Archive for November, 2007


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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While in Germany someone made a comment to me how they are looking forward to my blog returning to a FoxPro theme, instead of it being hijacked by Southwest Fox announcements. This is a really good point. So yesterday I created a Southwest Fox Blog so the three organizers can blog about our experiences organizing the conference, and things we are considering doing for the next Southwest Fox to open up a discussion on some new ideas. I hope you take time to subscribe.

Hopefully I will be blogging soon about the whole Southwest Fox Conference 2007 experience. I have so many great memories even though the conference was truly a blur.

Only 332 days until we all return to Mesa! {g}

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On Sunday Doug Hennig and I took a train to Holland so we could present sessions at the Software Developer Network FoxPro (SDN) Software Developer Event. The train is one of the high speed trains that travels at 300kph/188mph. Fast and smooth. Once we arrived we were picked up by Gerben Kessen at the train station and taken to the hotel. At the hotel we met up with the Visual Objects and Vulcan speakers for dinner. The other track at the conference had session on these two technologies. It was interesting to hear about the world of Visual Objects and Vulcan (a XBase language on the .NET framework currently in development). Naturally we had some fun in the VFP is better vs. your tool of choice discussion {g}. I went back to my room and battled the wireless Internet connection before falling asleep.

The next morning I woke up late! I requested a wake-up call for 7:00 so I could get breakfast and make sure my computer works with the beamer. I woke up at 8:00, which still gave me enough time to get to the conference room to test out the beamer, but not enough time to eat breakfast. I was happy to do the first session on the last (and only) day. Traditions are important. I also had the first session after lunch and the last session of the day. All three slots are the least preferred by most speakers, but I don’t mind presenting during any of the slots.

I presented three sessions:

  1. VFPX Tools and Components – Live
  2. Creating Help – Made Easy!
  3. SQL Server Toolkit for the VFP Developer

The first session did worry me as there were only 3 or 4 developers in the room when the session was suppose to start. I expected a few more since there were 25 people signed up for the conference. A couple minutes into the session the rest of the crowd filed in. I asked how many people had heard of VFPX and not a single hand was raised. By the end of the session people were real excited by this project. We are already working to come up with some plans to get the word out about VFPX, but we are going to need your help in doing so. Make sure to spread the word about this important project, and a significant part of the future of Visual FoxPro.

My other sessions went well. During Doug’s sessions I caught up on some work I needed to have done before I returned to the states. After the conference we had dinner with the organizers and then headed to Amsterdam. Tuesday Doug and I toured Amsterdam. I felt like I was a zombie. Amsterdam is definitely everything I have heard about it. It is different than any place I have visited on the planet.

I think SDN has a really good idea with the one day event. This is something I have been considering doing in North America for a couple of years. I have attended a number of “mini-conferences” over the years put on by Microsoft, and other organizations and individuals. What do you think? Would you attend a one or two-day “mini-conference” with five or six sessions in a day? If so, how much would you be willing to pay for this? Please let me know either on this blog, or even send me a private email.

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It is well documented that my struggles with Outlook 2007 are not fun (maybe humorous to the readers, but not fun to me). Today I wasted four hours struggling with Outlook to have room in the PST file to move mail items between folders, and send mail. I have hit the 2GB limit.

What I have learned:
1) Outlook PST files in the 97-2002 format have similar limits to the VFP DBF.
2) Outlook Archiving works when it is schedule, and can be run manually via the File menu.
3) Compacting the PST file only works when it can compact 16KB of material from the file (at least this is what is documented).
4) Outloook 2003 PST format will store more than 2GBs.

I looked up the conversion process to learn it is manual, very manual. As in create a new PST file and then manually run the import process via the Import/Export process.

So before I go off and waste more time, I am asking you if you have run through this and got the same content out on the other side of the import. I have heard from others who were migrating from Outlook Express to Outlook 2007 that they did not have much success and needed to export first, then import.

My goal here is to get all my data across without losing anything. I have dozens of mail folders and more than a thousand contacts, lots of calendar items, and tons of tasks and notes. I rely heavily on this information.

I am not interested in hearing:

  1. Move to Thunderbird (it does not do everything Outlook does, least of all synching contacts to my Windows Mobile phone).
  2. Move to Web mail (get real, I am not always connected to the Internet, and I use Outlook for more than just email).

I also have lots of backups, but what I don’t have is a lot of time to deal with this. I need something to go smoothly. Your experience is really appreciated. Thanks in advance.


Today is Saturday, the last day of the conference. Interesting, Rainer did not follow my tradition of speaking at the first session, but since my first session today is at 11:30, I will be presenting during my body clock time of 5:30AM. {g}

First this morning is Armin Neudert’s “Vorschau SQL Server 2008″, which is a German session revealing some of the new stuff in SQL Server 2008. I barely understood Armin’s discussion and could not read most of the slides, but I got the examples he showed and found the session very beneficial. One thing I noted is the addition of some new date/time formats. I was also working on reviewing my “Creating Help – Made Easy” material in preparation for my session after lunch.

