Foley on Microsoft

FoxPro Not an Endangered Species

Microsoft sends mixed messages about its less-than-sexy database development tool.

Visual FoxPro is the Rodney Dangerfield of Microsoft. It doesn't get a lot of respect. But I think this situation may soon change. While it's true that Microsoft will support Visual FoxPro until 2010 (or 2014, if you're willing to shell out for Microsoft's extended support plan), the company has sent mixed messages about the fate of its database development tool. Microsoft decided a while ago to keep FoxPro outside the .Net and Visual-Studio hen houses, leading many to question its viability.

I believe the opposite is true. I think FoxPro is about to get a lot more relevant to Microsoft and its customers, and not just because Microsoft exec Eric Rudder (who some claim is Chairman Bill Gates' heir apparent) served as the architect of Visual FoxPro 3.0.

Here's why I believe FoxPro is going to matter for more than just the next few years: There are still hundreds of thousands of FoxPro users, by Microsoft's own estimates. They don't sound like they're planning on going anywhere any time soon. Many of these folks are happy that Microsoft never attempted to .Net-ify FoxPro, and think FoxPro is better for the decision.

Microsoft is certainly not going to pull the rug out from under these folks (the way it did with the Visual Basic 6.0 diehards—but that's for another column). That's mainly because the Microsoft dev team has figured out it has a lot to gain from FoxPro. Alan Griver, Microsoft's Visual Studio Data Group manager, acknowledged the growing synergies between Fox and Visual Studio earlier this year in the FoxTalk newsletter. "I don't believe that there should be a wall between the two teams [Visual Studio Data Tools and FoxPro],” Griver said. "To that end, some of the Fox people are bringing some of the great capabilities of Fox to .NET. But at the same time, there are people from the Visual Data Tools team who are working now on Fox. It's not a question of resources going only one way from Fox to Visual Studio.”

Microsoft officials admitted earlier this year that the developer division is borrowing from FoxPro for Visual Basic 9.0 and LINQ, the Language Integrated Query add-ons that the company is developing for the next iterations of Visual Basic and Visual C#. In fact, Microsoft is so serious about its FoxPro integration efforts that it has assigned a code name to its endeavors. (Microsoft doesn't take lightly the assigning of code names.) Sedna—named for the celestial body that was discovered this year about 8 billion miles from earth—covers the company's sundry FoxPro integration efforts. The first Sedna deliverables are expected to debut in 2007.

"The primary goal of Sedna is to expand on the ability of Visual FoxPro-based solutions to better integrate with other Microsoft products and technologies,” according to the officially sanctioned Microsoft Visual FoxPro roadmap. "Features in Sedna will target Visual FoxPro interoperability with application components created by using Visual Studio 2005, the .NET Framework 2.0, and SQL Server 2005.” 

Then there's this tantalizing hint: "Sedna will also help improve the ability for Visual FoxPro 9.0 solutions to be successfully deployed on the upcoming new Windows operating system Microsoft Windows Code Name 'Longhorn.'" (Perhaps they forgot they renamed it Vista?)

It seems like Microsoft is bending over backwards to keep FoxPro from ending up as part of a musty fur coat. I can't help but wonder if it has shown Microsoft that there's value still in non-.Net-based products. In the same way that the success of Ajax applications led Microsoft to reevaluate its "smart-client-or-nothing” strategy, the hardiness of FoxPro and its users has led the Redmondites to give the Fox a second look.

Any of the FoxPro faithful out there? Do you think Microsoft has bigger things in mind for its less-than-sexy database tool? To what do you attribute FoxPro's seeming new lease on life—if you agree that it is experiencing one? Write me at and let me know what you think.

About the Author

Mary Jo Foley is editor of the ZDNet "All About Microsoft" blog and has been covering Microsoft for about two decades. She has a new book out, Microsoft 2.0 (John Wiley & Sons, May 2008), about what's next for Microsoft in the post-Gates era.

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Reader Comments:

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VFP is a horrible product. It compiles unstable programs. 'Nuff said. VFP is going nowhere, let it die.

Sat, Jan 31, 2009 rajesh vyas india

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visual foxpro and i think visual foxpro is one of good thing god create for us.

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Thu, Sep 18, 2008 Rusty Anonymous

Reading all the posts makes me consider one thing. If the FoxPro community is that large and loves the product that much, maybe you all ought to band together, get funding, and buy FoxPro from Microsoft. Spin it off into a stand alone company, and show what can really be done with it.

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Mon, Oct 22, 2007 Larz Chicago, IL

Looks like Mary Jo doesn't have ESP.

