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'[PICLIST] [EE] C++ vs. Visual Basic'
2000\12\31@170539 by Brian Kraut

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I had planned on learning C++ a while ago so I could write general PC
software for various things (data logging, various interfaces to PIC
projects, machinery alarm and monitoring, etc.).  After reading the
first few chapters of a book several times over the last 6 months I
realized that someone who works 60 hours a week, designs and sells PIC
products on the side, has a family and almost no free time, and only
will program occasionally will never learn C++.  I was thinking of
trying VB.  What if anything will I loose by using VB instead and is it
a lot easier to learn than C++?

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2000\12\31@182420 by James Burkart

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Well, there are some basic compilers for pics out there, but either are
expensive or crap. The only exception is, of course, Basic Stamps and
PicBasic.

There is something out there called the OOPic (Object-Oriented Pic). It
comes with an IDE that handles a version of Visual Basic or C if you like.
Not quite as expensive as the Basic Stamp, and a lot cheaper to program
(little or no external hardware to connect it to the PC). They are
specifically designed for robotics, but can be used for most anything.

For more information you might wanna look at the Gernsback (Poptronics
Magazine) Website. They did an article about 4 months back.

http://www.poptronics.com/cgi-bin/texis/webinator/searchc/?db=db&query=OOPic

James Burkart

{Original Message removed}

'[PICLIST] [EE] C++ vs. Visual Basic : TRY BORLAND '
2000\12\31@183630 by ronruss

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I found myself in the same situation. I wanted to learn C++ for the
PC and thought it wouldn't be too bad since I program in C for
embedded systems. C++ requires dedication.

Visual Basic is a good choice but any deliverables take up alot of
space.

I tried Borland's Delphi which is object Pascal and it seems like a
good compromise. I've written DLL's using it as well as many applications.
Delphi lacked a good serial interface unit but there are sources on the
net to help in that area.

Brian Kraut wrote:

{Quote hidden}

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2000\12\31@231646 by Roman Black

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Brian Kraut wrote:
>
> I had planned on learning C++ a while ago so I could write general PC
> software for various things (data logging, various interfaces to PIC
> projects, machinery alarm and monitoring, etc.).  After reading the
> first few chapters of a book several times over the last 6 months I
> realized that someone who works 60 hours a week, designs and sells PIC
> products on the side, has a family and almost no free time, and only
> will program occasionally will never learn C++.  I was thinking of
> trying VB.  What if anything will I loose by using VB instead and is it
> a lot easier to learn than C++?


Forget C++ and get a book on C. C will perform much better
for interface applications, and if you are familiar with
low-level stuff like PICs you will find C pretty easy.

Inheritance and Polymorphism might be nice for people
writing slow clunky things like windows, but if you want
to drive the chips and video and ports in your PC to
max performance you need simple if/else branching and
for statements. C was originally designed as a fairly low
level language that would compile into fast code but
be slightly easier to use than assembler. Turning it into
C++ (and then trying to make that the standard!) was
one of the dumb moves in computing history. Keep a high
performance language high performance I say.

I have a couple of books on C++ and they seem to focus on
the object oriented stuff way too much, when all you really
need to understand is somthing like this:

if(x>0)  do_stuff();
else     do_other_stuff();

:o)
-Roman

PS. A good book is "Learning Turbo C", any instruction
from older years will be better. Also there are some good
freeware C tutorials on the net if you search.

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'[PICLIST] [EE] C++ vs. Visual Basic'
2001\01\01@001114 by Peter Tiang
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Hi Brian,

   From your description of the things you
   wish to do with the PC software (data logging,
   monitoring, etc). I think it is best
   you take up VB as it is very suitable
   for these GUI/Interface stuff.
   You'll will be amazed how fast you can
   come up with a GUI vs VC++.

   You won't lose much with VB except for
   speed and some low-level accesses (which
   you can overcome by using .DLL or .OCX).
   VB does have some very good serial IO
   functions built-in.

   It also tends to be a bit large for
   first release (as you have to release
   the run-time library or any ActiveX component
   with it). However subsequent releases are
   just the small VB .EXE file.

   I'm a C freak myself, and naturally there is resistant
   to having learn the syntax of another language.
   But M$ messed up VC++ with it's extensive
   use of MACROs and non-ANSI extensions.

   I think VB is very easy to learn, I
   just spent around one week before getting
   the hang of it, though months to get
   over the initial resistant.

