Microsoft Visual Basic 2010 Express is a free development tool, able to aid you in designing and programming simple or complex applications. Although it’s a stripped down version of the full program, you will still find most of the tools you need. It has a nice look, the interface is well organized, optimized for fast functionality and the simplicity is an advantage for amateur programmers.
Experts are not left out and they can find a useful option on the Tools menu at Settings->Expert Settings. Selecting that extends some parts of the menu, adding a few extra features, which can not be found when the program is used in Basic Settings mode.
The Solution Explorer panel on the right side organizes your projects nicely by classes, forms, user controls, etc. Below, you will find the properties for each selected object, so you can easily modify them.
The code editor automatically adjusts and draws graphical aids to help make the text easier to analyze. Colors are also used to point out different types of code (variable, comment, class, etc).
The program interface can be customized in almost any way you are comfortable with. In the View menu you can open additional panels that show errors, objects, databases and other types of information.
Code can be easily added either by directly writing it or by using the GUI. The auto-complete feature, called IntelliSense, is very accurate, and it greatly helps improve the speed of writing and reduces the possibility of errors because of incorrectly referenced objects (a typical example is when you don’t remember if that variable was called SomeVariable or Somevariable, an often made mistake in case sensitive programming languages).
Furthermore, you will find basic debugging tools, such as Step Into, Step Over or breakpoints.
The Extension Manager is rich with content, offering you handy additional tools that are directly downloadable from an online database.
Given the fact that it’s free, this version of Visual Basic is excellent for educational purposes or even projects of medium complexity. If you want the full version though, you will have to buy the whole Visual Studio suite.