Southwest Fox 2008 - Day 2

by Frank Perez October 17, 2008

Day 2 started with Andrew MacNeill's “Profiling and Refactoring: How to Analyze and Clean-up Your Code” session. This was my first time seeing Andrew present, although I've been reading his blog and following his podcast The Fox Show for some time now. The two big things I got out this session were Code Analyst and Coverage Profiler tip.

Code Analyst is an open source developer tool on VFPX that is used to evaluate code against a set of user defined rules. For example, there could be a rule that PUBLIC variables are not allowed. There could also be a rule that every method/program/function must have a RETURN. Code Analyst would then scan the source code and document which rules were broken and where at in the source code. Kind of like a Code References on steroids.

A really cool feature of Code Analyst is that it supports four types of rules: method, line, object, and file. A good example of a method rule is the RETURN command. Each method must have at least one. Or only one, depending on you was raised {g}. Whereas checking for a PUBLIC variable would be something that is done for each line.

One idea I had for using Code Analyst is enforcing Software Development Standards (a.k.a. this is how we do it here). For example, I could have a function for opening tables called OpenDBF(). Therefore, the USE command should only exist in this function. I could create Code Analyst rule to check for the USE command.

As for the Coverage Profiler tip. Anyone who has used Coverage Profiler knows that the LOG file it generates can get big real fast. Disk space is not the problem so much as getting the Visual FoxPro Coverage Profiler Analyzer tool to process a 100+ MB file. Andrew suggested importing the LOG file into a table and then deleting the entries that were not important. For example, I could delete entries based on the filename, class, or the time it took to execute. After that I’ve got something that is probably a lot easier to grok.

The second session of the day was Christof Wollenhaupt’s “Introduction to Mobile Development”. This presentation covered the basics of developing software for mobile devices. Christof discussed how to setup a virtual mobile device for testing, mobile device limitations such as screen size and API, and did a demonstration of how to use the alternative Visual FoxPro runtime Guineu for running VFP applications on a mobile device.

Next I attended Rick Strahl’s “Using Ajax and jQuery features to build Rich Web User Interfaces with Web Connection” session. Rick explained what jQuery is, why you want to use it, and demonstrated some cool examples. He stated the number one reason for using something like jQuery is the normalization across the different browsers. He also mentioned a blog post on his web site where he explains how to add jQuery IntelliSense to Visual Studio. Although it sounded like Microsoft should be adding that feature soon.

After lunch, it was time for Craig Boyd’s session “VFP Studio: Extending the Visual FoxPro IDE”. Ever since the Southwest 2007 keynote where Craig and Bo Durban first did a sneak peak of VFP Studio, I’ve been waiting to hear more about VFP Studio. Craig explained that VFP Studio is a replacement for the Visual FoxPro IDE. For example, the MODIFY COMMAND window, Class Browser, Project Manager, Form Designer, and etc. It is not a run time replacement, like Christof’s Guinea or eTechnologia's VFPCompiler for .NET projects.

Craig went on to explain that VFP Studio was created with Microsoft Visual Studio SDK. This same SDK has already been used to create IronPython and a few other IDEs. He stated the biggest problem with the SDK is that it is so huge that it can be quite overwhelming. He also mentioned that it is still evolving, so sometimes a new release will break existing code.

Craig was able to demonstrate some of what he and Bo have already completed. What I saw was very cool. I especially like code editor and form designer features.

Replacing the Visual FoxPro IDE may not sound like a cool idea if you have never worked with Visual Studio. Trust me, it is {g}.

Craig wrapped up with a call for help. He and Bo are currently looking for developers with C# and Visual FoxPro experience. They also have a need for testers. So if you are interested, please contact either of them directly via email at SweetPotatoe Software or Moxie Data.

Next I attended Christof Wollenhaupt’s “Creating Owner Drawn Controls in Visual FoxPro” session. In this presentation Christof demonstrated how to create your own controls (i.e. page frames, progress bars, and etc.) using GDI+. I would call it a basic how to guide for creating the same kind of cool things you see on VFPX like ctl32 StatusBar and FoxCharts.

One of the coolest parts of this session was an example of an Office 2007 style floating menu bar. You know the one that pops up when text is highlighted and the mouse is positioned over the text. Very cool.

I also enjoyed the way he “converted” a complete Visual FoxPro form to a .NET GUI with the click of a check box. Everything from page frames and option groups to text boxes. That was pretty slick.

The last session of the day was Rick Strahl’s “Using .NET with Visual FoxPro for Reliable Web Service Access and Hosting” session. Rick discussed the current state of Web Services and Visual FoxPro, how to use .NET via COM Interop, and the differences between ASMX and WCF.

I must admit that I have only done a few web services so far, mostly Visual FoxPro server to Visual FoxPro client. It was good to see what my options are for the future and to be able to squirrel away some sample code and notes {g}.

Andrew MacNeill's Blog
Rick Strahl's Blog


Filed Under: VFP

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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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