Monday, April 30, 2007

FoxPro and Petitions

Seems like Rick isn't the only one who needs to come out of his office more often these days. The MasFoxPro petition, started earlier as a way for developers to say to Microsoft "please release VFP 10", has seemingly brought out a bit of ugliness in the community. While you have many developers (quite a few in the Foxite community) encouraging everyone to sign it, there are others (many of whom appear as high-profile in the community) who have decided not to. Kudos to Rick and Doug Hennig for explaining their positions (and Alex among others). This isn't to say kudos to not signing the position - but to explain their positions.

I especially appreciate Rick going over areas where he DOES give examples where he has criticized FoxPro.

The petition reminds me a little of the Petition Microsoft to Start Marketing FoxPro on the Wiki back in 2001. There was a bunch of hooplah then about who didn't sign the open letter.

The reasoning is still the same. Microsoft does not make money from VFP and try as you might, Microsoft is not in business to lose money. They have stated that they will continue to do hotfixes if needed (for Vista compatibility).

One thing that isn't obvious in any of the posts for or against the petition is that everyone is talking about "releasing VFP 10", as though it's already done. While I certainly can appreciate Calvin's ability to create intellisense for FoxPro on a summer vacation and such, I do not believe that the Fox Team had a project plan for what could possibly be IN a VFP 10. Sure - some things might have been on a wish list (64-bit support, pre-compiler, etc) - but for the most part, things that require a complete rebuilding of the VFP engine would have been off the table.

Instead, the Fox Team has decided to give as much of the kitchen sink back to the community as they could. FoxPro has always been a tool where many of the features were written in FoxPro itself. And they can't give away pieces of the product that have already been used in other Microsoft products without opening up a whole new set of issues. And even if they had, who would manage the process?

The FoxPro community isn't an organization - there is no one leader - while VFPX has a group of three helping to run it, they aren't the managers of every project. And others are stepping up with ways of putting VFP into DotNet. No, it's not Microsoft but then if you listen to naysayers (the "dark side", as Rick puts it), Microsoft has never been a "true" friend of FoxPro.

When you take a positive spin on something, it's not necessary that you are being "paid off" or have been asked to - you may simply realize that it's not worth putting the effort into being negative. You can fight Microsoft all you want for not building a VFP 10 - but your efforts might be better suited to building a better VFP experience for your end users, for the community or even just for yourself.

Many developers are doing just this. Wouldn't it be great if the FoxPro community actually made FoxPro even more popular than Microsoft ever could? I think perhaps in these cases, more than asking Microsoft to create a new version, it might be better to ask Microsoft to make Visual FoxPro 9 available for FREE. After all, there isn't going to be a new version. It likely doesn't require a huge number of technical resources anymore and they already have a precedent - with the Express series.

Now are there any real reasons why would Microsoft NOT make VFP available for free?

I can think of one - that it might seriously encourage learning programmers to use a tool that many agree is a great way to learn OOP and databases at the same time, instead of the Express series.

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Saturday, April 28, 2007

FoxShow Returns with a screencast on FoxTrails

I had spoken earlier about VFP on Rails, which unfortunately had to be renamed (Rails was very smartly trademarked by 37Signals so Brian has decided to rename it Fox Trails - which is very cool.

I finished off my screen cast (the actual podcast is still forthcoming) and you can check it out below- (apologies to the audio, we were on speakerphone so it made it kind of hard to clean up)

The Fox Show podcast: News, reviews and training on Visual FoxPro

but yes, the FoxShow is back - ideally more than monthly but at least monthly for all FoxPro developers. If you have a product that you want to showcase or technology you want to talk about, drop me a line. (as always, there is no charge to be showcased on the FoxShow - we want the Fox WORD out!!!)

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Monday, April 23, 2007

Tod does mean Fox

Snooping around on Foxite, I found this blog which has been around for a while but I hadn't heard of it. There's a lot of good code on here as well as analysis on various tools and recent events.

Check it out!

Tod means Fox

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

MVC architecture and VFP on Rails

After hearing about Brian's speech to the Chicago Fox User Group and then reading more from Randy Jean's Blog: Exploring VFP on Rails, I just wanted to try it on my own.

