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Just the FAQs Guide to VB Scripting basics

Rod Trent, manager of myITforum.com and communities editor for TechTarget.com

This FAQs Guide takes you on a beginner's journey to understanding VB Scripting and the concepts surrounding scripting in the first place. Consisting of more than 50 pages in Adobe Acrobat format, this guide will be updated in the future to progress into intermediate and expert concepts. Click here

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Below is an excerpt from the guide:

Q: What's the best way to learn to script?

A: This question comes up quite a bit on Web forums and e-mail discussion lists. When individuals finally decide that they are ready to start on the path to scripting, they turn to someone who would know where to begin. If you notice, everyone will give a slightly different answer. Some will give a long list of scripting books, others will copy and paste links to their favorite scripting Web sites. But, despite the laundry list, one point rings through every time: You learn by doing.

Remember when you started learning how to drive a car? You probably gave your parents quite a few heart attacks, but they knew the only way you were going to understand driving was to sit behind the wheel and work out your own rhythm. Your dad gave you the basics: "The brake pedal is on your left and the gas pedal is on your right," "That's the turn signal -- no, no on the other side. Those were the wiper blades."

But, better than learning to drive, you won't have to worry about needing a licensed scripter sitting in the passenger seat. You're on your own, doing your own thing, learning at your own pace and getting your own rhythm. And, unless you write a script that reboots the file servers and test the script in a production environment, you won't cause too many heart attacks.

There is no licensing fee for a script. As you are surfing the Web, finding scripting Web sites and reviewing script code, grab it all and save it somewhere on your hard drive. Be as script-hungry as you like, and no one will care.

There are several resources available for learning scripting. Grabbing scripts from these resources is the most important key to understanding the languages. One of the most exciting aspects of the scripting community is each individual's willingness to share what he has done. A couple quick changes here, an addition of a line or two and a script you found or received from someone is ready to work in your environment. But, remember, other people will be just like you -- chomping at the bit to learn how to script. Don't be stingy and keep your scripts locked up in a box somewhere. By sharing what solutions you have scripted, you not only help the "newbies" get up to speed, but you help keep a community growing and going strong.

Believe it or not, your best and most loyal companion on your scripting journey is the actual scripting documentation from Microsoft. What? You mean the same company that spearheaded the effort to rid the world of product manuals? Yep, one and the same. I use the documentation regularly. Not only does it contain comprehensive information, but it also includes script examples in both VB Script and JavaScript that you can copy and work with yourself. A quick jaunt over to Microsoft's scripting Web site (http://msdn.microsoft.com/scripting) gives you the download links for all of the documentation. Here's a list of what's available:

And, when you've had your fill of Microsoft's documentation, then what? The Internet is such an enormous place, surely there are some Web sites I can give you to go on your scripting shopping spree. Here they are:

  • myITforum.com: (http://myITforum.techtarget.com). myITforum.com is the premier Web site for systems administrators. If you have a problem, you can find an answer here. myITforum.com has an entire section dedicated to VB Scripting with new articles posted daily. There's also a dedicated VB Scripting Web forum where people post problems and answers, complete with script examples. And be sure to check out the VB Scripting downloads area. Not only can you nab some free script downloads, but as a site member you can post your own solutions. Most of the online scripting community runs through this site.
  • Microsoft's TechNet Script Center: (http://www.microsoft.com/technet/treeview/default.asp?url=/technet/scriptcenter/default.asp). Recently inaugurated, this site is quickly becoming the epicenter for script downloads. There isn't a schedule when new scripts are released, so you'll need to check back periodically.
  • WSHScripting.com: (http://www.wshscripting.com/). Another hit-and-run site for grabbing scripts, WSHScripting.com offers a nice library of download script solutions.
  • Win32Scripting: (http://cwashington.netreach.net/main). The URL for this Web site is deceiving. I know it looks like someone's personal homepage, but that's not the case. The Win32Scripting Web site is a well-organized library of script submissions. The search engine is very usable, allowing you to pinpoint downloadable scripts according to their topic matter. The only downfall of the Web site is that the site navigation takes a while to master. It's like reengineering a car door handle to make it more complicated, just because you can. You'll see what I mean when you visit the site.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rod Trent, manager of myITforum.com and Microsoft MVP is a leading expert on Microsoft Systems Management Server. He has more than 18 years of IT experience -- eight of which have been dedicated to SMS. He is the author of such books as Microsoft SMS Installer, Admin911:SMS, and IIS 5.0: A Beginner's Guide, and has written literally thousands of articles on technology topics.

This article first appeared in myITforum.com, the premier online destination for IT professionals responsible for managing their corporations' Microsoft Windows systems. The centerpiece of myITforum.com is a collection of member forums where IT professionals actively exchange technical tips, share their expertise and download utilities that help them better manage their Windows environments, specifically Microsoft Systems Management Server (SMS). It is part of the TechTarget network of industry specific IT Web sites. To register for the site and sign up for the myITforum.com daily newsletter, click here.

This was first published in September 2004

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