Tuesday, November 20, 2007

FoxPro Content on Advisor

As you may know, Advisor has consolidated all their technical magazines into Databased Advisor. Life in the business world goes in circles and Advisor has come full circle if you recall the history of Advisor and their FoxPro offerings. It all started with Databased Advisor covering several database languages including FoxBase/FoxPro. The split the FoxPro content off into FoxPro Advisor, changed the name to Advisor Guide to Microsoft Visual FoxPro, and have now consolidated it back to Databased Advisor.

While I see some value in having access to all the content, to me at least it just gets in the way of finding the excellent FoxPro content written by the usual suspects (Christof Wollenhaupt, Tamar Granor, Pamela Thalacker, Andrew MacNeill, Ceil Silver (now Mike Lewis), Rick Borup, Rick Strahl, Doug Hennig, Andy Kramek and Marcia Akins) and the cast of others who contribute less frequently.

So I emailed Advisor and asked how I can see just the FoxPro content and they quickly responded with the following link:


(Updated 6-Mar-2008)

Much better.

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Friday, May 11, 2007

Advisor Summit - Day 3

Traditions are important and Advisor was able to keep my streak alive by scheduling me for the first session on the last day. As I have mentioned in this blog before, for some reason (guarantee that I will be sober) the organizers always pick me to present first in the morning. I talked about VFPX in my session "Learn How to Use VFPX Tools and Components for Visual FoxPro." I felt this session went well and the feedback was very positive. Doug Hennig mentioned it might have been the most attended session of the conference. It is always nice to hear people are interested in your presentation, but more importantly, people are interested in VFPX and the future of Visual FoxPro.

The rest of the morning was consumed with email and following up on customer issues as I listened to Doug's always good session on Integrating RSS and VFP. It was unfortunate, but I had to skip Tamar's Solve Common Problems with VFP SQL. I will catch up by doing some homework and reading her white paper.

After lunch I attended Kevin's session on the "COM Cookbook: Five Tasty Recipes for COM Automation with VFP." Kevin went through five examples:
  1. Desktop Alerts
  2. Wrapper for VFP Encryption DLL by Craig Boyd
  3. Wrapper for VFP compression DLL by Craig Boyd
  4. VFP mail using Blat.DLL
  5. VFP Application Updater
Kevin showed the feared "Catastrophic failure" error message he had when he demoed the Desktop Alerts at the Detroit Area Fox User Group in the "Why not COM" section. He covered the fundamentals and some of the complicated things like debugging.

My last session ("Expand Your SQL Server Toolkit for the VFP Developer") kicked off the VFP Track "overtime." You see the rest of the conference was over after the desert reception, but the VFP track had two extra sessions for the attendees. Not bad since I was getting paid time and a half (1.5 * $0.00) {g}. This session covers a number of different categories of developer tools developers should consider to make their SQL Server experience better. I demo tools like SQL Compare, SQL Doc, MSDE Admin, and SQL Prompt. I have purchased and use these tools on a regular basis to increase my productivity and improve my profitability.

Doug Hennig wrapped up the conference with his really good session "Best Practices for Vertical Market Applications." I have seen this session at GLGDW and OzFox in the last year, but I listened because Doug tweaks it and attendees participate with their own thoughts on the various topics. This time around I took a couple of notes for a project I am working on right now for another developer.

After the conference wrapped up we went out to dinner at Ruth's Chris Steak House. Dinner was excellent, conversation was enjoyable and surprise-surprise we were the 1000th customer of the newly opened restaurant. What a hoot, dinner was on the manager! Later, Jeanine (who attended the VFP track) admitted she worked with the manager to set the whole thing up and bought us all dinner. After dinner we headed back to the hotel where we chatted some more.

I got to bed around 1:30 and was up at 3:30 for my early flight home. My flight from LA to Minneapolis was horrible as the guy next to me was sleeping and kept invading my personal space. From the airport I drove directly to the Detroit Area Fox User Group meeting where we held a meeting of open discussion and I ended up not having to present. It is good to be home.

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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Advisor Summit - Day 2

Tuesday is a busy and very long day here in Anaheim. Lots of news from LA area with the fires, but it is northwest from where we are.

