Teach Yourself


in 21 Days


How do you ever untangle all the competing technologies for the Web? Better yet, how do you bring all of the technologies together for the good of your application? At times, it seems like an insurmountable task. With all of the excitement surrounding the Web, tools and technologies are growing at an ever-increasing pace. Organizations are seeking to capitalize on these new technologies to gain a competitive advantage, be it decreased costs, increased customer satisfaction, or even increased sales. However, the expertise to achieve these goals is locked within a few individuals, namely the software developers. It is definitely an exciting time for developers who can capitalize on the new technologies to deliver Web-based solutions.

There is, however, frustration and complexity associated with this new Web opportunity: which tool to use and when? Developers have spent several years accumulating their own favorite set of tools for traditional client/server development. Until now, the tools for the Web have been introduced in a sporadic and disjointed fashion. So, of the new tools coming into the market for Web-based development, which tools should developers put into their toolbox?

In designing Visual InterDev, we listened to the cries of the developers who wanted a comprehensive, integrated development tool that would give them the ease of use of Visual Basic, the extensibility of Visual C++, and the database functionality of Microsoft Access, while using a common development environment. As with our tools for traditional client-server development, Microsoft worked diligently to develop a tool that would enable the developer to build applications that are robust and extensible for the Web. We are very pleased with the functionality and potential of Visual InterDev.

With Visual InterDev, we have developed a tool that shares the same integrated development environment of our other tools, while at the same time giving developers the best and most advanced functionality for the Web. We envision robust, database-driven applications soon becoming the norm for the Internet and intranets.

Just as Visual InterDev provides you with the right tool for your Web-based development efforts, this book empowers you with the knowledge you need to take advantage of our new tool. Mike has been working with the product since the early alpha testing and has contributed to its progress along the way. I know that you will appreciate this book as the key to unlocking the power and capabilities of Visual InterDev. I am very proud of our product and this book and hope that you thoroughly enjoy them both.

Karen Anderson

Visual InterDev Product Manager

Microsoft Corporation

April 1997


I would like to thank all the great people at Sams.net for the opportunity to write about such a revolutionary product for the Internet. Specifically, I thank Kelly Murdock, my development editor, who gave me the opportunity to write this book and who worked with and encouraged me every step of the way to ensure its success. I also truly appreciate the efforts of Howard Jones, my production editor, along with the other team of editors who worked diligently to develop a quality product. Sams.net is an excellent publisher, and I sincerely enjoyed working with everyone associated with the Sams family.

I truly appreciate the willingness and support of Andersen Consulting, where I perform my day job, for giving me the chance to dedicate time away from clients and real work to write this book. I have truly benefited from my experiences and association with the best consulting firm in the world. I also appreciate the support, inspiration, and input from all of my colleagues at Andersen. I couldn't ask for a better group of co-workers. Specifically, I want to thank Terrence Gee, my mentor and friend, who has truly impacted my personal and professional life. Finally, I appreciate the diligent and persistent efforts of Debbie Goldstein, Addison Kuo, and others who provided the inspiration for the case study in the book.

On a personal note, thanks to all of my friends and colleagues who encouraged and prayed for me during the writing of this book. I would like to thank my eleventh grade English teacher, Carol Ramsey, who enriched and molded my writing abilities and taught me the importance of a good vocabulary. Carol, all of those ultra-marathon vocabulary tests paid off. I also would like to sincerely thank Dr. Jim King who taught me about systems analysis while I was at Baylor University and inspired me to pursue consulting as a career. Dr. King is one of those rare professors who transcends theory and allows you to truly learn.

Most importantly, I thank my wife, Gina, and our two boys, Drew and Will, who supported and encouraged me throughout this exciting journey. Thanks for the sacrifices that you made to allow me to pursue my dream of writing. I also appreciate my Mom and grandparents for their interest, support, and prayers along the way. I especially thank my Mom, a former English teacher, for raising me and inspiring me to write.

About the Author

L. Michael Van Hoozer, Jr. is a Senior Manager for Andersen Consulting and has over nine years of systems development experience. He has worked in three different areas of the Andersen Consulting practice, including business process, organizational and instructional design, and client-server technology. He began his career at Andersen designing and developing oil and gas trading systems for some of the major oil companies in Houston, TX, where he resides. For the last six years, Mike has focused solely on client-server and now Internet-related technologies. Mike has strong ties to Microsoft in that he has been very involved with the alpha and beta testing of products including Visual Basic and Visual InterDev. Mike also has implemented solutions for his clients based on these tools, using his strong application development and user interface design skills.

