On the heels of Microsoft's acknowledgement that it has no plans to continue development of its Visual FoxPro data-centric programming language, two Spanish Most Valuable Professionals (MVPs) have launched a campaign to try to convince Microsoft to reconsider its decision.
Microsoft officially announced late last month that the company has no plans to release FoxPro 10.0. Instead, as many FoxPro developers expected, the 9.0 release is the end of the Microsoft-supported line.
There are still thousands of FoxPro developers and customers, however. And a number of them aren't happy about Microsoft's plans, claiming that Microsoft failed to provide "a convincing explanation or a logical reason" as to why the Redmond software maker won't continue to support FoxPro, according to the "MasFoxPro" portal.
On March 22, a couple of MVPs created this portal -- whose Spanish name means "More FoxPro" -- to gather petition signatures from FoxPro users and developers. (As of April 2, there were more than 1,400 signatures collected.) The group also is organizing e-mail and phone-calling programs to Microsoft subsidiaries and executives to request a rethinking of Microsoft's FoxPro phase out.
The official discontinuation of FoxPro "has been a major blow to the FoxPro community," according to the MasFoxPro site. "This is especially true for the medium and small application developers (the vast majority of developers in Visual FoxPro), that have many years of Visual FoxPro code. It is not practical or cost effective to attempt to move these applications to Microsoft's recommended development environment (.NET). The community is rethinking its future development platform. Many developers are thinking of moving to Linux development, some to .NET and others to various development environments ranging from Xbase clones to Open Source such as PHP, Pyhton and Ruby.
"Sedna (forthcoming Microsoft-developed add-ons to Visual FoxPro 9.0), VFPx and VFPy (open-source extensions to Sedna) are good initiatives but with a dying product. A software company cannot sell a Visual FoxPro business solution when the competitors can say 'It's developed with a product with no more core upgrades,'" the MasFoxPro site added.
The MasFoxPro group's main goal is to convince Microsoft to release FoxPro 10.0, they say. Short of that, the group is agitating for:
* Microsoft to release the full FoxPro source code to Open Source "even restricted in any way"
* A Microsoft agreement with a third party developer "so that this third party can continue Visual FoxPro development"
* The sale of the FoxPro product to another company
Update: Microsoft provided on April 3 a statement regarding the requests of the FoxPro petitioners. From Alan Griver, a group manager on Microsoft's Visual Studio team:
"We're very aware of the FoxPro community and that played a large part in what we announced on March 13th. It's never an easy decision toannounce that we're not going to release another version of a productand it's one that we consider very carefully.
"We're not announcing the end of FoxPro: Obviously, FoxPro applicationswill continue to work. By some of our internal estimates, there aremore applications running in FoxPro 2.6 than there are in VFP and FoxPro 2.6 hasn't been supported in many years. Visual FoxPro 9 will be supported by Microsoft through 2015.
"For Microsoft to continue to evolve the FoxPro base, we would need to look at creating a 64-bit development environment and that would involve an almost complete rewrite of the core product. We've also invested increating a scalable database with SQL Server, including the freely available SQL Server Express Edition. As far as forming a partnershipwith a third-party is concerned, we've heard from a number of large FoxPro customers that this would make it impossible for them to continue to use FoxPro since it would no longer be from an approved vendor. We felt that putting the environment into open source on CodePlex, which balances the needs of both the community and the large customers, was the best path forward."