Microsoft has announced that it will not be releasing any new versions of Visual FoxPro, although it will continue to support the technology for another 8 years or so. This is no surprise to anyone, I’m actually amazed that Microsoft continued to maintain FoxPro for as long as they did.
I may be dating myself by admitting this in public, but way back when DBF was a big part of my life. Does anyone else remember Ashton Tate’s dBase III and III+, the ill-fated and very bloated dBase IV, SAY and GET statements, NDX files (and the MDX versus CDX debates), Concentric’s superb R&R Report Writer, PRG files, Borland’s tragic Ashton Tate acquisition, little upstart Fox Software being acquired by Microsoft, Nantucket’s wonderful Clipper (which, like many other quality products, was acquired and then killed off by CA), Borland’s pathetic attempt to port dBase to Windows, …?
Way back when, just about all of the contract work I did (while still in school) was DBF based. Those early experiences helped create a strong database background which has served me well ever since. Of course, in hindsight the limitations of the platform and products are painfully obvious. Still, for many of us it was DBF and the companies built around it that formulated our understanding of databases, and influence our thinking to this day.
And so, while unsurprising and not unexpected, it’s sad to see the announcement of the end of an era.

14 thoughts

  1. I agree Ben!
    I cut my teeth on Foxbase Mac.
    It’s noteworthy that Fox Software pioneered Rushmore index optimization technology and I’m quite sure the use of the term ‘Wizard’ for automating routines.
    Microsoft went on to standardize on both.
    Cheers to Fox Software!
    Larry Lee

  2. I am sad to see they have finally pulled the plug. Microsoft has learned its lesson well about putting too much functionality into a product. They won’t do that again.
    I still use Fox on a regular basis supporting a legacy application and I can’t think of a better tool to use as a data conversion method.

  3. I remember it all too well. I wrote a game called Card Guppies in dBase III, then compiled it in clipper. That was my first intoduction into the world of dBase. It’s been a fun ride since then.

  4. I started with Foxbase+/Foxbase/Mac way back in 1987, and still actually have version 9. My first web app was done for the DOE using VFP 3 back in 1996. A friend of mine had the 5th busiest site on the net running on a single instance of a VFP app back then. I still host a couple vfp apps for a couple friends of mine who are notables in that environment.
    They just couldn’t make any money off of it, with the unlimited runtime, etc. Most folks weren’t upgrading to SQL server, etc.
    I remember fondly Ben. Things didn’t move quite so fast back then,

  5. Ben,
    I know a lot of former FoxPro developers. They either use ColdFusion, Java or .NET now for the most part. It was a great product. Microsoft used it to leverage its technology into SQL Server and Access. I am actually suprised they supported FoxPro for as long as they did after they purchased the company.

  6. Hi Ben,
    I am one of those who got started on dBaseIV. Shortly aftward, I moved over to FoxPro. Back in the day, FoxPro was a great product along with Paradox (does anyone remember that).
    Many people forget that when Microsoft acquired FoxPro, it had no database product of its own. Many of the features and that were in FoxPro were used for Access. Do any of you remember the Rushmore technology for indexing?
    I have not used FoxPro for many years. Oh well, the end of an era. This will probably open up a bunch of jobs for consultants for converting old FoxPro databases.

  7. Yep, I remember those Clipper days fondly. It was badass and easy to use and actually gave me a great understanding of procedural-based development. Then when Classy came out and Clipper 5 through in object-based development, I was able to cut my teeth with OO for the first time. It was very cool. Too bad CA took it and absolutely created VO. I really thought that VO would give PowerBuilder and SQLWindows (leaders at the time) a run for their money but CA dropped the ball. So yeah, I’m old but wise beyond my years. ;o)

  8. I cut my teeth on DBase III and then went to FoxPro. I created numerous FoxPro apps for clients in the retail, wholesale, and educational sectors. Later, while developing in other languages (VB, etc.), I kept one foot in the Fox world for many more years.
    I did also use Paradox and Lotus Approach, and I was captivated with Access 1.0 when it came out. But the power of Fox’s data engine, the amazing speed with which Rushmore-optimized query results could be returned, and the granular control one had over locking in a multiuser environment, made it clear that FoxPro was a serious tool, and Access 1.0 was a toy. And when FoxPro went OO, it was very well done, better even than Borland’s Delphi.
    I only recently started looking again at the state of FoxPro, mostly because I’ve missed using it and thought it might be fun to scare up a contract gig working with it again. I was sad but unsurprised to hear about the end of the development cycle. As a previous posted pointed out, there may be work for some of us Fox old-timers in converting applications to different tool.

  9. I wonder if I have written the last Foxbase+/Mac program ever written? it was written last year when converting data from Foxbase+/Mac office applications to Filemaker 8.5 rewrites of those applications.
    It was a great program; too bad MS got hold of it.

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