Wednesday, September 20, 2006

FoxForward Conclusion

I skipped morning sessions on Saturday so that I could prepare some changes for my demo that my coworkers recommended.  I did make it to lunch, however.  <S>

In the afternoon, I saw David Stevenson's sessions on the CursorAdaptor and XMLAdaptor respectively.  David showed some interesting functionality he had implemented in his CursorAdaptor subclasses.  I'll need to wade through the code to fully absorb what he showed.

David's session on the XMLAdapter started as I would have expected, comparing XMLAdapter functionality with CursorToXML() and XMLToCursor().  Things got more interesting when he began working with the XMLTables and XMLFields collections directly.  By the end, he was loading schema-less XML with embedded elements and showing us how to use Xpath statements to map this format to related cursors.  This tip alone is worth the price of admission to this conference for any developer who has spent his time trying to solve the conundrum of emended elements without foreign keys.

Saturday evening at the Ale House I tried a delicious local brew called a Sweetwater420.  I also had a great time talking with other attendees.  I especially enjoyed meeting Ed Leafe.  Ed is the author of the Business Object base class in CodeBook.  I have spent many hours studying that code and learning from it.  It is satisfying to have the opportunity to thank someone in person for helping me along my way.

While we were talking at dinner, I was reminded that Ed is the source of one of my standard practices.  It was in Ed's code that I first saw the GarbageCollect() method which NULLs out any properties with values of VarType = "O".  These days I use Bindevent() to bind destroy to my CollectGarbage() (renamed to fit the coding standard :-) ) method in my base classes.  orphaned object references are one of the most frustrating problems to debug in FoxPro, and this simple fix removes them forever.

Next I moved to Craig Boyd's booth, because I hadn't had the opportunity to do more than introduce myself to him.  Craig is a passionate guy, and we got into a discussion of the FUD (fear uncertainty and doubt) being spread by some parties regarding Visual FoxPro and .NET.  I love these type of discussion.

Sunday morning was showtime for me.  I spent the morning testing my demos one more time.  Saturday night, I discovered a bug involving spaces in a file path, so I felt it was prudent to test everything one more time.  Although my session was sparsely attended, the audience seemed truly interested, and actively engaged.  I enjoyed this session, even though I was the presenter.

After my session was lunch, where I won a VFP hat!  I spent some time on the back patio listening to Ed Leafe and John Koziol swap stories about conferences past, and ask each other "where are they now" about members of the VFP developer community.  This was a nice bonus.

The last two sessions, for me at least, where Craig Boyd's discussion of cryptography, and Bo Durban's discussion of the new GDI+ classes from the VFPx project.  These were both awesome sessions.  I already use Craig's vfpencryption.fll in my work, and he showed me many new uses for it.

I've been working with GDI+ lately using both the flat API, and the VFP foundation class.  Bo's session showed me that I need to stop wasting my time and focus on the VFPx class library.  There is more in there than I can possibly relay.  Bo had a nice interface to launch samples and then show the code.  When I got home, I downloaded that library and found that the form Bo used is included in the .zip file.  In fact, there is a .APP file you can run and see most of what I saw without driving to Atlanta.

The biggest surprise to me was that the library included a class for accessing resources in uxtheme.dll.  I have seen several attempts by VFP developers to produce custom controls that reproduce the visual style of Windows XP.  The problem with every implementation I had seen before, was that they mimicked the default blue theme.  If the user ran a different theme, the Visual FoxPro control would not display the new visual style.

By documenting the API to uxtheme.dll for VFP developers, the VFPx developers have made this issue a thing of the past.  I have already begun implementing a Theme Explorer UI in the style of the VB app that pointed the way for the VFPx team.

Speaking of VFPx, an audience member offered to help work on one of my proposed Team Foundation Server tools after my session.  I told him I would speak to Craig about putting it in VFPx.  Craig told me where to find the application form.  I've since submitted my application, and I hope to be contributing to VFPx soon.

In summary, I think Kevin Culley did an outstanding job of putting this conference together.  I predict that in the coming years there will only be two VFP conferences worth attending.  Southwest Fox in the West, and Fox Forward in the East.  I know I'll be back next year.


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