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Showing posts from May, 2006

Milind's letter for May is all about Me , er, My

If you check out the Visual FoxPro: May 2006 - Letter from the Editor, Milind refers to the updated CTP documents. Without worrying about the DotNet CTP stuff and the update about Service Pack 2 (note that SP2 will be dealing with some of the stuff they've discovered about Vista), the real cool piece, at least to me, is this little add-on called "My"

As Milind explains it, it essentially contains wrappers for SYS functions and Windows API calls, etc. Why is this a big deal?

I remember a variety of devcons and ER requests for VFP where users would ask for "add a Machine Name function" and the response was "use SYS(0)" or any one of the other SYS functions. SYS was great for functionality but terrible for readability. My makes it a little easier although you have to be used to looking at a lot of "."s.

A lot of code I've seen puts these settings into memory variables for later use. I used to use SYS(0) as my example for using the SUBSTR and …

Folsom: Using #Define statements in refactoring

Now that she's blogging, Nancy is likely going to find lots of links pointing to some of her posts as fellow bloggers read them for the first time and find juicy nuggets of wisdom.

As with any tidbit of code, however, the real good stuff is in the comments where you can see the discussion take place (in this case with Christian Wollenhaupt.

More to my immediate focus, Nancy also linked over to Martin Fowler's Refactoring catalog - more of whom which I'll be looking at to implement into the Code Analyst.

Experiencing Life on the Verge » Using #Define statements in refactoring

Eric Sink on Java

I did try to really jump into Java, really I did. I tried to get into it with J++, I get around JavaScript fairly easily and I still like it as a concept. But I've never seen a "good-looking" Java application - they usually look so (I can't even find the right word, drab, blah, amateur, I dunno) - but I do appreciate the language and what it means.

As it turns out, so does Eric - his post Java and Tiger Woods is a must-read.

Uninstalling Previous Beta Versions

Ah , the perils of beta software. I had installed a few earlier builds of VS 2005 on an older machine and was finally getting around to upgrading it. Unfortunately every attempt to install updates resulted in "You must uninstall the beta version first".

Looking in Add/Remove proved fruitless. Nothing was listed there. Yet there was something in my registry or something lying around.

Thankfully, there was this page with a direct link to this auto-uninstall tool. Solved the problem right away.

Do they have something like this for the IE 7 Beta 1? It's completely hosed my laptop and reinstalling SP2 and more just won't cut it. (updated: reinstalling WinXP finally resolved the problem but what a pain!)

I think the Fox team needs to expand their horizons and get EVERY team at Microsoft to support upgrading over beta versions. VFP 9 was a dream for this. Too bad the regular OS components aren't.


Uninstalling Previous Versions

Rick and Detroit get dominated by Craig!

Rick Schummer has done an excellent job covering what Craig Boyd talked about at the Detroit FoxPro User Group. There are a series of posts:

End Notes
Vista and Visual FoxPro
GDI+ - I'm not sure when I would use a button with 2 images on it but I'm sure I will at some point
Encryption and RegEx - Question on this? Why wouldn't you use the CryptoAPI FCC for encryption? I realize it is OS dependent but Crypto is fairly standard these days, no?
Introduction to the Power of Community

I hope the recording turned out!

And I'm sure, fresh from all that, Rick just had to try and turn around some negative comments on ProFox. This is one of the reasons why I find myself simply not reading much of ProFox or any forum threads regularly anymore - I look at first run topics but that's about it. For every 5 great posts, there are about 50 "fanboy" or "anti-fanboy" comments and just degenerate the old conversation.

Great series of posts Rick!

FoxPro Does Windows

Vassilis Aggelakos shows us how Visual FoxPro really does windows. That's a cool looking application. Reminds me of Visio and Vassilis notes that the UI concepts came from Ken Chazotte's book.

A great quote: "We have tried the same project in the past with Visual Basic, PowerBuilder and C++ but sooner or later all these tries failed because we couldn't succeed an acceptable balance between Budget - Time and Features"

Sounds familiar to my conversations with some other developers at larger companies. Now, I know many will come back and say "well that's because they didn't know how" but that's entirely the point.

Learning how to program can be easy - IF the tools are done right. Now I'm not saying that FoxPro always does it the right way - but large projects always seem to go off the rails when a new language is used and when the results look as good as that, go for it!


Vassilis Aggelakos : What I have done with VFP, GDI+, and a ton of help…

Stealth Upgrading of support

Looks like Rick found an update that hasn't been shared widely: Microsoft has extended the Support Lifecycle for VFP up to 2015 now.

As he notes, that's only one year before Visual Studio 2005 apps expire. Now, FoxPro (and other) developers have been building great applications in the past without real regard to the support lifecycle. But it started becoming a talking point when Microsoft started advertising it. Since Sedna seems like it's going to be more of a download, rather than a full separate product, it will be interesting to see if this date changes anytime soon. If ever a page needed an RSS feed, this one likely does.

