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Showing posts with label FoxPro. Show all posts
Showing posts with label FoxPro. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Is Microsoft going to abandon .Net developers?

Microsoft Visual Basic and Visual FoxPro developers are still wincing over Microsoft's abandonment of their favorite platforms.

They had to throw out 100 percent of your code when .Net was introduced, and rewrite their apps from scratch, or just give up and call it a career. Now rumor has it that history is about to repeat itself.

.Net developers are getting nervous that they might end up in the same boat as their Visual Basic and FoxPro cousins. They were stunned at the absence of any .Net mention at the Windows 8 demo at D9. How do you introduce a new OS version and user interface paradigm without also showing developers how they will be building for it?

Microsoft is investing in (and reinventing around) HTML5JavaScript, and XML for its Windows 8 applications. It's a smart move on Microsoft's part, because if it doesn't adapt to the contemporary approach that's dominating the Web today, Windows will surely be left behind.

You could even argue that Microsoft is leap-frogging Apple. The Mac OS will be mired in the old user interface paradigm, requiring C++ and native API calls to get anything done, while Microsoft is embracing the technology that's driving the Web, cloud, Software as a Service, and mobile.

But what does that mean for MS .Net developers and their users? In Microsoft's usual style, they're following the trends, embracing with a bear hug late in the game, and re-inventing the wheel. In the process, collateral damage is acceptable -- even if it's their loyal developer base that gets sacrificed. Microsoft still believes that  rip and replace is superior to fluid evolution of platforms. Out with the old, in with the new, and to hell with your millions of lines of proven code.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

TechRepublic's Justin James says Alpha Five 'is a much better solution than Microsoft Access'

Carving out time to conduct a product review can be time and labor intensive for any writer. So when we wait for a publication to release a review of Alpha Five, we hold our breath for quite a while.

Today is one of those days when I'm exhaling after holding my breath for months. Tech Republic's Justin James released his review of Alpha Five Version 10.5 -- and it's a good one.

Thanks, Justin, for taking the time to go through the nitty-gritty details of Alpha Five to give readers an unbiased look at what our development tool is capable of.

If you're already an Alpha Five user, a lot of what Justin talks about will sound familiar to you. And if you're a developer looking to migrate your apps to Alpha Five, Justin does a brief comparison to Microsoft Visual FoxPro, Sybase PowerBuilder, and Microsoft Access.

However, Justin doesn't directly compare Alpha Five with Microsoft Access. But he does agree that when it comes to solving common problems, Alpha Five is the solution to choose. I won't spoil all of his hard work here. Instead, flip over to the review and give it a read yourself.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

It's way more than RAD

Yesterday I received an e-mail from Jim Dusoe, a professional developer with 25 years of experience, and a relatively recent Alpha Five convert. I thought it was worth sharing verbatim.

As a software developer, I am always looking for ways to improve the efficiency of generating an application. Alpha Software users have learned that using Alpha 5 is a great boon to building high performance, feature rich applications significantly faster than on other platforms. But there’s another area that I am discovering is having quite an impact on my development efforts that I’ve not heard discussed – modifications to existing applications.

Student Records Management System
I recently had to make a somewhat simple, but important change to an application that tracks grades for a small college. The college recently had an audit performed by an outside consultant (the consultant formerly worked for the UN, establishing new technical colleges in developing and 3rd world countries. This is the 13th college he helped to develop.) As he reviewed the software we had written for the college, he commented several times that our project was the most well designed and fully thought out package he had ever seen.

Change Required
As good as it was, however, we missed a couple of items, one of which was the structure of the Course ID. This Course ID would be used in school catalogs, on student transcripts –- in short, this would be the primary PUBLIC mechanism used to identify a course. The actual change was simple -– we needed to add a column to the database table that indicated the year of the course (1 through 4, to indicate Freshman through Senior years) that would then create a unique key field based on the Department (Music – MU, English – EN, etc.), Student Year (Freshman – Senior) and an internally generated unique course ID (EN1101 would be English, Freshman course 101). I had originally wanted to define the ID as system generated integer only, for simplicity, but he pointed out that the naming convention would be best kept in a format that “everyone” was already familiar with (the user’s view always wins over the developer).