Regards,
Peter/AMQ

{Original Message removed}

2001\01\01@164450 by Tom Mariner

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Heartily endorse VB as a companion to Pic products. Virtually every product
we have done in the past few years has a VB companion for setup, testing,
production, etc.

Would also suggest using Access database behind it since you have permission
to distribute the resulting code royalty-free. Most data we are trying to
track, create, etc. fits nicely into a relational database and Access is
surprisingly powerful and easy to add to one's PC program.

Tom Mariner

> {Original Message removed}

2001\01\02@035447 by Jonathan Smith

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Hi.  At last a question I can help with!

C++ can be useful but it's primarily designed for larger applications than
what you are doing - large programs with several developers - who may change
as the project develops.  You'll probably be better off starting with C.  It
will probably be simpler, it's a much more standardized language (IIRC C++
is still somewhat "in flux" - more than C at any rate), and you will probably
have an easier time understanding the context and concepts behind it since you
are familiar with Assembly.  C++ requires a different way of looking at the
problem (at least in theory).

Visual Basic makes the user interface easier (it's easier to make "pretty"
programs), but I don't know that it will make the actual hardware
interfacing easier -
you've still got to know how to design/develop/debug a program.  With VBasic
you are also tying yourself *strictly* to the Windows platform.  I'm not
even sure if VB supports DOS anymore!  If you should decide to branch out
to any other operating system (like say - a Unix variant) C (or even C++)
is the
way to go.  Cross platform standards *are* your friend.

In summary - try C, it's probably your best bet.  There is lot of stuff out
there - Borland has free compilers, GNU has free compilers (gcc and g++),
there's a few other companies.  I learned on Borland C++ (I was a CS major
for
a while - the "core" classes were taught in C++ with Borland on Microsoft
platforms (NT/95) and GNU compilers on the Unix platforms (Solaris and
Linux).  I took a class in VBasic - it was OK (having the IDE do the user
interface
stuff more or less "automagically" was nice) but it produces big, slow,
ugly code that will only run on Windows - and it's expensive.

At 05:05 PM 12/31/00 -0500, you wrote:
{Quote hidden}

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2001\01\02@080456 by David Lions

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Forget this 'C++'.  C++ is a toss, if you ever truly understand all it's
advantages you won't be posting to the piclist about it.  Most of us don't
need C++.  In my brief experience (6 yrs) the best solution is a good plan
and understanding of what you are trying to do.  C++ and microcontrollers
dont mix, end all discussion combining the two here.

Visual Basic for PC 'front ends' is fine, unless you need to stretch the
capabilities of hardware.  Chances are you won't, so for the PC-side of your
PIC project, Visual Basic is fine.

I learnt Visual C++ because it was 'professional', perception only.  I only
use VC++ for 'front ends' also.  You would never use it as the language for
your microcontroller sourcecode.  As for using it in a front end, I spend
most of my time looking through ridiculously compicated descriptions of
classes.  Visual Basic is easier.  VC is more professional but a pain in the
butt.

Summary:
* C for microcontroller
* Visual Basic for PC-based front end (if required)

{Original Message removed}

2001\01\02@110931 by M. Adam Davis

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Background: I work full time as a VB programmer, know C, and finally took
a class on C++.

I started microcontrollers on the basic stamp (the first one, before the
second version came out).  I moved from the basic stamp to assembly and C
on the pic for the same reason I use C and C++ on more and more of my
projects - I can't get VB to go fast enough, make small distributions, and
access the hardware easily enough.  VB has other limitations, but as a
hardware guy I am more concerned about those three.  You cannot make a
complete program in VB that fits on one disk (I haven't tried - I suppose
it might be possible to fit msvbxx.dll on a disk with the other runtime
files).  It is practically impossible to access the pc hardware directly
with VB without extra dlls or activex components.  VB is /SLOW/.  As in
molasses-running-uphill-on-a-cold-day type of slow.  Sure, it gets the job
done, and for many/most projects it is fast enough.  And you can't fight
the fact that sometimes development time is more important than run-time
speed.

But it was good that I started out with basic and understood its
limitations, and it helps you better understand the windows interface and
how events and messages are dealt with - crucial to using vc effectively.

-Adam

Brian Kraut wrote:
{Quote hidden}

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2001\01\02@112442 by Scott Newell

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>projects - I can't get VB to go fast enough, make small distributions, and
>access the hardware easily enough.  VB has other limitations, but as a

Isn't it also harder to get to the windows API through VB?