Randy's post goes into a lot of great detail with some code, so I'll let you read it there but the benefit of VFP in a Rails style environment is that it's SUPER easy to create an application to get you started: create a web share and register a single very small COM server. That's it.

And then you can customize it on the fly.

I know of a few developers who downplay the "buzz" of Rails, noting that it's not as scalable as some environments or that all of the tools just aren't there. 37Signals, part of the group that created RubyonRails or at least made it super popular with their BaseCamp and other related sites, addressed this in their Getting Real book - with their approach of interface first, then worry about scalability. (you can read it online here) - the main take-away from that was:

"If you’ve got a huge number of people overloading your system then huzzah!

That’s one swell problem to have. The truth is the overwhelming

majority of web apps are never going to reach that stage."

Many VFP developers may cringe at that approach - you should plan for scalability - but one can't argue with the success that this company has had with it and if you can build in new features in days instead of months, it might be worthwhile.

I'm going to be interviewing Brian for an upcoming FoxShow and we'll also do a screencast along with it. And no, it won't take 12 months for a new FoxShow <g> - it will be up by mid-next week.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Get Your Videos

I subscribe to Giveaway of the Day just for those few changes when they have a tool that I could absolutely use. Today was one of those days - the VideoGet service is a great way to download those videos you see on various sites (such as YouTube or others) and then save them as WMV or AVI or whatever.

Very handy - especially when you want to ensure you can keep a copy of something to watch offline.

Giveaway of the Day » VideoGet

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Help Builder Preview Posted

Is there any developer who has to build help for their products who hasn't tried West-Wind Help Builder?

The ability to quickly create developer help from your Visual FoxPro projects and DotNet aside - this tool just makes it very easy to build help.

I've played with Robohelp (older versions) and I couldn't handle it - I don't want a Word clone to build my help file - I want a tool that looks like the help file as I'm building it and that's exactly what Help Builder does.

Plus, the integration with SnagIt rocks!

I'm especially excited about 4.40 (that Rick Strahl just posted about) though because it helps deal with posting the HTML help to non-Windows-based servers. We have recently hooked up with a hosting site that gives us pretty much unlimited storage for our files and so I've posted our help files up there. Only problem? It's linux-based so everything is case-sensitive and doesn't like \ for path modifiers. Until recently, I've had to be extra careful with my Help Builder projects - hopefully not anymore!

If you have never tried this tool, you owe it to yourself and your customers to use it!

Help Builder 4.40 Preview Update Posted - Rick Strahl's Web Log

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Computerworld on FoxPro

I was going to note this earlier but the Computerworld site was down a huge amount (Java errors and everything) and so now I found that Craig posted about it:

DevBlog: ComputerWorld on Fox

I spoke with Eric Lai (the author) for a good hour about FoxPro and the like - nothing like watching an hour turn into 2 quotes and of course, they weren't my favorite quotes either, either. C'est la vie!

The funniest part was when he was mentioning how his vision of FoxPro developers was of a bunch of 50 and 60 year-olds. Granted we may all have a few gray hairs, but if you looked at Alex's photos from the MVP Summit and the Fox Gang, there's a quite a few young'uns.

A good article definitely - although I don't think you'll ever see MS turn over the real source to OpenSource especially since Calvin confirmed there's VFP Technology in SQL Server. ( I think it's on page 2 of the article).

If you can get to the site, the direct link is here,

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Saturday, April 07, 2007

VFP on rails?

Now this sounds super interesting and something I've been actively interested in seeing for a while.

Anyone who wants to post notes about this afterwards or maybe even stream or blog it, please do!

Brian - I hope you're planning on hitting some of the upcoming conferences!
I think FoxForward even has a session track expressly for this type of approach!

Chicago FoxPro Users and Developers Group

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Friday, April 06, 2007

Spreading the Word...

While I'm likely not able to attend either of these conferences, they definitely are go-to conferences.

Also coming up soon: Advisor's Devcon. At least it feels like the conference season is being spread out a little more.

Shedding Some Light: Southwest Fox - Help Spread the Word

FoxForward 2007

Any one know if there will be video streaming from any of these?

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