Friday, April 27, 2007

Why I Haven't Signed

As many of you are aware, there's a petition VFP developers are being urged to sign to try to convince Microsoft to reverse their decision to not continue development of VFP. I think every VFP developer should sign this if they feel it will have an impact. However, to date, I, some other MVPs, and some prominent VFP people have not signed it.

Apparently, this is a problem for some people. A debate has been going on over on the FoxWiki (as well as other forums) about this. Some people have suggested that those who don't sign the petition have an agenda, that somehow we want VFP to die. Nothing could be further from the truth. This decision impacts my revenue as much as it does everyone else's. Others have suggested that we won't speak out against Microsoft, that somehow we're their cheerleaders or that we won't bite the hand that feeds (or as someone suggested, pays) us. Again, not true. I wish Microsoft hadn't made this decision. I've bitched about them plenty over things they've done in the past and likely will do so again in the future.

I can't speak for anyone else, but my reason for not signing the petition is simple: I believe it's a futile effort and I don't think someone should put their name on something they don't believe in.

However, I consider myself to be an open-minded person. If someone can give me a convincing argument about why I should sign the petition, I'll do so.

"It can't hurt" isn't a convincing argument. In fact, I'd argue that this petition has done more harm than good for our community, since some people now have an us (the signers) against them (non-signers) attitude and are looking for conspiracy reasons why someone won't sign.

"It only takes 30 seconds" isn't a convincing argument. This isn't about how long it takes; it's a matter of principle.

"It'll show you support the community" is also not a convincing argument. I think writing more than 100 articles over 10 years, presenting more than 200 sessions at conferences and user groups, writing blog entries describing how to do some complex things in VFP, being a co-administrator and a project leader for VFPX, and spending thousands of hours online helping other developers shows that I support our community as much as anyone else. The same is true of other MVPs. The very definition of an MVP is someone who spends a lot of personal time supporting the community. This whole argument that not signing the petition means you don't support is community is almost identical to another ludicrous argument: that if you don't believe in the war in Iraq, you don't support the troops. Like the petition, those two things have nothing to do with each other.

Please post your arguments on this blog. I have been convinced to change my position on issues in the past. All it takes it a well-thought out, logical (not emotional) argument.


Patrick said...

Almost everytime I vote I know it is a futile effort. I continue to vote. What is that you "don't believe in"? Something about the petetion or that it will do something?

AlexF said...

I am another of the "non-signers". I have also taken flak about this and commented in the wiki article you referred to why I don't think signing accomplishes anything.

I support your decision and have not seen to date a convincing argument otherwise.

Doug Hennig said...

Patrick, I don't think the petition will have any impact on the future of VFP in any way. I am not, OTOH, a cynical voter; I've voted in every election since I was 18, sometimes more than once (just kidding!), because I believe my vote may make a difference.

Doug Hennig said...

Thanks, Alex. I know from your comments you feel the same as I do on this.

Roka said...

I dont want to change your opinion or its not interest to me, I am not an employee of Microsoft, nor interests to me to make rich to anybody, in each city exist 100 big companies and 10.000 small ones, the great ones have their equipment of programming and they are not our problem, but we lived on which we sell to 10,000.
.net + sqlserver are quite expensive and outside the budget of the small companies, the competition uses tools open source without cost and produces good and low cost applications.

I need to sell a quality product, with a reasonable cost for the market niche that I attack. I need an efficient tool that competes against php and mysql, pleeease, dont speak to me about access or msde, they are toys for beginners, we are speaking in serious way.

If Microsoft thinks that the logic of my programs in fox is of them, or if the time that you also spent making complicated routines in fox belongs to them, they are mistaken.

fox is not a CD, a language or a data base, fox is, fox is, fox is, well I dont know, solutions without limit of doug henning and others mvp, a community, a good tool for small companies, and mainly the pain in the xxx, of the Microsoft data base sales.
We did not need your signature, you are not fox, and I believe that Microsoft either is not fox

Luis Maria said...

Hi Doug

Obviously, I respect his opinion (as that of any other that has not signed the petition).

Only I dissent with you in which one formed a conspiracy between signatories and not signatories. This is not the spirit nor the purpose of those who we impelled the campaign.

Like you, who invites all to post valid arguments to change his opinion, we try to make to change the decision of Microsoft of not continuity of Visual FoxPro.

Luis Maria Guayan
Tucumán, Argentina
SysOp de
Microsoft Visual FoxPro MVP
La palabra imposible solo figura
en el diccionario de los tontos

Pablo said...

You have a wrong afirmation in what you say. It gives more alternatives than Microsoft continuing development of VFP (in fact this is only one of the possibilities).

