Archive for June, 2005


David is performing a fantastic service to the community with his DevCon coverage on his blog: Talking Fox. Thanks for the information David and I look forward to many more posts! Looks like the Universal Thread does not have any official coverage, so I guess it is up to the bloggers to help us out.

Normally I like to attend DevCon in a year when the Fox Team makes a release (in this case, VFP 9). This year I cannot because my oldest son graduated from High School and we are doing some work on the house to get ready for his party (120 people are coming for dinner in a couple of weeks). So instead of getting together with Fox friends, I spent the weekend cleaning out the garage and mudding the walls so we can paint. I can only say, I wish I was at DevCon {g}.


What does the word “FoxPro” mean to your customers? In the last year I have contracted to two different IT departments to assist the developers in supporting and enhancing their applications. These two clients have provided me an interesting perspective to what FoxPro means in the business community.

Customer one has a staff of five developers and several contractors working on supporting a FoxPro DOS application, which has been around since the late 1980’s. They have several applications making up the core mission critical system supporting a company of more than 500 employees and revenues which would blow your socks off. At the same time the developers are trying to migrate the application to the latest version of VFP and SQL Server. This process has been started several times and now the company has part of their application in FoxPro DOS and the other part in Visual FoxPro (sharing a common set of DBF tables).

Soon after starting at this client, I was sitting in the conference room working on a module for the VFP application. One of the employees poked his head in and asked me, “Are you the guy who has FoxPro as his license plate?” I gave him an affirmative answer and he proceeded to warn me that I should park my car somewhere else, and not in the company lot unless I wanted it damaged. I was shocked! I asked why and was told that many of the employees hated FoxPro! This was not one of the developers; this was one of the users. The users referred to the custom application as “FoxPro”, not as the application. Since there are parts of the app that are suffering from lack of attention there are users who are not 100% satisfied. In fact, some of the users wanted to take out their frustration on the FoxPro car! The users throughout the company refer to the system as FoxPro 2.6 and FoxPro 6.0, not by a custom application name or acronym.

In February this year I started working as a consultant at a multi-billion dollar, publicly traded company. The director of systems development introduced me as a “FoxPro Expert” to several people as we walked around the office. When a support call comes in and the Help Desk determines it has something to do with one of the many FoxPro applications, I get assigned to a ticket to investigate and recommend a solution. I have been assigned numerous tickets to solve. At the same time several people have popped their head into my cube or called me. The typical conversation goes something like this: “I hear you are an expert on FoxPro. I have a question to ask if you have a couple of minutes.” Now talking about FoxPro is something I really enjoy and of course was ready to help out. The users then proceeded to ask me a detailed question about some process in one of the applications. When I shrug my shoulders and tell them I will look into it, they are appalled that I did not have expertise I was allegedly hired to have and show. They too associate the name FoxPro with the company’s mission critical applications.

I have clients who know nothing about Fox or the fact they have a FoxPro application running on their computers. I have other clients who know Visual FoxPro is the tool I use to create their application, but still refer to the app by the name or acronym. Until recently my dad thought I owned “FoxPro” since it was on my license plate.

So how do your customers see the name FoxPro? Do they see it as the application they use all day, or is it just the world’s best database application development tool their developers use?


This weekend I took a couple of minutes to update the White Light Computing DBCX Metadata Compare Utility based on a developer’s request that it account for deleted records in the metadata. The developer also mentioned that he automatically runs the DBCX Metadata Compare Utility executable as part of his deployment process so he knows exactly what has changed. This is why I wrote the tool in the first place, but it is always encouraging to hear how other developers use the tools you create, and how they depend on it for their development.

I decided to take the opportunity to include SET REPORTBEHAVIOR 90 when you run the tool inside VFP 9. This allows you to preview the report with the crisper zoom magnification, and display multiple pages in the preview window. The good news with this little tweak: I did not have to modify the report to be compatible with the new Report Designer.

DBCX Metadata Compare still runs in VFP 7 and 8 as well as VFP 9 IDE. If you run it in standalone mode the executable now requires the VFP 9 run-times.

In case you were wondering, this tool is a freebie. All the details on how to download it, and some basic documentation can be found on the White Light Computing Web site here. Enjoy.


I have watched with curiosity how the Fox Community is reacting to the announced code name for the next version of VFP. Sure it is fun listening to the various reactions from the community about the Roadmap, but lets have a little fun with “Sedna”.

In my post VFP Roadmap provides direction I note:

“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.”

There were four things that came to mind when I read about the celestial object and the code name of VFP.Next…

  1. Pluto is the ninth planet and Sedna is past the ninth planet. Sedna in the VFP world is past the ninth version (this is the obvious one that Ken confirmed yesterday is the base of the code name).
  2. If you look at the Sedna page you will see 2003 VB12 was the official temporary designation of the International Astronomical Union (IAU) Minor Planet Center. So we could make a correlation that the add-on to VFP 9 is equivalent to VB v12.0 (this one was just too much fun).
  3. The other fun conspiracy theory is Sedna is a red object and VFP is the red-headed stepchild in the Microsoft Developer Tool Division.
  4. Finally, Sedona was the code name for VFP 7, take the “Oh” out of 7 and you get Sedna.

According to a post on the UniversalThread, Ken Levy says only the first observation is correct and later John Koziol (lead tester on the Fox Team) admits to being the originator of the code name:

“With Ken’s approval, the “Sedna” idea was mine :-) At first, the name was attractive as the first planetary body beyond the 9th (Pluto)…and then I read the legend of Sedna, the Artic goddess and about fell off my chair laughing at the loose parallels to VFP.”

In a later post John hints there are many other reasons Sedna is a great name and they will become apparent as time goes on. Well, geeks just gotta have fun. OK, back to work.


The Pistons just got beat by three zebras who are taking way to much control of the series with the Heat. How many offensive fouls got called against Rasheed? Doug Collins and Magic Johnson both questioned the calls so it is not just this biased fan. Terrible. Miami played good defense, but it is easier to play great defense and a more aggressive style when you have a zebra covering your back. Then Miami goes down the court and they shoot out the lights.

These are two great teams who could easily be playing for the championship instead of the Eastern Conference. They had a couple of great games in the first two of the series. Since then the refs have called horrible games. Let the players play the game. I hope Wade heals up so when the Pistons win on Saturday it is not because Wade is hurt. He is having a great series.


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.