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Checking Out the Visual Basic .NET User Interface

Because a computer monitor can display only a limited amount of information on the screen at any given time, Visual Basic .NET provides several different windows for displaying vital information about your Visual Basic .NET program. After you understand the purpose of each window, you can use some of the following tips listed to make programming in Visual Basic .NET easier than before.

Playing with the Properties Windows (F4)

The Properties window enables you to modify the way objects, such as a button or a check box, look and behave. To help you find properties to change, the Properties window can display information alphabetically or by categories.

To display properties alphabetically, click on the Alphabetic icon in the Properties window. To display properties organized by category, click on the Categorized icon.

The Properties window displays all properties for a single object. If you want to view the properties for another object, you can click on that object or use the Object list box. Just click on the downward-pointing arrow of the Object list box to display a list of all objects and then click on the object that you want to modify.

Using the Solution Explorer (Ctrl+Alt+L)

The Solution Explorer displays all the files used to create a single Visual Basic .NET project. From within the Solution Explorer, you can edit a form, edit the code stored in a file, remove a file from a project, or delete that file altogether by right-clicking on the file you want to change and then clicking on one of the following:

  • View Code (to edit BASIC code)
  • View Designer (to modify your user interface)
  • Exclude From Project (to remove a file from the project without deleting that file)
  • Delete (to remove a file from a project and erase that file at the same time)

Customizing the Toolbox (Ctrl+Alt+X)

The Toolbox displays all the different types of objects you can add to your user interface such as radio buttons, check boxes, or text boxes, which are stored under the Windows Forms tab. For quick access to your most commonly used objects, you can create your own tab and store your favorite objects on that tab.

Customizing a Tab in the Toolbox

To create a tab in the Toolbox, follow these steps:

1. Right-click on any tab (such as the Windows Forms tab) in the Toolbox.

A pop-up menu appears.

2. Click on Add Tab.

The Toolbox displays a blank tab.

3. Type a descriptive name for your tab and press Enter.

The Toolbox displays your tab name in the Toolbox.

Adding Objects to a Custom Tab in the Toolbox

To add objects to your custom tab in the Toolbox, follow these steps:

1. Right-click on an object that you want, such as TextBox or RadioButton.

A pop-up menu appears.

2. Click on Copy.

3. Click on the tab where you want to store the object you chose in Step 1.

4. Right-click and choose Paste.

The Toolbox displays your chosen object under your Toolbox tab.

Deleting a Tab in the Toolbox

To delete a tab in the Toolbox, follow these steps:

1. Right-click on the tab you want to delete.

A pop-up menu appears.

2. Click on Delete Tab.

If you have any objects stored under your chosen tab, a dialog box appears, asking if you want to continue.

3. Click Yes.

Visual Basic .NET deletes your chosen Toolbox tab.

Looking at the Class View (Ctrl+Alt+C)

The Class View lists all the variables, methods, and properties used by class files that make up your Visual Basic .NET project. By using the Class View window, you can quickly jump to the part of a class file that you need to examine or modify.

To view a variable, method, or property, follow these steps:

1. Choose View --> Class View (or press Ctrl+Alt+C) to open the Class View window.

The Class View window appears.

2. Double-click on the variable, method, or property that you want to examine or modify.

Visual Basic .NET displays your chosen variable, method, or property in the Code Editor.

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