Visual Basic is itself a Windows application. You load and execute the VB system just as you do other Windows programs. You will use this running VB program to create other programs. VB is just a tool, albeit an extremely powerful tool, that programmers (people who write programs) use to write, test, and run Windows applications.
Although programmers often use the terms program and application interchangeably, the term application seems to fit the best when you’re describing a Windows program because a Windows program typically consists of several files. These files work together in the form of a project. The project generates the final program that the user loads and runs from Windows by double-clicking an icon or by starting the application with the Windows Start menu.
The role of programming tools has evolved over the past 45 years along with computer hardware. A programming language today, such as Visual Basic, differs greatly from programming languages of just a few years ago. The visual nature of the Windows operating system requires more advanced tools than were available a few years ago. Before windowed environments, a programming language was a simple text-based tool with which you wrote programs. Today you need much more than just a language; you need a graphical development tool that can work inside the Windows system and create applications that take advantage of all the graphical, multimedia, online, and multiprocessed activities that Windows offers. Visual Basic is such a tool. More than a language, Visual Basic lets you generate applications that interact with every aspect of today’s Windows operating systems.
If you’ve taken a look at Visual Basic in the past, you’ll be amazed at today’s Visual Basic system. VB now sports a true compiler that creates standalone runtime .EXE files that execute more quickly than previous VB programs. VB also includes several wizards that offer step-by-step dialog box questions that guide you through the creation of applications. VB’s development platform, a development environment called the Developer Studio, now supports the same features as the advanced Visual C++ and Visual J++ compilers. Therefore, once you learn one of Microsoft’s Visual programming products, you will have the skills to use the other language products without a long learning curve ahead of you.