Not enough time
It's been a week since my last entry into my blog. Between billable work, articles that I'm writing, and getting ready for the Southwest Fox conference, time has been an extremely precious commodity. If someone finds a way to increase the number of hours in a day to 48 using an undocumented API call, please let me know.
Increasing interest in Visual FoxPro
As interest in Visual FoxPro increases (and it is increasing), there are a number of developers out on the forums looking for beginner books for Visual FoxPro. I've even seen a few people looking for a demo of Visual FoxPro that they can try out before making a decision on whether to purchase it (other than an occasional public beta, this just doesn't happen). And regrettably, there just aren't as many books and resources for Visual FoxPro 9.0 as there are for some of the previous versions of the product, and few of the books that are out there are geared toward the beginner (KiloFox gets my vote for the greatest VFP book ever written, but regrettably it's not the kind of text a beginner would find easy to understand and follow).
Book idea scrapped
I started toying with the idea of writing a book on Visual FoxPro for beginners, but that would require an extensive commitment in time, and as I've said, I don't have a lot of time on my hands these days. I also realized that I didn't just want to provide information for beginners, but also for intermediate and advanced Visual FoxPro developers. The book idea was starting to look as if it would be at least 1200 pages... so, the book idea was obviously not feasible, but that didn't quench my desire to provide something to the Visual FoxPro community that would perhaps be considered useful.
Screencast to the rescue
I've taken an interest in the videos provided at FoxCast, and found many of them very informative and useful. There's something about being able to see and hear another developer make a presentation via screencast that can't be duplicated in a book or through a podcast. I'm not saying that a screencast is superior in every way, it has its place just as the other types of medium do, but what appealed to me most was the ability to relay a large amount of information in a short amount of time.
Learning Visual FoxPro is born
I've also listened to Andrew MacNeill talk about screencasting on the FoxShow, as well as in an article he wrote, and I've created a number of screencasts for applications that I've developed. I've found it to be an incredibly easy way to train users and also provide perspective users with a way to look at a product before they buy it. And, Visual FoxPro is essentially just a software product like any other with developers (especially those involved in data centric application development) as its target audience.
So, I've begun creating a library of videos that will not only show off Visual FoxPro's abilities, but will hopefully provide viewers with some useful information and insight that can help them become better Visual FoxPro developers. The videos will be broken down into 3 series. The 100 series (101, 102, 103...) will be for beginner-level Visual FoxPro developers. The 200 series will be for intermediate-level Visual FoxPro developers. And finally, the 300 series will be for advanced-level Visual FoxPro developers.
The narrative for the videos is not scripted. I just have a short outline of the subject matter I want to screencast about, open up Visual FoxPro, and go. This provides the viewer with a raw look at how I develop in Visual FoxPro which I believe is useful. It also allows me to create videos in the shortest amount of time possible. It's sort of like watching a demo Ken Levy has done for Channel 9, except that it's just my screen and voice.
In any event, the first video is "101: Creating a Project". As it is in the 100 series, it is targeted toward beginners, but some intermediate developers may still find some of the content useful. It will walk the viewer through creating a relatively simple Visual FoxPro project from scratch to compile. It is nearly an hour long, so I've busted it up into 3 seperate .swf files. Each .swf file is about 13 MB give or take and the loader you'll see at the beginning will stay up until 30% of the .swf has been loaded. In other words, if you are on Dial-up, forget it. (I did initially create a .wmv of the video, but at an acceptable bit-rate the images and audio were unacceptably degraded. The .swf was still smaller, with crisp images and audio.). Below are the links to the 3 parts as well as a download link for the source code that goes along with it. I'll be back with more videos, including the 200 and 300 series, and feedback both positive and negative is greatly appreciated. I have no doubt that changes will be made in certain areas as I produce more videos, so you're feedback is important and can help me improve the overall usefulness of what I'm trying to accomplish here.
Learning Visual FoxProDownload 101 Source Code
101: Creating a Project
Part I (19:33)
Part II (21:06)
Part III (18:15)
(621 KB approx.)