Mike was a contributing author for Visual Basic 4 Unleashed (Sams Publishing, 1995) and has written articles for Information Week. He also has developed and conducted several training courses for his clients as well as Andersen Consulting employees and is sought out as a speaker for organizations and businesses in the Houston area. He has a B.B.A. degree in Finance, Economics, and Information Systems from Baylor University. He has volunteered much of his time to Child Advocates, Inc., serving as an outspoken advocate for abused and neglected children. He has served in various capacities with Child Advocates since 1989, including Chairman of the Board of Directors in 1996. He currently serves as the Recruitment, Training, and Retention Committee Chair for Child Advocates, where he actively speaks to organizations, businesses, and civic groups about the issue of abuse and the need for quality volunteers. When he is not working or volunteering, Mike enjoys spending time with his wife Gina and their two children, Drew and Will.

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The technology community thought it would never get here. Competitors underestimated the ability of the company to make the necessary changes to adapt. Now we can celebrate the fact that Microsoft has made one of the most tremendous turnarounds in history. It sounds very funny to mention "turnaround" and "Microsoft," one of the most successful companies of modern times, in the same sentence. Yet, it is true. The Internet forced Microsoft to adapt and make revolutionary changes to all of their products and to develop new products as well. The public was demanding software to support their growing addiction to the World Wide Web (WWW), and Microsoft delivered.

The first products that Microsoft developed focused on the end-user and included Internet Explorer and Internet Assistant for the Microsoft Office applications. These products allowed functional users to browse the WWW and easily change their documents to the Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) format supported by the Web. Developers, on the other hand, had to piece a myriad of tools together to develop both high-end content and applications. Microsoft heard their cries and created Visual InterDev, a high-end development tool for building Web-based applications.

This tool addresses several major concerns of developers. First, Visual InterDev provides a robust, integrated development environment that includes all the necessary tools to develop and deploy applications for the Web. Developers no longer have to use multiple tools and environments to build their applications and distribute them to the world. Second, Visual InterDev provides tools to build dynamic Web-based applications through the use of Active Server pages. Active Server pages include components and scripts on the server machine that provide a dynamic experience for the user. The user can now maintain an interactive session with the server instead of passively viewing static information. Finally, Visual InterDev includes very powerful tools for building robust database applications that connect to desktop as well as high-end database management systems. The tools are graphical and provide an easy-to-use interface that significantly enhances a developer's productivity. Comprehensive site management tools also are included for the deployment of your completed applications.

The need for a tool like Visual InterDev has been great. Most developers have used a combination of HTML editors, tools specifically geared toward Java, and various database connectivity products to create their applications. The HTML Layout editor and the ActiveX Control Pad from Microsoft also have been included in a developer's toolbox. Someone must have asked the question, "Wouldn't it be nice if we could package support for all of these tools into one integrated environment?" Visual InterDev is the answer. The idea is to provide a comprehensive, integrated development environment that supports all the current Web technology. By using Visual InterDev, a developer can perform WYSIWYG HTML editing through the use of the FrontPage editor as well as use technology such as VBScript, JavaScript, ActiveX controls, Java applets, Active Server pages, and ODBC to build dynamic applications for the Web.

With the rapid growth of the WWW, companies are realizing the need to build a presence on the Internet. The WWW provides a platform for creating multitiered distributed applications. The next wave of client-server has hit, and it is the Internet. Organizations are realizing that they can use the Web for private intranet applications that enhance and/or replace such functions as Human Resources, Accounting, Electronic Commerce, and so on. In these applications, the browser becomes the universal client, and the server holds the key to unlocking corporate information. The use of a browser on the client machine reduces the administration time necessary to deploy proprietary client application software on every user's desktop. Visual InterDev is the perfect tool for riding the Internet wave of client-server. Visual InterDev allows for the creation of effective, multitiered applications by supporting the use of HTML, controls, components, and services.