'Course, I'm partial to Delphi and C++ Builder myself...I have no patience
or use for VB.


newell

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2001\01\02@115712 by M. Adam Davis

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Strictly, yes, it is harder to deal with the windows API directly in VB
than in C, but not much harder at all.  Just have to keep a few things in
mind, and it becomes fairly straightforward.

-Adam

Scott Newell wrote:
{Quote hidden}

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2001\01\02@121350 by Bob Ammerman

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Couldn't resist chiming in...

I am both a PIC programmer (almost exclusively assembler) and a
PC/MAC/Unix/Embedded_x86 C/C++ programmer. I do use VB or Delphi once in a
while for 'quick and dirty' stuff.

I spend a lot of time in all of these environments.

[Historically I can add VAX/VMS, IBM OS/MVS, Data General AOS[/VS], x86
assembly, Fortran, Forth  and many other platforms (even Cobol :-( ).]

As has been said many times before: Horses for Courses.

VB (or Delphi) is an excellent choice for quick user-interface intensive
hacks on the PC side. If you really have to do any crunching, you're much
better off with C++ (although the Pascal based Delphi can come _very_ close
to C++ [it actually uses the same code generator as Borland's C++ Builder]).

In short, I figure that VB/Delphi is appropriate for most programmers that
don't want to commit to the effort/time required to really understand the
underpinnings of Windoze or (X-Window or MacOS or ... for that matter).
It'll generally let you do what you need to do.

Bob Ammerman
RAm Systems
(contract development of high performance, high function, low-level
software)

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2001\01\02@134953 by Randy A.

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Brian:

I too had a similar problem as you and ended up using VB and liking it.  For
all of my applications so far it has proven more than adequate.  Be sure to
get at least the professional version tho as the entry level or standard
version does NOT have the serial I/O functions.  It only took my about a week
to become familiar and then the learning curve was FAST from there.

Randy

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2001\01\02@142729 by Nigel Goodwin

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In message <@spam@3A51FD18.8A4520C6KILLspamspamubasics.com>, M. Adam Davis
<KILLspamadavisKILLspamspamUBASICS.COM> writes
>Background: I work full time as a VB programmer, know C, and finally took
>a class on C++.
>
>I started microcontrollers on the basic stamp (the first one, before the
>second version came out).  I moved from the basic stamp to assembly and C
>on the pic for the same reason I use C and C++ on more and more of my
>projects - I can't get VB to go fast enough, make small distributions, and
>access the hardware easily enough.  VB has other limitations, but as a
>hardware guy I am more concerned about those three.  You cannot make a
>complete program in VB that fits on one disk (I haven't tried - I suppose
>it might be possible to fit msvbxx.dll on a disk with the other runtime
>files).  It is practically impossible to access the pc hardware directly
>with VB without extra dlls or activex components.  VB is /SLOW/.  As in
>molasses-running-uphill-on-a-cold-day type of slow.  Sure, it gets the job
>done, and for many/most projects it is fast enough.  And you can't fight
>the fact that sometimes development time is more important than run-time
>speed.

I've been trying not to get involved in this discussion :-). But what
about Delphi?, it produces standalone .EXE files (no libraries needed
like VB), it's fairly fast, and it's pretty easy to access hardware -
although under Windows NT a driver DLL is required, but that's probably
true of most C++ programs as well (certainly the documentation with the
driver provides C code examples of it's use). The interface is pretty
similar to VB, it's easy and quick to produce nice looking interfaces.
--

Nigel.

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2001\01\03@030429 by Michael Rigby-Jones

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> -----Original Message-----
> From: M. Adam Davis [SMTP:spamBeGoneadavisspamBeGonespamUBASICS.COM]
> Sent: Tuesday, January 02, 2001 4:56 PM
> To:   TakeThisOuTPICLISTEraseMEspamspam_OUTMITVMA.MIT.EDU
> Subject:      Re: [EE] C++ vs. Visual Basic
>
> Strictly, yes, it is harder to deal with the windows API directly in VB
> than in C, but not much harder at all.  Just have to keep a few things in
> mind, and it becomes fairly straightforward.
>
> -Adam
>
Can't say I've noticed that particularly.  Sure you have to be a little
careful when declaring the API function, to make sure parameters are
correctly declared as ByVal or ByRef but apart from that I've not had any
problems.  I use VB everyday for programming automated testsets for
production purposes.  We have to use both the Windows API and a GPIB API and
this is quite straightforward.  It *IS* a little slow for heavy duty number
crunching, but at the same time I think it's surprisingly fast for some
operations.  The feature of VB I hold above all others is it's debugging
facilities, which are quite literally second to none.  Because the program
runs in interpreted mode through the VB environment, you can pause program
execution, add or remove code, or change the program execution point and
carry on without having to recompile.  Debugging in C++ Builder and Delphi
is pretty good, but not up to VB standards.

