Putting Your Best FoxFace On

I’ve always been a bit troubled by “skins”, the way that many consumer or hard-core geeky tools (WinAmp was one of the more popular ones) allow users to apply skins. Not to say I don’t like them ( I like a good Star Trek Skin– but I can certainly understand how they can confuse other users.

That said, I’m intrigued by this new tool for Visual FoxPro 7 through 9.
FoxFace – skin VisualFoxPro (VFP) applications with our VCX class, VFP skin, Visual FoxPro skin, skin Visual FoxPro, skin VFP – the downloadable demo is unfortunately terrible (it only shows one skin and doesn’t size properly on a 1024×800 resolution) – but they do have a nice presentation on how to use it here

For $59 US, if you wanted to let your users “skin” your app themselves, they can do so. Has anyone tried this out in a real application yet?

In looking at the demo, there appears to be a FOXFACE table that contains the skin ID, name, author and email and then a variety of fields that look like they point to image types and the actual binary file.

Adding skins to a project looks pretty easy. Add the FoxFace class library to the project and drop it onto a form (or base class).

Specify the path to the class (it defaults to LIB) and then specify the Skin ID. Then compile and run.

There is also a class to let you skin the FoxPro desktop.

Whoops? Does that mean I can’t change skins on the fly? That’s too bad. It’s hard to tell from the demo because the Skin IDs are built in – but since it’s a class, I’m sure you could simply recall a method.

Now the sample skins they provide only show color and bitmap changes – couldn’t users get the same effect through Windows Themes? I suppose – although this way, you could offer it specifically for your application, a nice way of letting users add their own personal touch.

Hmmm…skins in business applications- is it a good idea? Personal expression aside, I’m still deciding…but it’s good to know there’s a VFP tool out there for it.