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Merry Christmas

Whether you celebrate now, have already celebrated your past holiday, are planning to, or not, I hope you find yourself surrounded by family and those you love during this holiday season and are able to remember fondly those who are not with you.

We often find ourselves buried in work, or too distracted by other problems, to share and remember a few moments with those closest to us. So many of us are separated by huge distances, we often find it easier to focus on those who are out of arm's reach yet so easy to connect with online, instead of those who are right beside us.

So do yourself a favour, put down the keyboard (stylus, mouse, etc) and spend that time. I know I will.

Merry Christmas.


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Where is Sedna?

OK - this is getting a little long now...unless Microsoft is saving it as a Christmas gift for December 24th. It's now been 1 month since the release of XSource for SP2, 2 months since the dbi Controls have been available, 2 months since the release of SP2, 3 months since I spoke with Rick/Doug who thought everything was on track for Sedna, 6 months since the last beta (even though Doug has been posting bits and pieces) and still we don't have the new pieces.

I thought maybe it would be a stealth upload to Codeplex but no. All that's there is the slow but steady updates to VFPX.

Lisa's doing missing documentation...and I'm sure most of the Fox team has gone off to their other new areas...but surely someone is still at home getting ready to put Sedna to bed...anyone?

Concentric Hosting is Currently Down

I currently manage 4 sites that are hosted by Concentric - around 12 or possibly 11:30 EST, their servers shut down for unknown reasons, affecting http, email and other services.

I saw that on twitter, other XO sites may have also been affected.

I finally got through to Support after an hour. Of course, their support team don't have much knowledge nor an ETA for the resolution.

About an hour ago, all sites were erroring with Site Not Found errors - the Concentric.com site is now reporting a 500 Server Error - Could not connect to VFS server. So I guess that's some progress.

This just p*sses me off. You can't even get to a site to find out what is happening but once I do find out, I'll post it here.

Of course, at this stage, I can't even redirect the DNS to another site - since they manage it. Or can I? Any ideas?

I suppose this isn't so bad - it's only the second time in 10 years I've had this problem but still what a pain and I've got clients who use som…

On Automated vs. Human Testing

A lot of people are pointing to Joel Spolsky's Talk at Yale: Part 1 of 3

and it's a great read. If you read it further, I guess closer to the end of Part 1, he makes some very valuable comments on automated testing and the need for human intervention, using Vista as an example:

Speaking of the old approach to testing - "they spent a lot of time making sure that the user interface was consistent from one part of the product to another, because a consistent user interface is easier to use than an inconsistent one."

And because of the reliance on automated scripts - "And so one result of the new emphasis on automated testing was that the Vista release of Windows was extremely inconsistent and unpolished. Lots of obvious problems got through in the final product… none of which was a “bug” by the definition of the automated scripts, but every one of which contributed to the general feeling that Vista was a downgrade from XP. "

"nobody wrote the automated test t…

Crystal Reports 2008 ?? - Really???

Craig points out that Crystal has a new version and in his words, Crystal Reports 2008 -- Don't bother

It's really sad to see companies start ending their support of technology that so many other companies have built their solutions around. Certainly you can't hope to have every technology around forever (I built my first Excel solution using DDE in Windows 2.1) but I find Crystal (er, Business Objects) sometimes makes decisions that are mind-boggingly dumb.

Case in point, Crystal 10 had a nice easy to use Prompt for Parameters. In Crystal 11, this was reproduced by a more web-like interface. Sure, it looked great - but one problem: the customers I had were working in a secure environment where every app that wanted access to an internet page was prompted for security. Not only that, Crystal 11 also used JavaScript heavily - a solution that was disabled for most of the regular end-users.

So while CR 11 may have had these great features, it caused more problems than it was wo…

Cathy Pountney: Workaround for Data Group bug

Cathy's posting a workaround for the bug she reported earlier with Visual FoxPro SP2 but the deafening silence from the Redmond camp is kind of annoying. We all looked forward to having a single solid release of VFP from which we could build solutions around - but one that wouldn't be introduce major new problems from previous versions.

