Monday, March 12, 2001

Developer Career Tip #0040---Should you turn your attention to VB.Net?

Developer Career Tips #0040

Should you turn your attention to VB.Net?

I'm seeing quite a bit of attention to VB.Net recently. More than one book has already been published on it already, plus I've received several email solicitations to attend classes on VB.NET, and the product hasn't even been released yet--in fact, it's in Beta1. Beta2 is schedule for release sometime this quarter. If all goes well for Microsoft, the production version will be ready before the end of the year. This is an awful lot of hype for a new version.

I've been using Beta1 now for the last four months as I write the update of my Visual Basic 6 book for VB.Net. I signed a non-disclosure statement to work with the Beta, so I can't speak about the details of the language, but I can tell you that in my opinion, it's much too early to start working with it, but let me give you some information which may help you make up your own mind.

First, don’t consider VB.Net a new version of Visual Basic. Although a knowledge of previous versions of Visual Basic will serve you well while learning it, there are enough dissimilarities to make you believe you are dealing with a new language altogether. This may well be a reason to be the first kid on the block to know the language---that knowledge could make you very valuable to employers--provided they adopt the language.

Secondly, if you believe that it's a foregone conclusion that you're going to be forced to learn VB.Net, and you may as well learn it sooner than later, you may want to rethink that position. In the latest edition of the Visual Basic Programmer's Journal, the editor indicates that Microsoft has informed him they intend to 'support' both VB6 and VB.Net. The key question---what does 'support' mean.

The bottom line is that at this point there's no rush to learn VB.Net.

Monday, March 5, 2001

Developer Career Tip #0039---The IT Training Academy

Developer Career Tips #0039

The IT Training Academy

I've written twice about a company called, a company with headquarters in Parsippany, New Jersey, about 45 miles outside of Manhattan, that will provide you with a 13 week intensive Visual Basic training program---in exchange, you agree to work for them for the next 9 months as a paid consultant.

Many people, discouraged at the prospect of having to relocate to the Manhattan area, have written me emails asking me if there are other programs like SetFocus anywhere else in the country. To date, I've had to answer 'no'---I hadn't heard of any others until one of my students brought to my attention the IT Training Academy

The IT Training Academy, part of the FDM Consulting group

is similar in many ways to Setfocus, but not identical.

As was initially the case with SetFocus, about all I know of the IT Training Academy is what I can glean from their Web site---they offer an intense, six month training program (they concentrate on Web technologies such as Java and Oracle). Unlike SetFocus, the training is not free for everyone. The cost for the training is $11,000, and according to their web site, they will waive this fee from time to time as part of a sponsorship. If your training costs are waived, you must commit to work for the IT Training Academy at the end of your training period. Even if your training costs are not sponsored, you may also be asked to work at the end of your training period, but it's not guaranteed. SetFocus, on the other hand, guarantees you a position if you pass 2 of the 4 exams necessary to achieve the Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer Certification.

What apparently differentiate the IT Academy from SetFocus is that you don't necessarily have to relocate in order to take part in the training, but this can be deceiving. You have a choice of training at their facility (located in Raleigh North Carolina), or doing the majority of your training at home via the Internet--but you are required to spend some time at their North Carolina facility at the end of major potions of the program, and for the final few weeks of the program.

After that, if your training costs were sponsored, you'll be expected to commit to 1 year or so (really, until your training costs are paid) as a consultant--and travel is expected and customary. The bottom line: if you want to consider the IT Training Academy over SetFocus because you hope you won't have to relocate, that won't be the case. As I've mentioned, even if you study from home, you'll still need to travel to North Caroline, and if you accept a training sponsorship, you'll most likely be placed as a consultant somewhere on the East Coast. Even without a sponsorship, if you accept a position through the IT Academy, you'll be doing some traveling--they even provide you with a company car.