Despite persistent rumors of its demise, Microsoft's Visual FoxPro development tool is alive and set to be revamped with all new Web support.
Visual FoxPro 5.0 will debut in October with built-in support for ActiveX and ActiveX controls, allowing FoxPro developers to include pre-built ActiveX components into their applications for faster development, according to Microsoft, which today released the tool to manufacturing. Also new are a myriad of performance and usability enhancements.
A series of Usenet postings circulated earlier this year speculating that Microsoft would soon kill off FoxPro in favor of its Visual Basic and Visual C++ tools. FoxPro, which is used for development of applications tied to databases, has a strong and loyal following among developers, despite the advent of newer competitive tools, including Microsoft's own Visual Basic.
Microsoft officials responded with an open letter indicating that FoxPro will live on, first as a separately maintained tool, and later as part of a unified development environment which will serve as a common front-end for FoxPro, Visual Basic, Visual C++, and other Microsoft tools. Developer Studio, the development environment that's already a part of Visual C++, is expected to serve as the unified front-end for the tools.
Visual FoxPro 5.0 applications can now be encapsulated as Remote Automation Servers and run remotely. The Servers can be called and executed by the company's other development tools, such as Visual Basic, or from Microsoft Office applications, or across the Internet via Web browsers. The Servers can reside on a local PC or a networked server.
FoxPro can generate Remote Automation Servers from version 5.0 applications and from existing applications built with previous versions of the tool.
Microsoft said Version 5.0 applications run from between 10 to 300 percent faster than applications built using previous versions of the tool.
Another new feature, called Offline Views, lets developers build applications that can run against remote data, disconnect from the network, and run locally using saved data. Offline Views allows development of mobile applications, where users dial in to receive an update and then work offline.
Also new is the inclusion of Microsoft's Visual SourceSafe version control system, which helps developers manage multiple iterations of a development project. Microsoft also revamped FoxPro's editor and debugger.
Visual FoxPro 5.0 is priced at $499. Upgrades for existing FoxPro users, or for users upgrading from competing products, are priced at $249.