Cathy Pountney: Gotcha: Workaround for Data Group bug

Now I suppose one could argue "why didn't this come up in the beta test" but this brings to bear the entire issue of a "public" vs. "private" beta. In my mind, with a Private Beta, users are far more likely to be critical of functionality and not bring on a list of "I want" items. Sure there will be a few - but most developers and users I know of in "private betas" are well-aware that by the time a product goes into "Beta" - the feature list has been locked down and now it's time to fix bugs.

When you release a "public be…

FoxShow #47 Now Available

I just posted The FoxShow #47 that features a great interview with Tod McKenna on the rules of data normalization (the Forms of normalization) and how they apply (or don't) to databases (SQL Server , FoxPro, etc) for general application use and then also for reporting.

It comes in around 50 minutes - but I figure that makes up for the fact that I wasn't able to get one out in the past few weeks.

Enjoy!Blogged with Flock

New Edit Property/Method Dialog Replacement Available

Doug noted it here and if you haven't used it yet, it's definitely worth the download for Visual FoxPro.

I've been using this tool for creating properties so often now that I've forgotten what the original one looks like. Now, they've taken it one step further with the addition of Marcia's Edit Property/Method dialog. Doug's post has a rundown on more of the new features but this new piece totally rocks, making both dialogs dockable and non-modal.

How does that help developers?

You write code and decide that you want to need a new property or method. Habit kicks in and you close your code dialog and click New Property. Now you can't remember the exact name of the property. No problem - open up the code window (while the New Property dialog is still visible) to create it. A lot less trouble closing and opening windows.

Having the Edit dialog being non-modal makes it also really easy to document properties and methods (if you don't fill in the descriptio…

Where Have I Been?

Wow - there's been so much information going on in the FoxPro community over the past week and I've been extremely quiet (we lost a beloved pet on November 4th and it's been a bit harder than one might expect).

Craig and Rick have done an excellent job covering the German Developer Conference where Rainer received a Lifetime Achievement Award (congrats Rainer). As Rick noted in an earlier post, there needs to be a more active awareness campaign on VFPX, likely with Codeplex across the board. I know that Alan Stevens has uploaded his VfPX MSBuild Project and there are so many other little projects that COULD be in there.

I see that Craig Boyd has also started a countdown and that Cathy is now blogging (thanks to Doug and Rick's post on this).

Now....back to blogging more regularly...Blogged with Flock

FoxTabs lives!

I was concerned a while back about where VFPSolutionExplorer.com had gone - it's nice to see that
Craig Bailey has re-forwarded it to the FoxTabs page on this blog.

If you haven't played with FoxTabs before, it totally rocks! And it definitely gets around - I was speaking to one of my colleagues about various tools - and when he shared his screen, there it was! (and no, I hadn't told him about it!)

Sadly, on the site, he does note that the SolutionExplorer itself has been put on hold. That's too bad as too many great FoxPro projects get put on hold while developers have to grapple with daily life. Still, we can get some ideas about what it was all about from the original powerpoint.

It's still a great idea - maybe this concept will lend itself slightly to what Craig, Bo and Alan are working on...until then, however, I may have to come up with my own workaround for it...

Blogging Southwest Fox

Tod had asked and I'm sure there will be lots of blogging coming from Southwest Fox.

Steve Bodnar has already started SOME of the blogging about going.
Update: Steve continues his coverage with GREAT notes on each of the sessions.
In addition, the FoxShow has some updates and the interview with Servoy.

As well, while I won't be there (sigh), I am planning on having a few calls with Rick and some vendors who are attending while the conference is going on. Instead of waiting for a full show, I plan on posting the updates right away onto the FoxShow site. I definitely will be speaking with Servoy, the Java development platform who is attending the show, hoping to show Fox developers the "java" side of life.

I'll keep this post updated with the other blogging that's going on. If you're on del.icio.us, why not tag it with swfox2007.


Have you picked up your dbi components yet?

