Wednesday, January 04, 2006

An Introduction

My name is Tom Meeks. I've been a Foxbase. FoxPro and Visual FoxPro developer for more than 20 years. I was fortunate to have worked with some of the finest developers in the country on the Mobil Mariner Project, one of the largest FoxPro projects ever undertaken.

When I first started using Foxbase it was just before Foxbase+ was released. In those days it was a relatively easy language to learn. There were very few commands and functions. As the product grew so did the community that used it. So, help was always available through books, magazines and the venerable Compuserve forums... the forunner of web chat rooms.

When Microsoft bought FoxPro, it exploded in popularity. User groups sprang up having hundreds of members. New users were entering the VFP community and could immediately find help at every level. But, then a paradoxical thing happened. Just as Visual FoxPro was becoming its most powerful and useful, Microsoft seemed to be content to let the public think it was a doomed product as they turned their attention to the web and browser based computing.

The books stopped coming out, the user groups became smaller or disappeared and it was harder to find basic beginning VFP information. Most of the traffic on VFP forums involves higher level issues. Training companies quit giving live training classes. The resources for beginners has very nearly dried up.

The primary problem facing anyone that seeks to learn VFP now is that there are few new resources available for starting from the ground up. Most of the VFP books were written prior to or at the time of the first release of VFP 3.0 and they primarily focused on the new object oriented features. In other words, these books assume that you already know the basics of the language and the data engine. And, they do not include some of the more recent basic enhancements to the language... new ways to do old operations.

In spite of general opinion, Microsoft keeps making VFP better and better. Visual FoxPro 9.0 is the best version they've ever released, with a long needed update of the reporting system. While I doubt that many new development projects are being written in VFP these days it doesn't mean that VFP is a dead or useless product. Quite the contrary! Its real power is data manipulation. Nothing else comes close. As an analytical tool it has few, if any, equals. Paradoxically, the power of VFP is still it's greatest at the point where today's new users need it most... comprehending data.

This blog was begun because one of my clients has an ongoing need for analysts to learn the basics of VFP and have had a tough time coming up with good, solid ways to train people. These users do not need to become full-fledged programmers. They simply need to manipulate and compare data on a daily basis and VFP is THE best tool for that job. So, this will not be a place where you can learn the nuances of COM or callbacks. It will be a place where we cover basic data operations. We will, however, cover a bit about forms and objects because this is the best way to perform repeated tasks.

So, this blog is dedicated to helping those that need to parse, analyze, understand and manipulate data. It was born out of a real need in a real site for people that probably will not ever be full-time programmers; but, who can benefit from knowing the VFP language well enough to quickly and effectively understand what the data is telling them in the real world.

6 Comments:

Blogger Kevin Cully said...

Bravo Tom!

I know this will be a valuable resource to the FoxPro community! Keep the topics coming.

3:20 PM

 
Blogger Malcolm said...

I don't see an RSS subscription feed on your site. Can you please activate this? I'm looking forward to reading your blog!

Malcolm

7:02 AM

 
Blogger mreburg said...

New to FoxPro and looking to find a way to get started. I have years experience in a multivalued database and hope you are correct with your comment about "data manipulation power" is correct. I am looking to find some source to help me get started doing the kinds of things that I have been doing a long time. Any help from any source would be greatly appreciated. Just looking to get at the data that the application writes out and to present the data in a way that solves whatever business problems the data will support. Develop the tool to provide the answer, have the tool interact with the user such as beg date and ending date, overcome issues such as like data spread out over current and history tables, and put the tool on a users menu. Nothing fancy -- just useful.

Thanks,
Mark G

1:22 PM

 
Blogger Nadya said...

Nice start, keep it coming. I would be referring others to your blog.

2:01 PM

 
Blogger Xvii said...

This is a great blog... keep it coming... I'll be refering to your blog for more tutorials on foxpro

1:34 AM

 
Blogger Support said...

Hi

This article is good and informative.

yours truly,
bookoftips.blogspot.com

6:01 PM

 

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