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VFP 8: Visual FoxPro's Biggest Update Since Version 3.0

The Visual FoxPro Team at Microsoft is very excited to announce that Visual FoxPro 8.0 was completed and released to manufacturing (RTM) on January 31st, 2003. We were hoping to release Visual FoxPro 8.0 in early January, but needed the extra time to ensure we released the most stable and feature rich release of Visual FoxPro possible. Here are some details about Visual FoxPro 8.0, related announcements, and upcoming activities around the release.


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isual FoxPro 8.0 is fully compatible with previous versions of Visual FoxPro and includes everything needed to write, build, and test great data-centric applications. Product highlights in Visual FoxPro 8.0 include structured error handling, CursorAdapter class for universal data access, new auto-increment support for data tables, Windows XP Themes support, new base classes and controls, new GDI+ image support, new event binding for objects, full hierarchical support, new XML Web services features, updated OLE DB provider, improved development productivity, and new and improved compatibility with Visual Studio .NET and SQL Server 2000.

Visual FoxPro 8.0 Product Highlights:

  • Structured error handling - Control and encapsulate error handling in code using TRY...CATCH...FINALLY structure, escalate exceptions using THROW, and manage using Exception objects.
  • Universal data access - Use the CursorAdapter class for unified data access to native Visual FoxPro tables, XML, Microsoft SQL Server 2000, and ODBC or OLE DB data sources.
  • View Designer - Build SQL SELECT statement queries using two-way editing between the Query/View designer and source code output.
  • Auto-increment support - Create auto-increment counter fields for primary key fields in Visual FoxPro data tables.
  • Windows XP Themes support - Apply Microsoft Windows XP Themes to Visual FoxPro applications, including controls at the form and container level.
  • Advanced controls - Build smart client desktop forms using rich features such as orienting tabs on page frames, locking and automatically resizing columns, highlighting grid rows, changing background color and positioning images on command buttons.
  • GDI+ image support - Display and rotate images on forms with support for file formats such as .bmp, .jpeg, .gif, animated .gif, .wmf, .emf, .tiff, and more.
  • Event binding - Bind native and custom events and methods to other Visual FoxPro objects.
  • XML data import and export - Import and export hierarchical XML using support for XML DiffGrams between Visual FoxPro data cursors and ADO.NET DataSets.
  • XML Web services - Publish and consume SOAP-based XML Web services compatible with .NET technology over HTTP using the Microsoft SOAP Toolkit 3.0 (included).
  • OLE DB Provider - Provide access to Visual FoxPro data from other clients such as Microsoft Visual Studio .NET and Office XP.
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2000 Desktop Engine (MSDE) - Build desktop and shared solutions compatible with Microsoft SQL Server 2000 and migrate them to SQL Server 2000 directly without modifying code.
  • Deployment tools - Create setup programs for your applications using an exclusively developed version of InstallShield® Express for Visual FoxPro.
  • Powerful base classes - Subclass member classes such as pages in page frames and headers and columns in grids. Subclass the DataEnvironment class and use the DataEnvironment and CursorAdapter builders. You can manage application objects using the new Collection class.
  • Development productivity - Use the Task Pane to manage development tasks and access Visual FoxPro Help, XML Web services, and community news. The new Toolbox provides easy access to frequently used items such as classes, controls, and code snippets. You can search for and replace symbol and text references throughout projects and files using the Code References tool.
Beta Expiration Date Problem
The release date for Visual FoxPro 8.0 (January 31, 2003) just happened to be same date as the last day before expiration of the public Visual FoxPro 8.0 beta, by coincidence. Developers using the current public beta of Visual FoxPro 8.0 (build 2021) can change the system date on their computer to use it until obtaining the released version via MSDN Subscriptions or stand-alone product box.

How to Get VFP 8.0
Visual FoxPro 8.0 is included in all levels of MSDN Subscriptions (Universal, Enterprise, and Professional). Also included in those levels of MSDN Subscriptions are Visual FoxPro 8.0, Visual FoxPro 7.0, Visual Studio 6.0, Visual Studio .NET, upcoming Visual Studio .NET 2003, development versions of Windows, and more. Refer to http://msdn.microsoft.com/subscriptions/prodinfo/levels.aspfor product information of MSDN Subscription levels. MSDN Subscription members will be first to obtain the released version of Visual FoxPro 8.0 (within a few business days of RTM, first week of February). Pricing information for MSDN Subscriptions can be found at http://msdn.microsoft.com/subscriptions/prodinfo/pricing.asp (upgrade pricing of MSDN Subscriptions available for licensed users of Visual FoxPro 5.0 or later).

Visual FoxPro 8.0 will be available separate from MSDN subscriptions via stand-alone full product or upgrade purchases 6 to 8 weeks from the RTM date (around mid March). U.S retail prices for the stand-alone versions of Visual FoxPro 8.0 include: full product $649, upgrade $349, and academic $75. For a limited time, a $50 rebate will be offered with Visual FoxPro 8.0 (for upgrade version only, in U.S. and Canada only) for owners of Visual FoxPro 7.0 (proof of purchase required with mail-in rebate coupon).

There is now a Visual FoxPro 8.0 Case Study Template available for download (Word document format) at the Microsoft GotDotNet.com developer community Web site on the Visual FoxPro with Visual Studio .NET page at http://www.gotdotnet.com/team/vfp. This case study template is designed to be used for submissions to Microsoft for possible microsoft.com product showcasing for applications using or in the process of upgrading to Visual FoxPro 8.0. This case study template is also intended to be used independently of Microsoft by Visual FoxPro developers to create case studies to be posted on Visual FoxPro community Web sites. Also available on the GotDotNet site on the Visual FoxPro page is a 2.5 minute video download of Eric Rudder (Sr. VP Developer & Platform Evangelism Division, Microsoft) discussing Visual FoxPro 8.0.

Europa
The Visual FoxPro team has already started working on the next version of Visual FoxPro (code named Europa) and we are now taking feedback and suggestions for features via the Wish List on the UniversalThread site as well as other Visual FoxPro community sites online. The main calls to action for Visual FoxPro community members is to upgrade to Visual FoxPro 8.0, convince others also upgrade, and educate others about the great new features in this new version.

Additional information about Visual FoxPro 8.0 will be found at http://msdn.microsoft.com/vfoxpro in early March. Included in the new MSDN Web site content to be added to the Visual FoxPro Web site on MSDN next month will be a detailed Visual FoxPro Evaluation Guide as well as new technical whitepapers. Also to be posted will be new Visual FoxPro 8.0 code samples and utilities for free download (which will be displayed in the new Visual FoxPro 8.0 TaskPane when refreshed). The MSDN Visual FoxPro product download section will also soon include a download of the Visual FoxPro OLE DB Provider, same as the version included in Visual FoxPro 8.0 but separate free independent download for anyone to use. Stay tuned to further announcements on the Visual FoxPro community news site.



   
Ken Levy  is the Microsoft Visual FoxPro Product Manager. He has developed many high-profile applications and tools in all versions of FoxPro since 1986. He is the author of many components of VFP including the Class Browser and Component Gallery. Ken is also the author of GenScrnX. Ken has contributed as a technical editor and writer to many software magazines and is a frequent speaker at industry conferences.
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