I presented my “SQL Server Developer Toolkit for the VFP Developer” during the third slot of the day. I really enjoy this session because it shows developers tools to increase productivity. This session is designed to be interactive with the people who come to the session and this session did not disappoint. Lots of questions and experiences. I normally worry about a session like this at the German DevCon, but this year it seems developers are willing to contribute, which makes the session go better. It was exciting for me.

Lunch – more smoked salmon despite Marcia’s attempt to plate it all before I got to the buffet.

Next up was my “Creating Help – Made Easy” session. It is a session I developed for WhilFest 2003. I feel pretty passionate about creating Help for applications when it is required. I also know many developers who are nervous about Help because they think it is complicated. The reality is, when using the HTML Help Workshop it is hard. In fact, it is really painful. Miserable. This is why I step through the process in my session. I want to show the developers the pain and why you want to purchase a tool for a couple hundred dollars (Euros, etc.). I show you how to integrate the Help file into your application. Finally I show you a couple of HTML Help authoring tools (West Wind’s HTML Help Builder and Help and Manual) to show you how easy it really can be. I realized after the session I forgot to mention you need to ship a couple of VFP HTML Help DLLs with your app to get the integration to work in production. Fortunately all this information is in the session white paper, so if you attended the sessions or the conference you can read all about it.

Andy’s “Get the Most Out of Intellisense” session is in the official last slot of the conference. I have seen this session a couple of times before, but as usual I relearned several things. Couple of my favorites are:

  1. Command Tip Window (replacement for the Quick Info tooltips) which allows you to copy the text.
  2. Adding common variables you use in your code such as “loObj” and have it expand to “loObj = ” and then have it drop down a list of object references such as “this”, “thisform”, and “this.parent”.

Sweet refresher and packed with good examples, and literally a hundred items to use in our own Intellisense table. Not only do you get the code, but you get inspiration to create your own based on needs you have in development. Andy is one of, if not the authority on Intellisense. His knowledge on this topic is top-gun. I also appreciated his endorsement of using spaces instead of tabs in my code {bg}.

Based on some bugs discovered and some other quirks Andy has found over the years, I am hopeful the IntelliSense Manager becomes a project on CodePlex in VFPX once Microsoft releases the Sedna components and the XSource ZIP file. Alan Griver noted in the keynote that Sedna and XSource should be released in the next few weeks. Another session I can rate a six out of five stars.

Tonight is the speaker dinner which is something I always look forward to since Rainer brings out some of the most exotic food I have ever seen. In the past we have seen zebra, rattlesnake, fish I am sure is from another planet, and various other interesting food I cannot pronounce or spell. I am hopeful we will not see Monkey brains.

Tomorrow Doug Hennig and I head to Holland for the Software Developer Network conference on Monday. If I have time and a decent Internet connection I will make a report. I will be presenting three sessions and ignoring Doug’s (especially his Vertical Market session {g}).

Thanks for the great time Germany! Rainer: you run a terrific conference. Good news to the rest of the world as he has announced German DevCon dates through 2014. Check out the Fox Wiki for absolute details.

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I am thankful that the sessions at German DevCon start at 8:30. I woke up with wake-up call and proceeded to fall back to sleep for 30 minutes. I still was able to get to Steven Black’s “Niche Marketing for VFP” session. I learned several important points during this session. Steven pointed out a new marketing term to me called SERP (Search Engine Results Page). What Steven talked about is owning your name property. Where does your web site come up in the results when you type in your company name or your name in Google? I am happy to say mine shows up at the very top via Google Germany. Steve provided several tips to include in the HTML and tweaks you can do using Google Analytics. This session also covered what a niche is and a number of niches available for VFP developers. I found this session to be very beneficial and glad I did not oversleep a minute more. Five of five stars.

Marcia Akins was up next with her “The 26 Hour Day” session. I saw this session earlier this year as she was starting to develop it. In this session Marcia shows a number of productivity tips and tricks and talks about how much time she thinks it will save you. I told her that her time estimates are conservative. This session covered a couple of my personal favorites: DeclareLocals.PRG (from MegaFox: 1002 Things You Want to Know About Extending VFP) and the new Edit Property/Method replacement dialog (soon to be added to VFPX). These two tools save me time. Marcia also showed her form and class hacking tool and pointed out how my HackCX Professional is like her tool on steroids. Her plug was very nice (and unnecessary), but she incorrectly pointed out that HackCX will even clean your kitchen. This is not true in the current version. Doug Hennig mentioned that I need to finish the MenuDesigner before I add the kitchen cleaning feature into HackCX {g}. Another five of five stars.

