Thursday, June 01, 2006

Visual FoxPro Moves into 13th !!

See the actual chart here

Now 13th might not seem like a particularly ‘good’ thing to many folks. To those of us earning a living with Visual FoxPro (VFP) however, it’s a very big deal!!

If you look at the charts, a year ago, it was in 33rd place, five places behind Microsoft’s new baby VB.Net. Now, just one year later, not only did Vb.Net move up 11 places to number 17, but VFP caught, and passed it in the past year!!

I’ve said here many times that VFP is, hands down, the single most versatile and productive language I’ve ever written code in. Seeing it decline in popularity over the past decade has been, well, disappointing, to say the very least.

That I’m the sole VFP programmer working out of the contract house, and also the only one in an IT/IS focused company is a total reversal of my experience in contracting 15 years ago. Back then, the demand far outstripped the supply and I was getting paid to teach classes in FoxPro development by the contract house.

Today, I get brought in for a specific, targeted task in most cases, and both I and the headhunters know that when it’s over I’ll be looking for that little nugget of a contract elsewhere as they, in all likelihood, will not have anything for me.

News like I saw today however, gives me hope that the market, as well as the language are making a come back. Worse things could happen to those of use contracting (in VFP) for a living than to have demand spike!! There are few, maybe only 25-30% of the FoxPro coders left, the rest have move on to some other platform (probably Java) where the work is more plentiful, even if, the rates are a bit lower.

Why do I think it’s making a come back?

I’ve got a few ideas:

Many of the remaining VFP coders, like me, have started blogging.
  • .Net, and Visual Studio in general, have not made the inroads Microsoft was betting on in the developer community.
  • There are 100’s of thousands of solid, reliable FoxPro and VFP applications out there, and the cost to re-architect them is just too high, when compared to upgrading to VFP 9.0
  • VFP has ‘caught up’ to the object oriented world in some ways, and in others OO has come around to VFP.
  • Many OO developers and architects are still talking about ‘data driven’ applications. They just don’t actually know how to do it. It’s been done in VFP by me, and others, for years.
Also, by issuing two major version releases in about 18 months Microsoft gather up some industry steam… and folks are already talking about the next release… always a good thing!

Work-wise things are still busy, They’ve put enough on my plate to last well into the fall and gathering the business rules and designing the rules engine is a major component of a major project I’m on… the ‘old system’ had a 155 page ‘item specification’ manual and the details were not granular enough so virtually every component is being ‘refactored’ to identify its components as well…

The whole process reminds me of a system I did to build computers, and computer networks from inventory by selecting ‘kits’ or ‘packages’ of other inventory components at the time things were ordered… We also applied it, as I recall to building plantation shutters for a company in Florida, I modified the concept last to build a call accounting/payroll application…. I think I’m going to enjoy seeing where this information gathering process takes me!!

I can’t believe it’s Thursday already… the week has just flown by, and two days for the weekend will be over in a heartbeat!!

I hope this finds you all doing well!

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Spirit Of Owl said...

Hey Bill! Great news, little though I know of the language, but great for you! :)

Seems to me that the biggest hit on any pay for Internet language is Linux/Perl/PHP/MySQL. The thing is, in my opinion they don't just compete, often they hands down beat other languages.

But in any case their huge advantage is that when it comes to learning them, well, they're freely available. FoxPro, on the other hand, takes an investment to learn, and regardless of its quality kids aren't always availed of the resources to access MS technology, so the skills coming into the market from Universities are almost guaranteed to be going the GNU way.

Turns out, I think that Microsoft knows it could even hang on this if it doesn't wise up, so recently it's released free .Net developer software in UK magazines - but it's limited, of course. And one of the limits is, as far as I've seen, there's no Fox Pro.

Make of that what you will! But if MS has the best languages then, it seems to me, it has a responsibility to market them properly. It's absurd to buy them and throw them away. Thankfully, I guess, my top fave languages are C/C++ and PHP, and MS doesn't have either...! ;)

MajorDad said...

(Turning around to pull all that terminology that sailed over my head out of the wall... Thank God we've got guys like you that understand all that!)

Glad to hear that things are back on track and looking up!

Take care!


Bill said...

Spirit - Did you know you can write web applications in VFP? The VFP was able to consume web services before most other languages?

I agree however, that once you step beyond HTML, the lanuages you've mentioned rule the internet today. The landscape however is always shifting and I've seen ASP making some sizable inroads especially in catalog type sites where they are managing 10's of thousands of items. MySQL, while strong in its own right, it no match for MS-SQL and Oracle.

There has always been a free version of .Net, in fact you don't *need* anything but a text editor to write code for the CLR... using Visual Studio with it's bells and whistles just makes you (well me) more productive.

There are, in fact, MS versions, (or were last I checked) of C/C++ but PHP remains Open Source only I believe.

I know VFP will never bee what it could be, it competes to directly with two internal MS products Access and SQL server. Originally they only bought FoxPro to get the optimization engine it contained.

majordad - I don't know if VFP will *ever* be 'on track' again as it once was, I'm just hoping (betting on actually) that there's enough work out there in it to keep me in enough work to keep the bills paid!!!

William Sanders said...

Heya Bill - did you get yer sites Google-ized for the Tiobe Metrics Count ? See for all the Scoop.

Mondo Regards [Bill]

Bill said...

Bill - No I haven't, thanks for the link I'll definitely get that done so I'm 'in the mix'!!

I'll also get my other sites in as well!

Thanks for stopping by!