The first session of the day is Kevin Ragsdale's "Best Practices for Deploying Visual FoxPro Applications." You should be aware of my passion for the topic since I helped write the book Kevin used as part of his research on the topic. He formally recognized the work Rick Borup and I did on the Deploying Visual FoxPro Solutions book he considers essential reading (I agree {g}). He also recognized the work Rick Borup did at GLGDW 2006 on the same topic. Kevin then went through several best practices and shared his deployment successes and failures. One of the things I like to do is learn from other people's mistakes so I can avoid them, especially with deployment. Kevin made several excellent points during the session and I thought he did a good job. Several people talked to me about our book after the session. It is nice to get the word out about it.

The next session I attended was suppose to be "Simple SharePoint Solutions", but it was replaced with "Customized SharePoint Sites with 'Features'." The two presenters got together a decided the timing should be switched. I was curious more about the solutions, so I bailed out after a short time and went to get some work done. I have already seen Tamar's session called "Practical Tips for Working with Existing Visual FoxPro Code" before, but I am going to read her white paper because I am living this with a new customer and their FoxPro DOS code. I hope they will move to VFP and SQL Server some day.

After lunch (which several people did not like, but I enjoyed because there were lots of veggies) I skipped Doug's session on Inno Setup because I have seen it a couple of times already. It is a great session. You can read some of the material in the last couple issues of Advisor Guide to Microsoft Visual FoxPro. It is a fantastic session. The first time I attended I was making changes to my scripts in the session.

Up next was my session "Microsoft VFP Debugging Essentials." I was not happy with the delivery of this session at all and it was reflected in a couple of the evals. I did not have the energy I normally like to deliver because I had a headache that made me feel dizzy while I was presenting. I was able to communicate, but as one eval correctly stated: "This was not one of Rick's best sessions."

The last session of the regular day was Tamar's "The Why and How of Test Data." This was another session I was really looking forward to before the conference and is one we selected for Southwest Fox 2007. Tamar shows you why and how to auto generate test data using third-party tools, and her own framework. I have a real need to generate some test data for a couple of projects I am working on so I can use this session as soon as I return home. Highly recommended session.

Right after Tamar's session we were picked up and attended the LA Fox meeting out by LAX. This was fun. We listened to an interesting presentation by a couple of guys from GeneXus. GeneXus is a suite of development tools that generate applications from it own IDE into source code in VFP, .NET, Java, and several other platforms I cannot recall. At the same time it generates the application it generates the database in VFP, SQL Server, MySQL, and many other popular database backends. It definitely looks like an interesting product. The thing I like about it is the one source (they call the source code a KnowledgeBase) and many different "buzzword compliant platforms." I was curious what target platform has the best performance, but they did not have any metrics. I have always been skeptical about code generators, but this one definitely looks like it is mature. The product has been around since 1988 and is very current. I am still skeptical, and the cost is a little steep (US$5000), but looks very powerful at the same time.

We had a good view of the fires in LA from the office where the LA Fox meeting takes place and watched it while we ate pizza during the break.

Following the presentation from GeneXus, Tamar, Doug and I did our 20-minute mini-sessions. Tamar demonstrated an app she is working on and how she is using GDIPlusX from VFPX to capture screens shots and print them on a VFP report. I covered Southwest Fox and the user group offer we are doing, and rapidly went through some of the VFPX projects in a quick overview. Doug followed me with part of his VFP and Vista session. It was a fun night. We got back to the hotel around 11:30 and I rehearsed my morning session before hitting the pillow.

More to come...

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Advisor Summit - Day 1

The conference started out with Alan Griver's keynote. Alan did a great job. He started out by restating the no VFP 10 announcement (Alan is a brave man {g}) in case there were people who had not heard about it. I was surprised by the number of people who did not know about the announcement. There was no loud screaming or angry mob mentality. More importantly, Alan also showed all new material from SP2 and some of the issues fixed for Vista that the Fox Team is working on. One of the cool things he showed is the new toolkit Microsoft released last week to allow developers to build controls in VB.NET that can be used in VFP forms. This really has a lot of potential for VFP developers who want to leverage new controls not available in VFP. Alan demonstrated the VB menu control and coded it to display a .NET messagebox. Nothing fancy, but something very important moving forward. I enjoyed the keynote.