The revolution should be ,um, streamed

Hey Craig - as you go out on the VFP World Domination tour, (love the name), do us all a favor and record it.

I know it's always tough recording a session - but tools like GoToMeeting make it easier for others to come on and see it, OR you can use the free Windows Media Encoder to do it.

This brings me up to one of my gripes about the various user groups. You guys are getting great speakers and great topics all around yet you aren't letting the rest of the VFP world know about it afterwards.

FoxIte will let you set up a blog quickly and easily - you can do your part with VFP World Domination by setting one up and making your reviews or coverages of your meetings available to all.

If any user group leader has never taken part in recording a session like this, drop me an email and I'll set one up to show you how it can be done. It takes very little time and it's worth it for everyone.

Since I'm doing "shout outs", this goes double for conference organizers (bu…

Online Meeting Sites compared

Typically when you see a comparison chart, it always slants in favor of the "hosting" company. ("We do all 10 features whereas our competition only does 5 of them")

So when Guy Kawasaki originally said "check out Vyew" - I wasn't completely overwhelmed with the feature set - it's cool and it works and the fact that you have to do screen captures to show your desktop has some benefits (like being able to hide crashes or non-descript error messages) - but it's definitely not a "demo" tool - more of a "meeting" tool but that's good.

But the thing that I loved about their web site was this page:
Comparison chart

Yes, on the Key Features, it's heavily swayed to Vyew but when you go further, you see that they are identifying where they are missing features - things that I would consider to be key like "desktop sharing", polling and the ability to record sessions.

Best of all, it provides a good price differential so…

A VFP RSS Reader?

Jeez, I remember suggesting to Ken Levy that this would be cool to do and now I see Juan's got one.

Hey - this would be cool to post the source for this.

Thanks to Craig for pointing out this great new blog from Juan!

Juan Calcagno 's Blog

And no, Juan, you're not an idiot, you're just the guy who is able to keep up with all his blogs in the same tool he used for development!

Aren't colors fun?

David Fung remarks on colors that don't work properly between different versions of Windows in Grid and XP Themes

It can get even worse. I created a new form and added a list box where the default SelectedItemBackColor was noted as RGB(10,36,106). Looked great on my LCD screen. I built my app and then ran the form on another machine that used a regular CRT monitor. The color appeared black.

Hmmm...must be resolution right? So we changed the resolution on both machines to match - STILL no luck. What was going on? I created the form to display the default color (using a MESSAGEBOX(THIS.SelectedItemBackColor)) on both environments. They returned different values. Why?

Blame it on Themes. Ya, it's great when users can change the colors - not so great, when you want to build a consistent look in your application.

My last UMPC Post

Good to see that at least Scoble gets it - Ultra Mobile PC’s panned by New York Times

But forget about a high-powered laptop - a quick search shows you can get a regular TabletPC (with keyboard) for about the same price.

Maybe they should have simply looked at providing some of that UPMC software for those tablet PC users.

It's really too bad because I'm genuinely excited by the technology but these aren't supposed to be PCs - they are supposed to be MobilePCs (kind of like Windows CE), designed to change my life.

What did they used to say about Windows 3.x?

Oh yeah, "A pig in a dress is still a pig."

If you want to introduce a consumer device, then price it like one (Nintendo gets it - Sony doesn't) - obviously Microsft wasn't able to convince their partners with the correct price either.

What would you do?

After reading
Bawling over bowling, I am reminded greatly of Julie Leung's presentation at Gnomedex (2005) - I only heard it but appreciated its candor.

Other people who blog can appreciate the benefits of putting out personal stuff out in the open - where many others cannot.

Thank you for sharing. And of driving home a point

"If I have a chance to look at a screen and comprehend what it says, keep me alive. Otherwise please don't perform heroic measures to keep me alive.

I'd rather be kept alive only if there's some chance of a decent quality of life.

How about you? What would you like your family to do? Why don't you write it down and tell them? Tonight.

What would you do differently if you had only 1,000 breaths to take?"

One person, a thousand miles away, touches a thousand more, all around the world. Technology at its finest.

Online Databases Start Sprouting Everywhere

Update: Since 37 Signals doesn't do a lot of Backpack anymore, here's a link to an alternatives page.

Even more so, here's a link to my most recent posts about online databases.
I'm going to post a lot more on this in a bit but Rick's post
fiat volpes: Library Thing pushed me a little ahead.

It used to be that the first thing developers created with their databases were the local things that made them happy. One of my first mentors was introduced to FoxPro by building a hockey pool and come on - admit it - your music collection is likely in a FoxPro table somewhere.

But now, in 2006, it's expanding greatly. Open tools and databases like Ruby on Rails are making it easier and easier for developers to build online shareable databases.

