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Visual Basic is a programming language developed by Microsoft Corporation in 1991. Derived from an earlier language, BASIC, the "Visual" part was added because many tasks could now be accomplished graphically, without writing code.

As compared to many other languages, Visual Basic syntax is considered to be relatively easy to learn. Like other programming languages, Visual Basic comprises a number of keywords and a set of syntax rules. However, programmers can create applications using the GUI components provided by the Visual Basic program itself, as well as the integrated development environment (IDE) of Microsoft Visual Studio, which is available in both a free streamlined and a professional version.

Besides Visual Basic (VB), there is also Visual Basic for Applications (VBA), an implementation of VB that is built into all Microsoft Office applications, running within a host rather than as a standalone application. Covered in a separate category, Visual Basic Script (VBScript) is a derivative of Visual Basic that is used for Windows scripting.

VB allows the building of Windows-based applications, web-based applications, and software for other devices, like hand-held computers. It features a graphical user interface (GUI). Users interact with a set of visual tools, such as buttons, text boxes, toolbars, and other menu items to make an application do its required tasks. VB Windows apps are event-driven, meaning that nothing happens until an application is called up on to respond to some event, such as button pressing, menus selection, and so on. Visual Basic is governed by an event processor. Once an event is detected, a corresponding event procedure is located and the instructions provided by that procedure are executed. These instructions are the actual code written by the programmer. In VB, that code is written using a version of the BASIC programming language.

Like BASIC, VB was designed to be easy to learn and to use. In Visual Basic, programming involves a combination of arranging visual components or controls on a form, specifying attributes or actions, and writing lines of code to enhance functionality. Forms are created through a drag-and-drop technique, and a tool is used to add text boxes, buttons, or other controls onto the form.

Version 1.0 of Visual Basic was introduced in 1991, at which time the principal designer was Alan Cooper and his associates at his company, Tripod, who were engaged to develop Tripod into a programmable form system for Windows 3.0. Originally known as Ruby (no relation to the Ruby programming language), it became Visual Basic when it was combined with the BASIC language, with Ruby providing the visual part of the system.

Version 2.0 introduced an easier and faster programming environment in 1992, while 1993 included the Microsoft Jet Database Engine for database programs in version 3.0. Support for controls based on the Component Object Model (COM) was included in version 4.0 in 1995, and version 5.0, in 1997, introduced the ability to create custom user controls. Version 6.0, in 1998, was the final version based on COM, which has since come to be referred to as Classic Visual Basic.

In 2002, version 7.0 broke compatibility with previous versions, causing a rift in the developer community, many of whom preferred previous versions. Also known as Visual Basic .NET, this version introduced a different object-oriented language based on the Microsoft .NET framework.

In effect, version 7.0, and subsequent versions, formed a separate object-oriented programming language, and a successor to Classic Visual Basic. Although the .NET portion of the name was dropped in 2005, versions of Visual Basic prior to 2002 are not compatible with those that came later.

Subsequent versions include 8.0 VB 2005, 9.0 VB 2008, 10.0 VB 2010, 11.0 VB 2012, 12.0 VB 2013, 14.0 VB 2015, 15.0 VB 2017, and 16.0 VB 2019. Version 12.0 was skipped in order to conform to the version numbering of Microsoft Visual Studio.

The original VB.NET compiler is written in VB.NET and may be obtained from GitHub as part of the .NET compiler platform. Open-source alternative IDEs include SharpDevelop and MonoDevelop.

Visual Basic for Applications is an implementation of Visual Basic 6.0, which became a legacy language in 2008, along with its associated IDE. Although Visual Basic versions prior to .NET are no longer updated or supported by Microsoft, the VBA programming language was upgraded in 2010, with the introduction of Visual Basic for Applications 7.0 in Microsoft Office applications.

Developed by Microsoft as freeware or registerware, Microsoft Visual Basic Studio Express is a function-limited set of IDEs that began with Visual Studio 2005. Later, Visual Studio Express was supplanted by the Visual Studio Community edition, also available for free.



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