FoxPro and Petitions

Seems like Rick isn’t the only one who needs to come out of his office more often these days. The MasFoxPro petition, started earlier as a way for developers to say to Microsoft “please release VFP 10”, has seemingly brought out a bit of ugliness in the community. While you have many developers (quite a few in the Foxite community) encouraging everyone to sign it, there are others (many of whom appear as high-profile in the community) who have decided not to. Kudos to Rick and Doug Hennig for explaining their positions (and Alex among others). This isn’t to say kudos to not signing the position – but to explain their positions.

I especially appreciate Rick going over areas where he DOES give examples where he has criticized FoxPro.

The petition reminds me a little of the Petition Microsoft to Start Marketing FoxPro on the Wiki back in 2001. There was a bunch of hooplah then about who didn’t sign the open letter.

The reasoning is still the same. Microsoft does not make money from VFP and try as you might, Microsoft is not in business to lose money. They have stated that they will continue to do hotfixes if needed (for Vista compatibility).

One thing that isn’t obvious in any of the posts for or against the petition is that everyone is talking about “releasing VFP 10”, as though it’s already done. While I certainly can appreciate Calvin’s ability to create intellisense for FoxPro on a summer vacation and such, I do not believe that the Fox Team had a project plan for what could possibly be IN a VFP 10. Sure – some things might have been on a wish list (64-bit support, pre-compiler, etc) – but for the most part, things that require a complete rebuilding of the VFP engine would have been off the table.

Instead, the Fox Team has decided to give as much of the kitchen sink back to the community as they could. FoxPro has always been a tool where many of the features were written in FoxPro itself. And they can’t give away pieces of the product that have already been used in other Microsoft products without opening up a whole new set of issues. And even if they had, who would manage the process?

The FoxPro community isn’t an organization – there is no one leader – while VFPX has a group of three helping to run it, they aren’t the managers of every project. And others are stepping up with ways of putting VFP into DotNet. No, it’s not Microsoft but then if you listen to naysayers (the “dark side”, as Rick puts it), Microsoft has never been a “true” friend of FoxPro.

When you take a positive spin on something, it’s not necessary that you are being “paid off” or have been asked to – you may simply realize that it’s not worth putting the effort into being negative. You can fight Microsoft all you want for not building a VFP 10 – but your efforts might be better suited to building a better VFP experience for your end users, for the community or even just for yourself.

Many developers are doing just this. Wouldn’t it be great if the FoxPro community actually made FoxPro even more popular than Microsoft ever could? I think perhaps in these cases, more than asking Microsoft to create a new version, it might be better to ask Microsoft to make Visual FoxPro 9 available for FREE. After all, there isn’t going to be a new version. It likely doesn’t require a huge number of technical resources anymore and they already have a precedent – with the Express series.

Now are there any real reasons why would Microsoft NOT make VFP available for free?

I can think of one – that it might seriously encourage learning programmers to use a tool that many agree is a great way to learn OOP and databases at the same time, instead of the Express series.

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