Craig Berntson followed Marcia’s session with “Continuous Integration.” This is a fairly new term (well new to me at least) that encompasses the automation of the build process and testing. This really is about development processes with respect to using source code control, building, and testing the build in tight iterative loops. Make small changes to the code, unit test, check it in, build, review the build results, use automated testing, and check the status of the tests. Better quality software based on a repeatable and proven process. Craig showed a number of free tools and talked about some very expensive tools to implement this process. He did this from the perspective of the .NET developer. .NET developers are evidentally ahead of the curve on automating the process. Craig did have one slide to show some of the tools that work with VFP like FoxUnit (automated testing), Code Analyst from VFPX to help with refactoring, and mentioned Rick Borup’s paper on FinalBuilder with VFP for “Automating the Build.” Four of five stars (would have been even better if this was presented from a VFP perspective).

Lunch – more good food, and of course more good smoked salmon.

I had ti get sine more work done in the afternoon along with some interesting discussions with Christof Wollenhaupt and Igor Vit (from Prague). I wanted to go to Michael Niethammer’s session “VFP – Tools und Assistenten.” I reviewed his materials a couple of days ago and figured I had a thing or two I could learn. Instead I ran through my demos for the VFPX session I was about to give.

I did give my session “VFPX Tools and Components – Live.” There was a big crowd in the room and you could feel the excitement as I revealed each of the tools and components. A quick poll at the beginning of the session revealed very few developers have heard of VFPX. It was consistent with the findings at Southwest Fox (15-20%). Looks like we need a “Tell a friend about VFPX” campaign. As I went through each section of the session I asked if anyone was using what I just showed and a few hands would go up. Then I followed up with the question asking how many developers might use it in the future and most of the room raised their hands. The session was definitely more interactive than any session I have given in Frankfurt the last three years. There definitely was a buzz in the room. I was very fun for me, I just hope everyone else was having a good time too.

One more day to go – conferences sure seem to fly by.

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My day started out with Doug Hennig’s “Developing VFP Apps for Vista.” I first saw this at OzFox 2007 and have recommended every VFP developer should see this session. This session was very popular at Southwest Fox and Advisor DevCon too. I am also getting closer to purchasing my first Vista computer so the session has more relevance this time around. Doug has real world practical experience on the topic and is considered the authority. I think there are two key take-aways from this session. The first important ideas is security and not working around it, but rather work with it. The second is that even if you do not want to use Vista for development, note your customers eventual will be so you need to develop this expertise. Doug has lots of useful code to help make your applications compatible too. Still a six out of five stars.

Next up is the keynote. Alan Griver started the session by presenting Rainer with the VFP Lifetime Achievement Award as I posted yesterday. Alan also talked about “the announcement” from last March. Unfortunately Alan’s machine was suffering from a serious hard drive problem. He was able to boot in Vista safe mode, but none of his demos were working because they have registry dependencies. This was a bummer since I have seen his keynote material at the Advisor conference and it was very interesting, and showed some key technologies VFP developers will use for years to come. Doug Hennig stepped in with some Vista demos, and Steven Black made some compelling points on why VFP developers will be successful for many years to come. Stability is reliability. I have enjoyed Steven’s sessions over the years, but today I realized during this session that Steven could become a religious evangalist if his software career wanes. Steven basically whet the attendee appetite for his all evening session “FoxPro is dead! Now What? The Case for VFP.”

After lunch I had to work on some projects so I skipped the first two afternoon sessions. My “Fishing with a ProjectHook” session was the last afternoon session. It was not attended by a lot of developers because it was against Christof’s “Cross Platform with VFP and Guineu” and Andy Kramek’s “SQL Server for VFP Developers Part 2.” Personally I would have read the white paper for the ProjectHook session, and attended Christof’s session (which I heard was top gun). My session went okay, but definitely was not the best I have delivered it. It could be the fact I am still suffering a bit from jet lag, or it could be that I thrive off more energy from more attendees. I really appreciated the attendees who selected my session. Thanks for coming.

Dinner was very good. The only disappointment is they did not serve smoked salmon. This broke my streak of smoked salmon at every meal. Marcia Akins and I hunted for it for a while, but there was none to be had.

I also skipped the evening sessions to catch up with several clients. Skype is a lifesaver.

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Alan Griver announced that Rainer Becker is awarded the Visual FoxPro Lifetime Achievement Award during the keynote here at the German FoxPro DevCon.

Rainer is the organizer of the German FoxPro DevCon and is one of the leaders involved with everything FoxPro in Germany. This is well deserved based on his incredible contributions to theFox Community for many, many years.

More posted on the FoxPro Wiki by Steven Black already!

Congratulations Rainer!