Sure, Google introduced GoogleBase but many think it's just a way to compete with CraigsList. To be honest, I'm not that impressed with it.

But I AM impressed with DabbleDB.

No, it's likely not going to be the solution…

Sedna mutates further: SednaX and Y chromosomes

CORRECTION: I mistakenly referred to Claude Fox as being the author of ActiveFoxProPages. this is incorrect- as wOOdy notes below, Active FoxPro Pages is from ProLib which is a commercial tool. Claude Fox is the author of ActiveVFP. Sorry for the confusion.

OK - so in the beginning there was Sedna (well ,really in the beginning there was JPL but that's another story). Then Ken and Craig really started promoting SednaX. And now Claude Fox, author of the open source ActiveVFP(corrected), has started SednaY.

Whereas SednaX has a specific philosophy of not creating or endorsing tools that compete with existing commercial tools (for example, you likely won't see a SednaX Report Manager tool), SednaY has a focus on building open-source tools "in the area of web development and associated technologies."

There's a great article noted there about how to debug VFP web servers (i.e COM).

The more, the merrier.

SednaY: Home

Andy Kramek: Morituri te salutant

Wow - he doesn't post for a month but when he does...

So after at least one swipe at Advisor, Andy and Marcia are moving the Kitbox from FoxTalk over to Advisor. (a revolution from within may begin... )

The why is one of those not well-guarded secrets in the FoxPro world. FoxTalk was recently taken over by Eli Research who adopted their own formatting guidelines fairly tight restrictions(see comment) over the writers and editors. With such a wild bunch as the FoxPro community, it only stood to reason that some more shakeups would occur.

FoxPro Advisor now gets two of the best writers around - what a great coup - because the KitBox is one of the best reads around.

It's going to be interesting - Advisor may become more like FoxTalk and FoxTalk may become more like Advisor with its new layout.

The result? More FoxPro articles abound for all developers to read and we, the community, are wealthier for it.

Andy Kramek : Morituri te salutant (Those who are about to die, salute you)

The Future Back in 1992

This was noted over on Presentation Zen where I first started watching it. It's amazing to think this was Jobs presenting back in 1992, the year after FoxPro 2.0/DOS came out onto the market and the same year FoxPro 2.x/Windows was all the buzz.

I recalled seeing a Next machine back in 1991 and immediately wanted one - I even got excited about learning Unix. This intro to NextStep might show you why but really - watch the video instead.

Highlights:
Where is Improv today? That was ONE awesome spreadseet and Excel's naming features never could really compete with it the same way.
NextMail with its drag and drop support.
The DigitalLibrary - where you can pull up articles that you wanted to save (back in 1992) and even had its own search criteria.

The Drag/Drop and Object linking is still something that we currently don't have or users still struggle with. (dragging and dropping from between multiple OSs with live linking) - jeez, I remember doing demos of OLE Linking and embeddi…

The FoxShow #38: Interview with Milind Lele

The latest FoxShow includes an interview with Microsoft's Milind Lele.

Here's a brief summary of some of the questions:

1. Many people on the Fox team wear multiple hats. What hats do you wear?

A few, but I mostly do the Program Management of it: Defining scope, features, schedules… overall project management, making sure we are on track, working out CTP and beta releases; working with the community (getting feedback, monthly letters, conferences); working with Product Support on customer issues, Hotfixes, etc. I also manage the builds.

2. With Yag (Yair Alan Griver) now moving away from the Data Tools group and pushing more on community, how strong is the Fox team within MS? How much time are you guys able to spend on Fox stuff or is it a lunch time project between you, Calvin and a few spirited others? (a fox community within MS, as it were)

Actually YAG isn’t quite moving on. He’s reporting outside the division, but part of the deal is that he will continue to drive FoxPro. He…

Going to a conference? Blog it!

Anyone who attends a conference would do well to watch how Engadget blogs conferences. No, one wouldn't expect full pictures from a developer conference but the entire way, it simply unfolds WHILE the event is taking place is just wonderful - especially when you're not there.

And using a tool like Qumana you can do it on your notebook and then only post it when you're ready.

Engadget & Joystiq's live coverage of Microsoft's Xbox 360 E3 event - Engadget

The Scourge of Arial

I found this over at Guy's blog but even though he says it's not very general interest, it is certainly fascinating.

As a former Mac user, I know Helvetica but certainly have found myself relying almost exclusively on Arial with PC-based development. Maybe this is where Verdana comes in as a far better font to work with.

A few excerpts:
"Thus, Arial is now everywhere, a side effect of Windows' success, born out of the desire to avoid paying license fees."

"it was like asking for Jimmy Stewart and getting Rich Little."

"Arial owes its very existence to that success but is little more than a parasite—and it looks like it's the kind that eventually destroys the host."

