What Is the Visual Basic IDE?


Visual Basic is an easy to learn computer programming language from Microsoft used for developing programs that run on the Microsoft Windows family of operating systems. The IDE that Microsoft provides for Visual Basic is the Microsoft Visual Studio. With Visual Basic and the Microsoft Visual Studio, a programmer can create many different kinds of programs including windows forms applications, web sites, web services and even full featured web applications such as an online store.

What is an IDE?

  • IDE stands for Integrated Development Environment. An IDE is a computer program that makes creating new programs easier by providing menus, wizards, guidance and shortcuts that make things simpler and more intuitive for the programmer. A way to conceptualize the IDE is to think of a carpenter's work bench which has a variety of useful tools that the carpenter uses to work wood into a finished product. In the same way your Integrated Development Environment provides you with programming tools that you can use to write, compile and deploy new applications quickly and easily.

The Studio

  • The IDE offered by Microsoft for Visual Basic is Microsoft Visual Studio. Visual Studio includes a code editing screen that supports an auto completion technology that Microsoft calls IntelliSense. Code re-factoring, which is a programming term for renaming program components, is also supported. The studio also has an integrated debugger that helps the programmer find flaws in his program both before it is run by highlighting errors and while it is running by providing verbose error descriptions and tracing. Other notable built-in tools include a forms designer for building GUI applications, a web designer, a class designer and a database schema designer.


  • Like most IDEs Microsoft's Visual Studio includes support for more than one kind of programming language. Languages built-in to Visual Studio include Visual C/C++, Visual Basic .NET, Visual C#, and F# as of Visual Studio 2010. Visual Studio also has built-in support for XML/XSLT, HTML/XHTML, JavaScript and CSS. Support for other programming languages is available via language services that must be installed separately. Microsoft does also provide individual language-specific versions of Visual Studio which provide limited language services to the programmer. There are limited versions available for Microsoft Visual Basic, Visual J#, Visual C#, and Visual C++.


  • Microsoft released the first version of its Visual Studio software in 1997. This marked the first time the full suite of Microsoft's programming tools were bundled together into a single product that supported multiple programming languages. Since that time multiple versions have been released with each adding more language support, programming and debugging tools. As of May 2010 the current version of Microsoft Visual Studio is Visual Studio 2010. A 90-day free trial version of the program is available for download at Microsoft's website along with the option to purchase.

Next steps

  • Though Visual Basic and Visual Studio are designed to be easy to learn and use, they are professional programming tools and require knowledge and experience to become skilled. If you plan on purchasing them you should consider professional training or a computer training manual especially if you have no prior experience with computer programming. The former can be found at your local university, college, or professional computer training office and the latter at a book store in the technical manuals section.

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