Thu, Feb 15, 2007 VFP- DEV Anonymous

It is good to see all the fox developers passion for the software. I will add, using .net and vfp is the only true way to appreciate this great package. I have developed complex applications in .net, vb6 and vfp. Clearly VFP was superior. Everyone I come across who claims VFP is not the way to go has not developed in both. When my manager assigns a task and it is completed in 3 hours as opposed to others who finish in 2 weeks, I shine and I am promoted. Only a few of my peers know what I do on that laptop (VFP). I simply package the end result in the spreadsheet, business intel tool or Oracle table they want act as though it was genuis. This allows businesses to see the truth about VFP. Stop hiding from the rich heritage (xbase) and embrace it. Dot Net is from a long list of out dated technologies as well. Stay proud of the product growth and smart design. If Microsoft abandons VFP some other company will pounce on it and still be ahead of .net.

Thu, May 4, 2006 Greg Fort Worth, TX

Mary Jo - Reading the comments posted thus far has brought tears to my eyes! It is so great to hear other developers with the same feelings and conclusions I've come to. FoxPro is hands-down the best tool for rapid, low-cost development of data-centric Windows applications. Like some of the others, I have tried Java, tried .Net, and still want to use FoxPro.

I've been a FoxPro developer since the DOS days, and I still find it to be the greatest tool for working with data. The language is relatively easy to use and learn, and working with data is oh-so-much easier than wrestling with ADO.NET. The time to develop useful applications is much shorter with FoxPro.

.Net has its advantages - the powerful API libraries and assembly integration, the wealth of third-party libraries, etc. ASP.NET is my top choice for web development. But .Net has its disadvantages. The vast number of libraries, components and techniques almost make learning it all a mountain that's too tall to climb - maybe it's trying to be too much. By far, the data handling is the most cumbersome thing when comparing to FoxPro. Then, there are the shortcomings in the integrated components - for goodness sakes, if MS can put masked textboxes, multi-column combos and list boxes in FoxPro and Access, why the heck can't they put them in the equivalent .Net controls?!? ADO.NET could take a page out of the FoxPro book, and make using local data simpler. SCAN, LOCATE, CREATE CURSOR, GO - all very nice one line commands that provide powerful ways to spin through data without the muck of object-oriented dataset manipulation.

FoxPro has always had an easily portable runtime engine - a feature that has been copied by Java and .NET, IMO. Yet, still, FoxPro appears leaner and faster. It would be perfect for a PDAs and other devices that need good, portable apps. You'd think MS would exploit that.

I've developed with it all, and despite the sexy new development languages and approaches, I still love my FoxPro. I think the product still has great potential. Is Microsoft interested in selling?

Sat, Jan 14, 2006 Roger Jamaica

I used to work foe a bill-payment company and they have been using an X-base (I think it was actually Fox-base/Clipper) application at 140+ stores to collect bills for 10 years. Unfortunately, they didn't have access to the source-code, so we had to do a lot of back-end manipulation with the data. Of course, we used Foxpro, and it was surprisingly easy to design and run custom reports that kept Management and utility companies satisfied. They still use the app...and they've been considering a re-write for years...

OS may change,but the FOX remains...or will it??

I think that the serious fox fans should not focus on the negative things people say about Foxpro, but instead, continue to promote the product. I must admit that when I see articles from people who have been in the business for years lamenting and bemoaning the fate of the Fox, I sometimes get a bit pessimistic. But when I see an article highlighting some Foxpro achievement, I feel a childih sense of Pride, kind of like when I hear the Jamaican National Anthem at an Olympic event.

If Microsoft decides to kill Foxpro, it should do the decent thing and publish the source code, so that all the Foxpro afficionados who so desire could continue to develop it (kinda like how I hear happened to BeOS)! But, seriously, I wonder how much they would sell it for (maybe then we could start a company, sell some shares, keep a GOOD product going)

Roger Wilson

Thu, Jan 5, 2006 Frédéric Steczycki France

MS VFP is also largely used here in Europa.
Long life to the fox and don't forget, "VFP Rocks !" was used a long time before ".NET Rocks!", the community own the (c) ;)

Fri, Dec 30, 2005 Pierre Albisser Lindenberg, Germany

All those rumors about "fox is dead", it reminds me nothing short of - well, a regular fox hunt. Dozens of loud, agressive dogs to get one little fox, but he still outruns them most of the time. When i was beginning to code for getting my bucks, i was still in school. There were lots of other people in my "Programming 101", and sometimes i felt like that little fox - dozens of dogs and hounds, called Delphi, CPP, VB and so on, barking and howling. In the end, i think, it's nothing but envy, for us being faster, smarter and more productive than they are (and probably ever will be). And hey, if THAT is not sexy, i don't know whatever it might be. ;) Oh, btw: like someone else already said: my work and my fox are the reason for several hundreds of copies of windows, several hundred copies of office and several dozens copies of MSSQL sold. Does not sound like a bad deal for me.

Thu, Dec 29, 2005 Carl Liberato Moreno Valley, CA

I’ve been developing in FoxPro since version 2.8. I’ve tried some .NET but, in my opinion, it’s MUCH easier and faster to develop applications for small businesses in VFP. (Or large businesses if you use a SQL Server back end.)

Microsoft has no plans to release a VFP 10 version. Sedna is just a service pack. After sucking all the advanced technology out of VFP and putting it into its other products Microsoft is finally killing best language / database combo available. This is a giant step backward for software development.

