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Why did FoxPro Fail in the Market place?

I am trying to figure out why FoxPro is so dead these days. It was included in visual Studio  along wth VB and C++.

There was a time up to about 1994 where FoxPro was really one of the premier based pc database systems.

Today, FileMaker, ms-access, and VB is pretty well it for pc based database stuff. The ms-access groups has an incredible activity, and if anything posting activity continues to grow year after year.

For Visual FoxPro, there is virtually no activity in newsgroups. Checking with my recruiter, virtually NO one is recruiting for FoxPro skills these days (and it has been that way for years). The last call I got from my recruiter for FoxPro was at least 4 years ago (and that was a migration project out of Fox!).

Note that back in 1992, I also used the Pick system, and I still get weekly posts for jobs.

Here is one:
http://www.3dtek.com/jobsearch/jobdetails.asp?ApplicantID=&jobid=00000000987

And another one with visa sponsorship was emailed to me today:
http://www.3dtek.com/jobsearch/jobdetails.asp?jobid=00000000990

My whole point is that other systems I used in 1992 are still active, and still being used today. I still work in those other systems on a regular basis. (I am doing some Pick work for the next two days as a mater of fact) Ms-access is also from the year 1992, and I still also do tons of work with that.

Hence, ms-access, and Pick are an two examples where I still do a lot of work today.

Why/what happened to the FoxPro developers?

Any ideas as to why one of my skill sets (FoxPro) is no longer useful from a market point of view, when from 1992 both my other skills sets are still a source of work for me?

Ideas anyone?
What the heck happened here?

VPF is a great product, so it is not the fact of being a bad product that caused it to fail. There has got to be  real good lession here somewhere!


Albert D. Kallal
Edmonton, Alberta Canada
Kallal@msn.com

Albert D. Kallal
Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Since MSFT controled Visual Fox Pro, I guess they decided not to release more version of it (for whatever reason).

Prakash S
Wednesday, February 19, 2003

I think FoxPro failed because Access is 'good enough' for most situations and if it is not, there's VB + SQL server or VB + MySQL/etc out there. 

GiorgioG
Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Let me make this clear:

What I meant was, FoxPro like Access, SQL, MSDE, etc are all controlled by Microsoft. They probably felt that instead of spreading themselves so thin, they decided to cut FoxPro development, and concenrate more on the other stuff.

Prakash S
Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Last I checked FoxPro was bundled with Visual Studio, whereas Access was available with Office.

And to add to what Giorgio says, most ppl found access "good enough" for whatever they wanted to do.

Prakash S
Wednesday, February 19, 2003

What is the status of the pioneering db front-end apps Clarion and PowerBuilder?

Karel
Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Well Version 8 of Visual Foxpro is about to be released.  Visual Fox still survives much as it always did.  It isn't a mainstream US application but it does have significan use in niche areas, it is still used in many countries, Germany, Brazil seems to have a lot of developers and Canada to name but a few.

One of the major accounting software companies in the UK still develops using Visual Foxpro.

I've said before but the active developer community is at http://www.universalthread.com that's run out of Montreal.

Foxpro 2.6 which was the last version that was anything like the original Fox is almost dead (except I still get work in it because accounting and process systems don't change that much).

I don't think Visual Foxpro has failed in the marketplace, perhaps, Albert, you just moved out of its orbit.

Simon Lucy
Wednesday, February 19, 2003


Marketing.  And "Nobody ever got fired for using Microsoft"

The same reason VC++ killed Borland's C++ and Delphi stuff.

Please don't post that Delphi isn't dead.  It's just as dead as FoxPro for the purposes of this discussion - it has a small niche market that isn't growing much.

Matt H.
Wednesday, February 19, 2003

>>Since MSFT controled Visual Fox Pro, I guess they decided not to release more version of it (for whatever reason).