Hopefully, you are already familiar with developing content for the Web. Maybe you have been juggling multiple tools while building applications for the Web. Regardless of your experience level, you have chosen this book to learn more about Visual InterDev and how you can create dynamic Web-based applications. This book will guide you through a step-by-step process of learning all of the powerful features of Visual InterDev. This book takes you on a journey and teaches you how to integrate HTML, scripting languages such as VBScript and JavaScript, ActiveX controls and Java applets, Active Server pages and com-ponents, and database connectivity to build rich and robust applications. Upon completion of this book, you will be able to unleash the power of Visual InterDev and take full advantage of its capabilities.

Who Should Read This Book?

You have chosen the right book if you are in one of the following categories:

  • You have experienced the Web and now want to contribute.

  • You are tired of using multiple tools to create a single application for the Web.

  • You want to create dynamic applications for the Web instead of publishing static documentation.

  • You want to enhance your productivity through the use of graphical database tools.

  • You want to create a dynamic experience for your users.

  • You have used FrontPage and now want to migrate to a higher-end development tool.

  • You have used Java tools and now want to try a more comprehensive and integrated tool.

  • You have developed client-server applications using tools such as Visual Basic and now want to try your hand at Web application development.

What This Book Contains

This book is intended to be completed in 21 days--a chapter each day. The book is designed in such a way that you determine the pace. Some readers will spend more time than this, based on their proficiency or schedule. Other readers may choose to approach the book at a more rapid pace.

This book is very similar to taking a self-paced course. I begin the book by talking about the basics and build upon these concepts as the weeks go on. By the end of the first week, you will have created your first Visual InterDev project. You will continue to build your skills through the second and third weeks and will develop more advanced applications. Throughout the book, I provide many examples and relevant exercises for you to try. Through reading and applying the material, you will become very proficient in using the tool. At the end of each chapter, I provide you with a chapter summary and a question and answer section based on topics covered in that chapter. Be sure to study hard during each chapter though, because you will be tested on the material with an end-of-chapter quiz. I don't know about you, but I always read the material more closely when I know I shall be tested on it.

  • During Week 1, you get a general overview of the Internet and the World Wide Web, intranets, and a discussion of the features of Visual InterDev. I also discuss design and development considerations when building an application for the Web, and you create your first Visual InterDev project. Finally, you learn how to use the FrontPage Editor for Visual InterDev, how to add images and multimedia features into your applications, and how to extend your Web pages through the use of client-side script.

  • During Week 2, you are introduced to database connectivity and communication. You learn all the aspects of using a database, from inserting a simple connection to using the Visual Data Tools in Visual InterDev to gain maximum productivity and features. You also take a journey through the world of server-side scripting and experience its capabilities. Finally, you get a chance to interact with objects including HTML objects, ActiveX controls and Java applets, and design-time controls.

  • During Week 3, you learn how to integrate objects into your applications. You also learn how to implement some of the more advanced features of Visual InterDev into your application, like building your own design-time control and using Active Server components to create a mutlitiered application. You learn how to use Visual InterDev to manage your web site files. You are exposed to other topics to consider when building a Web-based application, such as working in teams, source code control, and debugging your application. The culmination of the final week is a case study that builds upon all of the knowledge that you have gained in the first 20 days.

By reading, studying, and applying this book, you will become extremely proficient with Visual InterDev. You will instantly begin developing and deploying robust applications and will gain the confidence that you need to master the Web. Just think, if you start right now, you could be a webmaster in 21 days or less!

What You Need To Begin

Based on your purchase of this book, I assume that you already have Visual InterDev and have installed it on your PC. This book is a hands-on course, and you will need to try out the examples as you go along. Also, to get the full use out of the tool, you should have an ODBC-compliant database installed on either your desktop or a server machine to which you have access. Database connectivity is one of the key features for you to learn to provide dynamic applications for your users. My assumption is that you're familiar with HTML and have at least developed some kind of Web page or application. You don't need to be an expert in all the technologies supported by Visual InterDev; I'll introduce each of these in due time. If you're familiar with these technologies, the discussion can serve as a refresher--or you can skip to new or more advanced topics.

You're now ready to learn about a tool that is worth waiting for. I'm elated to present the newest member of the Microsoft Visual Tools family and its potential. Let's begin our exciting expedition.