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FoxPro

FoxPro

(OP)
Does anyone have an idea what is standard practice for business databases today? We are currently using FoxPro 2.5, which is about 15 years old. It has worked well, but we are needing to update as you can imagine after 15 years. Yes, we should have done it sooner. We will also be expanding to create a superset of what we have now. It's a relatively small database compared to most enterprises at 286MB. Since Microsoft has said they're dropping Visual FoxPro, what would be a good way to go? Access? MySQL? Oracle? Our programmer knows FoxPro pretty well, so if we could find something similar, that would be helpful. Thanks.

Iolair MacWalter
Director of IT

RE: FoxPro

Yes, I'd say your foxpro is at least 15 years old!!  We also have developed a lot of in house apps for foxpro (Visual Foxpro 6). However our company has mandateed that we stop develing in FoxPro. All new apps will be web based. Our back end is either SQL Server 2005 or Oracle.

You can get a free copy of SQL Server Express 2005 by downloading it from MS.  Life is much easier when you also download the management studio, as it provides a GUI that allows you to do queries, attach data bases, etc.  It is limited to 2 (or 4????) GB databases. Sounds like something you might want to look at.


Now, for the (possible) bad news.  Converting from FoxPro to anything else may be painful. What makes it so is the conversion of dates, etc. esp. when date fields are NULL. SQL will either complain or insert some very strange values.

Then tere are those memo fields. It can be very frustrating to get your data out in a useful form. I know there are programs available to do this for you. You will need to do a google search.

RE: FoxPro

(OP)
Thanks. I did download SQL Express, but have not downloaded the management studio. Will look at that. Yes, we do have quite a few notes in those memo fields, important to our business. Thanks again.

Iolair MacWalter
Director of IT

RE: FoxPro

SQL Server does not have a user interface for non-programmers.  YOu will need to invest in learning how to develop a web interface (Intranet based application is the way most new development that stays within the company is going.) This is ocnsiderably differnent from creating forms etc, in foxpro or Access. Your programmer will need retraining. I would suggest that you pick a language to train him or her in and then pay for some formal training. Training in SQl Server might be a good idea as well.

As far as designing a new system - take the time to understand what works most effectively for the database you choose and redesign based on what you need to work well in the future not on how your applications are currently designed.  It is painful to convert the data to a more effective structure but the good news is you only have to do it twice (once in developmnet and once when you deploy to production). In small shops often development is done to prodcution systems becasue they have no separate development environment. Do yourself a favor and buy a new server for development and one for production. Databases should be on separate servers from those which run the GUI. But since you will be doing a major restructring of data and interface  a development environment is a necessity.

You may want to hire a contractor to do the data conversion once you have the design done. THis can free you existing programmer to invest the time to learn the new technology and methodologies while still getting the data conversion done. The data conversion piece almost alawys takes longer than planned. It can be pretty complicated. If your programmer is not good at relational design - you might want to have the data conversion people work with him to resign how your data will be stored. This would serve to educate the programmer on how to design a more effective structure at the same time as both the person converting the data and the person who will be responsible for maintianing it get extremely familiar with the new structure.

If you think all this sounds time-consuming and expensive - it is. But you are in a pay me now or pay me later situation. the more you invest up front now, the less it will cost to maintain the system. If you invest in training your existing programmer, he or she will be more productive faster. If you invest ina development enviroment you will have fewer "ooops" moments when a proposed change to production goes bad because it hasn;t been tested in development. If you invest in a more effective structure and the time to convert the data, then you will have a system that runs more efficiently and is easier to maintain. If you invest in a data conversion specialist contract - you have someone to help train your existing employee and you will have a better chance of successfully converting the data the first time.

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RE: FoxPro

(OP)
Thanks, SQLSister. Maybe I need to get him to look at Access instead. We do have a few copies, and he might be able to figure out forms and reports in Access much quicker.

Iolair MacWalter
Director of IT

RE: FoxPro

I'd suggest the route Foxpro 2.5 -> VFP9, then migrate data to SQL Server and Client to .NET.

Even though VFP is discontinued, it will be supported quite long until 2015 and with the very soon coming SP2 it's also Vista capable.

To go from VFP9 to .NET you have several tools available which help migrating. Much better than starting from scratch. If you insist on Web app development, you can do that with VFP + ActiveVFP or AFP or West Winds stuff too. The learning curve for your fox 2.5 programmer should be less steep this way.

Bye, Olaf (VFP MVP).

RE: FoxPro

(OP)
No, I don't insist on web app development. We do have VFP 9 in house, but haven't done anything with it yet. I was baseing my question on the report from Microsoft that they will no longer develop VFP after version 10, and I wasn't sure of the time frame on that - I was thinking they would drop it in 2008 or 2009. Too bad, because FoxPro has been very good to us - fast, reliable, easy to use.

Iolair MacWalter
Director of IT

RE: FoxPro

The last version will be VFP9 SP2 plus some Sedna Add Ons. Still it will be sold at least until 2008 and the extended support plan is until 2015, as already said.

Should be much easier to elevate from fox 2.5 to VFP9 and after that go the route you want to take now or perhaps migrate to .NET winforms and/or ASP.net webapps and/or SOA.

Bye, Olaf (VFP MVP).

RE: FoxPro

(OP)
Thanks again, Olaf. I really like VFP and since we have it, sounds like the best way to go.

Iolair MacWalter
Director of IT

RE: FoxPro

Oracle does have an express edition as well and a web-based front end development tool that is included.  It is also free and runs on both Linux and Windows.

William Chadbourne
Oracle DBA

RE: FoxPro

SQL Server 2005  Express has Management Studio that has a GUI and works well. It's also free and you can import your foxpro data into SQL table(s).


Has anyone got an idea if VFP 6 and/or 9 will run under Vista Business or Ultimate?????

RE: FoxPro

PRPhx,

both run under Vista, no matter what Vista version. They just have some issues with their included manifest and some GUI issues, which you can solve with workaround code.

That's all here: http://www.bingo-ev.de/~mw368/vfp9_vista.html

SP2 for VFP9 will fix all these issues, so it's recommended to use VFP9 SP2 on Vista, when available. SP2 preview is already available, the first beta comes soon, after thet the full version.

Bye, Olaf.

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