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Mediocre VBA guy looking for the next step - looking for advice

Discussion in 'MCAD / MCSD / MCPD' started by henrynlouisville, Nov 21, 2013.

  1. henrynlouisville

    henrynlouisville New Member


    I work for a company that is a Microsoft shop...meaning they have tons of MS servers, Office Communication Server, Exchange, all Win7 desktops, full migration to Office 2010, SharePoint, current huge migration to TFS, etc. etc. It is a very large company.

    Then there is me. I was hired in to a 2nd tier help desk position and do some batch scripting on the side. I have about five years experience (self taught at another job) working with WinBatch, Monarch modeling (txt extraction), and a heck of a lot of Access VBA development. I automated 100's of report runs and built custom adhoc solutions/workflow programs using Access frontend/backend setups. At my new job I actually have SQL server access and can use it as the Backend...making Access truly a frontend only. Really pretty cool.

    I have finally realized that I am 42 year old man, sitting in a chair all day, playing around with ancient tools...compared to what my company currently has and is implementing. I really need to study over the summer so I'm not left behind.

    So, my question is...What should I do?

    Sure, I know basic HTML, VBA, WinBatch, and simple batch scripting...but that's not much.
    Worse...I don't have a clue about the tools and how to learn them.

    All I know is that I LOVE dreaming up and building custom windows applications to support internal management.
    I love automating reports, ideas, processes, workflows, building ticket tracking systems, and help desk tracking systems.
    But, I have always just opened an Access form and started coding in it's module window. I don't really know how to do anything else.
    I'm clueless. I have to do something.
    Most people in my company are doing C#, so I know I want to do that. The problem is...I don't know my best course as it pertains to what I really like to do.

    Meaning, is SharePoint the FEnd now...or is it the BEnd for an Access FEnd...or can I ditch Access all together and embed everything into a page build on this .NET stuff.

    I really just need someone to school me...give me advice from the ground floor.

    I'm kind of assuming that MS Certs 361, 362, and 372 are a good place to start...then on to 511, 513, and 516...and finally on to 518 for desktop applications. I don't know. Maybe SharePoint would be better...or just continuing with Access. Geez.

    Sure, I got a MCSE in NT4 and 2000 many, many years ago...but I really don't want to do MS Server or SQL Server administration.
    I like to build apps, that's all I know...and I am constrained with zero knowledge on the correct path out of my hard fought/self taught world.

    Thank you for reading and any advice would be much appreciated!
  2. dmarsh

    dmarsh Terabyte Poster

    Check out this stuff :-
    Video Library « LearnVisualStudio.NET

    They do some good introduction stuff on C#.

    Then watch a Pluralsight course every week for a year and code as much C# as you can.
    Pluralsight - Hardcore Dev and IT Training

    Download :-
    Visual Studio 2013 Express
    SQL Server Express and Management Studio
    IIS Express

    You're in a great position to learn if you know VBA and SQL.

    Other info :-

    Sharepoint is a portal / document management solution, its definitely front end.
    TFS is configuration management software, personally I prefer something like GIT.
    Access is a front end thick Client technology, alternatives are WinFroms, WPF and LightSwitch. WPF is probably the best to learn out of the three.
    WinForms, ASP .NET MVC and Sharepoint are web / thin client technology. ASP .NET MVC is worth learning but you will need a lot of other web skills like HTML, CSS, Javascript, to make decent web applications.
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2013
  3. henrynlouisville

    henrynlouisville New Member

    LearnVisualStudio.NET is only $140 for a lifetime membership. Sounds like a great deal. I wonder if he will have a black Friday deal in a couple days...we'll see.

    I have decided to start with Head First C# book...and then read Beginning ASP.NET 4.5: in C# and VB book.
    Then I'm going to subscribe to LearnVisualStudio.NET and try it out...then maybe on to Pluralsight (It's probably worth the $)

    I am going to concentrate on WPF development and get away from Access.
    This will take at least a year I would assume. Given that my company is just now finishing an XP to Win7 (Office 03 to 10) upgrade...MPF seems like the best road for me (concentrating on c#)

    After that, I believe I will continue expanding my resume' by exploring ASP .NET MVC...and the HTML, CSS, and JavaScript that goes along with that.

    Do you agree with this direction?
  4. dmarsh

    dmarsh Terabyte Poster

    I'd start with the LearnVisualStudio.NET videos as you could finish them in 1-2 weeks, then move onto a book. The Head First series is supposed to be good, but not everyone likes the style so its a personal thing.

    A lot of the books tend to be 400+ pages and take a month plus to read, so I'd pick the things you will get the most out of fastest.

    If you chose the WPF route first before ASP .NET then I'd choose a book on that over ASP .NET.

    Trying to learn WPF and ASP .NET at the same time is probably biting off too much.

    There are two flavours of ASP .NET, "ASP .NET Web Forms" and "ASP .NET MVC". WebForms is falling out of favour so is probably not the best tech to learn if you are new to it. The book you mention is on WebForms so I would not buy it.

    ASP .NET MVC 5 has just been released and is more up to date tech, but modern sites are moving to the SPA approach, so you will most likely need to learn things like Knockout, Durandal, Breeze, Angular as well as JavaScript, HTML5 and CSS3.

    Becoming a good developer will take years, but you must first make the first step...
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2013
  5. henrynlouisville

    henrynlouisville New Member

    OK, I will start with LearnVisualStudio.NET and then move to the Head First C# book.

    WPF seems like the thing to do if I concentrate on internal applications for management that will be on Windows 7 for at least 5-7 years or more.

    I know you mention MVC and SPA but aren't those outward website facing technologies?
    I am most interested in replacing my 'thick client' Access (as a front end) skills with the newest internal client (trying to impress management) development path so I can do quick adhoc builds/report runs for them.
  6. dmarsh

    dmarsh Terabyte Poster

    SQL Server has a lot of reporting stuff out of the box these days, it has BID's and SSRS etc.
    WPF is thick client so good for desktop deployment and native functionality.

    Lot places want web deployment now even for intranet apps, they also want tablet or mobile support.

    So there are no simple answers to what tech to learn.

    Accesses replacement is LightSwitch, but not sure how good it is.

    WPF or web, nothing is going to give you the same RAD development experience you are used to in Access. Its generally harder to do 'real development'.
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2013

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