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advice on expanding my skillset...

Hi guys,

I have been a web developer since 1997, and now like so many I find myself looking for work (I'm in the UK BTW).  I've always used raw HTML & ASP, plus SQL Server / MS Access for databases on sites, but not had much opportunity to expand out beyond that.

Anyway, most of the jobs I see listed now seem to be asking for some VB experience which I don't have, but I would like to teach myself to use it and have something I could take to interviews - I don't think it would take long to get up to speed but my question is, what aspects of the language should I look at learning quickly to get something on my CV?  I don't have any specific projects in mind but I was thinking that obviously getting used to data access would be a must?

Could some wise soul point me in the right direction?


Wednesday, May 28, 2003

Hmmm. I'm afraid there's a lot of "web developers" out there with your skills who were all laid off in the dot com crash and can't get any more work.

In the past, I've recommended Hardcore Visual Basic (online copy at ). It doesn't have very much on databases, but I assume you know enough about stored procedures, triggers, normalisation etc from your experience with SQL. It does tell you how to do good OO design, and most importantly is an enjoyable read.

Start a programming project of your own. (A mate of mine who found himself in the same situation as you last year started writing a system to collect astronomy photographs and analyse movements of stars and planets). Improve your networking skills - I'd be very surprised if any agency took you on to a VB role if you have no commercial experience. (Sorry, but that's the truth).

Better Than Being Unemployed...
Wednesday, May 28, 2003


I'd say the best thing to do is to get yourself certified.

This gives you a clear target, a well supported curriculum and a recognised qualification.

You get to use the MCP logo on your CV (resume), which carries much more weight than it should.

Personally, I've gained MCP, JCP and LCS and these have made a real difference in the job market.

Ged Byrne
Wednesday, May 28, 2003

thanks for those - I wasn't  looking for a VB role, but a lot of the ASP job listings do mention VB so I think I need to put something of that on my CV to even get a foot in the door...  Agencies tend to be a bit cautious about who they put forward as bad candidates reflect badly on them I suppose, so the more of the criteria I could meet the better it looks.

Wednesday, May 28, 2003

A lot of web jobs are going to mention VB, because it's most often going to be the language used to develop the middle-tier (and maybe data-tier) components of the application. I'd say, if they put it in the list of skills, you're going to be expected to be using it a lot -- maybe more than ASP.

That's just my interpretation, though.

Brad Wilson (
Wednesday, May 28, 2003

One of the problems web designers and programmers face is that they have to know both very low level details as well as domain specific knowledge. It's been years since the crash so you also have to expect more companies using packaged tools that let you customize to the specifics of the domain but have all that low level stuff already coded. Instead of just aiming to learn another scripting language or some strain of useless nothing to do with XML you must start to consider learning things like commerce server 2000 (e-commerce), Lyris (email marketing), or even SPSS (statistical analysis of web logs and activity logs) and the like. They all present large learning challenges. COmpanies aren't going to sit around waiting for you to code in CGI for a guest book or a URL redirector as much as they did in the past, they want results and analytics instead to help them do their job.

Li-fan Chen
Wednesday, May 28, 2003

Depending on the kind of job you want, the VB experience expected of you may differ. Basically when you code in ASP or components.. there's a single flow, and some developers use global variables and do procedual programming.. if you can think in objects and can reshape include files into proper inheritable or instantiable/sharable classes you should be able to translate that skill using VB syntaxes. It's little things like that. If you got some CS schooling what you learned should apply in either C#, C++, Java or VB. VB has GUI, and gives you a better programming environment to write more solid throw away applications and in-house tools. It's bytecode compiled, relatively easy to move around to different servers (no IIS? no problem).. and that's probably why companies ask for it in your resume. It is very widely used (like Perl, C#, or Java).

Some company want you to know a little, others live and breath this stuff and try to push out sellable code in VB, in that sort of strict environment you might want to get at least a MCSD for Visual Basic 6.0.

If you learn Visual Basic.Net, you'll be using a cleaner library set... but it's also harder because the framework is so large you might not know when your future employer want you to stop.

Li-fan Chen
Wednesday, May 28, 2003

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