GRAFUG Meeting January , 2008

Thanks to everyone who attended the February 9, 2008 GRAFUG meeting.

News

Magazine

As you may already know FoxTalk and Advisor have both gone downhill and have left many of us FoxPro developers yearning for a new magazine. Several of us speakers are also yearning for a new outlet. Well .. never fear .. a new FoxPro magazine is on the horizon. Rainer Becker, a recent recipient of the FoxPro Lifetime Achievement Award, is starting a magazine called “FoxRockX” (pronounced Fox Rocks). It’s expected to be out in the Spring so keep a lookout for it. I know I will be buying a subscription as soon as they are available!

As a side-note, there’s an interesting story behind the name of the new magazine. Several people were at the Germany FoxPro Conference where Rainer was proposing this new idea. They sat around and brainstormed on a name. Of course, they also had an internet connection and looked for available URLs to go along with it. They meant to type in “FoxRocks” .. but one little type and they got “FoxRockX”. As soon as everyone saw the typo .. they knew they had the right name. The “X” extension has a long history in FoxPro; GenScreenX, GenMenuX, VFPx, and on and on. The new name is perfect!

Blub Programmers

Mike Potjer shared some tidbits on a term called “Blub Programmers”. If you’d like to read about this, here are some links he sent me.

First, I read a blog entry on “Undergraduate Programming”: http://www.joelonsoftware.com/items/2008/01/08.html

I followed a link from that article to another article the blog author wrote on “The Perils of JavaSchools”: http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/ThePerilsofJavaSchools.html 

Finally, that article links to a Paul Graham article called “Beating the Averages”, which includes the definition of Blub programmers: http://www.paulgraham.com/avg.html

My point in bringing up “Blub” programmers is that we as developers need to be aware that the language we use may not be the top of the food chain.  That doesn’t mean we keep jumping from one thing to another trying to find “the top”, but that we must be able to admit that there may be something better, and that we should be willing to use the “something better” when it makes sense.  Here is another interesting article which warns against the herd mentality: http://www.paulgraham.com/icad.html  Although the article is biased toward Lisp, some of the points could likely be used to defend FoxPro against some of the other “new and shiny” languages.

As far as Lisp is concerned, if anyone is interested in learning more about it, there appears to be a ton of information about it on the paulgraham.com website, including a free PDF version of a book he wrote on that subject.  From what I’ve read so far, Lisp does not appear to be an ideal choice for desktop or database apps, but is more suited to web-based apps, especially ones which require complex algorithms – which is kind of interesting in itself since Lisp was conceived of 50 years ago.

Southwest Fox

The Southwest Fox gang has announced the contracts have been signed for SW Fox 2008 and SW Fox 2009!! It will be held at the same place as SW Fox 2007. It was a great conference so please mark your calendars for the following:

 

Southwest Fox 2008: October 16th-19th
Southwest Fox 2009: October 15th-18th
 

Keep a watch on the website (www.swfox.net) for more information. You can also subscribe to their blog (http://swfox.net/blog) to make sure you always get the latest news!

VFP Training

The next VFP Boot Camp will be in Kansas City, Missouri, February 25-27, 2008. Registration ends on February 6, 2008 for the highly-acclaimed VFP Boot Camp. This event delivers three jam-packed days of solid, hands-on learning.  From the fundamentals of VFP development through the very latest VFP 9.0 features, this boot camp is designed to quickly get your VFP skills up to speed. Attendees will receive a 500 page manual in both print and electronic format.

For more information visit: http://visionpace.com/developereducation.html or email: info@visionpace.com. To register call 888-904-7900.

Survey Results

We started by reviewing the results of the survey we sent out last month. It was very apparent that people still want to meet once a month and not drop back to every other month. It was also apparent that people want to see more open Q&A sessions as well as some “Show Us Your App” sessions. People want to see how others are using FoxPro in the every day world and how other people tackle various projects.

Action Item: If you’d like to volunteer to show us your app, please let me know. It doesn’t have to be a formal presentation and it can be a quick 10 minute demo or an hour long demo. Whatever you’re comfortable with.

We also heard from people about various topics and speakers they’d like to see. We’ll do our best to start trying to arrange some of the following suggestions that we received.

