Visual Basic comes in three versions called the Standard Edition, Professional Edition, and the Enterprise Edition. It's my opinion that the Professional Edition (or better) is what you should be using if you're doing anything other than just tinkering with Visual Basic.
Microsoft has generally targeted the VB versions like this:
- Standard Edition
VB5 Update: The Standard Edition is now called the Learning Edition.
- Profession Edition
Individual working professional programmers.
- Enterprise Edition
Professional corporate development teams.
Not only does the Professional Edition come with a number of extra custom controls, it also includes a lot of features that aren't available in the Standard Edition. You only really need to look at the Enterprise edition if you're doing client/server applications.
Here's a few of the things availabe with the Professional Edition that aren't available with the Standard Edition:
- Data Access Objects
You can do database development with any edition of VB, including the Standard edition. However, with the Standard edition, your access to databases is limited to the use of the data control. With the Professional edition, you can create any of the objects in the DAO library in code without using the data control.
- 16-bit Executables
Only the Professiona edition or better can create 16-bit applications. If you or your customers are still using Win 3.x, the Standard editon won't help you.
VB5 Update: VB5 cannot create 16-bit executables in any version.
- OLE Servers
While you can build OLE servers with the Standard edition, only the Professional edition or Enterprise editions can create in-process servers (OLE DLLs). This presents a major performance improvement over out-of-process servers.
- Custom Controls
There are a number of additional custom controls that ship with the Professional edition that aren't available with the Standard edition. While I'm not a big fan of using a lot of custom controls, some of them can be quite useful.
- Additional Documentation
This is, in my opinion, one of the most important and most often overlooked reasons to purchase the Professional edition. Read on for more information about the documentation that's included.
With the Professional edition or better on CD ROM, you'll find two incredibly valuable resources:
- Visual Basic Books Online
This includes all the printed documentation in an online version and includes a full-text search capability.
- MSDN Visual Basic Starter Kit
This is a basic version of the full Microsoft Developer Network CD. There's an incredible amount of information here, including the full Win16 and Win32 SDKs with complete documentation of every available API call.
By Joe Garrick