Wednesday, March 14, 2007

yag reaffirms VFP Roadmap

Alan Griver (yag) who heads the Visaul FoxPro team at Microsoft announced yesterday that Microsoft is not going to release a VFP 10. Is this news? Not at all. Ken Levy posted the VFP Roadmap almost a couple of years ago with this detail. It has been posted on the Microsoft Visual FoxPro site and discussed at great length on the various forums.

What yag did announce yesterday is the packaging and pricing for Sedna. Sedna is the external components (Data Explorer, Upsizing Wizard, My Namespace, NET2COM, Vista Toolkit, etc.) being released this summer. Before this announcement the Fox Community did not know if this was going to be free or have some cost. We now know it will be free to everyone.

Even better news is Sedna will be released as open source on Codeplex. This means the Fox Community will be able to extend the components. This is exciting, but not really surprising. Microsoft has released the XSource components with similar licensing and the ability for the community to extend and enhance. The source will include VFP and VB.NET code).

VFP 9 SP2 is also scheduled to be released this summer. This release could be the most critical release in the long history of VFP as it will be the last scheduled release of the EXE and DLLs. Alan reassured us Microsoft will support the VFP product through the commitment (currently set to January 2015) and will sell licenses for years to come. How long into the future is still to be determined with the legal eagles because some countries have laws with respect to official support after the initial sale.

The MVPs also talked about the Vista compatibility issues. I have blogged about this a few times, but in case you are a new reader: Vista compatibility is the most important feature included in VFP 9 SP2 and Sedna. VFP MVPs Rick Strahl and Doug Hennig have done a lot of work with Vista and have blogged about their findings. The Fox Team knows about several issues and really want to hear from the community as soon as possible to get these issues resolved before SP2 ships. This is super critical and cannot stress enough that we need to get testing on Vista to ensure VFP plays well on Vista in the future.

I think the biggest concern within the community is long term viability of VFP apps on the currently supported operating systems, and moving forward with newer technology. Alan assured us that there will be support through 2015 and Microsoft has C++ resources available to work on major bugs found in the product moving forward, but the resources for VFP 9 SP2 are defined and now is the time to get it working smoothly.

The take aways from our meeting were this
1) Sedna and VFP 9 SP2 are going to Beta 1 soon with release this summer
2) Sedna will be released as open source
3) VFP 9 will be supported into the future
4) VFP 9 will still be sold to developers (how long still to be determined)
5) VFP 9 will be available in MSDN through the support cycle dates
5) There still will be VFP MVPs in the future

So how does this affect me personally? I am going to load Vista and do some serious testing. I have been too busy and priority was not high enough. I don't think Vista is being adopted as quick as anyone thought it would and my customers are not using it yet. But the importance of this to our future and to our community is going to make this a high priority for me. I hope you will help out too. It is very important for us to get the kinks worked out.

The rest of my business will continue as is and I am planning on working with VFP well into the future as long as it serves me and my customers as it is today.

On a personal note, I thanked the VFP team for providing me a tool that has helped me grow my business and serve my customers. VFP rocks, plain and simple. The future is still very bright.



At 4/21/2009 02:45:00 AM, Blogger VĂ­ctor Acosta Serrano said...

Hi Rick, I know this is an old message, but I need to write a report to my manager recommending or not to continue developing in Fox.

According nowadays realities, what would you say as expert?, Should a Costa Rica based company moves to other language or stay in fox?

Our company built huge software with fox 9 and every day is harder to find developers that know the language. Besides this situation, our costumer used to ask, why not .net or Java?

Best Regards, Victor.

At 4/21/2009 11:58:00 AM, Blogger Rick Schummer said...

The question of staying or leaving is a personal one for each business. It is impossible for me to understand the investment in the existing software and what it would cost to move to a new platform or language without an exhaustive review. This matters when I make recommendations on this issue.

That said, here is my general feeling of the stay or rewrite as food for thought. If you rewrite today and it would cost X to do it, what would it cost to do the same say 5 years from now? Hard to answer, but my guess is that the players in the dev language and tools market will be advanced from where they are today. What if in 5 years it costs half of X to develop with the new stuff. Is it worth X/2 to wait and do it with more state of the art tools? Will the maintenance to get 5 more years cost more or less. What is the real cost benefit analysis?

So much has changed in the last 5 and 10 years with progress and complexity that the apps we build today make the ones we built yesterday seem so archaic. The same will be true in five more years.

The other thing I look at today is the investment of learning something new, and what my return on that investment will be in five years. Will the tools I invest in (commercial or open source) be around in 5 years? The way vendors are deprecating technologies is a huge concern to me. With VFP I know nothing else is going to be deprecated or changed, and I have a library of solid code and framework to last me a long time.

We live in interesting times.


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