and so on. These all came from the toolbox.
  • Highlighted in purple is the Properties window. Every control, or object (including the form itself) has certain properties. These properties can be set and changed both before running the program and while the program is running. Think about the properties of television. One property is its color. Other properties include the TV's height, weight, picture resolution, and so on.

 

Homework

Play around with this new environment and try to get comfortable. Explore the controls and the properties of the more common controls.
Tip: Once you place a control on the form and select it, the Properties window will show the properties of that control.

 

In part 2 we'll build the form with all of the controls.