Home » Conferences, Visual FoxPro » German DevCon Day 1: After the nightmare

As you can read in my previous post, things did not start out well on day one for me. It was not until after lunch some time that the adrenaline finally leveled off and my hands stopped shaking.

For the record, I had smoked salmon at every meal during the conference including lunch on day 1. This is a personal goal I am happy to meet each year at German DevCon.

Doug’s “A Deep Dive into the VFPX ThemedControls” session was up first after lunch and as is normal for one of the world’s best speakers, Doug did a great job. He stepped us through a deep dive into Emerson Santon Reed’s class library of fantastic controls that really helps in the quest to make Visual FoxPro applications look modern. Doug talked about the fundamental classes: ThemesManager (allows you and your customers to pick from one of six predefined themes), the ThemedContainer, the ThemedTitlePageFrame, and the ThemedButton (including the builder). After the fundamentals Doug described in great detail the classes and code needed to implement the ThemedExplorerBar, the ThemedOutlookNavBar, ThemedToolbox, ThemedZoomNavBar, and the newer Ribbon. I agree 100% with Doug’s summary that there are no more excuses for Visual FoxPro developers to create applications that do not look good. Doug’s 26 page white paper on this topic is a gold mine of information as well.

Cathy Pountney’s session “PEM Editor: An Absolute MUST HAVE in your development toolkit” followed Doug’s session. I saw this session in Grand Rapids when she rehearsed it for Southwest Fox. Cathy’s session in Grand Rapids was good, but it was obvious she refined timings and material since I saw it. I was wondering if I would learn anything new since I saw it once before, and should not have forgotten that there is so much to this tool and I was destined to learn or relearn something new. PEMEditor is always changing and being improved by Jim Nelson so any minute we can count on a new release with new features. Cathy gave a brief overview to show people in the room who did not know what the PEMEditor is. After this she showed the crowd a dozen or more different features that are new in the current version. One of my favorites was the “Go To Definition” which literally opens up the method in the method editor, the property in the PEMEditor, or an object in the PEMEditor Document Treeview. The “Extract to method” does exactly that, BeautifyX is a beefed up beautifier, and the built in Enhanced Cut, Copy and Paste are fantastic advancements in the PEMEditor becoming a serious refactoring tool.

Kevin McNeish’s “The Microsoft Entity Framework 4″ (also known as EF4) made my list of sessions because I have read and heard from others that it is Microsoft’s data access soup of the day for .NET development. Seriously, Microsoft has put a lot of resources together to improve the Entity Framework. White Light Computing purposely used EF4 in our conference session eval Web site that we created earlier this year for Southwest Fox so we could learn more about it. Kevin introduced EF4 with his normal wit and humor. The one thing I took away from the session is that Microsoft made some significant improvements from EF1 to EF4. EF4 is really the second release of the Entity Framework and in true Microsoft fashion, needs three releases to really get this product at a mature state. One thing is for sure though from what I have learned at German DevCon, Microsoft needs to listen to database developers more closely as there are some fundamentals missing in EF4, which I find disturbing, but not surprising.

I skipped the first session after dinner since I needed a bit of a break. I also needed to finalize the three tips I planned to present during the bonus session.

The second bonus session was the delivery of two “FoxPro Lifetime Achievement Awards” and Tips & Tricks from the conference speakers. Rainer started out the session with an overview of an app he is working on. Most of his discussion was in German with an occasional break in English to help out the non-German people in the audience. It looked like an interesting application.

The two “FoxPro Lifetime Achievement Awards” were given to J├╝rgen “wOOdy” Wondzinski, and Christof Wollenhaupt. Both wOOdy and Christof are developers people recognize with a single name, like Cher, and have made so many contributions over the years to the world-wide Fox Community. Their contributions are going to be posted soon on the Fox Wiki. I was honored to be one of the presenters along with fellow award winners Doug Hennig and Rainer Becker.

Up next was the Tips and Tricks session. Several speakers presented tips they have learned over the years. I presented an ActiveX/IntelliSense tip, ability to sort Watch Expressions in Debugger, and a DataExplorer Query tip.

Other tips presented by the other developers included:

  • Doug Hennig demoed “Go To Definition” feature of PEM Editor and a instrumenting/logging tool.
  • Ken Levy demoed _SetAllX FFC class he included in VFP, _EvalText found in _HTML.vcx, and advanced Component Gallery tips.
  • Cathy Pountney demos Report Designer trick for “;” as CHR(13) in reports, and is showed off SlickRun.
  • wOOdy is showed a field type tip, a BROWSE NAME trick, and EVAL() tip.
  • Christof showed integer in Command Window does Goto, “-” concatenates and ALLTRIM(), using SET VOLUME, and killing/restarting VFP. Christof also mixed tips and tricks with humor and had the audience in stitches.

The tips might be printed in a future issue of FoxRockX. That was the end of the conference day. I hung out with folks in the bar for a while, and then headed back to my room around midnight to get some customer work completed. Day 2 would come too quickly.

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