Sunday, August 24, 2008

What is it that I like about dbase?

dBASE has been really the only PC programming language I have used over many years. I programmed on the mainframe while working, but still had dBASE II, III, III+ and on and on. I have the latest version but have stayed with Visual dBASE.

I just got a request to update a program that was originally written in dBASE III by the owner of a business. I moved it to Visual dBASE in 2003. It has run 5+ years on a small network all these years. Code requirements have changed so am updating the program. I have another business that has used their program for billing for 10+ years. I do data collection for a dog registry and the program was written in 2003 (in dBASE IV).

What is it that I like about dbase you might ask?

Newsgroups - I can remember logging on to the news group using a 1200 Baud modem. WOW - I thought that was so neat and the information gained was very valuable.

What I have learned - skills learned from the news groups helped me to be able to qualify for a position with a government contractor - dBASE programmer. This was after I retired from Civil Service.

The People - A group I could always rely on to get answers to questions - and the answers were always right.
Passing information on to the dBASE community - I was a contact instructor for Ashton Tate and yes I passed on information found or provided by the news group.

Passing information on to others - I hope I have done this over the years.

Over the years a few of you have become friends that I still count on and am in touch with today.

Great group of folks...

Barbara B.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Does Anybody Actually Care?

Oft times you lie in your bed and dream. Dream of a brighter future. Dream of great things. Dream of things you do not have and of things you do have. Dream of impossibilities. Dream of changing the world.

I love programming. I am a geek. I love anything computers. I started out with an old IBM PC, with 512k ram. Got hold of dBASEIII+, took out the manual and began teaching myself. I got a great sense of satisfaction when my first small app actually worked.

Today I still get that same satisfaction when a program, application, web app actually works. One of the reasons for that continued feelings was a product called dBASE. dBASE made me feel like I was part of the big guys. A real programmer.

I am passionate about programming.  I am passionate about dBASE. So I asked myself, what can I do to help drive that passion. Help keep it alive, with me and with others. In starting up an Internet type company, I soon realised that Blogging has such wonderful potential. It could be a great form of advertising, and marketing.

So I set up a dBASE blog. I opened it up to the community. The dBASE community. Those whom I thought had the same passion about programming and about dBASE that I have. I invited any, many, all, to join me in this new blogging experience. Get the name of dBASE out there. If nothing else, many blogs would thrust keyword terms into Google search. Terms that are pertinent to dBASE, to programming would eventually get their high ranking in Google.

This would definitely elevate the visibility of dBASE to those who think it dead. But for this to happen, you have to have content. Content is KING. You have to have lots of it. Not only do you have to have lots, but you also have to have quality. With this Google would have to return pages in the top rank with at least a few dBASE related sites, blogs, and news articles. People would then have to sit up and notice.

I opened this up to anyone. I begged and pleaded. But none would come. All I got was criticism. Well not all. There were some who were helpful and neutral. But still no one responded. Those who are stalwarts, or so they claim, seemingly would not even lift up a finger to type something about dBASE.

This makes me wonder. Do they actually support dBASE, do they actually care about dBASE, or are they hyper-critical and just have an argumentative character. It’s no wonder that a great thing like the dBulitten closed down. No one was interested. Yet there are so many complaints when a slightly negative thing is said about dBASE.

What confuses me, is that if one loves a product so much. Why would you not take every opportunity to promote it. This is customer and brand loyalty. The lack of response only draws me to one conclusion. There is no customer loyalty. There is no brand loyalty. It would then seem that a lot of people only use dBASE because they have no choice.

You might say, but people are busy getting on with their lives, they are busy with business. There is no time to write articles. Yet I find this strange, when some can write lines and paragraphs of text that aim to ridicule and mar ones character and good intentions. Come on, you mean to tell me that no one in the dBASE community has at least 15 minutes to write one or two paragraphs on dBASE. I find that extremely hard to believe.

I am disappointed, hurt, angry. I wonder does anyone really care, or is it just a facade. Put you money (or article) where you mouth is.

I am disappointed because I thought that this would be a good thing. That people would jump at the offer, that I would be the one to not have any time as I manage this blog.

I am hurt because my good intentions were turned to dust, ridiculed and criticised.  My intentions were questioned.

