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Data Types

 

Types of Data

 

Introduction

A data type tells the computer the kind of value you are going to use. There are different kinds of values for various purposes. Before assigning a data type to a variable, you should know how much space a data type will occupy in memory. Different variables or different data types use different amount of space in memory. The amount of space used by a data type is measured in bytes.

To specify the data type that will be used for a variable, after typing Dim followed by the name of the variable, type the As keyword, followed by one of the data types we will review next. The formula used is:

Dim VariableName As DataType
 

This technique allows you to declare one variable on its line. In many assignments, you will need to declare more than one variable. To do this, you have two alternatives. You can declare each variable on its own line. This would be done as follows:

Dim Variable1 As DataType1
Dim Variable2 As DataType2
Dim Variable3 As DataType3

You can also declare more than one variable on the same line. To do this, use only one Dim keyword but separate each combination of a name and data type with a comma. This would be done as follows:

Dim Variable1 As DataType1, Variable2 As DataType2
Dim Variable3 As DataType3

Microsoft Visual Basic also provides special characters for some data types so that, instead of specifying it, you can use that character. We will indicate what character for what type.

 

Boolean

A variable is considered Boolean if it can hold only one of two values, either true or false, 0 or no 0, Yes or No. To declare such a variable, use the Boolean keyword. Here is an example:

Private Sub Form_Load()
    Dim IsMarried As Boolean
End Sub

After declaring the variable and when using it, you can specify its value as True or as False. To convert a value or an expression to Boolean, you can call the CBool() function.

String

A string is a character or a combination of characters that constitutes text of any kind and almost any length. To declare a string variable, fuse the String data type. Here is an example:

Private Sub Form_Load()
    Dim CountryName As String
End Sub

You can omit the As String expression. Instead, to indicate that you are declaring a String variable, you can end its name with the $ symbol. Here is an example:

Private Sub Form_Load()
    Dim CountryName$
End Sub

If you have a value that is not primarily text and you want to convert it to a string, use CStr() with the following syntax:

CStr(Value To Convert to String)

In the parentheses of the CStr(), enter the value that you want to convert to string.

 

Byte

If you are planning to use a numeric value in your program, you have a choice from different kinds of numbers that Visual Basic can recognize.  You can use the Byte data type for a variable that would hold a natural number that ranges from 0 to 255. You can declare it as follows:

Private Sub Form_Load()
    Dim StudentAge As Byte
End Sub

If the user enters a certain value in a control and you want to convert it to a small number, you can use CByte(). The formula to use would be:

Number = CByte(Value to Convert to Byte)

When using CByte(), passing that value between the parentheses.

Integer

An integer is a natural number. To declare a variable that would hold a number that ranges from -32768 to 32767, use the Integer data type. The integer type should always be used when counting things such as books in a library or students in a school; in this case you would not use decimal values. Here is an example of declaring an integer variable:

Private Sub Form_Load()
    Dim Tracks As Integer
End Sub

When declaring an integer variable, you can omit the As Integer expression and terminate the name of the variable with %. Here is an example:

Private Sub Form_Load()
    Dim Tracks%
End Sub

If you have a value that needs to be converted into a natural number, you can call CInt() using the following formula:

Number = CInt(Value to Convert)

Between the parentheses of CInt(), enter the value, text, or expression that needs to be converted.

Long

A long integer is a number that can be used for a field or variable involving greater numbers than integers. To declare a variable that would hold such a large number, use the Long data type. Here is an example:

Private Sub Form_Load()
    Dim Population As Long
End Sub

Alternatively, you can omit the As Long expression and end the variable name with the @ symbol to indicate that you are declaring a Long integer variable. Here is an example:

Private Sub Form_Load()
    Dim Population@
End Sub

To convert a value to a long integer, call CLng() using the following formula:

Number = CLng(Value to Convert)

To convert a value to long, enter it in the parentheses of CLng().

Single

In computer programming, a decimal number is one that represents a fraction. Examples are 1.85 or 426.88. If you plan to use a variable that would that type of number but precision is not your main concern, declare it using the Single data type. Here is an example:

Private Sub Form_Load()
    Dim Distance As Single
End Sub

If you want, you can omit the As Single expression in the declaration. Instead, you can type ! at the end the name of the variable to still indicate that you are declaring a Single variable. Here is an example:

Private Sub Form_Load()
    Dim Distance!
End Sub

If you have a value that needs to be converted, use CSng() with the following formula:

Number = CSng(Value to Convert)

Double

If you want to use a decimal number that requires a good deal of precision, declare a variable using the Double data type.

Here is an example of declaring a Double variable:

Private Sub Form_Load()
    Dim Distance As Double
End Sub

Instead of the AS Double expression, you can omit it and end the name of the variable with the # character to indicate that you are declaring a Double variable. Here is an example:

Private Sub Form_Load()
    Dim Distance#
End Sub

To convert a value to double-precision, use CDbl() with the following formula:

Number = CDbl(Value to Convert)

In the parentheses of CDbl(), enter the value that needs to be converted.