Microsoft should come out with a VFP.NET even if it’s not completely backward compatible. The seamless integration of the language and the data that we take for granted in VFP is what is missing in .NET. I hope Microsoft figures this out, but at this point it doesn’t look good for VFP.

Wed, Dec 28, 2005 Cheryl Central Massachusetts

I think that FoxPro is here to stay. It is a very stable development and database tool. I have used everything from Fox 2.5 to Fox 9 over the past 5 years. I have also had occassion to use other development tools and find FoxPro to be the best choice for desktop applications and it is much more afforable. I agree that Microsoft should have marketed this product better but were afraid of "cutting their own throat", as Fox does compete with their other products. I love the fact that there are so many Fox resources and forums on the web. Love talking with all the "Fox's" out there!

Tue, Dec 27, 2005 Martin Modernell Carrollton, GA

I totally agree with Ms Foly. And I have to add that I'm a hard core FoxPro user since the very first version of it and I'm proud of it. And, if Microsoft kill the fox, well, I'm gonna get Alaska and migrate my whole system to Linux.
The essential question here is: are MS execs so blind with the glittering of .NET to not see that there is no data centric tool in the .NET Framework thing. ?

Wed, Dec 21, 2005 Anonymous Anonymous

Maximum number of characters in field names in a free table - 10
Maximum number of characters in field names for a table contained in a database - 128

Wed, Dec 21, 2005 EricTN Orange County

Are you still limited to 10 characters for naming a table column??

Tue, Dec 20, 2005 Jim Denney

If you want to create dancing bears, music and a light show, use VS. If want want to collect, manipulate and distribute data, get Foxpro. The right tool for the right job.
I have been using Fox products since Foxbase first came out. I still use it and prefer it over all other languages (and I have used most of them). Though half of my work now is dealing with the other MS products, I still prefer VFP for its power and RAD. Sure, I could do everything in .NET, but why when we are doing in-house applications. I work circles areound those .NET fanaitics, who curse the very ground I walk on for making them look so bad.

One client I worked with wanted to expand one of my applications to all departments in their agency. I shot them a bid of $150,000 and showed them a working model with several depatments in it. While users and management were impressed, IT managers decided instead to use .NET products (stating it would cost too much to train their people to use VFP). After 4 years and $5,000,000 (five million), everyone is still critisizing the app IT built and comparing it to the VFP app, which is still running fine and pleasing management. They just canned half of that development team and are now looking at a total re-write. To add insult to injury, they have asked for the most bizarre, complex and ridiculous features to be put into out application hoping it couldn't be accomplished and then they could scrap it. I always brought back their request within 24 hours. Remote access, talk to the mainframe, internet apps, it doesn't matter. If it means working with data, we get it done.

I am sure MS will kill VFP some day, but I will retire working on those VFP apps that never seem to go obsolete and run for years without maintenance. And I still run into a number of FP Dos apps, you "naysayers " killed them long ago, but they still lurk in the shadows doing the grunt work that keeps the buisnesses and government running. Keep on forcasting doom, the other VFP haters are listening.

Sat, Dec 17, 2005 Ivan Germany

I've used an another very good RAD-SW (Paradox), which is dead since 2005. Perhaps some VFP-developer can look at it and take some features to VFP too - I'm sure, that the VFP-users would like it.
This year I've tried to use VFP 9 (as a VFP beginner), because it seems to fit all I need (SW for "small units = usually 1-5 users" [e.g. medical practices]). VFP 9 was released 2004, but there still isn't a german book for it (only for older versions), nor german help file - which don't make it easy for beginners. And as you can see on my english, it's necessary to have one, if you want to sell it in Germany / Austria / Switzerland. Or do you think, that the US / GB ... users would buy e.g. italian SW?
I hope, MS will reevaluate the VFP SW-package and decide, that not everything needs to be .NET and the SQL-Server is not necessary everywhere (e.g. if you develope SW for small groups like I do).
I think that SW-packages like VFP are good for MS, because it leads many users to buy pc's with Windows too.
And the costs - I've read, that there are only 10 VFP-programmers. MS pays this year some fines. One of them would assure the VFP team the budget for decades ... Long live SW-packages like VFP!

Fri, Dec 16, 2005 luis martin peru

What i want to say is that in this country several companies still use vfp in all its different versions and they are very comfortable with it, nothing indicates they will change their minds.

Wed, Dec 14, 2005 boudewijn lutgerink Huissen, Netherlands

Visual FoxPro is my warhorse for more than 10 years now and I still love it. I have not yet met any faster dev tool, not only to ship the product and make bang for the bucks but as a database tool as well. It does not really matter what kind of back end there is, VFP can conect to it and eat, crunch and swallow data and spit it out faster than you can blink your eye. Mary Yo, this article is right from my heart. Thank you for a very good article!!