·         Best Practices / Standards / Techniques

·         VFPx

·         VFP to .NET extensions (there are 3 in the works):

o   Guineu (Christof Wollenhaupt)

o   VFP Studio (Craig Boyd / Alan Stevens)

o   .NET Extender for VFP (ETechnologia)

·         .NET

·         Developer Tools / Third-Party tools and add-ons

·         Architecture & Design / RAD

·         Testing

·         SQL Server

·         Advantage Database Server

·         Vista

·         Consulting

 

·         Andy Kramek

·         Rick Schummer

·         Toni Feltman

·         Craig Boyd

·         Todd McKenna

·         Anyone from GRAFUG

In the survey, we asked what versions of FoxPro people use and how they use. The versions varied from 2.6 DOS all the way up to VFP 9, VFP 9 SP1, and VFP 9 SP2. The majority of the respondents use FoxPro to write vertical market apps, followed by consulting, and internal use only apps.

The last part of the survey asked what we could do to entice more attendance and the general theme seemed to be that people have conflicts with various dates and there’s not much we can do about that. Some people that live farther away from Grand Rapids suggested ride-sharing. We have one person that comes all the way from Indiana!

Action Item: If you’d like to arrange ride-sharing, let me know that you’re interested and where you’re coming from and I’ll see if I can make any matches.

The last part of the survey was for general comments and overwhelmingly they were positive. People are very happy that we put forth the effort to have a group and they find that they learn a lot. The connections with people are just as important as the information they learn at the meetings. For some of us who work from a home office, like myself, this is our change to get out and talk “shop” with others.

Thanks to everyone who responded to the survey!!

Marketing

We also talked quite a bit about how to market GRAFUG and get more attendance. We had lots of good ideas. It seems to us that many of the people that know about the group attend already. We wondered how many FoxPro developers are out there that don’t know about the group. That’s where we decided to focus our efforts. We plan to come up with a marketing “blurb” that we can post in various places such as colleges, recruiters, Community events on TV and in the newspaper, blogs, websites, newsgroups, etc.

Action Item: If you know of any place we can post our marketing blurb, please send me an email address, URL, or let me know where I should post. If you have a newsgroup you belong to, let us know that too so we can add that to our list. If you’d like a copy of the blurb so you can post it wherever you have access, just let me know and I’ll forward that (as soon as I write it J). 

Another thing we talked about is the fact that many bosses don’t understand the importance of these meetings (and conferences) and how it benefits the company. We’d like to put together a different marketing blurb aimed at these people to show the importance and encourage them to encourage their employees to attend.

Action Item: If you have a boss that you’d like us to send our marketing to, let me know. Or if you know of any other companies who use FoxPro, please give us an email address so we can market to them too.

Next Meeting

Our next meeting is Saturday, February 9th. Same place .. same time. Jody Meyer from Manufacturing Action Group will be showing us her app.

Future Meetings

Jay VanSanten

Jay recently made a presentation to the Chicago group and I really wanted to attend it, but couldn’t swing it. So I did the next best thing .. I invited him to speak to us in Grand Rapids! His presentation describes how to build a customization infrastructure so you can customize your application differently for multiple customers.

Jay has been a Fox developer for the past 18 years. He has developed his own applications and worked on a number of major vertical market applications at corporate based in Indianapolis. He is past president of the Indianapolis FoxPro SIG. He was a contributing author to VFP 3.0 Special Edition published by Que. Currently, he is consulting with manufacturing companies on ERP technology. A new business venture – a web enterprise – will launch in 2008.

Andy & Marcia

We are making arrangements to have Andy Kramek and Marcia Akins come to Grand Rapids for a special all-day marathon meeting. We’re still working on the details but it will either be May 10 or June 14. The topics will be (subject to change):

          Implementing Design Patterns in Visual FoxPro - Part 1 (Andy)

·         Implementing Design Patterns in Visual FoxPro - Part 2 (Andy)

·         The 26-Hour Day (Marcia)

·         Using ActiveX Controls

·         Event Handling in Visual FoxPro

Part of the details we are trying to work out is whether we want to pay Marcia and Andy’s expenses out of our treasury, charge a small fee to cover their expenses, or charge a medium fee to cover their expenses and build up our treasury to bring in other speakers in the future.

Action Item: We’d like to know how many people are interested in attending. Please let me know if you’d like to attend and whether one of the dates rules it out for you. We’d also like to know your opinion on charging a fee and how that would affect your decision to attend. Andy & Marcia are excellent speakers and you’re guaranteed to learn a lot!! Please don’t let this great opportunity pass you by.

This recap is full of “Action Items” so please do your part in sending me some replies. GRAFUG is built on the premise of FoxPro programmers helping FoxPro programmers. We want to make GRAFUG as informative as possible but we need your help to do that.

 

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Cathy Pountney

GRAFUG President & Secretary

www.grafug.com

 

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