Currency

The Currency data type is used to deal with monetary values. Here is an example of declaring it:

Private Sub Form_Load()
    Dim StartingSalary As Currency
End Sub

If you want to convert a string to a monetary value, use CCur() with the following formula:

Number = CCur(Value to Convert)

To perform this conversion, enter the value in the parentheses of CCur().

Date

In Visual Basic, a Date data type is used to specify a date or time value. Therefore, to declare either a date or a time variables, use the Date data type. Here are two examples:

Private Sub Form_Load()
    Dim DateOfBirth As Date
    Dim KickOffTime As Date
End Sub

If you have a string or an expression that is supposed to hold a date or a time value, to convert it, use CDate() based on the following formula:

Result = CDate(Value to Convert)

In the parentheses of CDate(), enter the value that needs to be converted.

Variant

A Variant can be used to declare any kind of variable. You can use a variant when you can't make up your mind regarding a variable but, as a beginning programmer, you should avoid it.

Here is a table of various data types and the amount of memory space each one uses:

Data type Description Range
Byte 1-byte binary data 0 to 255
Integer 2-byte integer 32,768 to 32,767
Long 4-byte integer 2,147,483,648 to 2,147,483,647
Single 4-byte floating-point number 3.402823E38 to 1.401298E 45 (negative values)
1.401298E 45 to 3.402823E38 (positive values)
Double 8-byte floating-point number 1.79769313486231E308 to
4.94065645841247E 324 (negative values)
4.94065645841247E 324 to 1.79769313486231E308 (positive values)
Currency 8-byte number with fixed decimal point 922,337,203,685,477.5808 to 922,337,203,685,477.5807
String String of characters Zero to approximately two billion characters
Date 8-byte date/time value January 1, 100 to December 31, 9999

When naming your variables, besides the rules reviewed previously, you can start a variable's name with a one to three letters prefix that could identify the data type used. Here are a few suggestions:

Data Type Prefix Example
Boolean bln blnFound
Byte byt bytTracks
Date/Time dtm dteStartOfShift
Double dbl dblDistance
Error err errCantOpen
Integer int intNbrOfStudents
Long lng lngPopulation
Object obj objConnection
Single sng sngAge
String str strCountryName
Currency cur curHourlySalary
Variant var varFullName
 

Variables of Built-In Objects

 

Introduction

In the above sections, we saw how to declare a variable from a built-in data type. Besides these types, Microsoft Access and Microsoft Visual Basic ship with objects as we introduced them in Lesson 2. Sometimes you will need to refer to such objects in your code. In most cases, you will need to first declare a variable of the desired type before using it.

To declare a variable of an object, you should first make sure you know the type of object you want.

A Variable of Type Object

Every object you will use in your application is primarily of type Object. In many cases, you will be able to directly use the object in your application. In some other cases, you will first need to declare the variable and initialize it before using it. Also, in many cases, you can declare a variable and specify its particular type. In some cases, you may not know or may not need to specify the particular type of the object you want to use. In this case, when declaring the variable, you can specify its type as Object. When using the Object type to declare a one, the variable should be one of the existing VBA types of object and not one of the basic data types we saw earlier. This would be done as follows:

Dim objVariable As Object

After this declaration, you should then initialize the variable and specify the actual type it would be. To initialize a variable declared as a VBA object, use the Set operator that we will see later.

The Application Object

In Lesson 2, we saw that a Microsoft Access database was an object of type Application. In your code, to declare a variable of this type, you can type:

Dim app As Application

If you want to refer to such an object outside of Microsoft Access, you must qualify it with the Access object. For example, from an application such as Microsoft Word, to declare a variable that refers to a Microsoft Access database, the above declaration would be made as:

Dim app As Access.Application

Even in Microsoft Access, you can use Access.Application.

Constants

 

Introduction

A constant is a value that doesn't change (this definition is redundant because the word value already suggests something that doesn't change). There are two types of constants you will use in your programs: those supplied to you and those you define yourself.

The Carriage Return-Line Feed Constant

Visual Basic provides the vbCrLf constant used to interrupt a line of text and move to the next line.

Built-in Constants: PI

PI is a mathematical constant whose value is approximately equal to 3.1415926535897932. It is highly used in operations that involve circles or geometric variants of a circle: cylinder, sphere, cone, etc.

Built-in Logical Constants: NULL

A variable is said to be null when its value is invalid or doesn't bear any significant or recognizable value.

Built-in Logical Constants: TRUE and FALSE

An expression is said to be false if the result of its comparison is 0. Otherwise, the expression is said to bear a true result.

 

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