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Wes Wilson President

 

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Is Visual FoxPro Dead?  Click here to find out

Since 1981

(248) 683-4182          

Critical Information for Owners of Custom Visual FoxPro Programs


Introduction:

As most of you know, Microsoft ended all support for Visual FoxPro in January 2015.

Skilled Visual FoxPro programmers, in significant numbers, are moving to other languages. The availability of such programmers is shrinking. The cost of the remaining programmers will increase.

We have recruited over 30 skilled Visual FoxPro programmers who want to continue supporting FoxPro programs. We will continue to recruit them so you have a place to go where you know you can get skilled and affordable support.

I will be writing extensively about the need (or not) to convert FoxPro or Visual Foxpro to another language. The purpose of this post it to give you a brief introduction into many of the issues you must consider before making a decision about what to do with respect to FoxPro. I will be expanding on each of these issues in future posts.

If you have a smaller,less complex program, there is not the same urgency.  

If you need help, feel free to call us at (248) 683-4182.

You have 4 choices:
 

  1. Stay with your current FoxPro program
  2. Convert to another language
  3. Upgrade your Visual FoxPro program
  4. Switch to an "off-the-shelf" program


1. Stay with your current FoxPro program (if you are a smaller business with a relatively simple program, you have at least to about 2020 to begin transitioning and possibly much longer)

Pros:

  • saves money in the short term
  • continue using program your employees know well
  • easy to make changes


Cons:

  • as fewer FoxPro programmers are available, hourly rates will increase
  • in an emergency, you may not be able to find a programmer resulting in substantial impairment of your ability to run your company
  • sometime in the next 5 to 10 years, all or part of your program may not run on the computers available
  • the number of years you will be able to run smoothly is speculative so you run a risk if you wait too long
  • if you are forced to leave FoxPro in a short period of time the cost and disruption could be significant


2. Convert to another language

The larger and more complex your program, the sooner you should get started.  But large or small, converting to another language will give you the opportunity to improve on what already works for you: your custom program.

Pros:

  • Visual FoxPro is 32 bit software - the world is moving to 64 bit hardware
  • gain the security of having a SQL database
  • because you have SQL, you can do your own ad hoc queries and reports using such tools as Microsoft Access
  • you can move to web-based and mobile app based applications
  • easier to make thoughtful choices about how to convert and what enhancements you want  Click here for a good analysis of the dominance of mobile apps.
  • programmers skilled in FoxPro/Visual FoxPro still available at reasonable rates
  • cost lower by starting soon
  • costs can be spread over several years
  • less business disruption 

Cons:

  • more expensive initially

3. Upgrade your Visual FoxPro program

You can "upgrade" your Visual FoxPro program by changing your data from native FoxPro data tables (DBFs) to SQL.  

Pros:

  • all of your screens and reports will remain the same
  • increased security of having a SQL database
  • you can begin adding web-based and mobile apps
  • because you have SQL, you can do your own ad hoc queries and reports using such tools as Microsoft Access
  • you can gradually move important menu options to .NET
  • both Visual FoxPro and .NET can access the same data
  • much easier transition to .NET when you decide you want to stop using FoxPro

Cons:

  • additional cost in initially getting your current program to use the SQL database
  • in some instances these costs are prohibitive

4. Switch to an "off-the-shelf" program

Here is what Chuck Cohn, CEO and founder of Varsity Tutors has to say:

"For my tutoring business, we initially started with off-the-shelf software because it was fast and cheap, but we eventually found that the lack of customization relative to our day-to-day operations ultimately led to inefficient, manual processes. As we grew, these challenges became more and more pronounced and scalability became harder to reach. Ultimately, we were forced to invest heavily in proprietary software so that we could scale effectively. In retrospect, many of these tradeoffs could have been assessed far earlier in our company's lifetime."

You can read the entire Forbes article by  clicking here.

Pros:

  • less expensive in the short term in some instances
  • faster to implement in some instances

Cons:

  • often has many features you do not want
  • often requires considerable training
  • unlikely to meet more than 70-80% of your needs
  • it is very difficult, and often impossible to get the changes you need
  • cost of custom changes often very high
  • often not compatible with other software
  • if the software vendor goes out-of-business, you could face a catastrophe

Why consider using ERW to help?

  • we were established in 1981
  • our programmers have excellent credentials
  • we have 5 star references
  • we have many tools to speed the conversion process
  • we have experts both in FoxPro, .NET and Microsoft Access 
  • we can maintain your existing program as long as you wish


Call us today at (248) 683-4182  
www.erw.com