Visual Foxpro versus .NET - An Obvious Choice?

Not necessarily. 

In March of 2007, Microsoft announced that Version 9.0 of Visual Foxpro would be the last full release; there would be no subsequent versions.  Directly or indirectly, Microsoft has encouraged developers and businesses alike to pursue the use of applications that utilize the .NET framework.

Microsoft will continue supporting Visual Foxpro until the year 2015. That doesn't mean that VFP will stop working, or that there won't be anyone available to provide support for the myriad of VFP applications that will likely be up and running at that time.

So what's a savvy business manager to do?  The answer is, "That depends."

Consider the following scenarios:

1 ABC company has developed a custom order entry system from the ground up over the course of the past 15 years.  They started with Foxpro for DOS, and continued upgrading to take advantage of the enhancements each successive version of VFP offered.  Today, their application encompasses several hundred thousand lines of code, and serves as the backbone of their business.  Management is hesitant to jump ship to another platform.  Their philosophy has been, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."
2 John and Joe Wilson, two brothers who launched a family business a few years ago, have recently started franchising their operation.  They've decided they need software to manage sales, marketing and personnel data coming from multiple franchises. 
For die-hard VFP programmers, the VFP-vs-.NET question used to be a no-brainer.  VFP could run rings around earlier versions of .NET both in terms of functionality as well as speed.  With the advent of .NET version 2.0, data handling became much more robust.  And the developer environment has become increasingly more developer-friendly.

Perhaps the best answer for customers and developers alike is, "be flexible."  As newer 64-bit equipment and operating systems become more commonplace, it makes sense to start migrating VFP applications over to the .NET environment. 

Most large applications we've seen are usually comprised of several smaller building blocks.  Perhaps it would be wise for management to map out a plan to migrate individual components to .NET over a period of months, or even years. 

This article doesn't purport to serve as the be-all, end-all answer to the question.  But hopefully it has provided some food for thought.


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