Great reading - who knew that Microsoft was all for using "non-licensed" work way back when.

The Scourge of Arial

Conference Available in E-Book - what's next?

As noted by Alex and Rick and Ted,
a VFP best Practices E-Book is available from Henztenwerke.

At $75, it's not exactly inexpensive ($75) but the sheer amount of information (415 PDF pages of 14 sessions) certainly makes it worthwhile.

And I agree with Ted when he says "I Wish more conferences would offer their proceedings this way". But I also hesitate in that I wish more speakers would also make their sessions available in video format (or podcast - my own self promotion) - as they started doing at FoxCast.org.

One of the common comments about the latest GreatLakes was that some of the real benefit was the way the sessions were a lot of give and take with the audience. As a result, white papers are useful but perhaps recording one of the sessions or at least transcribing it would be just as useful.

One thing to note: there are no sample chapters available yet for the book but the detailed table of contents (linked here) gives you a MUCH better idea as to the real value of t…

Yag Moves On

I noted this from Alex Feldstein but Y. Alan Griver (yag), VSData guru at MS and Visual FoxPro CodeBook architect is moving out of the VSData group but will still work within the VFP group.

Instead he's going to be working on the FUN stuff - the community projects, something that he knows all too well.

AND he introduces us to his own personal blog.

My thought on this? As noted above, he's going where the fun is. Coming from the FoxPro community, he knows that this is where a lot of the absolutely amazing innovations will take place (no one at Fox or MS could have foreseen some of the cool stuff that those in the community have done - except until they all got hired by MS) - so I think it's great that someone who KNOWS how to help foster innovation is moving into that area.

Am I attempting to spin this? Yes and no. 1) I'm trying to counteract what I'm sure a lot of people will say but also more importantly, I see this possibly being like a turf war about data vs. codi…

Samsung leaves the door open for Apple...

Well the reviews are coming in - and they aren't coming in from the Tech sites but from major news sites - and they aren't good.

Not what you want when trying to show how hugely innovative you are.

Wonder when Apple's UMPC comes out...likely after they figure out how to make their Media Centre everything it ought to be (loud and clear)

FOXNews.com - Review: Samsung's 'Origami' Device Poorly Designed, Hard to Use - Science And Technology News | News On Technology

Samsung's Itsy bitsy problem

StatusBar class for Visual FoxPro

While I'm not planning on being a complete repository for all cool UI things in VFP, Carlos sent this along and it does look very cool.

Carlos - why not make this a SednaX Project?
ctl32_statusbar - StatusBar class for Visual FoxPro

Update: one thing - it doesn't look very good under Win2003 - it has an extra little "bar" above it which makes it look funky but otherwise very cool.

You are NOT inadequate. Unless You Are.

Grabbed from Rick Borup

With all apologies to the secret geek!
You are NOT inadequate.: "YOU ARE NOT INADEQUATE.

* You do NOT have to refactor all your code.BUT it would certainly help if you had never written the spaghetti code in the first place.
* You do NOT have to keep up with the latest news from microsoft, and know everythnig there is to know about longhorn, whidbey, avalon, XAML, indigo and star wars III.But if you don't, you run the risk of feeling very sheepish when Microsoft decides to rename all of the technologies (DNA->COM->COM+, FrontPage->Expression, etc) in a few months or years. Just remember to read up on the nearest locations around Washington and BC and pretend they are the latest product code-words. After all, Sammamish will be the latest build of Yakima which will run Whatcom after Whistler gets it Gonads, oops, I meant Monad back.
* You do not have to have perfectly de-coupled tiers in your technology independent SOA software. But don't look fo…

Bailey's done it again!

I was going to title this Craig's done it again but people may think it was Craig Boyd and not Craig Bailey - hence the title.

Craig Bailey's thoughts on life and Visual FoxPro: VFP: How to make Visual FoxPro cool

I'm going to jump right down to Idea #2 on "how to make it cool" because it's the only one that we can resolve right away.

Craig's point "revamp the interface" does NOT require Microsoft. WHAT????? It simply requires SednaX and then the work of some marketers who can convince Microsoft to include the "skin" into the core FoxPro environment. What do I mean?

Craig's points are entirely valid - the icons are ugly, the toolbars suck, etc. Well - hello!

I have been a long proponent of the Component Gallery for a while and for good reason - if that was the initial screen users saw when they clicked "New", (instead of the current silly New dialog), it would be a very cool approach (granted, VS 2005's is still better but…

Learning from Architecture...

It's funny how when you find one great article on one blog, you find another fairly quickly.

After reading Learning from Architecture, I was reminded of a visit with Steve several years ago. Steve was the one who had introduced me to design patterns even before then but it was really cool when he pulled out this book, to show how patterns aren't just about software but also from architecture design.