“You can’t predict the future . . . but you can invent it” – Dennis Gabor

I have long since tired of the endless conjecture and distorted perception by some that MS is the one holding all the cards or that MS has a secret plan to end VFP. With the extensibility that is in Visual FoxPro already, VFP developers could make versions 10, 11, 12, and 13 all on their own. And now Sedna is in the works which has Extensibility as one of its two central goals. So, things are going to be opened up even further in the not too distant future. We get the greatest version of the product since the beginning of time, a road map laying out the future plans and core tenets for future enhancements, MS is showing up at the Southwest Fox Conference in force (I count 3 representatives and Randy Brown), demos of VFP running on Windows Vista and some early examples of proposed Sedna enhancements, an approved budget and support through 2014 and that is somehow MS’s way of killing VFP? At the risk of being impolite and perhaps less than my usual diplomatic self… Get real.

The future or demise of Visual FoxPro has way more to do with the Visual FoxPro Community than anything the folks in Redmond are doing or will do. If you’re looking for an example of a community effort, Firefox is a wonderful example of what a community is capable of. We’ve got the community, and the core (VFP 9), to make almost anything possible. With access and compatibility being added for Windows Vista, the new Windows API, Windows Presentation Foundation (Avalon), Windows Communication Foundation (Indigo), and the .NET Framework. There will be plenty of new versions of Visual FoxPro. The VFP model that the roadmap lays out is exactly the kind of model that works these days and project after project has been coming out showing that this model works best and ecclipses anything else it is put up against. Open it up and let developers improve on it and create add-ons for it.

We’re not short on brilliant and talented individuals in this community either – some people act like all the greats have gone to either open source or .NET – that’s nothing short of nonsense. And more than a few of the individuals that are cited as having left the VFP Community and MS behind still make a significant portion of their bread and butter with VFP and MS products (though they are hard pressed to admit it at times). People have even started touting incomplete, extremely marginal development tools and languages as the answer to all of these fictional problems they say exist for Visual FoxPro and the developers that work in it. Throw it all out and start using something that cannot begin to match the longevity, the functionality, or the supportive customer base that Visual FoxPro has? More nonsense. Wanna make a good living, do some good for your customers, and continue to build on what you and your customers know? Then stick with Visual FoxPro and MS.

Do I like every decision that MS makes? No. Do I blindly follow them around and spout there marketing rhetoric every chance I get? Absolutely not. Do I think that Visual FoxPro is going to end up bigger than Visual Studio sometime tomorrow? No. I’m just saying that Visual FoxPro is very viable – it has been and WILL BE for a long time to come. And for all of the faults MS has, that’s where most customers are and most of the jobs are, and where they’re gonna be for many years to come. MS knows how to win, whether you like it or not. And their products appeal to most of the customers on the face of this earth, whether you like it or not. And they employ some of the most talented IT people on the face of the earth, but for some reason along comes a few naysayers and a significant portion of the VFP Community is freaking out. MS is fine, VFP is fine and it is time that cooler more pragmatic heads should prevail.

Rather than being scared and worrying needlessly about the future, isn’t it time we all did something to improve it? Great things are coming and this ride is just getting started. I sincerely urge every VFP developer to hang on to their hats cause it is really going to get intense in the next few years! And if you’ve come to the conclusion that MS and a significant portion of the VFP Community are convinced that VFP is all but done… I’m afraid you’re living in a bubble. I just cannot figure how those given to fear, uncertainty, and doubt are so unable to see the potential and reality of what lies ahead. I guess we could all just keep touting facts, incidents, and even fairy tales that prove things one way or the other, but there’s not a whole lot of benefit in that. I’d much rather we spent the day and implemented XML Serialization for Visual FoxPro, or finished the GDI+ class library for VFP, or worked on an improved CursorAdapter class, or created some cool data presentation classes, or came out with a suite of Report Preview applications and add-ons, implemented something similar to LINQ, or took out an ad in the New York Times. 🙂 All of those things would serve us, the Community (and ultimately Visual FoxPro) a thousand times better than whatever ship jumping evacuation plan has been proposed to ensure that you and your customers end up drowning as quickly as possible.

Join me and many other VFP Community members in the SednaX project that was launched at the Southwest Fox conference. Anyone who is tired of developers who lack vision, strength, and the fortitude to change the future… Anyone who has a great idea for improving Visual FoxPro… Anyone who isn’t scared to jump in with both feet and fight for a goal larger than life… Anyone who thinks open source initiatives for Visual FoxPro rock… Anyone who is tired of seeing VFP components tucked away in a million different pockets on the web with very little documentation and very little support… Anyone who truly wants to make a VFP difference… is STRONGLY encouraged to immediately sign-up for the SednaX project. This is not my project, or Microsoft’s project, this is the VFP Community’s project. It’s time we show everyone what a bunch of experienced developers working with a mature, battle tested, data centric tool can do. The ball is in our court. We can make a difference, we can invent our future. Here’s the link:

“You can’t predict the future . . . but you can invent it” – Dennis Gabor