Well, as far as I know, a new version is coming out. In other words, the top flight, first rate development team at Microsoft continues to work on FoxPro. VPF has been a first rate full blown OOP environment for some time now.

However, the developer community is small, and I suspect that this is a real fence sitting exercise by Microsoft. They are keeping VPF just in case they figure out what to do with it.

As for me being out of the VPF orbit, that may very well be true. However, to only find a small web site in some Northern Canadian city does NOT constitute a viable user community. That constitutes a archaeological find. It should not be a archaeological dig to find parts of that that user community.

To say that the community is Thin right now rather a kind word on my part. Those same comments go for the job market also. The real test of any community is the Job market.

The VPF users are a shadow community right now at the very best.

However, my real goal here is/was to try and understand why this community and platform does not have a presence in the market place anymore right now.

Perhaps the comments about other products being *just* good enough makes the most sense. However, peopleware does say that you should NEVER LET your consumers dictate the quality of the product. I suppose we could hire grommet chefs to run each Macdonald’s but that would be over kill.

Perhaps VPF is overkill for the market it went after. There is no hint of any lack of ability, or quality or anything lacking in the VPF product line from Microsoft. It is probably THE best data centric product in the market place right now.

I am not looking to throw egg on one of Microsoft’s best products, but only to seek why VPF is so dismal in the market place right now.

Somehow, VPF got lost along the way. It is simply the way it is. I am not looking for some warm memory that feels good like the start of a new school year. It is my human desire for the “why” of this that motives this question.

Perhaps the simple answer of that fact that there were too many alternatives available is the right answer. I was looking for a more complex answer, and there might not be one.

Albert D. Kallal
Edmonton, Alberta Canada
Kallal@msn.com

Albert D. Kallal
Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Matt, you are aware that VFP _IS_ a microsoft product?

sjsc
Wednesday, February 19, 2003

"Why did FoxPro Fail in the Market place?" - There are several reasons for this:

1. FoxPro was never really a end-user tool. While there were plenty of end-users who learned enough to use it, once MS came out with Access they had a better tool (for their needs) available. Others found out that Excel had enough power for them. Both products were in Office, which usually meant that they already had them installed when they received their computer.

1a. With Visual FoxPro (and the introduction of OO concepts), FoxPro further steped away from the end-users and into the realm of being a developers-only tool. They couldn't grab a simple FoxPro book anymore and whip up a few simple tables/screens/reports in an afternoon - it took time to actually learn the environment before they could actually do anything with it.

2. Visual Basic killed off most of the 'professional' developers. First, early versions of FoxPro for Windows and Visual FoxPro did really do Windows well - they were windows apss but they didn't get the whole 'look and feel' down right. VB allowed them to create 'true' Windows applications.

2a. There was also a bit of a stigma attached to FoxPro applications. While it was a good product, there were so many hacks developing crappy applications in it that FoxPro gained the rep of being a language for hacks. I was talking to guys who developed in Visual FoxPro at one of the first MS DevDays and they said that if people asked what their product was developed in they lied and said VB - they said that they actually lost some sales if they told the truth (not based on the applications performance/stability/etc, just based on it being written in FoxPro).

3. Borland helped kill it too, indirectly. Borland bought Ashton Tate (and, therefore, dBase) in one of Borland's first rounds of self distruction. They (Borland) killed what was left of dBase, but before they accomplished it Microsoft had bought Fox Software (FoxPro) as a defensive measure. Microsoft didn't really know what to do with it, They were already had Access and VB (see about), so it was hard to find a good marketing niche for it.

3a. The only reason it still seems to be around at Microsoft is that when MS hinted at end-of-life'ing FoxPro, most of the developers on Microsoft's FoxPro newsgroups threatened to go to Delphi instead of VB (out of spite).

If Fox Software had stayed independent, it would probably have a much larger market share now. It'd have its own marketing campaign (instead of just being stuck in Visual Studio) and it would have probably spawned several versions (end user and developer) rather then just a single product. I still don't think it would be doing that well - it was one of the MS-DOS based products that didn't make a quick transition to Windows (like Lotus 1-2-3).