It's been a while since their original announcement but dbi-Tech has provided 8 of their controls to all VFP developers using VFP SP2. I covered them about a year ago in FoxPro Advisor (hmm...maybe now it's time to put some revised articles online again).

If you've never used dbi-tech's controls, they all work pretty much the same way so once you get one under your belt, you're well on your way.

Controls that may be of immediate use to FoxPro developers - ctToolbar (Full XP styling Toolbar and menus), ctListBar (similar to Emerson Reed's Themed Controls in VFPX), ctDays (a scheduling style control similar to Outlook), and ctContact (an enhanced list control)


DBI Technologies Inc. | VFP 9.0 SEDNA Components

Great tools for Developers

Over on Rhonda Tipton's Weekly Link Post 10 « Rhonda for October 7th, she pointed to a post by Steven Smith about Nice products for developers.

While the post has a lot of details about VS 2005 and the like, it pointed to a little tool called SlickRun from Bayden Systems. I had previously tried JetStart which gives more of a "Windows Vista" look to the Start menu but found it lacking.

SlickRun takes a different approach putting up a little window in the lower right corner of your desktop (image shown below) but click it and type in a "magic word" and it will start whatever you want to use. Since you control what you want to call things, you can create basic words like "vfp9" or "vfp8" or project-specific words like "clientx" if you want to start up a project in a particular directory. It also includes a quick little jot note function (accessible by the WinKey+J). If you don't want it to appear on your window, you can also hide i…

Someone forgot the VFP splash screen?

Kind of funky - after installing SP2, I was hit with two issues:

One was more serious - my apps wouldn't run with the runtime, or at least the runtimes that were in the Shared/VFP folder. When I moved them to my app directory, they worked fine. Go figure.

The second was a head-scratcher. Now, I know Microsoft isn't putting more resources into VFP development and I know the team worked really hard on getting SP2 completed with everything. But is there any reason why they couldn't have properly cleaned up the splash screen? Here is what comes up when you first start FoxPro:


UPDATE: Yag has identified that they missed the file. Expect a refresh soon.

Looks like someone edited a bitmap file with MS Paint. On that topic, anyone know how to change the splash screen that is within the EXE?

I remember with older versions of Windows, it was simply a file that was attached to the end of the EXE.


VFP SP2 Released

David Stevenson noted it at 1 this morning - but I saw it on ProFox from Michael Hawksworth. Service Pack 2 for VFP has been released. Interesting to note that XSource hasn't been included for this release but will be coming later - my guess would be as part of the entire Sedna download but who knows...I can now look forward to upgrading all my systems. As David notes, don't install this over previous betas but only over the live system.

Direct link is here.
The Fix list is here.
Congrats to the Fox team for getting this release out.

I wish there had been a little more in the letter from Milind, seeing as this will be the last EXE of VFP from Microsoft but for the community and end-users, this is a great step. Now, (as Mike Feltman noted on the FoxShow) there is ONE static, stable version of the product - no more "wait for the next SP" as we hear from so many other items.

What we do with it now is in our hands...


Visual FoxPro - Letter from the Editor

Another reason to go to Oz...

If Craig keeps this up, I think I just need to move down there...yes, granted Nick is from Canada - but it seems there's really no end to some of the great stuff coming out of and into Australia these days...especially for Fox developers.

Drag and drop is one of those things that many developers overlook and don't feel can make a major difference in their application and yet once it's been implemented, it totally changes the way the application feels and works to end users. Great topic.


Craig Bailey on Microsoft: VFP: Sydney VFP special event 17 Oct 2007

Mind42 - MindJet should get worried

I don't know if MindManager is behind Mind42.com (updated - they're not) but one of the things I've been after is a web version of Mind-Manager.

Mind42 (as in For Two) from IRIAN Solutions (I think from Germany) does this and it's a beautiful implementation - similar to Geni's geneaology approach.

It's got some nice basic icons - a VERY easy to use interface and wow! The Collaboration totally rocks and to make matters worse for other Mind Mapping tools, it imports and exports Mind42, FreeMind and Mind Manager files.

