Wednesday, June 01, 2005

VFP Roadmap provides direction

Ken Levy has posted the much anticipated VFP Roadmap today. This is the long anticipated future of VFP, and the future is bright. Go read it here along with this month's VFP Newsletter and come back to read my assessment.

There is not a lot of specifics here, but let me start by saying my number one enhancement request has been honored, Longhorn compatibility. Out of the hundreds of ERs posted on the Fox Wiki, the UT wish list, and the beta forums, why is this my number one? Simple. It means my apps will run on Windows 2000, XP, 2003, and Longhorn. My customers don't even have Longhorn on their radar scopes at this time, but eventually they will buy new computers and it will have the newest OS installed. I can now tell customers, and potential customers the apps I recommend using VFP 9 will run on all supported Windows well into the next decade. This is great news!

I also like the announcement of the VFP 9 Service Pack 1 later this year. I think some people will scream that it is too far away, but Microsoft can still release hot fixes for the critical problems. The Fox Team has posted that VFP 9 is the most stable version of VFP ever and fewer bugs have been reported in the released version than any prior version. I have seen some serious bugs reported and they need to be fixed for sure. I want to see the NT4 problem addressed officially. If the German User Group can address it, the Fox Team certainly can address it, even though it is not an officially supported operating system.

You need to work with VFP 9 and find the bugs. Six months is not that far away in development time, we have all been there.

I think the best thing to happen to Visual Studio .NET is the help from the Fox Team. There are a lot of smart people working at Microsoft, but it is my opinion the Fox Team will be the difference maker with respect to integrating data with .NET. I am not a .NET fan with respect to Windows client apps and have long said it will take Microsoft three versions to get it right. Whidbey is only v2.0. The Fox Team resources working on v3.0 cements my position. Does this mean I am ignoring .NET? No way. SQL Server 2005 has .NET built in, and ASP .NET is cool. .NET is not inheritently bad, and with members of the Fox Team working on it, it has a much better chance of being great.

I have heard Fox Developers who have added .NET to their arsenal of solutions complain about interop with VFP. The VFP Roadmap looks to address this issue. There will be developers who claim this is just another ploy to get VFP developers to make the jump to .NET. I see it differently. I see VFP being the primary development tool I use for the long term. I like the fact Microsoft is extending VFP to interop with the tools they see as their strategic direction. This means I can use both to provide the best solutions for my customers. I guess I see the glass as half full, or better yet, completely full and maybe even overflowing.

Kudos to Ken and Whil for posting Kevin McNeish's .NET for Visual FoxPro Developers on the Microsoft Web site. This book is the first book you should look at to help you understand what .NET is all about so you can make informed decisions. Kevin knows both VFP and .NET extremely well. He uses this knowledge to help VFP developers climb the learning curve.

Sedna is the next version of VFP. Code names are a fun geek tradition so teams can refer to a product which does not have an official marketing name. For all the prior code names of VFP hit this Fox Wiki entry. So what is behind the code name? I did a Google search and found that it is the newest named object in our Solar System. It is also the coldest and most distant place in our Solar system. Should we be reading into this? {g}

Sedna is not yet classified as a planet, but speculation is it is orbiting the sun in an elliptical orbit, which takes 10,500 earth years to orbit the sun. If you are a space geek like me, you might find this Sedna page quite interesting.

So does the lack of a VFP 10 announcement disappoint me? Sure. I think all serious VFP developers are disappointed we will not see a major upgrade. I personally look forward to the betas and working to understanding all the new stuff. On the other hand, Microsoft did not kill the product today, which is what many developers speculated over the last six months. VFP 9 does most of what I need today and I am extremely productive with this version. Microsoft added Property Editors, MenuHits, and the all new Report Designer so we can extend this product past what Microsoft provides.

Who knows, maybe the Roadmap will be enhanced the next time Randy or Calvin head out on vacation and come up with a cool feature they should include Sedna.

My guess as to why they are not calling it v10.0: the memory location inside the VFP executable only allows for single digit major version numbers (tongue firmly planted in cheek).

So the key here is to get VFP 9 if you don't already have it. Don't wait for Sedna because that is two years away. You will be losing out on the new productivity and cool functionality for your customers if you put off the upgrade until 2007. Using VFP 9 now also gives you a chance to contribute feedback for the upcoming Service Pack 1.

The future is very bright indeed.


At 6/01/2005 09:13:00 PM, Blogger k.i.v. said...

Now I *know* you're an optimist!

At 6/01/2005 10:28:00 PM, Blogger Rick Schummer said...

Rats, caught again, and thanks for noticing.

I have found over the years that I am only successful when I surround myself with positive energy. Negativity only breeds more negativity. It is my not-so-secret formula for success.

At 6/02/2005 02:41:00 AM, Blogger Craig Boyd said...

Nice to see that there are a few reasonable thinkers and visionaries left in VFP Community. Superb blog entry Rick!

I am also an admitted optimist when it comes to VFP, but that optimism is not blind... just as there is some very solid reasoning behind my continued use of VFP, there are also solid reasons for being optimistic about its future.

VFP's future was made more sure yesterday than it has been in some time. The Roadmap, June Letter and additional information Ken Levy has supplied on the UT shows clearly that VFP is going to be blowing socks off for some time to come. It's a solid, mature tool that will reap the benefits of .NET development moving forward. Ken Levy said that there are things we will be able to do with Sedna that we can't even imagine now. I for one believe him.

The VFP langugage, data, speed and reports coupled with the UI abilities of .NET (not to mention upcoming Avalon/XAML) are a match made in heaven as far as I'm concerned. There was a time when I was seriously concerned about VFP's future, but for me that day has long since past.

At 10/04/2005 05:34:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Excellent blog... I have worked with FoxPro for over 10 years and have never been more excited about a release (VFP 9.0) than currently. I sure hope we can entice Microsoft to offer us a VFP 10.0.

Please continue your excellent work.

Kenneth Tamayo
San Juan, Puerto Rico - USA

At 10/04/2005 09:40:00 AM, Blogger Rick Schummer said...


Keep following the Sedna Roadmap changes (it is fluid at the moment, nothing absolutely carved in granite). Also, if there are things you want to see in Sedna, send the feedback to the Fox Team via Ken Levy.


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