Mon, Dec 12, 2005 Vassilis Athens - Greece

I have just finished a CAD-like application for a very special vertical market. My end-users design Windows and doors from an extremely user friendly interface they have incredibly-fast cost calculations, they have reports that turn to PDF or Word documents they send email inside my app and all these favor to VFP. I tried some years ago to build the same app with VB6 and a half dozen activex controls (for painting, for griding, for reporting etc...) but the result was dissapointing. Trying the same with the VFP I have a very clean object oriented application with everything implemented in VFP 9. Using GDIplus for my drawing needs I have implemented a very sophisticated CAD application which runs from a USB drive! No Setup headaches, no MDAC dependencies, no Dll hell, No problem with older machines, no problem at all! That's why I love VFP and that's why I will code in VFP for (at least) the next 10 years.

Mon, Dec 12, 2005 Freddie Philippines

I'm using this product since 1995, and developed lots of project. the most common reason why a language 'dies' is that its speakers have gradually switched to a more dominant language.

Sun, Dec 11, 2005 Eugen Wirsing Friedrichsdorf, Germany

Dear Mary Jo,
your less-than-sexy attribute for Visual FoxPro is certainly some kind of provocation! I don't know any piece of Software that is sexier. It's a fascinating system of language, database and environment for a developer that has been growing and maturing in a way that makes many competitors look dull and grey - if they are still around.
The fox has a very dedicated community of 'fans'. However this community is engaged in a constant battle with hords of enemies who are yelling: "The fox is dead!" This has been going on for years and it has lead to a certain paranoia of the fans. I have heard even some of the best murmuring the battlecry of the enemy like a mantra. Some of them leave the team in tears because they fear that their favorite tool may not be on the market any more in ten years!
I can look back 18 years and watch my old programs from 1987 that are still running if I compile them with the latest version of VFP. I can look forward and expect that the applications that are on my workbench now will run in 2014 if compiled with the latest version. Just show me any other programming tool with more stamina. And please tell me why so many fans of the fox are so gloomy. Are they immune against facts just because the rumors were repeated so often?
That VFP can be an inhouse competition to other products, is no secret. That it cannot feed great marketing budgets is also obvious. But it can bind a layer of customers (developers) that is unreacheable for the 'big' products like SQL Server and Visual Studio. I can see no reason for Microsoft as a company to get rid of these developers and leave that market segment vacant - single local managers may have different interests.
Nevertheless your article has raised my mood. I definitely share your optimistic view of the future standing of VFP in the house of Microsoft. For many years all doomsayers and alarmists have been falsified by the facts.

Sun, Dec 11, 2005 Joaquim Correia Porto - Portugal

Every now and then i have a urge to switch to another language, mostly pressed by other MS products, and MS support to those products.
But every time i try to switch to another languange, there's something that bring's me back to Fox. Most of the time is that in Fox you can get your project done, it's a tool for real work, to real clients.

Sun, Dec 11, 2005 Paul James

Show me a business application written in C# or Java and I will show you an application that could have been written in VFP in half the time with twice the features! Business applications are all about data. Nothing does data better than VFP. VFP is one of the only development environments that is data-centric. As a software consultant, I cannot in good conscience walk into a small or medium size company and offer to write their specialty application in .NET with an SQL Server backend. Those solutions may work great for large corporations with a multi-national structure, centralized IT, and big budgets, but for the rest of the real world it just doesn't make good business sense. VFP allows developers to create solutions that enhance a company's way of doing business. VFP does not force companies to change their business model to fit around the programming concept du jour. That's why it has been so successful. VFP is almost the only development environment left that excels at creating data-centric solutions for real business in a reasonable amount of time (that will continue to work 5 years from now when nobody remembers what XAML or AJAX mean). One of my programming friends once commented to me that Visual FoxPro was the crack of programming languages because it was so powerful and easy to use that once you started using it you just couldn't go back to using anything else. We used to say that life was too short to code in C which became C ++, which became C #. Well, life is still too short.

Sat, Dec 10, 2005 Peter Greece

I build solutions for my customers for about 13 years. When the SW project comes to my Company we use the VFP or even FP2.6 (special cases).
Our customers are satisfied and they want their “program” to go on even for DOS applications. The clear code of VFP gives the opportunity to the developer for better user interface. He spends time for the look of the application and not to make it work because application works already.
In Europe (EU) the XBase language is common between developers and there are many products ready for the market. Alaska XBase ++ (Version 3.0 go .NET), xHarbour is real Close to VFP Code, dBASE-II and Clarion (C/S), even FiveWin gives solution to x-code (Base) Developers for mobile Applications. What is better than an xbase tool on a PDA?
With the logic that runs in MS, Access become better tool for Mobile Windows to VS.NET
In my Country many SW companies turned to Oracle Developer Studio, Sun Java, and even Borland Delphi for their next application.
I already use FiveWin and xHarbour for my PDA ordering system.
MS with the .NET gave us a great technology but their problem is that they can not understand the “DATA-thing”. Look their big competition, SAP, ORACLE, IBM.

