What's the easiest way to program an application?
August 9, 2011 5:23 PM   Subscribe

What is the easiest way to make a simple Windows application? Visual Basic?

I want to make an application that has a few drop down lists, a few input boxes, and from that generates a simple automated response. I remember Visual Basic being pretty easy when I tried it 10 years ago, but I wanted to see what MeFites think.
posted by dkleinst to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Well yeah, but it is Visual Basic .Net now. You might be better off going with C# due to more available developers and better marketability of the skillset, if that doesn't matter to you then go nuts with VB.net. Stick with Windows Forms if you want to keep it simple, don't get sucked into WPF ( Windows Presentation Foundation, it uses XML to define the UI so the UI layer can be authored by designers using other authoring tools unless you want to dig deep into some of the new tools such as Blend and Sketchflow or you want gradients all over everything.)

Visual Studio Express is free and is probably more than suitable for what you want to do.
posted by Ad hominem at 5:36 PM on August 9, 2011

VB .NET 2010 bears little relation to old VB6. There is a significant learning curve associated with the IDE and even the simplest of programs now . Sad to say the days of quick and easy windows programming via the VB route are pretty much gone now. I'd be interested in seeing other people's alternatives, though.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 5:38 PM on August 9, 2011

Yes, VB.net is nothing like vb6. But I'm not sure I agree it isn't simple. Create a new Windows Forms project. Your default window, named Form1, should come up in the designer, you can drag and drop any controls you want from the tollbox panel docked to the left hand side. For comboboxes with items, drop a combobox onto the form, look in the lower right hand corner and you should see the property grid. Scroll down in the grid until you see items, select the items property and click the ... button and add your items one per line

For event handlers click on the lightning bolt icon on the properties pane, select what event you want, for a button click find the word Click, double-click in the textbox and it will add the handler, and take you to the code.

Hell I am halfway there. It will certainly be easier than a 3rd party UI framework.
posted by Ad hominem at 5:52 PM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

AutoHotkey might be your best bet as it's free and has a gentle learning curve. You should be able to knock up a prototype application to do what you want fairly quickly.
posted by wannalol at 5:56 PM on August 9, 2011

I haven't used it myself but I heard there are two python gui creators that are extremely easy: PythonCard and EasyGui. TKinter gui that's included with python is also pretty easy, but those 2 are designed to be very easy to learn.
posted by rainy at 5:59 PM on August 9, 2011

In what sense does it have to be a Windows application? Like, can you make it a PHP application? Or, even more barebones, all client side javascript? If it really is a couple of dropdowns + a few other inputs = some response, it might be easier to deal with if you make the front end in HTML and put all the JS in a big script block. Then your deployment is just emailing or copying the file around (assuming you can't put it on a server somewhere, which also opens up other possibilities).

Anyway, if it doesn't have to have actual Windows chrome I doubt it's going to get easier than HTML + something.
posted by jeb at 6:00 PM on August 9, 2011

If your description is accurate and you really do mean just a few lists with a few options, forget anything so complicated as Visual Basic etc. Make an HTA (Hypertext Application), which is just a webpage with a .hta extension instead of .html. Create an HTML form with all the options, and use javascript to generate the result you want to display when the user hits the submit button.

HTAs open up in a sandboxed IE environment that has access to most everything the user has access to and will run the scripts within it without prompting the user for anything.

More information.

If you're familiar with HTML and javascript, you'll have it working in an hour.
posted by jsturgill at 6:05 PM on August 9, 2011

I want to agree with Ad hominem here. Basic windows forms are incredibly quick and easy on the free Visual Studio Express. It's really as simple as he wrote. The WYSIWYG gui really makes the layout incredibly quick.
posted by czytm at 6:08 PM on August 9, 2011

Visual Basic 2010 Express

Free, and as close to VB6 as you'll get right now.
posted by blue_beetle at 5:41 AM on August 10, 2011

I agree with jsturgill that an HTA app is a good way to go especially since there is no software for either user or developer to install.
Also if you know a little VB, you have the option to use VB script instead of javascript if that's what you prefer.
posted by canoehead at 9:12 AM on August 10, 2011

Yeap. If this is a desktop app (not a web based one) that has to be run only on windows Visual Studio is the way to go
posted by WizKid at 2:46 PM on August 10, 2011

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