I had created a fairly advanced MindMap in Mind Manager and was able to open it without a single problem with Mind42. However, it was unable to open my map that had linked submaps in it.

Some things I didn't like: the direction is always left to right - I can't go down or around or so it looked like. You can do this by adding multiple nodes but it wasn't completely intuitive.

I also had some trouble selecting the nodes correctly every time b…

Mint Rocks - can't wait for international support

I heard the hype at Demo (or was it Crunch40) and even though I have mostly Canadian accounts, I did set up an account for my US banking.
Mint is totally awesome. I've been looking for this from my own banks for years.

Only American Express currently provides notifications of pending transactions and balance updates but Mint consolidates all accounts into one and provides the same notifications but also one big web site.

I don't know if Microsoft has improved Money at all - I've skipped their last few international updates since they screwed up my initial files - but Mint has definitely set a higher bar.

Solution to being able to use ItemTips smartly in Listboxes.

A few months ago, I posted a problem on the Foxite forum about a problem with FoxPro listboxes and ItemTips.

ItemTips, for those who weren't aware, is a property that when turned on, will show the entire item text when there isn't sufficient space in the width of a listbox.

The problem arises however if you are using two (or more) columns with the listbox and the total width of the list is sufficient but the first column doesn't.

Example
x = createobject("Form")
x.addobject("listbox","listbox")
x.listbox.columncount = 2
x.listbox.columnwidths = "125,50"
x.listbox.additem("This is my long item in my listbox")
x.listbox.additem("This is my longer item in my list")
x.listbox.additem("This is my short item")
x.listbox.visible = .t.
x.listbox.itemtips = .t.
x.listbox.width = 200
x.show()

If you move your mouse over the first item, you will see the tip.
If you move your mouse over the second item, you won't - because the …

FoxPro: not dead but alive and kicking

ComputerWorld Canada had this article (registration required) from Rafael Ruffulo on products that were killed by their manufacturers but continue to live on. (Of course, XP gets mentioned based on regular news - I still have clients running 2000) but I was interviewed (as was Mike Yearwood) . IDC seems to look at it as a case of investment by programmers to make a product successful and that's why it has built up a great community around it.

I wish the article had a "expected life time" or "future outlook" piece aside from the obit - because some tools are definitely destined to fade away as the hardware architecture changes but others will continue to live on , especially if the host OS stays around for quite some time.


Departmental and End User Computing > Help Desk and End-User Support > Dead techs still roam IT's living world

VFP Runtimes - do we need an installer?

Years ago, the conventional wisdom was that you used an installer program to install the VFP runtimes on the user's machine and then possibly had an application update over it. On network applications (that resided on the file server), this was almost a requirement - the users couldn't run the application without the runtime - but you wanted to be able to install updates without requiring the user to upgrade their runtime files if necessary.

How necessary is that today?

In some instances, very. I still have some applications that reside directly on the file server, where is also where the data lies and thus having a separate runtime installer usually helps - but this can also be detrimental. Even with today's fast networks, the performance hits that come from running an application over the network instead of the local workstation can seriously infringe on the application.

The seeming hassle of creating a separate runtime for the application also strikes fear into some deve…

Automating Builds in VFP

This is an older post but I was rereading it and realized I hadn't talked about it yet.

While VFP developers wait for tools (such as Solution Explorer (update: removed link - domain expired) or the VFP/X Automated Build client) , this post shows how to do it using a tool that

a) doesn't natively support FoxPro

b) integrates with the FoxPro environment using the VFP OLE Automation.


Yet another useful addendum to Tod's initial post

Kok Kiet's Blog : Experience in Automate VFP Project Build

Converting XML to FoxPro tables

Many FoxPro developers are familiar with XMLTOCURSOR() which converts an XML file to a FoxPro cursor for review. This function works typically best with a single table in an XML file.