We are in information systems and information is “DATA-Thing”

I ask sorry for my English

Fri, Dec 9, 2005 Matthew Reed Vancouver, Washington

I have been a FoxPro developer for well over 15 years, and I have developed solutions with every version of FoxBASE, FoxPro (DOS and Windows), and Visual FoxPro (Windows) that has ever been released. I think I qualify as a "FoxPro faithful" :)

I have to question the statement “There are still hundreds of thousands of FoxPro users” and " They don't sound like they're planning on going anywhere any time soon." I just find this so very hard to believe. For years now I have watched the numbers of FoxPro developers and users dwindle. I have watched the number of opportunities to work with FoxPro diminish to the current virtually non-existent level. I have watched FoxPro developer after FoxPro developer leave FoxPro behind and move on to newer technologies, technologies with a future. I have watched FoxPro application after FoxPro application get replaced with some other technology. I am currently working on a FoxPro application that is run at over 400 locations by several thousand users. And guess what, we are working fervently to replace it with a dot net application.

I read the article “FoxPro Not an Endangered Species “ with some interest. What I see is FoxPro features being moved into dot net, something that Microsoft has done for a long time (moving FoxPro technology to other tools, such as Rushmore in Jet). I see them looking at FoxPro and listening to developers to determine what they can do to improve dot net. I see the potential of Sedna, but maybe I'm jaded from so many years of working with an excellent tool that has for the most part been ignored by Microsoft? I believe it is going to take a lot more then this to restore our faith in Microsoft, and a whole lot more then this to convince us that FoxPro has any future at all. And it will take even more of an effort by Microsoft to stem the mass migration away from FoxPro that has been happening for years and continues to this day. The damage has been done, and the damage is severe. My personal opinion is that it is too late for FoxPro. It is for all practical purposes already dead, and I personally do not believe that Microsoft has any desire to do anything to change that.

Fri, Dec 9, 2005 Andy KRamek Akron, OH

Brian Grant said that: "totally disagree. Foxpro is definitely on limited life support."

We should note that SP1 for VFP 9.0 was released today and that the Product Manager's release note states that:

"Now that we have released SP1 for VFP 9.0, the VFP team will start applying bug fixes and required compatibility enhancements to VFP 9.0 in the form of an upcoming SP2."

Doesn't sound much like "limited life support" to me! Sounds like a normal product development cycle for a mature product with 6 full versions in 10 years behind it...

Oh hang on, since they killed off VB, Microsoft don't have any other product which has had so much concentrated development effort as VFP so how could we tell?

Thu, Dec 8, 2005 Jaime B. Pinto Israel

1) I don't know about other tools, but with Visual Foxpro i am doing a huge amount of money while having a blast. I look forward for every new project and my customers who got used to the unbelievable stuff i provide them thanks to VFP cannot wait neither.
2) "Foxpro is dead" sayers and ".NET is the holy graal" prophets, please go to the VB community, really, they need you there, that's ok, we won't hold it against you. That's more work for me thanks...and mind the steps in the exit.
3) I alone (by using VFP as a dev. tool) am the exclusive reason the 1000 workstations at my customers sites use Windows as an OS and for most of them Office too.

Thu, Dec 8, 2005 Theof Athens-Greece

I have to agree that there's something magical about Visual FoxPro. Once you realize that you can create apps as easy and enjoyable with this tool, it 'll be very difficult to see other languages as a serious RAD tool. The only other lang I can think of for desktop apps would be Delphi although it doesn't have a native data engine, it has many other benefits including speed and ease. Each language has its use, so VFP is extremely good for datacentric apps, and even for other types of apps. If it wasn't for VFP I think I wouldn't have reasons to use Windows at all. Anyway since I started using VFP (since version 5), I keep hearing that the product is dying, but that will only happen when people stop using VFP to create apps. So...

Thu, Dec 8, 2005 Super Fox SouthAmerica

I´d like that VFP chague your id with windows autohide, safety in DBC´s, WebForms, refactoring, put the mirroring for DBC.

Thu, Dec 8, 2005 Jerry Atlanta

To understand why Fox has been in disfavor for so long at MS you need to go back to the DOS days. As an application development language dBase(Ashton-Tate, Borland) and Clipper trounced Billy's brain-dead baby Basic in the DOS world. As a result, xbase was the bitter enemy at MS. As Windows came along, MS was competing head on with Borland for developer tools (C, C plus-plus, dBase, etc.) but MS had no direct xBase product. The easy solution for this was to buy Fox. This strategic move allowed MS to finally kill Borland which would have been impossible without an xbase product.
Fox was never in favor by the masses at MS due to it's original enemy status. The fact that Fox has survived and prospered in this environment validates it's power and popularity. In my 40 years of working with over a dozen different development languages, on mainframes, mini's and microcomputers, Foxpro is by far the best application development tool to ever come down the pike. Fox has a strong inertial presence in the real world that will be difficult to kill.