On the negative side, distribution of programs can be problematic, the
runtime libraries are pretty large, but then again, C++ Builder 5 seems to
have bloated quite badly in this area.  As with all languages, it's horses
for courses.  If you want a language that has a short learning curve, and
extremely rapid development time but speed and size are of secondary
importance, then VB is hard to beat.  If your priorities are different, give
Delphi or C++ Builder a look.  If you are some kind of masochist, try Visual
C++ :o)

Regards

Mike

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2001\01\03@131159 by Don Hyde

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I'll add another vote for Borland.

VB is so grossly bloated and needs so many dll's to distribute a program
that I can't get the job done for all the gagging.

VC++ had the steepest learning curve of any programming environment I've
ever used (I've used 30 different assemblers and just about any high-level
language you care to mention, though not Ada, which I understand might just
give it a run for the  money).

On a new job, I needed to crank out a quick-and-dirty PC thing and somebody
handed me a copy of C++ Builder.  I groaned "You're not going to make me
learn yet another...", but it proved to be as easy to use as VB, and able to
make decent standalone .exe's, so I shut up and have been using it ever
since whenever I need to throw something together.

It really impresses customers when you discuss something on the phone and
then email them a pretty-looking program the next day.

> {Original Message removed}

2001\01\04@024214 by Michael Rigby-Jones

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> -----Original Message-----
> From: Don Hyde [SMTP:RemoveMEDonHspamTakeThisOuTAXONN.COM]
> Sent: Wednesday, January 03, 2001 6:11 PM
> To:   PICLISTEraseMEspam.....MITVMA.MIT.EDU
> Subject:      Re: [EE] C++ vs. Visual Basic
>
> I'll add another vote for Borland.
>
> VB is so grossly bloated and needs so many dll's to distribute a program
> that I can't get the job done for all the gagging.
>
However, if the program has been written as a tool for your own use (which
the majority of  my programs are), then distribution isn't a worry.
As an example of how usefull VB is, I had a project involving a temperature
stabilised laser.  The PIC ran a PID temperature control loop, with a sample
rate of 50 ms.  Adjusting all the loop parameters to optimise control
response was a pain, even with a flash chip, so I stripped out all the
ADC/DAC control routines and hooked them up to the MSSP module running as an
I2C salve.  Then I wrote a VB front end with lots of sliders for controlling
loop parameters and text boxes to show relevant parameters and an I2C master
driver.  Adjusting the PID loop was a snap after that.  The VB program took
maybe a day to write, compared to the previous 3 days of playing with loop
gains but reprogarmming the PIC.  The 50 ms loop time was easily achieved
using the multimedia timers built into windows, and although the period was
sometimes a millisecond or two out it was more than good enough.

> VC++ had the steepest learning curve of any programming environment I've
> ever used (I've used 30 different assemblers and just about any high-level
> language you care to mention, though not Ada, which I understand might
> just
> give it a run for the  money).
>
Agreed, VC++ is definately not for the beginner.  It certainly made my brain
hurt when I first tried it many years back.

> On a new job, I needed to crank out a quick-and-dirty PC thing and
> somebody
> handed me a copy of C++ Builder.  I groaned "You're not going to make me
> learn yet another...", but it proved to be as easy to use as VB, and able
> to
> make decent standalone .exe's, so I shut up and have been using it ever
> since whenever I need to throw something together.
>
Unless things have changed since I last used C++ Builder you can either
staticaly link all the runtimes, producing a huge executable, *or* have to
distribute the run time DLL's with the executable.

> It really impresses customers when you discuss something on the phone and
> then email them a pretty-looking program the next day.
>
>

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2001\01\04@135426 by Don Hyde

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I'm looking at the most recent program I did this way.  Statically linked it
was 473K, which by PIC standards is certainly massively bloated, but it is
small enough to get through just about anybody's email server as an
attachment.  All the customer had to do to run it was click on the icon in
his email program, and it just ran without needing to have any dll's copied
to osbcure directories or an elaborate install program.

Of course this meant he trusted me not to have sent him a virus or trojan
horse, but he did, so...

> {Original Message removed}

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