.. in the corporate foot. Because Microsoft won't make another version of Visual FoxPro anymore, they will greatly affect small business that invested a lot in recent years. This is an issue that is not mentioned enough in the press. Those are small "mom and pop" store to small/medium size business that needed something that fitted their needs and found it in Visual FoxPro. Are they doomed? It all depends on how well they are doing financially and if they had planned other features in their VFP applications. Should they start worrying? No yet because a group of developers started a petition to change Microsoft mind or offer a way out that would really satisfy both parties. Here are some stories about the petition to keep Visual FoxPro alive: Mary Jo Foley wrote an article that was updated soon after by a statement by Microsoft. http://blogs.zdnet.com/microsoft/?p=361 Paul Krill also wrote an article with Microsoft saying it was not exactly ending. http://www.infoworld.com/article/07/04/03/HNvsmixfox_1.html Matt Mondok was the third to write an article http://arstechnica.com/j...developers-petition-for-the-return-of-visual-foxpro When I started reading message boards about this issue, I found 3 distinct groups.
  • The first are those who create applications mainly with VFP(like me).
  • The second are the ones who don't use VFP anymore, never used it or work with .NET, PHP, Java ....but should not be included in this discussion because it does not affect them
  • The third are those that do both but still prefer VFP for small/mid-size applications because it's faster.
Here are just a few arguments: "Just learn a new language" Yes we could/will but that was never the point. Our clients are the ones that will eventually have to pay. This the real issue and most don't have deep pockets. "You can do that in .NET" I did not see anyone saying it was impossible. Many in the third group said that it takes longer in .NET versus Visual FoxPro. Ok, let's be fair and say that a very experience person can do it in the same time or faster. Who will pay in the end? Our clients. "FoxPro is old, get with the time." Yes it's old and has some limitation(2Gig file) but it does not mean it's bad. If I follow that same logic then Basic, C... should all be canceled. "The writing was on the wall" Crying wolf enough times and people won't believe it anymore. I heard that for 10 years. And many did not knew the VFP team well to noticed who left it. "The service will end in 2015" After 2015-01-13, many applications will still be in the field or on the verge of being retired/switched. In the meantime, are post-Vista operating system be compatible? Will they release a Service Pack 3 just in case? Is Vista(32bit) going to be sold much longer if no service pack is possible? "Visual Basic 6 did not succeed when it went .NET and it had more programmers" The markets are not the same. Most applications in Visual FoxPro are for business and for non-profit organizations. VB main focus was not on database development. The impact is very different here. Also, Linux is becoming more widely available than 5 year ago(start of .NET) and some of those business may go that way so not to get burned. Microsoft is forgetting the secondary revenues that FoxPro gives them by keeping them in the Windows world. In a few years, Linux will be a real competitor to Windows when more ordinary people start to install it on their desktop. "Dream on, they won't give it to a third party or make it open source" Nothing can't stop them of doing it. They do have good lawyers to protect their intellectual properties. "They can do what they want" Yes, they can but they should respect those that participated in their wealth. Plus, if they loose too many VFP developers, that will affect the bottom line in the long run. Microsoft is not the only player in town. "The post-Vista will take some time" I don't think Microsoft will take 5 years to release it. If they go 64-bit only, we will have a problem. Let's take some of Microsoft arguments: "For Microsoft to continue to evolve the FoxPro base, we would need to look at creating a 64-bit development environment and that would involve an almost complete rewrite of the core product." Yes it's true. But it's also true of any 32-bit applications/language. .Net languages are already designed for 64-bit. But according to my numbers(see previous post), it could be done and they will still make money. I would however add more programmers to the team. "We've also invested in creating a scalable database with SQL Server, including the freely available SQL Server Express Edition." While creating VFP.NET :) , they could give easier access to the SQL Server while keeping the current syntax OPEN DATABASE myDatabase or OPEN DATABASE myDatabase IN SQS (for SQL Server) USE mytable Thus, making it hidden for the developers and still scalable. Note: I never used SQL Server or ODBC drivers but it's just the way I could see it "As far as forming a partnership with a third-party is concerned, we've heard from a number of large FoxPro customers that this would make it impossible for them to continue to use FoxPro since it would no longer be from an approved vendor." Yes, again, it's true but the smaller ones don't care about that. But releasing the core to a non-profit FoxPro organization with a permanent paid staff may be another solution. It could be "sponsored" by Microsoft(with little or no cost to them). "LINQ is coming" This could be good for .NET and I think many VFP developers will look into it when it's out. Some will wait for the second version before making a switch. Also, waiting will allow them to see how well it's accepted by .NET programmers and this will give time for current clients to start budgeting for the upgrade. 2 examples of the impact it will have Where I last worked, we were 6 programmers working full time on a project(non-profit) for 150 small municipalities(300-3000+ residents,1-10 stations). It took us about 3.5 years to convert and that, while maintaining the FoxPro DOS. It was major investment for them. That was 1 year before the .NET era started, so too late to start over at that time. Now go tell them they have to redo it for the next OS post-Vista. Those same municipalities may decide to go with Linux next time. That's a lost of secondary revenues that Microsoft doesn't seemed to calculate. Another example someone else told: A company wanted to go with Linux because they paid $45000/year to Microsoft in license/upgrades... The switch to Linux failed because the major application was in FoxPro. Yes it could redone but at what cost? They still have to pay $45000/year to MS while paying programmers to convert it in Linux. Those 2 examples are for multiple year investment. Conclusion Is FoxPro dead? Not yet. Should you start a project with FoxPro? Yes, if it small and time is an issue and fit the clients needs. The real problems will come when the next OS by Microsoft will be launch. The longer it takes, the better for the clients. By then, other solutions will be available(etecnologia) or more mature(LINQ) that it will be less painful to clients. A new .NET version of VFP would be the best solution or at least, Microsoft commitment to support VFP at the core level when they launch the next OS. Luckily, Vista was released recently and Sedna and Service Pack 2 will be available soon(summer).
Keywords: Business, Linux, Money, Software, Technology, Visual Foxpro