Why Visual FoxPro (VFP)?
|If you are
looking at implementing a new Windows database application for your small
business and especially
if you have been railroaded into believing that Microsoft SQL Server is
the only suitable option and you want to
save many thousands of dollars
on hardware costs alone with few compromises then please read on . . . .
FoxPro started life in 1984 by a company called Fox Software who developed an extremely efficient data access and retrieval technology called Rushmore which runs database queries hundreds or even thousands of times faster which FoxPro was and still is based on.
Despite numerous attempts, Microsoft had failed to produce a successful database application to compete with Borland who at the time had 75% of the PC database market share that Microsoft wanted to dominate so in 1992 Microsoft bought Fox Software for $173 Million, kept some of their best developers and of course the superior technology which they then renamed Visual FoxPro or VFP.
Microsoft then dissolved Fox Software to become the 3rd of the now hundreds of X-Companies collectively known as Microsoft roadkill.
The last version of VFP was version 9.0, released in 2004 and last updated in 2007, official Microsoft support for VFP 9 ended at the end of 2015.
There are dozens of VFP books available, many excellent VFP support forums like foxite.com and VFP developers like myself are available for hire on the Web or if you live in Christchurch New Zealand then I can come to you and provide on-going hourly-based VFP development and maintenance for your small business.
In terms of compatibility with existing databases, just remember that Microsoft Visual FoxPro (VFP) natively supports Microsoft Excel and believe it or not, it can happily read Microsoft SQL databases so because most database applications are compatible with either Excel or SQL or both, then there shouldn't be any great problems with database compatibility.
If you still have any doubts then please read the following eye-opening "verbatim" article from Les Pinter's Database Journal November 1998:
Years ago, Chrysler built a kit that could be used to modify the carburettors of its diesel engines, so that trucks got better gas mileage. It cost over 500 dollars and involved a hefty mechanic bill as well. Mechanics loved to sell and install it, so everyone was happy. Except the users.
The military were especially interested in using computer technology to save money, so they had Chrysler design and build a computer based module that cost twenty dollars and did the same thing that the five hundred dollar kit that took a day to install did. But they weren't required to sell it to the public so they didn't.
Finally, their largest fleet customers approached them with a proposition: Make a little modification to the circuit board so that it would boot up in such a way as to pass the EPA DOT pollution tests. Then , gradually, over the next hour, have it reconfigure itself to minimize fuel consumption and pollute like a chimney. They did so, and the trucking industry bought tens of thousands of them and laughed at the American people.
Chrysler just settled with DOT for a billion dollars. Chrysler's pricing policy wasn't illegal. It's perfectly legal to have two products, one of which is far better, faster and cheaper than the other, and not tell your customers about it. What was illegal was the way that they went about it. It wasn't until their trade practices hurt American consumers that the government stepped in. Chrysler didn't give a damn how much more it cost their customers, or how much it cost the American people. They just wanted to increase their share price.
Microsoft sells two database technologies. One - FoxPro - is cheap and fast, and has no incremental cost. You pay for it one time. The other - VB with SQL server - costs by the seat and runs considerably slower. FoxPro users can also use SQL, but FoxPro users don't migrate to SQL Server - not even when they should. They don't perceive the need to do so, and often can't even be talked into it. But give users no alternative and they'll go along.
Give them a language that chokes when their local tables reach fifty thousand records, and offer them SQL as the only way to salvage their development investment. They'll come over. They'll have to. I don't know whether it's illegal or not to talk your own customers into spending twenty thousand dollars for capabilities that they could have gotten for five hundred. I don't know if it's illegal to recommend a technology that represents massive over-kill for most database projects. Caveat emptor. But it seems wrong. Having higher costs isn't necessarily a bad thing for a company. Your competitors simply have to bear the same costs. Being forced to move from a less expensive technology to a more expensive one falls equally on all businesses. If your programmers decide to use MS SQL, it only produces economic disadvantage if your competitors figure out that there's something better and cheaper. If they do as you do, then your costs and those of your competitors go up by the same amount, and no one in your industry can sell their product more cheaply due to lower costs. No one loses. Except the American consumer.
What does it feel like to be the only programmer in a corporate IT department who recommends FoxPro? Re-member not being part of the popular crowd in high school? Remember the power of slander by innuendo?
"If it's so good, why doesn't Microsoft advertise it? They must be ashamed of it." Nothing could be further from the truth. Microsoft knows full well how good FoxPro is. MS SQL sales stand to be reduced by billions of dollars. And now you know the rest of the story.
We're the key to this strategy of benign neglect. With the Justice Department looking on, Microsoft can't kill FoxPro. But we can. If we buckle to innuendo and the campaign of silence, Microsoft wins. We, and our customers, and their customers, are the losers. By bowing our heads and accepting defeat, we allow might to make right. I know it's hard to stand up to the in-crowd. I've been asked not to raise this issue, but I intend to stand up and be counted. I hope that you will, too.
Since Microsoft stopped advertising FoxPro, I've had a standing offer to compete publicly against anyone they can name in building a sample application. No takers. So try it yourself. Take any application, write it in both languages and compare the development effort; that's one. Then dump in a hundred thousand records and run them both, comparing performance. That's two. Now, figure out how much it will cost to deploy your application on a network using SQL Server - the only cure for the glacially slow performance of large MDB files - paying by the seat for MS SQL. And add in the cost of a Database Administrator, unless SQL 7.0 saves you that $100,000/ year hidden cost. And there are others.
It's not a contest; it's an IQ test.
Les Pinter 1998
Update: (Feb 2021) It now looks like Les Pinter has been a victim of Microsoft roadkill himself as I can find no mention of FoxPro or VFP on either of his web sites and a lot of talk promoting other Microsoft products which is a real shame and yet again speaks to the power of the $ and corporate greed.
If you search deep enough you will find strong historical connections with Les Pinter and FoxPro on other web sites (e.g. this is just one of his books on amazon) and I can only find one other web site that has this article verbatim that he definitely did write in 1998 so I have now removed my copyright to this page and ask that if you find it, please duplicate it verbatim as It is important that this information does not die.
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