Touring the Design View of Visual Basic 2008

By Bill Sempf

When you launch Visual Studio (usually by selecting its icon on your Start menu) and begin any visual project, you see the Design View. The Design View is where the Graphical User Interface (GUI) work takes place. Generally speaking, anytime you are working with pictures of forms, not code, you are working with the Design View. (If you hear the term designer window, it’s probably a reference to the actual place you do the work. The term Design View refers to the state the application is in.

In the Design View, you can accomplish the following:

  • Manufacture windows, Web, and smart device forms by dragging controls directly to the form in a What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get (WYSIWYG) type environment
  • Work with databases and XML files visually
  • Create software components by visually managing the parts

In general, Design View is the core part of Visual Studio. Many of the other tools in Visual Studio depend on the Design View, in fact, and are disabled when you use another view, such as Code View, to work on your project.

Using the Design View tabs

The designer tabs have the word [Design] in the tab name, to indicate that you are using the Design View. Tabs are used in the Design and Code Views. The gray tab represents files that are open but not active. An asterisk (*) next to the filename means that you’ve made changes, but not yet saved the file.

The white tab is active and contains the editable form. When you have more than one document open, you can edit only the active form. You can drag the tabs to the left and right to change their order. Right-clicking a tab gives you a menu from which you can choose several screen management options.

Understanding tab groups

Tab groups make it easier to copy information out of one form and into another. For example, you can have one set of pages on the top half of the screen and another on the bottom half, and copy from one and paste into the other without changing screens. You can also save and close from this menu, or get information, such as the current path or the containing folder.