Thursday, October 29, 2009

What's up with VFE?

Many Visual FoxExpress developers have made inquiries about the status of Visual FoxExpress. It has been quite a while since there was a full release of Visual FoxExpress, in fact, it's been nearly 2 years. The good news is that we have been working on VFE during that time. We've fixed a number of outstanding issues, increased the performance and stability considerably, addressed issues with the IDE on Vista and Windows 7 and added several new features. We've also enlisted Bill Anderson the "sharp-eyed Fox anthropologist and xBase archeologist" to help us with framework changes and he's done an incredible job of fine tuning, cleaning up and ensuring that the framework adheres to our own standards. It's time we rolled all that stuff up into a new release and got it out the door.

Toni and I are working on doing just that. Tonight we posted Visual FoxExpress 2009 Beta 3. This release rolls all of the previous Visual FoxExpress betas into a single download and includes an updated version of the framework. This is a beta and does include a few changes that we have not deployed in live applications ourselves yet, so please take the appropriate caution with your production applications.

The next beta will address a couple of other longtime nagging issues, mostly related to installation. We're working on eliminating the use of the registry by the VFE IDE and installation programs and instead storing the information we need within the Visual FoxExpress directory structure. These changes will make it easier for developers that need to run multiple versions of VFE on a single machine to do so and also will allow VFE to run regardless of the currently logged in user on a machine. You can expect to see this release before the end of the year.

After we've addressed the registry issues, our primary focus for future releases will be on usability. There are two areas that we'd like to work on here; the Sample Application(s) and the documentation. Toni and I are splitting this work and plan to have an updated sample and updated documentation released in the first quarter of 2010.

If you've seen Toni speak at any VFP conferences or user groups as of late, chances are you've seen her speak about using Subversion with Visual FoxPro. We're using Subversion for source code control with VFE in-house. We are in the midst of planning changes to Visual FoxExpress to allow Visual FoxExpress users to get the latest version of the framework directly from our repository. We also plan to have those changes as part of our next major release. This will make framework changes available much more quickly than any method we've used in the past. Once all of these things are in place we will also consider opening up the repository for changes by current subscribers. When the time comes we will solicit the community for feedback on exactly how this should be implemented, so please hold your feedback on this for now.

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