I'm taking this week off work to write a piece of software to help Mandy manage her summer swim program.
To speed development, I'm writing it in VB.NET, the same language I use at work. As the only licence I have for the full version of Microsoft Visual Studio (for those who don't know, Microsoft Visual Studio is the tool I use to write software, in the same way that Microsoft Word is the tool you might use to write a letter) is for an old version, I've opted to use Visual Studio 2008 Express instead. This is a free, but cut-down, version of the program, which hopefully will be enough for my needs. Unlike the full version, however, it doesn't include Crystal Reports, the tool I usually use to generate reports. Because of that I'm using SQL Server 2005 Express as the database (a free, cut-down version of SQL Server 2005), which gives me the ability to use SQL Server Reporting Services to produce reports instead. It also means I don't have to use Access as the database.
The downside of using all these free tools, apart from the lack of some features I'm used to, is that I'm not that familiar with them. In particular, I've never used Reporting Services to produce reports before, so there's a bit of a learning curve to go through. On the upside, the knowledge I gain could prove useful at work too.
The other problem with Visual Studio Express is that it doesn't support add-ons, which means I'm unable to use the excellent Resharper with it. This is a tool which makes the job of writing code easier, by providing some additional features not available in Visual Studio. I've only just started using it at work, but I'm already missing having to code without it.
Hopefully I can quickly get to grips with everything and have Mandy a working program by the end of the week.