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The Business Case for Visual FoxPro in 2013 (electronic only)
Table of Contents




1. Preface
Copyright
Revisions
-- History
-- New version
-- Feedback and corrections
References and acknowledgments
Disclaimer
Prerequisites

2. Introduction
At one point a dozen or more years ago, Microsoft estimated that there were 500,000 FoxPro developers out in the wild. That means there were, at one point, perhaps a couple million or more FoxPro 1.x and 2.x applications in use. That was a long time ago, but one of the beauties of Fox was that 'it just runs'. Throw an EXE and the FoxPro runtimes on a machine, and it was much more likely that the machine would die before the application would....

3. Scary Stuff
There are a lot of VFP is dead, what should you do? documents out there on the Web. The purpose of each of them is to scare you into thinking that VFP is a bad choice for anything more than a birthday card list. They're wrong....

4. Background
Let's get some dates straight first. (Sources: Wikipedia for the release dates, support.microsoft.com/lifecycle for EOL.)...

5. Decision Time
Let's take a look at the issues that are forcing people's hands to make a decision about their Fox 1/2.x app....

6. Choices
So we've got an application that was written in the early to mid 90's, has been fine-tuned over the years, contains years to a decade or more of accumulated code that was likely written by a cadre of developers, some of whom never met each other, a not insignificant amount of associated cruft, a user base that has gotten used to its idiosyncrasies and nuances (and without much, if any documentation), and likely, the original programmers are long gone....

7. Spreading the FUD
Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt: Gene Amdahl, a former employee and then competitor of IBM, popularized this term after he left IBM to start his own computer company to go head to head with IBM. "FUD is the fear, uncertainty, and doubt that IBM sales people instill in the minds of potential customers who might be considering Amdahl products."...
Myth #1: The emotional argument
Myth #2: VFP is not 'cool' anymore.
Myth #3: The technical weakness argument
Myth #4: The termination of Microsoft support
Myth #5: An update to Windows might break Visual FoxPro
Myth #6: VFP might be unable to meet a business requirement in a specific industry
Myth #7: "VFP developers are hard to find"
Myth #8: VFP may not work on future versions of Windows


8. Advantages of VFP
Now that we've looked at the cons, it's time to discuss the other side of the coin. VFP is not a panacea, not by a long shot. There are clearly some situations where moving away from VFP is the better choice. But that's not a universal truth. Let's look at some advantages that VFP has over the competition....
Benefit #1: VFP developers are careerists
Benefit #2: No license fees
Benefit #3: VFP is stable
Benefit #4: VFP is fire and forget
Benefit #5: VFP is being extended
Benefit #6: VFP development costs less to build
Benefit #7: VFP development costs less to maintain


9. The startling conclusion
And here's the big finish. An app written in VFP and deployed on Windows today can be expected to live through early 2020s. Why? Because businesses are moving en masse to Windows 7, and it's been demonstrated that VFP apps will run just fine on Win7. 9.1 What about Windows 8?...

10. When Visual FoxPro isn't the right tool
As mentioned earlier, VFP isn't a panacea. There was a time when Fox could do anything you could imagine. And people imagined a lot....
Fox in Amazing Situationw
When Fox makes sense
And when Fox shouldn't be used


11. Upgrade versus Rewrite: A Comparison
Let's examine the "upgrade to VFP" versus "rewrite in another language" decision at a more granular level. Suppose you've got a FoxPro 2.6a for Windows application that is reaching EOL, and you're considering either upgrading it to VFP or rewriting version 2.0 in some other tool. Here are some of the major issues to take into consideration. I'll use the terms "current 1.0 version" to refer to the current FoxPro 2.6 version, "2.0 upgrade" to refer to the VFP 9.0 version, and "2.0 rewrite" to refer to the version rewritten in Some Other Tool (S.O.T.)...
Data conversion
UI - screens
UI - code
Processes
Reports
Business topics


12. The takeaway
There are many desktop applications that don't need any major changes or new functionality....

13. Where to go for more help

* eof