How I learned Visual FoxPro in an emergency

General Background

Nobody studies Visual FoxPro any more. Hell, most people have long forgotten that it exists. There has not been a new “learn FoxPro” book in years (since version 6).

And yet it is still around.

Microsoft originally bought it because it was the only really superior competitor to Access and MS SQL server. The plan was to cannibalize FoxPro’s “Rushmore” technology, transfer the customer base over to the traditional Microsoft platform, and then kill FoxPro.

And the the customers said “NO.” Enterprise likes FoxPro, has invested too much in it, and has ho intention of switching over. And so now it is at version 9, and has all the bells a whistles you would expect from any Microsoft’s “Visual” development environment. It is all over the place, but how do you learn it from scratch?

Well, I just did (Ok, I re-learned it, but I have not seen in in 15 years, so it was a steep hill to climb).

What I Did

Assuming you can program in some other language, all you have to do is the following:

  1. Watch these videos. They are about one hour long, but if you pay attention, occasionally stop and try things, and so on, they will take you about three hours. Pay attention: beside a beginners’ level introduction there are several nuggets even an experienced developer should be paying attention to.
  2. Bookmark and READ this book. Yes, there have been changes to Visual FoxPro since Version 6, but no they are not critical.
  3. Bookmark the current manual at MSDN.
  4. If you are going to do anything Internet-related, Rick Strahl, his blog and his products are your best friends.
  5. If your application is going to have more than one concurrent user,make an effort to understand buffering, locking, and transactions – it will save your hide. Start here.
  6. If you intend to interface with the good old Win32 API for that extra bit of intimacy with Windows it provides so well, go here. The examples are the best part.
  7. Finally, if you have not learned SQL (the language, no some product that uses the acronym), now is the time.

One week later…

  • Now that you can appreciate all the things that can go horribly wrong, take a look at the Error Handling tutorial. The code used in the videos is available for free download, and with a vary little effort you can turn it into your own, personalized and trusted, error handler.

How long before you can actually write something useful? – Depending on what you need to do, you will be kicking ass in between three days and three weeks (depending on the size of the ass and your talent at kicking).

Good luck!

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