I attended a couple of Sharepoint sessions that were not so good. Mostly because the presenter got into "presentation hell" when their virtual machine was not booting successfully. I felt bad for him and headed to the speaker room where I got some client work done.

The next big session of the day was the session I really anticipated since I heard Doug was working on it: "Develop Microsoft Visual FoxPro Applications for Windows Vista." It was the session that paid for the conference, okay, it paid for the non-billable time I am spending here. Doug detailed the good and the bad things, and showed us workarounds for many of the issues as we wait for SP2 to ship. For the most part you can read Calvin's blog and see how Calvin is attacking the Vista issues presented so far. Calvin is directly working on community reported problems. Doug's session addresses security issues, the User Access Control, Virtualization (advantages and disadvantages), installing applications and where to put the files, user interface problems, how to simply address fonts, customizing the Vista Task dialogs, and other issues he has faced. It was a fantastic session and one I think everyone should see at some point in the near future (hint, hint, it will be at Southwest Fox).

The last session of the day was Kevin Ragsdale's session "Using InfoPath with Visual FoxPro." Kevin did a good job and showed how you can use InfoPath as a front end to FoxPro data. He showed a VFP form and an InfoPath form that accessed a Web Service he developed using the express edition of Visual Web Developer. We are talking about a Web service developed by the creation of a ASMX file you could edit in NotePad. Interesting session. I just wish Kevin had the white paper done so I could read it when I return home (one of my pet peeves, in case you were wondering). He promises it will be done soon.

The evening was filled with a long walk and dinner at Buca di Beppo. I also watched part of the Jazz-Warriors game and learned the Pistons kicked the Bulls behinds again. With the Red Wings winning the series against the Sharks it looks like my spring is going to be packed with playoff games to watch. {bg}

Tuesday evening (tonight) we are headed to the LA Fox meeting to listen to the speaker (I hear the topic is going to be interesting). Doug, Tamar, and I might do 20 minute mini-sessions back-to-back after he is done. A VFP smorgasbord.

I do want to clarify something I have read about on ProFox where it was discussed that there are 35 attendees here. Actually there are 35 VFP attendees, but there is not a 1-to-1 ratio of speaker to attendee. The VFP track has 5 speakers so the ratio is 7:1. It should be noted on a slightly positive note the VFP track has the most registrations of all the tracks according to what I have heard through someone who talked to Advisor.

So far it has been a great conference.

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Saturday, May 05, 2007

Advisor Summit - Arrival

The Hennig Travel Curse (for those not familiar, Doug has a habit of getting delayed during his air travel) was in play today and we learned it can have far reaching effects. Doug and I were on the same flight by pure coincidence from Minneapolis to Orange County. Our flight was delayed by the controllers in Minneapolis as they attempted to route us around some of the nasty storms in the center of the country today. They realized it would take 2300 pounds of additional fuel when they calculated the new flight plan. So they decided to let us take the original flight plan. They think the route is dangerous until they calculate the costs {g}. Fortunately the delay was only 30 minutes. It was some of the worst turbulence I have experienced, but nothing to be concerned with. It did make it tough to code at times though.

When we arrived at the hotel we ran into Alan Griver in the lobby of the Marriott Anaheim. Alan flew in from Seattle today, but his plan had problems as they approached Portland and had to return to Seattle. Now this is the first time we have a hint of the Hennig Travel Curse impacting others, but we will start to keep some statistics to see if it was a fluke or the beginning of a trend.

The hotel is nice, the food at lunch was terrific, as was the company (Alan joined Doug and I for lunch). We talked about some of the recent events in the community, and some projects we are working on.

I am looking forward to a great week. I will try to blog as much as possible, but I am unsure how many sessions I will be attending outside of my own based on the workload I am experiencing. More to come...

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Advisor DevCon: Early bird registration approaching

Only one week left to save $200 on the $2195 Gold Passport, or $1695 Regular Main Event fees to the Advisor Summit being held in Anaheim, CA May 6-10, 2007.

Deadline is March 30,2007 so head over to the online registration to save a couple of C-Notes before time runs out.

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