I’m angry, because I have wasted time to try to help those who would seemingly love dBASE, where I could have spent more time and effort promoting my own web site, writing blogs about my own business. Am I wasting time gleaming through the dBASE news groups looking for people to help?

I am angry, hurt, confused, disappointed, because no one will help me. The proof is in the pudding I guess. The test has failed.

All I can say is, SHAME.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Don't Ever Give Up.

Most know of the great overpowering giant called Microsoft. Many of the small software operations either die out, or are completely overshadowed by the giant beast. Sometimes Microsoft will just devour them. When you have been with a programming language for close to 20 years, changing to another one is a frightening and daunting task. Nevertheless it can be done. I did, so you can too. The trick is to start and take small baby steps. Here is a rehash into the modern age of an old cartoon that should embody the fight of the small guy.

\Dont GIve up\

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

What has dBASE Taught You?

As I was contemplating what to write, I was thinking about the various programming languages I was using to write programs with.

So at one stage I had on my PC:

  • Delphi
  • VB6
  • Visual Studio 2003
  • Visual Studio 2005
  • dBASE III+
  • dBASE IV
  • dBASE 5.0 for DOS
  • Visual dBASE 5.7
  • DB2k
  • dBASE Plus
  • PHP
  • Perl
In the database arena I had:
  • MS SQL 2000
  • MS SQL 2005
  • Pervasive
  • mySQL
  • Access.
Before you say anything, Yes I was either using them or at least testing some of them out.

Wow was I crazy or what? How could one learn all those languages? How do you choose. Well fortunately for me, I had already learned dBASE. What does that mean?

dBASE in my opinion was ahead of its time. With its implementation of OOP, Inheritance and class design, it beat everything out there at the time. Learning it was a big struggle and an up hill battle at times. But I eventually got my head around objects, event driven programming, properties, etc. When I was talking of OOP, most other programmers that I spoke about weren’t even in the same league.

The rest of the world has now caught up, and some say passed dBASE by. I have started to learn other languages. I thought that it would be difficult. But surprisingly I understood most of the concepts that were employed in theses new languages. It was uncanny that even some of the syntax was very similar. Java, for instance, and dBASE have a strikingly similar resemblance as far as the syntax. There is even similarities in C#.

But what meant the most was the processes that I learnt while using and learning dBASE. Things like OOP, inheritance, classes, properties, methods, modular programming, events, all cam natural to me. The only thing that I had to relearn was the syntax.

Yes, I have a great respect for what dBASE taught me about programming. Things that came natural to me, others spent years trying to figure out, or thousands of Dollars to learn.

How has dBASE helped you in the field of programming? What about the dBASE news groups and the people there? Have you learnt a lot? Also, how have you passed on those lessons to others? Not only to the dBASE community, but to others also.

Leave a comment if you like? I would appreciate it.

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Monday, August 18, 2008

What do you like about dBASE?

I put up this blog to write and ramble about dBASE. Good or bad. The way I see it. I have also challenged many to write their thoughts here as well. My previous blog about dBASE and history as I saw it, was met with much criticism. How ever no one has yet had the courage to come to me and write something positive. Do I take it that they too have nothing to say, that they are afraid of what others might think of them?

At least I speak my mind, and hopefully speak the truth. I blogged on factual matters, as I saw them. They have yet to be disputed.

I love dBASE, have always done. Its just that the world is running away from me and dBASE, and I cannot make ends meet. I cannot make a living as a dBASE programmer. There is not enough work, and yes in a way I do blame DBI. There was an opportunity that I believe they missed.

So here we are. Do I hate dBASE? No I do not. Do I hate DBI? Again No. Do I have issues? Probably Yes. So if I do not hate dBASE, what is it that I like about it? Well I will tell you, at least I have the guts to say so.