Unfortunately, it requires a fairly well structured XML file. For example, it can parse this XML perfectly:
<?xml version = "1.0" encoding="Windows-1252" standalone="yes"?>
<vines>
    <vine_lot>
        <id>1</id>
        <ripe_grape>4</ripe_grape>
    </vine_lot>
    <vine_lot>
        <id>2</id>
        <ripe_grape>3</…

Using VFP to fight crime and help police

Some FoxPro developers may be familiar with the WASP application that was featured as a Microsoft case study. Well, John Harvey has started coming back to his blog (FoxPro USA) and lets us know what he's been up to.

Best quote:
Most of the new development is supposed to be done in dot net, but
there's this thing called "get it done" or "just make it work, now".
So, enter VFP and Web Connection(thank you Rick Strahl).

What's very cool though is how little things are making a big difference and how easy it is for FoxPro to help do it.

Yes - any other tool could do it - but the point here is that you have a subject matter expert (John) combining his development tools to offer solutions that are of value to a large group of people.

Consulting companies often take the approach that things have to be complicated or very lengthy time-wise to build the best solution. This is where you hear end-users complain about "change requests" even for the smallest …

Lost and Found Again: MindManager on the Pocket PC

Regular readers may know that I am a big fan of Mindjet's MindManager tool - I started using it after hearing about it being a killer application for the Tablet PC and then just wanted to use it for everything. Unfortunately the last version that had a real version for the Pocket PC was 2002. I'm now on the latest version (7) which totally rocks and had just finished sending a "when will you get a mobile version?" to the company when I bothered to look in the forums and sure enough, found a link to this little tool. Pocket Mindmap

It supports all of the key features and best yet, if you only have an older version of MindManager, it's compatible with that version as well.

I think everyone has done this in the past - complain about something and then when you scratch a little further, you find the solution  - I also appreciate it's a pet peeve for just about every company. I know I've seen it a lot in development forums where information is just abou…

The FoxPro ecosystem

Neil Davidson has a great post on the Business of Software blog: The inevitable death of the ecosystem in which he notes how Microsoft is moving into arenas previously filled with their third-party partners and are now competing with them directly. The concern? "Third parties will start to leave the ecosystem and they won’t be replaced. "

So what about the FoxPro ecosystem?
With FoxPro being unleashed, we have a choice: leave it or tend it. The FoxPro community is full of great tools, some competing with each other while others are more complementary. But what is relevant here is that we no longer have to worry about Microsoft possibly coming out with a new feature that will hamper the existence of an existing tool. I recall when the new hooks for the report writer were first being talked about and there was an active discussion from Microsoft about how these changes might affect third party products.

Instead, we are free to build and enhance the great tools that we have been…

Automating Development in FoxPro

Tod wrote a great post on 7/30 5 Ways to Automate Development in FoxPro

I don't use all of these approaches but I did want to touch on his Using Project Hooks and describe one of the ways we make use of this.

We have a fairly "remote" development team with developers in Canada, the US and aboard. We use SourceOffSite to manage our code base which offers its own challenges but one of the trickiest things we have to deal with is creating production builds with the latest versions.

If I build version 2.5.1 of an application and my co-worker has to build it the next day, we want to make sure that he builds version 2.5.2. Now, sure, you could always make sure you get the latest of the project metadata via SourceSafe but that's a bit of a hassle.

Instead, we maintain a table with all of the version numbers for the various apps (there are over 100). The table is stored as XML on our web server. In the BeforeBuild process, when building an application, we download the XML file a…

Working with FoxPro SP2 before its release

I don't always recommend running beta software for production purposes but sometimes, when it's good and solid, you can make your own products better or at the very least, make your development day easier.

Cesar has done a great job outlining many of the new features to be found in Sedna here:

Cesar Chalom : VFP9 SP2 / SEDNA USEFUL LINKS

In particular, the report enhancements to be found in the Visual FoxPro SP2 beta have been demo'd in a video by Lisa Nicholls - what looks really exciting is the ability to rotate text in a very easy way.