Thu, Dec 8, 2005 Joey Carroll Dallas TX

Rudy Robinson wrote that " It continues to pay all my bills and impress my customers, who really don't care what language you use to write their software as long as they get exactly what they want."
Now I only write apps for my personal use but I can't help but believe that the developers' customers could care less about what language is used as long as the software written from it works as desired.
I love my computer and I love VFP, but most people I know in business don't give a rat's rear. A computer and its software are just tools to get a job done. VFP does that. Dot Net? What the hell is that? Will it increase my bottom line?

Wed, Dec 7, 2005 Brian Anonymous

Good Article but I still think VFP is the red-haired bastard child locked in the basement ( From MS perspective). Nothing wrong with it except that VFP can't overload operators. I looked at LINQS, the latest VS beta release.. they are definately incorporating some VFP-Like features into VS. I'll be converting some stuff to VB . Net sooner rather than later. With that said Ken Levy indicatated that his goal is to extend the interoperability of VFP with .NET.
imagine the Power of the following hypothetical code:
Dim aryList[ 3] as Olinq.ArrayObject
--Do some indexing here

Wed, Dec 7, 2005 Rudy Robinson Montego Bay, Jamaica

I've been using Foxpro (in all its forms) from the 1980's. It continues to pay all my bills and impress my customers, who really don't care what language you use to write their software as long as they get exactly what they want.

Microsoft acquired Foxpro for it Rushmore technology and got stuck with all these pesky programmers who would not let it (Foxpro) die.

Maybe, someone (or some group) should buy Foxpro from Microsoft so we could see its real potential! Until then, I'll just cool out on the beach!

Wed, Dec 7, 2005 Joe Rager San Antonio, Texas

I've been a FoxBase, VFP developer since 1985.
If Microsoft abandons VFP then I guarantee you I'll abandon Microsoft!

Wed, Dec 7, 2005 John Fatte' Omaha, NE

dBASE II was the one that started this whole controversy by providing the ability for "not so computer" oriented people to develope turnkey (remember that term) solutions in very little time and with very little effort.

Along came Fox and created a clone that was one better, because it was faster and cheaper. At that time, cost mattered, and since when doesn't speed matter!

MS didn't have a product to compete with the huge success of the Fox, so doing the only thing they could, they simply forked over a pile of cash and bought it. Now, here is where things get interesting. MS had some really smart people who made it better than MS wanted it to be, but because MS wasn't really paying that much attention to it, it got very popular, very fast. Meanwhile, MS was working hard on Access (Bill's pet) trying to make it the ultimate survivor in the desktop db market. Well, everybody knows that Access is nice, but slooowww and just recently got objectified. Foxpro just makes it look pathetic by comparison if you want to develop object oriented applications.

So where are we today...? Well, the VFP community is totally committed to VFP's future, even if MS isn't, and I think MS gets a wakeup call everytime they start talking about shelving it. If they do, there will be literally hundreds of thousands of developers who will go looking elsewhere for a datacentric development tool as an alternative to VFP. Does one exist right now...NO. Will someone provide one just as soon as MS drops VFP, you bet! Because they recognize the need for such a fast, reliable, flexible product; even if MS doesn't.

My company doesn't just develop in-house apps, we develop commerical apps that compete with products from Intuit and Sage software; and we can do everything they can do and lots of things better. And we can do it with less people, a smaller budget, and light-years faster. After spending the last 20 years with the Fox, I know that MS has provided the right tool for the right job when it comes to lighting quick, datacentric, extensible, scalable (for the most part), easily maintainble applications. If they don't know, after reading my comments, they WILL know. Let's just hope they're smart enough not to bring an end to the best product they have - even if it isn't a big money maker for them.

Wed, Dec 7, 2005 Helio Sao Paulo, Brazil

Expecting departmental level, small and medium businesses use VS+SQL Server is nuts. The best database tool for them is VFP.

Wed, Dec 7, 2005 Malcolm Greene NJ

one of the intangible values of VFP is its unique sense of community. How many MS products have developed such a loyal, passionate, perhaps even fanatical following? How many MS products have 43 MVPs? (Hint: None) You can't BUY this level of enthusiasm (even with billions in marketing) or BULLY customers into loving a product - you have to EARN it the old fashioned way by providing value vs. hype.

Microsoft FoxPro is the HIDDEN GEM in Microsoft's product portfolio.

Wed, Dec 7, 2005 Stephen Russell Earth.NA.USA.TN.Memphis

Good article Mary Jo.

To bad the only ones paying attention to your article are the ones who like VFP. For the rest of the world they will stick with Java or VS2005.

Wed, Dec 7, 2005 Dave Crozier Manchester UK

The power of VFP is only equalled by the dedication and expertise of the Foxpro Community. We have outlived Visual Basic (now dead and laid to rest at V6) despite the harbingers of doom touting the "VFP is Dead..." mantra over the last few years.
Yes, Microsoft don't market the product as much as they should. Yes, the development team is probably the smallest of any product to come out of Redmond. and yes, we would all like to see VFP become a flagship product again. However, in the meantime let us developers enjoy the product which is Microsoft's best kept secret for many years to come. If you've not tried it...don't knock it.