  • One of the best things I like about dBASE is the IDE and the command prompt in particular. I love the way you can interact with data one line at a time. I love the way you can query the database with out the need to write complicated code.
  • The other thing I like about dBASE is its inheritance, OOP, and custom classes. You can sub class anything with out any rules or regulations. And it is so simple. I mean you just inherit from a form, class or subclass. Yes Other languages have this as well, but dBASE was ahead of its time.
  • Another thing is its modular approach. I mean a form can be run with out any problems by itself as well as within the whole app. You do not have to compile the whole application and run it, just to test out one form. Especially if you are making lots of changes to that form and need to test multiple times. It does become a pain when you have a huge project and you want to test one small part of it, you have to wait for the whole project to compile before you can test. To me that's a pain.
  • I prefer the Datamodule over and above datasets of VS. It has more power and is more flexible and easier to understand.
  • I really love dBASE’s arrays. They are so powerful and easy to use. What about the AssocArray, those I think are cool as well.
  • Whether it be a curse or a blessing, but I really love the dynamic language. I mean the ability for variable to self type. yes this can get you into trouble, but isn't it cool to just say x = 6, instead of declaring x as an integer and then passing it the value, or worrying if x is declared or not.

These are just a few things that spring to mind. Can you think of any others? Is there anything in particular that you like about dBASE as compared to anything else out there?

Come on lets hear what you like? Lets hear what you have to say?

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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Is DBI going the way of Ashton-Tate, Is dBASE dying a second death?

I have just read an article about the supposed demise of Vista, and in particular Microsoft. The author goes on to say the the demise of Vista would be due to its continual hold on compatibility. He says that the OS is bloated, they have added and added functionality and not taken any out. He compared this with the demise of Ashton-Tate and dBASE, and mentions that this too was as a result of continued bloating of the software due to compatibility.

In 1988, dBASE had 63% market share of the database market. Not only the PC database market, but apparently the entire database market. Ashton-Tate was on top of the world, and knew it. What happened to the beloved dBASE? How did the Big Giant fall? By 1989, dBASE's market share dropped to 43%. A 20% drop in just one year. When Microsoft Access came out in 1992, they took over the world, especially in the desktop database arena, dBASE and many xBASE depravities were dead or dying. dBASE Crashed to the ground. In less than four years it was no longer heard of, except in legacy and niche markets. dBASE tried to regain what it once had. Eventually releasing a windows version. Also a 32bit windows version made it to the shelves. But it was like trying to blow up a deflated balloon with a thousand holes in it.

Doing a small keyword analysis. I found that the term dBASE returns only 153 daily searches on Google. I would venture to say that probably a large majority of people using the search term are using it and meaning “Database”. Where as something like “Visual Basic” return over 2300 daily searches, and “.NET” close to 3000. Although this is not conclusive, it does make a point

Trying to keep their compatibility with the old, i.e. DOS, and trying not to loose their DOS based Customers is what eventually killed dBASE.

dBASE had to be Backward compatible at any cost. Ashton-Tate created extremely bloated and arcane features added it to the product in order to support such compatibility. Ashton-Tate believed the effort to switch would remain higher than the effort to keep using the product. In some cases it was true, in many, not. People across the world switch to windows based software, and along with it to software packages that supported the new OS, like Access.

Today we are sitting at .NET 3.5 CLR. Window 7 (Vista’s Successor) has been announced. The world is moving to .NET. Everything is .NET, ADO.NET. Borland, previous owners of dBASE, has switched over as well, many other xBASE products have made the leap. They have left the com32 compatibility boat behind.

Yet for some reason, DBI and dBASE have chosen not to go the .NET route but instead have decided to be backward compatible with com32 applications and the com32 market. Is this history repeating itself. Has DBI not learned from past mistakes about compatibility. When we are so many versions and so many years away from com32, dBASE still keeps compatibility with that historical and dying market.

It is probably too far now do make the huge jump over to .NET3.5 and the only thing going for dBASE and DBI is probably their small market and their faithful following.

As I look and frequent the dBASE news groups, I do not see the activity I once saw, even though it was then still very low, when compared to other competing software news groups. I do not see some of the old names there any more. Where have they gone? To me, it seems that the dBASE market is still dropping. How far will the drop go until all give up and there is a mass exit.

I believe that the eminent demise of dBASE will be as a result of their stubbornness to keep their product compatible with the com32 market and their faithful few. Yes, it would have been a cost to start the journey down the road and follow the rest of the world. It would have been a cost to go the .NET group. But now the cost is so much more, that you are almost forced to stay were you are. I believe dBASE could have benefited from going the .NET route. Because of the way the CLR is constructed, I believe that dBASE would have gained a significant increase in their market share. Because of the CLR, a lot of functions that are well known in either the likes of VB and C# would have been the same in dBASE, thereby bringing comfort to millions.