More importantly, Cesar has noted how he is working directly with "pieces" of SP2/Sedna today and how some are directly available without installing the "beta" version of Sedna. For example, you can download the My Namespace directly from Doug's site and he also posted the new Report apps from SP2 on Foxite.


Help! My code is suboptimal!

You've got to hand it to SourceGear - not only do they make great products but they make it fun to get swag!

I always wonder if any of the "offers/pleas" companies come out with will even apply to outside the US - I'm happy to see that this one does.

As you can see, (Eric Sink) the Evil Mastermind has me completely at his mercy - he's even got me living in a grey world with fireballs in my hands.



And the full comic is really great as well - where's issue #2? Also, where can I get code-monkeys from?

If you don't know who SourceGear is, they became hugely popular with the SourceOffSite tool, which made VisualSourceSafe useable over the Internet and have since branched out with Vault (a SQL server based VSS system) and Fortress, a SCM tool (x-ray vision goggles not included - or are they?). They also make the great (and free) Diffmerge tool

Vienna will support 32-bit: Even longer life for FoxPro applications

I'll admit it - when Craig has talked about the move to 64-bit in the past, I've agreed with him on it. Microsoft has said numerous times now that they are moving into exclusive 64-bit territory. With all the calls from FoxPro developers wanting VFP to go 64-bit, the amount of work required to do this was always cited as being a reason for not doing any upgrades along this path. Yes, VFP would always run in 32-bit compatibility mode on a 64-bit processor but otherwise, it's not going to take advantage of the next generation of processors. This suggested to me that realistically, 32-bit apps have a future life-span of 10, maybe 15, years.

But this article from ZDNet, Next version of Windows: Call it 7 has a VERY interesting line: "

Like Vista, Windows 7 will ship in consumer and business versions, and in 32-bit and 64-bit versions."

While FoxPro is supported from Microsoft until 2015 but with basic support ending in or around 2010, this means that the next version …

What I'm Using

I had installed Wakoopa a few months ago just to see what this tool could do. I installed it on both my laptop and desktop machines (which I typically use concurrently - multi-tasking at its finest - or worst) but didn't really see it doing much.

Doh! That's what it was supposed to do - not much - just keep an eye on what I've been working with. Since a lot of my day is spent connecting to customers, it was no surprise that #3 on my Top 10 software was Remote Desktop Connection (also because I use it to connect to my own server as well) - what I did find interesting was the other software I used. What's also cool is that they keep track of the software and the versions being used - so I can easily tell if I'm out of date.

Sadly, Firefox is number one - but that's because I use it now instead of Outlook completely. Outlook is still what I use to sync my ipaq but for day to day, I almost live in gmail, newsgator and basecamp. Hmm...I wish Wakoopa could keep track o…

Good and bad habits

Craig Bailey pointed over to this older post by Paul Stovell - Craig's comments on the matter (speaking as a software manager) are just as insightful as Paul's and it reminds me of a recent discussion I was having with a colleague on our FoxPro projects. Paul's triangle diagram is wonderful - you have Resume quality code, production quality code and then prototype quality.

We typically set up a variety of milestones to go through projects, regardless of how small the project may be - and yet invariably, something can jump up - not unlike what's described in BugBash today - and thus throws the entire milestone process into a state of flux. "You have to get this done" or "help this person out" and at the end of the day, time isn't being taken to go through the various steps of the milestones.

We spec'd out a piece of work for an outsourcing resource recently and after reviewing the phase 1 and phase 2 milestones, the comment was "well, why…

Languages that never took off

Markus points us over to this great take from SoftwareDeveloper.com - what I find funny is that I remember when TWO of these products (Delphi and PowerBuilder) were touted as FoxPro killers.

Ghosts in the Machine: 12 Coding Languages That Never Took Off - Software Developer

I don't know if I would agree with the entire list - but it was interesting to learn the final fate of VRML (which I had hoped would take off) but has now been supplanted with so many other technologies.


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Another great new site for learning FoxPro (for free!)

