Most of the examples in previous chapters have dealt with one object at a time. In many applications, however, you will want to work with a collection of objects all at the same time. The simplest collection in VB.NET is the array, which this chapter covers in detail. More complicated collection classes, such as Stack and Queue, are covered in the next chapter.
In this chapter, you will learn to work with three types of arrays: one-dimensional arrays, multidimensional rectangular arrays, and multidimensional jagged arrays.
To picture a one-dimensional array, imagine a series of mailboxes, all lined up one after the other. Each mailbox can hold exactly one object (one letter, one box, etc.). It turns out that all the mailboxes must hold the same kind of object; you declare the type of object the mailboxes will hold when you declare the array.
A multidimensional array allows you to create rows of mailboxes, one above the other. If all the rows are the same length, you have a rectangular array. If each row of mailboxes is a different length, you have a jagged array.
You can think of a multidimensional array as being like a grid of rows and columns in which each slot (mailbox) contains information. For example, each column might contain information pertinent to an employee. Each row would contain all the information for a single employee.
Most often you will deal with one-dimensional arrays, and if you do create multidimensional arrays, they will be two-dimensional—but ...