One of my readers, Tom Bellmer, pointed me to this recent posting, commenting on how the next set of successful software will deal with the thousands of smaller businesses, likely moreso than the big Fortune 500 where many companies, including Microsoft, spend their focus.
One of my favorite lines: “They need apps that can’t be categorized. They need apps that break the rules that no longer apply.”
I’m a bit in between on this – as an independent developer, I’m always looking for the one job that is going to bring in lots of money – but realistically, I’m very happy dealing with the smaller pieces that go around. Even in Fortune 500 and government departments, many of the actual workers (ie. non IT people) need these innovative solutions.
In the July 23rd Techpodcast roundup, at least two of the participants worked for either large companies or Fortune 500, and they were lamenting how the applications they saw (by larger companies) were terrible both in terms of interface and performance. But how would a small developer get in there?
It has to be done from within, with a sponsor or whoever. People make up corporations and people will support solutions that work. I think the case study that Ken pointed to about Crimestar is an excellent case in point. Here is a flexible tool that could be run on a local database (FoxPro) but also scales to a larger one.
Myself, I’ve seen tons of smaller applications that make a difference: Basecamp, Newsgator, and many others.
So Tom’s email was really about how MS (and VFP specifically) should focus on those companies who are not going to Windows or looking to move away from it. Craig noted a while back that Linux was being shown at a MS show – well, that’s all good, but it might be worth it for MS to even consider what it might take to run VFP on another platform (if you’re a fan of history, the core of what was in FoxPro 2.0 was actually found in FoxBase+/Mac so it’s not completely impossible). But think what you’re asking – you have likely one of the smallest development teams in Microsoft, who want their product to work well under their flagship product , Windows, which most of their customers are running. Now is it possible to run FoxPro under other environments? Well, if it wasn’t for the lawyers and the EULA, it would be. What is the harm? I think it’s purely a matter of time and focus. But can someone tell me what would the harm be in allowing a FoxPro application to run on another environment?
Update: obvious answer from Ted: because foxPro running under Linux doesn’t sell more copies of Windows.
If you do think you want to build a DB solution for another platform, consider taking a look at Dabo, something that long-time Fox “pros” Ed Leafe and Paul McNett have been cooking up. Hey guys – do you have any clients running Dabo apps yet?