Name: Dave Crozier
Location: Manchester UK

Tue, Dec 6, 2005 Alex Sosa Panama

Sorry that I don't know how to keep the carriage returns in the above code to make it readable.

Tue, Dec 6, 2005 Alex Sosa Panama

Visual FoxPro is a wonderful object oriented data centric development environment. I think MS purchased FoxPro with the goal of hiding it or killing it, but the community has banded together and kept if vibrant.

Among the many virtues of VFP are:

1) Totally data centric. You can write stuff like this to issue a letter to all customers that have an overdue item over 90 days
ldCutOffDate = GOMONTH(DATE(),-3)
SELECT,Customers.Name,SUM(Items.ItemBalance) AS ItemBalance ;
FROM Customers ;
JOIN Items ON Customers.CustomerID = Items.CustomersID ;
WHERE Items.ItemBalance # 0 AND Items.Date <= ldCutOffDate ;
2) You can also compile at run time so you can easily create data driven applications.
3) Full object orientation with true inheritance. Very powerful stuff.
4) Executes very fast.
5) No runtime royalties. (This is why MS doesn't really like it)
6) A friendly and knowledgeable community with world class experts sharing their knowledge and code freely. See as an example.

Mon, Dec 5, 2005 Maximo Zambrano Florida

Great article Mary Jo!
VFP's data handling capabilities are second to none.
And it is Object Oriented from 1995, full ten years ago.
Long life to the Fox.

Mon, Dec 5, 2005 Dick Felcher PA

Fox Pro? Didn't Microsoft kill that product years ago? Back in the good ole days, I used to light up a nice joint and toke away while writing my Fox code. Geez, I can hardly imagine how many bugs are in that program I wrote for the Defense Department years ago. I hope they ain't still using it because I'm sure it sent some missiles a bit off course. Nobody told me how to correct for the earth’s gravitational rotation caused by all them planets. All now, I got deal with this new Sedna planet – yikes!

Now my old pappy told me to look at this .NET program he’s a using, but he’s too drunk half the time to remember where that FOR loop starts and the DO something loop ends. And gee whiz, they added something called objects. Heck, the only object I know of is the shoe I use to hit granny with to wake her up each day. No, I like them good ole days when you only had two work areas to deal with -- one for my farm animals, and the other for my girl friends (humm, come to think of it, I could have combined them into one nice database).

Mon, Dec 5, 2005 Russ Brown Bedford, TX

VFP is between a rock and a hard place, namely Access and SQL Server. If the word REALLY got out about VFP, it would eat into their case cow sales of Office Professional Edition (which includes Access) and their big hammer SQL Server. Most users of Office Professional never use or even open up Access and so could get away with the Standard or Edition of Office. Microsoft wants to encourage as many people as possible to use SQL Server and promoting VFP, increasing its market share, etc., is not the way to accomplish that financial goal. I think Microsoft should just pull Access from Office and include SQL Server Express instead.

Microsoft will always make sure Access and VFP are lame ducks and at best teasers/lead-ins for SQL Server because that is where the big bucks are.

Mon, Dec 5, 2005 justin indy

Been using VFP since 5 used .net sense it came onto the seen. To do simple things take days or a week in .NET in VFP its done in a few hours because of its dataengine. .Net does not have data engine and nor is LINQ a dataengine which will show its head in version 3.0. LINQ is a wrapper around what already exsit in .NET so its going to be slow.

VFP is a great tool that just gets the job done

Mon, Dec 5, 2005 Gene Wirchenko Bellingham, WA

I have used xBASE languages (those deriving from dBASE, as does VFP) for many years. They have very good bang for the buck. VFP is not glamourous, but just keeps perking along. The job gets DONE.

Mon, Dec 5, 2005 Grover Cox Atlanta

All of the previous comments are good. As I have used FoxPro since version 1.0, I believe it is one of the best products of it's kind, bar none! And is better today than ever before.
From a business point of view, Micorsoft has a lot more to gain by keeping this product and heavily integrating it into the .NET platform AND a lot to lose by killing it. The large base of VFP customers are moving very slowly toward .NET mainly becuase it is so complex and also becuase they don't see the need to move to anything else. Those customers would be all lost if they killed VFP today! It just wouldn't make sense.

Mon, Dec 5, 2005 Johnf Ca

All that Brian Grant has said it true. But that does not take away the fact that FoxPro 9 is one of the best products available for building business apps - period. So I say Microsoft is nuts for giving up on Foxpro. This article will not change anything - microsoft will kill Foxpro. Replacing Foxpro with some .Net lang that has some data handling abilities will not get .Net to the level FoxPro is today.