Also I disagree in what you say that push to sign only if this have an impact. It's seems that you only push winner horses. What for about supporting your peers? I say that every developer using MS developer products must sign if they feel the need for doing it.

Curious that the non-signers that expressed his attitude. Talk in similar way "this is not the end of the world, pointless effort, I am quite busy and I need to concentrate in what I'm working ..."

For me is not a problem that you, Alex or others didn't signed, it's you choice. It's only a pity. Also when we began this campaign I knew that people will angry with the non-signers, but everyone must hold his acts, we are adults. More harm than good? you choosed freely to not sign, please don't put the harm in the campaign.

I know very well you support the community, and my web site ( has translated many of your articles. I give you thanks again for letting us to do it. But now you are not making a favour to our Visual FoxPro colleagues.

How a MVP or a well know VFP guy cannot sign saying this is pointless and will no get results? Then you accept, and give up? Sorry but I don't understand you. You can have many reasons for signing, but I'm not trying to turn anybody's mind.

From a egoist point of view, could be easier to sign, you will marked as a good fellow (again). Let's dream once ... Imagine that the campaingn give results. In wich position the non-signers will be?

Have you read the arguments given by our peers at the See signs page? and what have been wroted at the YAG's blog?

What's next to be said? Move to the .NET bloat? Many guys will not buy this. Microsoft harmed the community and the few confidence the people haved in Microsoft. So do you think all the people will trust again in Microsoft?

A good product and a good community is worth the fight. For me, this is enough.

Tod McKenna said...

Thanks Doug for taking some additional time to address this. I signed the petition in part to protest the move, and in part to show solidarity with the community.

All I want is:
(a) continued VFP development, or
(b) a good solid, no-BS reason why VFP was dropped, or
(c) a decent migration path for the dozens of VFP Apps I have floating around.

I am sure other developers have their reasons for signing too.

If you don't want to sign the petition then I respect that decision. Your support for the community should be measured in countless hours over the past decade and not by a signature.

Victor Espina said...

I feel compeled to post some words here since I was the one who gave you most of those "not-good-enough" reasons.

First of all, I want to say that every VFP developer in the world knows who is Doug Henning and what you had done for the VFP community. That's is not in doubt.

Second, I think that Pablo made a good point when it said "you only push winner horses".

I'm not a naive person. I'm very aware that even 10.000 signatures will not change M$ mind about quiting VFP. Is not about resistence to changes, as some other guy had pointed recently. As I said to him, we (VFP developers) are not dumb people or Cobol programmers.

I signed the petition because I'm pissed off with M$, and signing there was my way to say that. If these ONLY is not a good reason for you, I respect that. But many of us was expecting more from you guys.

Unknown said...


I hope you will decide to sign the Mas FoxPro petition as I and thousands of others have. I'll do my best to persuade you, but first let's dispense with your counter-argument. You've stated "I believe it's a futile effort and I don't think someone should put their name on something they don't believe in." Since no one can predict the future with certainty, your belief that it's a futile effort, to be more precise, means that you believe the effort is unlikely to succeed, i.e. the probability of success is small, but not zero. Surely you don't mean to say that one should not advocate a cause unless there is certainty of success. Even if success is unlikely, it may be entirely reasonable to take a stand based on what's at stake and how strongly you feel about it.

When you say "something you don't believe in", I assume you are referring to the likelihood of success, not the merits of keeping FoxPro alive and evolving. If I'm wrong about that - i.e. if you think that it's OK to trample the Fox into the dirt, then never mind. But if you are in agreemment with the spirit of the Mas FoxPro effort, I think you should forego your concerns about its being an exercise in futility. OK, it's a long shot, but how much do you have to lose? Evidently more that the 2 minutes that it would take you to sign the petition, but maybe not so much more that it isn't worthy of greater consideration.

Enough of that - now let's talk about what there is to be gained by your signing. Doug, there are few, if any, individuals who are more highly regarded across the entire Fox community, both inside and out of Microsoft. Adding your name means that you support the cause, not that you believe it is likely to succeed. There is little doubt that your show of support would serve as a strong encouragement for others to do the same. Will it matter? Maybe not, but please do it because it matters to us, and it's probably the right thing to do.

Mike Asherman

Tod McKenna said...

"Is not about resistence to changes, as some other guy had pointed recently. As I said to him, we (VFP developers) are not dumb people or Cobol programmers."

That was Soma Somasegar. He apparently believes that we're putting up a fuss because "it's hard to hear that you have to go and learn something else."

I personally take offense to that (as noted in my (b) blog).

Anonymous said...


Sorry for the heat you are taking about this when you are one of the few that are speaking publicly. I appreciate your time!

There is documented proof that the VB petition achieved some marginal results with MSFT and that opens up the possibility that the VFP petition could yield some results and it is not a waste of time.