After my last post about the VFP Bootcamp, here's another site to teach FoxPro from Garfield Hudson. With free videos as well as upcoming premium content, it looks like a great source.

Learn Visual FoxPro - Free!!

This is great to see! His free videos include understanding FoxPro data types, modifying data structures and some really great intros to the VFP environment. Check it out!


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Have some people who need to learn FoxPro? Send them to Bootcamp!

Rick commented on the same notice I was about to - Visionpace Bootcamp in August

It's great to see companies like Visionpace and Take Note continuing to offer VFP training like this.

I've noticed a handful of messages recently on Foxite looking for "how do I do..."

Sometimes I refer to them to the online resources but some people do learn better in a classroom environment. These are definitely the places to get it from!


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So many conferences, so little time...

In my ideal world, I would be able to attend just about every conference out there - Gnomedex, Advisor DevCon, Southwest Fox, FoxForward, dFPUG and more. Realistically, it's hard for a number of reasons : work, expenses, time, family. I'm always a big promoter of conferences putting some of their sessions online as well, even if it costs something. There's value in conferences even if all the attendees can't get there.  Southwest is going to have a business track which is great - especially because of the number of small business or independent consultants in the FoxPro community.

The Business of Software Conference , coming in San Jose in October, looks like another one that a lot of people would get something out of. It's got a nice mix of developers (Eric Sink, Joel Spolsky), some marketing people, one of my favorite speakers and also Bill Buxton, who has a GREAT session (you can see him speak at the Boston CHI session which is available online)

It's …

Need an online Wiki? Check out Zoho

FoxPro developers should be fairly familiar with Wikis - after all, Steve Black's FoxWiki has been around for several years, Wikipedia continues to grow in popularity (and so on). MediaWiki is free to install and use but it does have some basic requirements.

If you need to quickly create your own Wiki, check out Zoho Wiki - It's free, fast and easy to set up and works just like other wikis you may know how to use.

Zoho's other offerings are also pretty cool - you just have to get used to the building blocks logo - not exactly business like - but just as irreverent as the Google logo.


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Doing Code Reviews with Code Analyst

I mentioned earlier that I was at a developer strategy meeting last week (n fact, Markus was there too) - of course, I wasn't traveling at the time. One of the comments from that meeting was how it's very hard (read, impossible) to stick to manual code reviews. Code reviews are a great practice and certainly valuable but when push comes to shove, it's often one of the practices that seem to slip away in favor of getting things done.

Now, in Team System, you can set up all kinds of rules for checking code in to help manage this process but what can you do in FoxPro?

One idea that came to me was extending the VFPX Code Analyst tool to become "project" or "environment" specific. Yes, you can create a number of new rules to run within the code analyst and enable/disable them as needed but what would also be useful would be to allow different projects to have "different" sets of rules that they might apply to. Then set up a project hook so that when …

Displaying a Progress bar that doesn't affect your program

I have been really intrigued by the MTmyVFP project on Codeplex - primarily because I want my FoxPro apps to be as efficient as possible and to run in the background where possible but one of my pet peeves in a recent application is that if I'm doing some heavy work and want to display an animation (similar to the Copy files that you see in Windows), the animation really gets bogged down with the processing.

As a result, it looks funky to the user. I had asked Claude Fox if MTmyVFP could be used to do this - and the answer was to make my processing code run in the background and then make the animation run in the main application thread.

That wasn't doable but it made me think: what if I had an application that could show the animation and then I would just call it when needed.

Here's how I did it in VFP:


DEFINE CLASS oAni AS Custom OLEPUBLIC

oForm = .NULL.


PROCEDURE Show (tcTitle,tcAvi)

THIS.oForm = CREATEOBJECT("frmanimation",tcTitle,tcAvi)


THIS.oform.Show()



ENDPROC


PRO…

The Sketch Questions, the Prototype Answers

This is a GREAT session by Bill Buxton of Microsoft Research on why you should get a sketch pad out when thinking about designing interfaces.