Yes, DBI is starting to look at .NET, or at least some part of it. But I think that the horse has bolted and that now its a bridge too far.

Oh how I had wished and hoped that dBASE would one day rise again. How I wished that I could boast again of this great software. How I longed to compete with the rest of the world. But alas it was not so. If dBASE had learnt from its own history, I believe they would have had much more market share than what they now have, including me.

What do you think? Do you think that dBASE is on its last breath struggling to survive? Do you think that it should go .NET? (Vote on the side bar). Do you think many more faithful will leave, or do you think that dBASE has what it takes to gain more market share? Leave a comment.

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Saturday, August 16, 2008

We were once dBASE

dBase was one of the first widely used database management system (DBMS) for computers, published by Ashton-Tate for CP/M, and later on the Apple II, Apple Macintosh, UNIX[1], VMS[2], and IBM PC under DOS. The popularity of DOS and the PC gave dbase what it needed ehrn it became one of the best-selling software titles for a number of years. I remember starting out with my first program. Reading a dbase manual. A blue soft coloured book, with white font. It had an accounting sample that was used throughout the book as a tutorial. dBase never really moved successfully to Microsoft Windows and as a result gradually lost market share to competitors such as Paradox, Clipper, FoxPro, and Microsoft Access. Ashton-Tate was bought by Borland in 1991, which sold the rights to the product line in 1999 to the newly-formed dBase Inc. In 2004, dBase Inc. changed its name to dataBased Intelligence, Inc.

In the mid 1980s many other companies produced their own dialects or variations on the product and language. These included FoxPro (now Visual FoxPro), Arago, Force, dbFast, dbXL, Quicksilver, Clipper, Xbase++, FlagShip, Recital, CodeBase, MultiBase and Harbour/xHarbour. Together these are generally referred to as xBase. I Remember using the clipper compiler to produce dbase exe's Also there was the Quicksilver compiler which I used successfully.

dBase's underlying file format, the .dbf file, is widely used in many other applications needing a simple format to store structured data.

dBase has evolved into a modern object oriented (OOP) language that runs on 32 bit Windows. It was probably ahead of its time, and even more OOP than the likes of Access and Visual Basic at the time. It can be used to build a wide variety of applications including web apps hosted on a Windows server, using the CGI or COmmon Gateway Interface. It mostly used to build Windows rich client applications, and middleware applications. dBase can access most modern database engines via ODBC drivers including the likes of MS SQL, Oracle, Postgres, mySQL.

dBase features an IDE with a Command Window and Navigator, a just in time compiler, a preprocessor, a virtual machine interpreter, a linker for creating dBase application .exe's, a freely available runtime engine, and numerous two-way GUI design tools including a Form Designer, Report Designer, Menu Designer, Label Designer, Datamodule Designer, SQL Query Designer, and Table Designer. Two-way Tools refers to the ability to switch back and forth between using a GUI design tool and the Source Code Editor. Other tools include a Source Code Editor, a Project Manager that simplifies building and deploying a dBase application, and an integrated Debugger. dBase features structured exception handling and has many built-in classes that can be subclassed via single inheritance. There are visual classes, data classes, and many other supporting classes. Visual classes include Form, SubForm, Notebook, Container, Entryfield, RadioButton, SpinBox, ComboBox, ListBox, PushButton, Image, Grid, ScrollBar, ActiveX, Report, ReportViewer, Text, TextLabel and many others. Database classes include Session, Database, Query, Rowset, Field, StoredProc and Datamodule classes. Other classes include File, String, Math, Array, Date, Exception, Object and others. dBase objects can be dynamically subclassed by adding new properties to them at runtime.

Over the years dBASE has struggled to get a foothold in the market and become the dominant force it once was. Although there still is a, perhaps, fanatical following. Those who still believe it to be the best tool for the job. There are also those who have on many occasions criticised the company, now DBI, for their numerous blunders and bad PR. As a result many of the faithfull have left and perused other alternatives.

This blog has been set up for any who would comment on dBASE, write articles for and against. A place where you can vent your anger, or express your praise.


Thanks to the contributers of wikipedia
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