FoxPro/Foxpro 9 Prospective new user
QUESTION: Hello, Many years ago I wrote a small accounting database using FoxBase +/MAC. It was a temporary solution and served its purpose. 20 years on and I have a similar need. I require some specific functionality not covered in the mainstream accounting systems. I have looked to Microsoft Access 2013 for a solution. Being an accountant not a programmer two issues spring to mind. Firstly, the great thing I remember about FoxBase was its ease of use. I had a blank screen and I wrote my code. I do recall however I could only have ten tables open at anyone time! Secondly, I want to install the completed application on machines that do not have the progaming software, whether that be Access or FoxPro. With Access I know what code I want, the challenge is just where do you write it?
I understand Microsoft Visual Foxpro 9 is no longer supported, but nethertheless I believe I may have sourced a new unused copy. I am prepared to take the risk, but wonder if you could advise on the following should I obtain this software:
1. Will it run on Windows 7 Professional?
2. Am I likely to be unable to register or activate the software using product key as the product is no longer supported?
3. Is FoxPro 9 as easy to use as FoxBase was in its day? I know this is subjective but any views welcomed.
Many thanks for any advice offered. Best regards
ANSWER: Hi, Dave
Before I answer any specific questions, I have something you need to know
regarding the copy of VFP9 that is available to you. Make sure it includes the
SDK (Software Development Kit). Without the SDK, you won't have the components
required to compile an EXE from your code. You will also need to confirm there
are 3 DLL files matching "VFP7*.DLL" - these are the runtime files required for
a computer without VFP to run the compiled code. I'm pretty sure they are also
part of the SDK.
Now, on to your questions...
1. VFP9 will run on Windows 7 (I have it installed on an HP Laptop
running Windows 7 Home Premium, 64-bit)
2. First, according to what I have read, Microsoft will continue to
support VFP9 through the end of this year. However, they haven't
sold the product since 2007. So, the answer to this question is
"I don't know" - but, I would certainly try it.
3. In my opinion, using any version of VFP is as easy or as hard as
you want to make it. As I read that sentence I'm sure it's not
going to help you much. But, what I mean is: you can open a PRG
with the MODIFIY COMMAND statement and do everything you want by
using the PRG (just like the old FoxBASE and FoxBASE+ - BUT VFP9
(and any other version of VFP) is an Object-Oriented development
environment. As such, it comes with powerful features to allow
for an easier way to create screens and reports. If you issue a
MODIFIY FORM <FormName> command, it will give you a blank section
of screen to place objects on. Objects are labels, check boxes,
radio buttons, command buttons, etc. Each of the available items
(objects) has a large number of properties. Using MODIFY REPORT
does pretty much the same thing with reports. In either case, it
allows a MUCH easier means to manipulate individual properties.
Since you are new to VFP, I would strongly recommend check out the training
videos available at: http://www.softwaretrainingtutorials.com/ms-foxpro.php
Several (about 30) of them are free samples. For about $90 you have a year
to watch as many as you want.
I have had some exposure to Access, but only enough to let me know I didn't like
it much. It's NOT a programming language - it's a tool for non-programmers to
access data and make minor manipulations to that data. It was designed for use
on small tables (with a recommended maximum of 5000 records). I do recall it's
possible to use some code segments but I don't remember anything useful and I
don't have a copy to research.
P.S. Remember, once you get started, you can post new questions whenever you want.
I know I have 3 days to get an answer back, but I usually respond in 12-24 hours.
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Hi Fred
Thank you so much for an informative and very quick response (all the more remarkable as it was an Easter Sunday). It is very much appreciated.
The version is billed as the "Professional" version which appears to support the Developers' Kit - but nevertheless I will enquire. I am not sure I have an alternative source; other than Microsoft direct should I get into any difficulties. Cross that bridge if and when.
Your response to 3) is indeed helpful. I know that what you get out of the system is based upon the efforts you make. I've become familiar with the object oriented environment through Access 2013. I was hoping for the benefits of that combined with the ease of use I remembered. It sounds as though the ease of use (as I perceive it) may still be there. Thank you for your thoughts.
The link to the tutorials was also very welcomed as I had unsuccessfully searched for some. I know there is a risk that the software updated many times over from when you first used it will be exactly what you hoped for but as everytime I do a little programming and think "I knew how to do that in FoxBase" makes me think it's worth a go.
Once again many thanks for your considered advice.
Since you posted your comments as a follow-up question, I'm obligated to answer
it, but it does give me a chance to pass on a bit of additional information.
The makers of Visual FoxPro (initially Fox Software, then Microsoft) have worked
very hard to ensure backward compatibility. It is possible, maybe even likely, that
you could take the original FoxBASE code from the accounting package you mentioned
and compile it using VFP9 and it would work. There may be some code you used 20 years
ago that is included in VFP9 solely for the purpose of maintaining that compatibility,
even though there are better ways to accomplish the task.
For example, you implied that all of the coding you did was typed into a PRG. If
that is the case, you generated data entry screens by using the "@ SAY...GET" construct.
Even though the forms generator is far more powerful, those commands are still available.
I only mention this because it seems to me that you are more comfortable with building
forms and reports "manually" rather than using the form/report generators. Please don't
completely avoid the new functionality. Once you get used to using them, I'm certain
you will find the increased capabilities an advantage.
I enjoy helping people through this site, so remember, I'm only a question away if you
run into trouble...
P.S. If you wish to make comments after an answer (without asking a new question), you
can use the "rating" function. There is a comments section within that process.
I think you can use the comments without actually rating an answer. I will see
them, but won't be obligated to "answer" a question. There are "canned" responses
I could use for things like this, but I'd rather not. It's sort of like sending out
a form letter - I don't like those either...