Some great ideas:

 - bring 5 design ideas before you build a prototype (and don't commit to any of them)

 - have great mistakes instead of mediocre successes (in design at least)

 - if a sketch was made in a forest and nobody saw it, it's not a sketch



It's about an hour and a half but you can definitely get some interesting stuff out of it.



Certainly, you can always try simply to follow UI guidelines but...another great one is Why We Should Ignore Users.



Brightcove - BostonCHI - Bill Buxton (Nov. 2006)



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Cloudy or Dark? - your choice for future development platforms depends on you

John, over at gonzomaximus, asked me to respond to his latest post ("The future is cloudy") - I would have directly on this blog but he has comments disabled, so here I am.



I think part of the confusion may have been from my previous post about his World of Tomorrow where I commented that there are a lot of free or low-cost how to's for DotNet.



Since he did ask, I will respond point by point. I certainly don't expect this to become a "read here, read his response, read my response, etc" but I think it's useful to see where this is coming to. (and hey, John - when you get some free time - why not come onto the FoxShow and really tell us how you feel!)



1. Yes, we know you're crazy - oh you said BORDERLINE crazy - sorry, I'll take that back.



2. I agree that to effectively use DotNet, you DO have to get into it a fair bit and likely a lot further than most FoxPro developers ever delve into FoxPro. Just yesterday, I was at a developer strategy meeting a…

A Four Hour work week or a simpler life

It seems funny all of the attention on Tim Ferriss' best seller, The Four Hour Work Week, which has some very good ideas (no, I haven't read it yet - but I did listen to his session at South by Southwest) - but many of them seem familiar to me, perhaps because of Bill Jensen's also popular Simplicity Survival Handbook.



The overlap is definitely there:



Tim: Stop checking email / Bill: How to Delete 75% of your emails

Tim: Fire Your Customers / Bill: How to Say No

Tim Result: Four Hour Work Week / Bill: Do Less...Accomplish More



Certainly there's more in Tim's book than just those few items I mention above - but I do find it interesting that both books advocate some of the same actions.







Simplicity: the Book



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VFP Sedna Wishlist: A single way of doing dialogs

While Craig is espousing how awesome VFP will work with Sedna and Windows Vista - what IS missing and should likely be the #1 extension put into Sedna upon its release is a way to use the new Vistadialogs4COM under non-Vista platforms. (Updated: Doug brings up a good point in his comments that the purpose of this work was NOT to be a generic dialog handler, strictly for VFP - read the comments below)



As Craig noted, using the dialogs is very simple unless you are allergic to OOP - but it would have been really nice if the DLLs were immediately smart enough to say "hey, you're not running under Vista, so we're going to give you the older file dialogs instead."



I know that Vista is soon going to be everywhere - but NOT including some of this functionality now will limit the usefulness and implementation of this library for regular developers. In most  deployed applications, you are going to be balancing between Windows XP, Windows 2003, Windows Vista and even po…

VFP 9 SP2 and Sedna Beta now available

Microsoft has made the latest beta for VFP SP2 and Sedna available for download. A good number of bugs have been fixed according to the fix list - I hope this deals with some of the C5 errors I get when working with cursor adapters. Lots of people talking about it - be sure to get it and try it out!



Download details: Microsoft Visual FoxPro 9.0 Service Pack 2 and "Sedna" - Beta



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Figuring Out Your Project

(note: on the path to building a software product, there are lots of decisions to make - but perhaps the toughest is trying to decide what type of project /product you want to build. This post describes some of the issues involved - if you've got other ideas, agree or disagree, I'd love to hear about it)

Schedule. Schedule. Schedule

Do you want to be all things to all people from the get-go? Or do you want to grab people's attention quickly and then build functionality based on a longer term vision.

The decision you make will greatly affect how long your entire project will take.

All Things to All People
This approach means you don't plan on releasing a product until it does everything you think it should do across the board.

While the one huge benefit is that you will be able to say "Yes - we can do it" to potential customers, there are several problems with this approach.

Benefits
"Yes - we do that"
It's always great to be able to say to a customer or …