Southwest Fox 2007 - Day 4

by Frank Perez October 21, 2007

I started today with Doug Hennig's session Best Practices for Vertical Application Development. Although I had attended this same session previously at the 2006 Great Lakes Great Database Workshop conference, I still managed to learn some new things. If you missed this session I have a couple of book recommendations of my own. Check out "Eric Sink on the Business of Software" by none other than Eric Sink. And finally "Micro-ISV: From Vision to Reality" by Bob Walsh.

My last session was Marcia Akins QuickBooks Automation. Marcia did an amazing job of demonstrating of how to get started with the QuickBooks COM component. I especially liked all of the "gotcha" warnings.

In summary, I had a really good time at Southwest Fox this year. It was good to see some old friends, make some new ones, and learn new ways to use my favorite development tool - Visual FoxPro.


Filed Under: VFP

Southwest Fox 2007 - Day 3

by Frank Perez October 20, 2007

My first session of the day was Christof Wollenhaupt's Using CVS and Subversion with VFP. Since I have only used Microsoft's Visual Source Safe and Sourcegear's Fortress, I was curious as to how CVS compared. It is definitely something I would consider using in the future. Christof also showed a utility he wrote to convert Visual FoxPro files into XML files before checking them into Source Code Control. The utility also has the ability to convert the XML files back to binary files - very cool! For those who are interested, you can download the TwoFox utility from his website at

The next session was Craig Boyd's The Power of Regular Expressions. I must admit that I never tried Regular Expressions before because they looked so complicated. However, after Craig's presentation I've come to realize that they really are not that bad once you know the basics. Of course it helps that Craig did an awesome job of explaining what how to read and write regular expressions, how to use them, and provided plenty of good real world examples.

Following lunch I attended Steve Sawyer's Basic Marketing for Custom Business Software Services session. Steve had some very interesting ideas on marketing and networking. He also recommended another book for the reading list - Rain Making: The Professional's Guide to Attracting New Clients by Ford Harding.

After that I went to Whil Hentzen's So You've Inherited an Application. Now What? A lot of this session was geared towards custom software development shops with some good general programming ideas mixed in. For example, when you are working on a project - don't end your day by stopping at the end of the module/class you were working on. Try to stop somewhere in the middle and document what you had left to do. The next day you'll find that you are able to get into the zone much faster.


Filed Under: VFP

Southwest Fox 2007 - Day 2

by Frank Perez October 19, 2007

Day 2 began with Steve Sawyer presenting a session on Software Project Management. During the past couple of years I've taken more of an interest in the business side of software development, therefore this session was something I was really looking forward to. Steve did a good job of explaining what a project manager is, and just as important, is not. One key point that I got from the session was that project management requires a lot of diplomacy when they take the role of a liaison between customers and technical people. Steve also recommended a book by Thomas Friedman, "The World is Flat". I'll have to add that to my reading list.

My next session was Michael Hogan's 254 Fields in that Table? This presentation addressed the problem where you need to store different fields for each record in a table. For example, an Items table contains a record for Shoes and a record for Blenders. Each Shoe item has a Brand, Color, and Size attribute. Whereas each Blender item has a Brand, Motor Speed, and Watts attribute. He demonstrated several common solutions such as a single flat table, many related tables, a generic attribute table, and using embedded XML. Michael discussed the pros and cons of each solution, with last one being the best overall solution.

My third session was Christof Wollenhaupt's Introduction to COM. This session discussed the history COM, what makes it so cool. He also offered an excellent rebuttal to the argument that COM is dead and went on to provide evidence to the contrary. A real highlight of this session is a function he wrote that can be used to load DLLs without registering them first!

After lunch, I attended Whil Hentzen's session Introduction to Client-Server Using VFP and MySQL. One of the topics he discusses is the problem of loading MySQL on a development machine. It is easy to be misled by the performance since the data is "local". I though about this and wondered if running MySQL in a virtual environment, such as VirtualPC or VMWare, would address that issue. If this topic was something you missed, I would suggest checking out Whil's book "MySQL Client-Server Apps with Visual FoxPro" at Hentzenwerke. Having read the book and attended the session, I would say that the book covers what he presented and more.

Following that I went to Christof Wollenhaupt's session On the Dark Side of FoxPro. This session explained a lot about how Visual FoxPro works internally. He discussed data sessions, object creation, variables, memory management, tables and indexes, Rushmore optimization, and so much more. This is one of those times when you don't want the presentation to end because you are learning so much.

My last session of the day was Doug Hennig's Developing Visual FoxPro Applications for Windows Vista. Doug did an excellent job of explaining what has changed in Vista, how it affects application development and deployment, and what we need to do for our applications to run on Vista. One of Doug's comments was something to the effect that Vista is not going to go away anytime soon - so we might as well get used to it.


Filed Under: VFP

Southwest Fox 2007 - Day 1

by Frank Perez October 18, 2007

Day 1 began with Michael Hogan's pre-conference session No Boundaries: Visual FoxPro Web Applications. Michael did a great job of explaining the differences between web applications and desktop applications; and the advantages/disadvantages of both. I especially liked the way he demonstrated "statelessness" using audience participation. In addition he showed us some of his deployed solutions and took us for a tour behind the scenes. If you want to get started in web applications, this session was a great way to begin.

After a quick dinner break, it was time for the Keynote. I'll skip most of the details and jump straight to the cool stuff.

First, Christof Wollenhaupt demonstrated his Guineu project. Guineu is an alternative runtime that allows a Visual FoxPro application to run on multiple platforms (Windows, Pocket PC, and Linux) without any modifications to the code. Guineu is currently in development, but it still looks very promising.

Next, Toni Feltman demonstrated a couple of eTechnologia's developer tools. The first tool was .NET Extender. It provides the ability to use any of the .NET classes (including controls) in Visual FoxPro. The second item was VFPCompiler for .NET. This tool compiles Visual FoxPro forms and classes (SCX, VCX, and PRG) into pure .NET IL Managed Code. Both of these tools are currently in alpha stage.

Finally, Alan Stevens and Craig Boyd demonstrated something they called "VFP Studio 2008". It uses something that will be new in Visual Studio called the "isolated shell". I wish I could explain more, however due to the time constraints they were not able to provide a whole of details. So, I'm just going to leave it at that for now. Hopefully Craig will be able to talk more about it on his blog at Sweet Potato Software.


Filed Under: VFP

How it Begins...

by Frank Perez October 17, 2007

I've been toying with the idea of starting this blog for some time now. My original inspiration came from the Southwest Fox 2004 conference where everyone was encouraged to start a blog. The idea seemed intriguing. Somewhere to share my ideas and experiences as a Visual FoxPro software developer.

Well, here we are now two years later and I am finally doing something. I guess since Southwest Fox is where the idea was born; that it is only fitting this is where it will begin.


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About Frank

Frank lives in West Bloomfield, Michigan with his wife and three children.  When he is not writing code, he enjoys long distance running and riding his motorcycle.

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