Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board

FoxPro clobbered dBase

Joel wrote:

In the late 80s FoxPro clobbered dBase in the market mainly on the strength of the fact that it compiled standalone executables. FoxPro had a linker. xBase developers pleaded with Ashton-Tate, makers of dBase, to develop or acquire a linker, but Ed Esber, reviled CEO of Ashton-Tate, refused to give them one. Learn from your own history. (Thanks to Rick Chapman for reminding me of history repeating itself.)


Well, no question the distribution Kit for FoxPro was ONE big reason why I choose FoxPro over other products. Remember, also clipper also produced .exe’s also. In fact, clipper was a compiler that produced a real executable, where as FoxPro was interpreted p-code with a runtime. The minimum size of a FoxPro application was 750k + whatever your application used. So, in fact, FoxPro had runtime, and was p-code…not compiled.  To produce an .exe, FoxPro did have a linker, but that is not really the real story here. And, point in fact, I never did figure out what the FoxPro linker did as you had to have a runtime anyway…and that runtime was a all, or nothing affair in terms of runtime size.

However, the issue was not the fact of a linker..but the fact of royalty free distribution options for developers. That is a considerably different option, or issue.

Developers wanted to write software, and NOT have the end user purchase dBase (or whatever). So, developers really were NOT asking for linker…but a royalty free otpion..and that could be runtime, or some linker.

Without question, many developers really like Delphi due to a linker and an ability to produce nice small .exe files. However, this ability has not really saved the day for Borland and Delpi developers…..has it?

When ms-access came on the scene, it also had to compete in the database market for developers who wanted a royalty free distribution option also. Without that option, NO developers would adopt the product.

So, to this day…we still can distribute royalty free ms-access applications , but we sure never did get a linker. In fact, we got a fairly large runtime. So, both FoxPro and ms-access actually use runtimes.

As a side note, the ms-access developers tools for office are now part of visual studio (office extensions).

So, I have beg to differ on this issue. A linker is nice and foxpro used one…but the issue was a royally free runtime that FoxPro had and the means to package an application that won the day.

This approach does not require a linker.

Albert D. Kallal
Edmonton, Alberta Canada

Albert D. Kallal
Saturday, February 21, 2004

I still use VisualFoxpro every day and I really like it. I only wish I could afford to upgrade to the latest version (I'm stuck on 6).

I am pretty sure that FP 2.6 was the first FoxPro that *didn't* have the capacity to generate native .exe files that didn't need the runtime.

It was also the first *not* to offer DOS and Unix support. It was also the last to offer decent Mac support. (VFP 3.0 had a Mac version but it was pretty badly stuffed)

Les C
Sunday, February 22, 2004

Well all the linker really did was glue the runtime into a stub .EXE file along with the pcode created as an APP file.

Its still much the same today, though with added DLLs.

As for the different versions, Version 6 with all the patches is fair enough to use, there are a few improvements, bugfixes and such that are nice to have in 7.  I haven't decided on 8 as yet.

Simon Lucy
Monday, February 23, 2004

There was never a Windows version of FoxPro that included a linker. There was always a separate runtime needed. FoxPro DOS included a linker, but it created a HUGE executable.

Craig Berntson
Tuesday, February 24, 2004

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home