Development Impact
Here is where I noticed something significant when I made the change -– I had it completed in a matter of just a few minutes, including testing. Because of Alpha’s grid structure and easy to configure property sheets, I simply added the column to the database, adjusted my SQL query to include the column, set the field in the grid component, published, and tested. It all worked simply, smoothly, and without a hitch.

I began to think about the many tools I’ve used in the past -- Visual Basic, MS Access, Visual Foxpro, Ironspeed Designer, etc. -- and I realized that what I just accomplished would have taken anywhere from 2 to 8 times longer to complete in any of these packages.

For example:

  1. If I was using Ironspeed Designer, I would have had to modify and test at least four separate pages to accommodate this change, or at least let the system regenerate the pages after updating the schema, thereby clobbering my html formatting. Total additional time: at least 4 times the effort.
  2. Using Foxpro as a desktop app. I would have had to update my view, drag a new component on the form, update the databinding properties, update my data environment, set several additional properties to work with the framework I use with Foxpro, compile the app, test and distribute. Total additional time: at least 3 times the effort.

Now I know this is a really simple example, but when you began to add up the time savings multiplied over many applications, multiple “little” changes, you find that Alpha Software provides a whole new level of TOC. It is just plain easier to modify your applications when needed –- saving time for the developer, translating to lower costs to the customer, increasing profits to the developer, and better quality apps delivered faster than other platforms.

One more reason I continue to grow in my Alpha Software fanaticism.

Jim Dusoe

Friday, November 07, 2008

Microsoft's decision grid of death

Coincidentally, after writing my post on Monday about developers' risks of being locked in or abandoned by their development platform -- something that we've seen time and again -- I came across this post on one of Microsoft's Visual Basic blogs.

It seems Microsoft believes this decision grid, rewrite vs. migrate vs. reuse vs. replace, is a normal part of application development. Well, guess what? It's not. Rather, it's a statement of their failure to support their developers and their customers. At Alpha, our developers never have to consider a grid like that.

As I've said so many times before, developers often choose platforms such as Microsoft's because they feel it's the safest bet. But over the past few years, Microsoft's Visual Basic and Visual FoxPro developers (among others) had to throw out 100 percent of their code, and rewrite their apps from scratch, in order to take advantage of a newer platform.

For those who didn't see our white paper on application development risks on Monday, I'm putting it out here again today, because I think it's such an important topic. Unless, of course, writing the same code you already wrote again from scratch is something you like to do. We're not judging.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Alpha Software: Because writing code from scratch once is enough

Last week we demoed the as-yet-pre-beta Alpha Five Version 10 for Tech Republic's Justin James. Justin seemed to like what he saw. But he also brought up a constant concern he hears from developers, which is what we call the "anyone but Microsoft" problem.

What this means is developers are comfortable committing to platforms such as Microsoft's, Sun's, or Oracle's, etc., because they believe -- in our view, incorrectly -- that these are a safe bet, because they are provided by the big guys. And that means, in developers' minds, that they will not be making a commitment to a platform that will lock them in or abandon them.

Add to that the fact that Alpha can be viewed by developers as a "proprietary" platform, because it's an all-in-one solution that you build, debug, and deploy in. (Forget the fact, for a moment, that all commercial platforms can be deemed proprietary.)

Fortunately, we have what we think is a rational answer to this conundrum, which we shared with Justin. It starts with this argument: We've been around for over two decades, and our developers have never been in a situation where they couldn't upgrade from one version to the next, or had to write their code from scratch because we made their version obsolete.

Compare that to Microsoft, for example, which over the past few years forced its Visual Basic and Visual FoxPro developers to throw out 100 percent of their code, and rewrite their apps from scratch, in order to take advantage of a newer platform.

Microsoft isn't the first dev tools company that's done this. It won't be the last. It happens again and again in our industry. In fact, we wrote a white paper on the topic to counter the flawed notion that you don't get fired for buying Microsoft (or some other big player's appdev platform).

The demo with Justin reminded me that it's probably a good time to bring the white paper to the forefront again. I encourage anyone who's concerned about Alpha being a proprietary platform to take a few minutes and review it.

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