Below is what the VB Petition accomplished:

1) It generates press, most of the articles that discuss the demise of VB also talk about the petition. The press will probably have more effect on microsoft then the petition itself to get Microsoft to openly discuss this matter and take some action.

2) The VB petition and campaign, influenced MSFT to make programming changes to VB.NET to make it more developer friendly for the VB community without it more then likely MSFT would not have done anything.

3) MSFT finally gave a detail reason why VB could not be ported into .NET which is more then what we are getting from YAG and LELE.
Granted not all the VB developers bought into what M$FT was saying it is far more then we received so far from them.

4) The petition has already sparked this healthy debate.

Below is the link:

All other reasons are personal and opinions that you have already heard. There is more of this post on the WIKI.


Anonymous said...

Hi Doug,

I personally don't expect the petition to change anything, and to be honest, I don't think the letter is very well crafted. However, after hearing Randy Brown's comments and seeing his signature, it became my opinion that most former and current Fox team members would like to see FoxPro continue. I thought about all the hard work they did and how they stood by the community when it would have been easier to walk away. I saw the petition as a way to stand by them, to honor their work, and to tell Microsoft that "FoxPro still matters!" For that, I wanted to be counted. When Calvin, Randy, Ricardo, Ken, et al. see people fighting for a product they put so much blood & sweat into, it's gotta make them feel good, just a little bit, even if it is a losing battle. Anyway, I know the petition doesn't say that outright, but that's why I signed.


Anonymous said...

MasFoxpro campaign probably could lead Microsoft to recapture VFP.NET project in the future.

I think that still is feasible.

Anonymous said...

Dear Doug
On my push people from have read your blog
All agreed, they felt ‘heavy smell’’
Here are 2 thinking about it at our site
Russian VFP community always have seen in you one of captains of VFP ship
If ship is sinking, captain goes last from it. Why you are in the first escaping rows
Don’t destroy you prominent reputation in Russia.

About ‘it's a futile effort’
Here is some Russian joke
Two frogs appeared to be in jaw with milk on some accidental reason
One made few motions and stopped and after all goes down to jaw bottom and died. .
Second frog made constant motion, milk turn into butter and frog escaped.
I know, MS is very steady on his decision, but let him will be ashamed
Best wishes, Vladimir Zhuravlev

Babs said...


Just like you, I've voted in elections since I was 18, too. And I've backed the "losing candidate" in more than one election. I knew the other guy was going to win because of the news/polls/etc., and I could have elected NOT to vote, but I did so anyway as it was my right to do that. Many died in defense of the freedoms we have so that we could be free to vote. No one died for VFP (not to my knowledge), but I believe in the product, and I have lots of respect for you and all of the others who've worked hard to defend/help/build-up the Fox over the years, and that's why I signed. The comment about picking the winning horse: sometimes, I back the non-favored horse...and it does happen that the non-favorite WINS sometimes, and the pay-off is GREAT! Put your signature "bet" on the Fox, if for no other reason than to back the product you believe in and that has been so well crafted by the M$ team (Calvin et al). Hey, if Randy Brown (and so many other prominent VFPers) believes it should continue, who am I to disagree? I'll gladly fight along side of my fellow VFP brethren rather than flee or not vote.

Kudos to your efforts over the your products!!!

--Michael Babcock,

Anonymous said...

I second Tod McKenna

"All I want is:
(a) continued VFP development, or
(b) a good solid, no-BS reason why VFP was dropped, or
(c) a decent migration path for the dozens of VFP Apps I have floating around."

I write marketing research software. They read text files and do data analysis and through automation generate powerpoint presentations.

All the software run smoothly and with high performance in VFP. We tried some in .net and it's taking hours what VFP does in few minutes.

I WILL NOT MOVE TO .Net because it's:
Overhead Nonsense Code
Not very stable
Very poor performance.

I received an email from Microsoft yesterday that the higher management does not want to continue in FoxPro. Well, I don't have faith in Microsoft anymore. I will keep using FoxPro till it runs no more and I am already investing in Linux and other platforms.

I signed on masfoxpro and I will keep fighting for VFP.

VFP is always a pioneer. It survived when Microsoft was killing it. .Net is a failure and Microsoft wants to kill VFP to make .Net work. Well .Net is good for large applications and for rich companies. It is not a solution by any standard for small applications or small companies. I hope Microsoft reconsiders it's decision otherwise they will lose many clients. If VFP is dropped by Microsoft, I am very much sure another company will build the same product in the very near future.

Anonymous said...

Hi Doug,
This is a logical (not emotional) argument, and a simple one:

VFP is a good tool. ¿Isn't it?
That's all

The more good tools we have, the more freedom too.

Unknown said...

Thank you!