Mon, Dec 5, 2005 Wayne Anonymous

MS are more likely to morph VFP (via sedna) than kill the product outright. But of the items on Brians list point to the products demise, but are more of a reflection of Microsofts push for .NET and the maturity of the product. What else could they do?
No new magazines or books? The product has been going for more than ten years, you can get as much and more from support web sites and on-line e-zines. Books writers know this and as mentioned elsewhere MS are not putting any money behind marketing. As for the further develpoment angle, the product can already access multiple DB backends, can produce stand alone EXE's and DLLS, has a superb report writer, uses procedural code, object oriented code, SQL syntax and is simple to read and maintain. To me, .NET is aimed at enterprise development teams and thats fine, but Foxpro already does business apps now.

Mon, Dec 5, 2005 Brian Grant Upstate New York

I totally disagree. Foxpro is definitely on limited life support. Only the most Die Hard Foxpro users can’t and won’t see it. Here are a few HINTs.
This is a you might be a redneck kind of list
MicroSoft Might Be Killing your development tool if…..

1.) They remove the product name from the project managers title (ie Ken Levy)

2.) They stop all certifications for you development tool.

3.) They start offering free books on how to use there other development tools on your development tools web page.

4.) Your development tools web page contains as many or more references to .Net as it does to itself.

5.) The product development team is going to spend two years on a glorified update instead of a full version.

6.) The decision has been made not to move your product to 64 bit.

7.) You can only find books for your development tool online.

8.) Your Advisor Magazine is looking thiner than a bulimic Ethiopian.

9.) Every single reference source , website , and publication on your development tool refers to .Net as much or more than it does to the development tool itself.

Mon, Dec 5, 2005 Kenneth Tamayo San Juan, Puerto Rico USA

Visual FoxPro is a wonderful product, particularly in its latest release 9.0 It is extremely powerful, fast, flexible - and probably too generous in its Return-On-Investment - which may be the reason why it has been kept sort of a "secret" at Microsoft.

The programming comunity that continues to live and swear by it know there is nothing quite as good as the Fox for so many business requirements. That's probably why FoxPro is Not an Endangered Species - in spite of the inexisting marketing from Redmont.

To conclude, I'd say that as far as database development tools, nothing is sexier than Visual FoxPro!

Mon, Dec 5, 2005 Gerold L. Germany

VFP is one of the most stable products I ever used. While I do a lot in Java (J2EE) now, I miss the simple and fast way of development and prototyping in VFP. Fox is not only mature it is ripe. While VFP may(!) not be the best choice for enterprise-level apps it is imho one of the best choices for c/s development on the market. But you can even develop enterprise level apps with it, if you want. It is fast, stable, flexible, open (in parts), connectible - what does a developer need more ?

Sun, Dec 4, 2005 Bill Drew Chicago, IL

Amen to Andy's comment about what the majority of companies need and can afford. We have an comparative auto insurance quoting application which is very well served by a fat client application which hits our web site for updates on each startup. We are very data intensive. VFP does it very well. Good talent is actually easier to find with VFP than with Dot Net--where the experience, at this point, cannot measure up due to the newness of Dot Net and its complexity.

Sat, Dec 3, 2005 Andy Kramek Akron, OH

I have to say that I agree with most of Mary Jo's points. As to her question about what has caused the new lease on life, I think there are several factors. One is unquestionably the lamentable data handling capabilities of the .NET environment. Another is that, once again, Microsoft seem to have forgotten that the vast majority of companies simply do not have limitless IT resources.
Numerically (if not in total $ value) the vast majority of businesses operate on fat-client applications deployed over a LAN. They use standard packages for Accounting, Payroll and HR Management and usually have some form of custom software for specialized line of business applications. How can they afford to use .NET for these applications? They can't! So they have started to look elsewhere and lo and behold they find VFP. And when they do, WOW! what a shock they get when they see its speed and power in operation.

Sat, Dec 3, 2005 Mike Omaha

Microsoft is so fortunate not to have any competition in this arena, because like with their internet debacle of a few years ago, they have totally missed the boat not moving VFP to .NET. For the normal, run of the mill company, this would be a catastrophic blunder, for Microsoft its just, doh, business a usual. A whole generation of db devs will have missed the opportunity to do great things with a great dev tool. Sedna is a band-aid covering a gaping hole in the Microsoft dev strategy and a very cold distant place, indeed.

Sat, Dec 3, 2005 Craig B. Pipestone, MN

Visual FoxPro is the best product Microsoft has in its arsenal for creating datacentric applications. If you're a company that is looking for a low risk, cost-conscious, lightning-fast Windows database application created by developers with lots of experience then you need look no further than the Visual FoxPro Community. You won't see Microsoft do any multi-million dollar marketing blitzes for Visual FoxPro, but a great development tool is still a great development tool and Visual FoxPro is one of the best. Nothing does data like Visual FoxPro. Great column Mary Jo!

Sat, Dec 3, 2005 Randy J. South Bend, IN

VFP is a very mature and stable product. I am constantly amazed at the contributions made by the VFP community. If Microsoft continues to make evolutionary enhancements, improves interop, and makes fixes then I'll be very happy. And yes, I do believe there is some recent momentum with VFP as an alternative tool option for the Windows platform.

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