RocketJeff
Wednesday, February 19, 2003

>>Matt, you are aware that VFP _IS_ a microsoft product?

This is probably another of its problems...

RocketJeff
Wednesday, February 19, 2003

I first got into DB development and programming supporting a FoxPro app at a place where I worked.  When I saw people coming in charging the big bucks to futz around I decided to get me some of that.

But back to Fox Pro.  My recollection is that the upgrade which was made between 2.6 and 3.0 broke backward compatibility.  If you had an old FoxPro app, you couldn't just import it into the new version of FoxPro.  It had to be recoded.  So when it came time to upgrade (make it compatible with e-commerce systems), the cost factor was about the same to stay in FoxPro or write a new system from scratch.

But power-users are much better supported through Access and Excel.  I usually go to my VPs and such, ask them what data they want, and give it to them fairly raw.  They love me for it and tinker away.

Contrary Mary
Wednesday, February 19, 2003

< As for me being out of the VPF orbit, that may very well be true. However, to only find a small web site in some Northern Canadian city does NOT constitute a viable user community. That constitutes a archaeological find. It should not be a archaeological dig to find parts of that that user community. >

I think you'll find its more than just a small site.  This is getting somewhat tedious but to my knowledge the kinds of applications that are still using Visual Fox include..

Police databases
Oil exploration
Medical clinic software, management and statistical
Accounting systems
Knowledge Management
Library systems

The marketplace that Visual Fox lives in isn't end users, nor even departmental users it straddles VARs and package development with the majority of it being VARs.

Because of that it isn't going to be that visible, it shares some of the same space as Delphi but not entirely.  Perhaps the argument is more like whether VARs are viable or not, which you've brought up before.

I think VARs are always going to be viable for as long as they can add their specific value, but it won't ever be the mainstream, its more like a stratified set of vertical markets.

Simon Lucy
Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Two reason for FoxPro's failure:

1. Microsoft bought it because it was a competitor to Access, and didn't really want to see it succeed becuase it would detract from Access.

2.  It was too complex for end users, but not robust and powerful enough for real programmers (compared to the other databases that developers can choose from).

T. Norman
Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Just as an aside some of the other classics are still around

www.dbase.com    (dbase is alive and well)

www.alaska-software.com  (xbase++ a modern 32 bit GUI which has 99% Clipper 5.2d compatibility)

www.harbour.org (an open source implementation of clipper)

I don't agree that most xbase programmers were/are hacks.

I think most people lie and say VB is because their customers have only heard of VB, java etc..

Mike Grace
Wednesday, February 19, 2003

After Borland fumbled dbase and paradox, Microsoft's purchase of foxpro was moot. They were left in the position of competing with themselves right when Access 1.0 (the buggiest 1.0 code ever released), at $400 less than the 2 years too late Borland products, took off like a rocket.

www.borland.com is doing quite well now that they are back to their dev tools roots.

fool for python
Wednesday, February 19, 2003

If I remember correctly, Microsoft bought FoxPro so that they could use the Rushmore engine in Access
in order to beat Borland's Paradox. The Jet engine is used in several other products too, like Exchange.

Today, it seems like Access and Exchange is heading towards using the SQL Server engine (in the MSDE incarnation) instead of Jet -- I guess they have drained Jet for what it is worth when they rewrote SQL Server to version 7.

It is left as an exercise for the reader to speculate what they need FoxPro for these days. :-)

Roland Kaufmann
Thursday, February 20, 2003

It's time to buy FoxPro from Microsoft bargain and invigorate the product. It is a good development tool!

Edward Izrailov
Monday, June 16, 2003

Some of the step fathers can not become too close to their step child. Microsoft is not an exception.

Edward Izrailov
Monday, June 16, 2003

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