Microsoft has countered ongoing rumours that it is phasing out its Visual FoxPro development database by announcing features of a version due this US autumn and a subsequent version due in 1997.
Visual FoxPro 5.0 will allow users to create OLE automation and tie the Xbase database to OLE-enabled applications. The upgrade, which will succeed Version 3.0, will boast the capability to create ActiveX components and will have an improved user interface, a small footprint, and improved performance, officials say.
The news, revealed in an open letter to the FoxPro developer community, has calmed some users' fears that Visual Basic and Visual C++ will garner the lion's share of future product development at Microsoft.
However, speculation persists. One ISV says Microsoft has tried to pull the plug on Visual FoxPro, only to bow at the last minute to developer pressure. The product is destined for maintenance mode after Version 5.0, the ISV says.
Meanwhile, Visual FoxPro product manager John Sigler says Microsoft is "already working on a 6.0 release", but he wouldn't comment on plans beyond that. The company has committed to compatibility with existing FoxPro applications.
Sigler says that Microsoft will continue to mix and match features from its other tools with Visual FoxPro. For example, FoxPro applications will be capable of calling scripts written with Visual Basic for Applications (VBA), and the FoxPro engine will be embedded in products such as Visual Basic.
Some developers are keen for more detail about the integration plans.
"The big question is whether they will include VBA in FoxPro," says Jim Slater, a developer in Denver. "VBA is becoming their standard programming language for OLE, and this would let you embed VBA commands in FoxPro."
History of FoxPro
1984 Foxbase releases Foxbase for DOS.
1992 Microsoft buys Foxbase.
1993 FoxPro 2.5 includes the first Windows version.
1994 FoxPro 2.6 includes a Unix version.
1995 FoxPro 3.0 gets OLE support.
1996 FoxPro 3.0 arrives for the Power Macintosh with cross-platform support for Windows.
1996 FoxPro 5.0 is due next quarter with OLE automation server and ActiveX support.