I Was a Visual FoxPro Developer

Since 1985, I have created and maintained databases on PCs using a succession of products starting with dBase and proceeding over 25 years to Microsoft Visual FoxPro 9.

I’ll never forget the day in 2010 when I went to install VFP9 on a new PC, only to have Windows inform me the software was no longer supported.

I kicked around for a few years, even working at Office Depot for 10 months. Eventually, I began developing an ecommerce site for the Wife’s dress store using Shopify, while all my customers went online with Microsoft .NET. The cost to go that route for a one man shop was prohibitive and I was competing for jobs with people from India.

So, I spent the next eight years running the Wife’s ecommerce site. On Halloween of this year I quit, no longer willing to spend my days in the back of a dress store.

For the last month, I have applied for nearly 200 jobs and have yet to find one for which I felt suited. The Wife has been helping me out and I’ve been doing things around her place, since I left for the umteenth to live in my house in Liberty.

This afternoon, I was doing some painting for her and remembering that day in 2010 when VFP failed to load on a new PC. It occurred to me that I might try again. So, when I got back to Liberty, I tried installing VFP9 on my Windows 10 PC.

It loaded like a dream. All these years, it never occurred to me that Microsoft had relented in its efforts to move everybody from VFP to .NET. So, I found all my applications, which existed on 3.5 inch disks. I ordered a USB disk drive and will soon be refamiliarizing myself with them, toward getting back out there and looking for customers.

I also updated my Indeed CV to include VFP9 as a skill, which I was very good at. Who knows, I might even get a job programming in my old language, after all these years.

My career has included having a $10M per year furniture company put out of business by Chinese competition, when Clinton signed NAFTA in 1994.

I want to get back up to speed with VFP9 because I’ve always believed in brick and mortar businesses who need custom software to determine the cost of manufacturing goods.

I desperately want to be part of the resurgence of US manufacturing, as we necessarily get away from cheap Chinese goods.

I really enjoyed turning the Wife’s Shopify site into a monster, but now I want to get back to my first love, and it appears that might actually be possible.

Occasionally, I will dream about the software I wrote. My menus always had three columns for Files, Reports and Utilities. I could walk into a new customer’s office, install the menu, convert existing spreadsheets to databases and have them doing data entry the first week.

They freaking loved it. Once the data requirements were addressed, we could start generating reports. Finally, we’d develop utility apps to do batch entry, like daily sales.

It was like being a rock star, something I also have a little experience with. I never had a problem getting paid, because I billed as we went along and the customer could see the results of my effort.

I was so happy for those twenty-five years. The last eight years have also been great, as there is nothing better than building a successful Shopify ecommerce site.

I took a leap into the unknown a month ago. Those mornings when I awoke from dreams of developing custom databases were very sad. The prospect of going to work in a warehouse was crushing my soul.

I think I’m going to be OK. I bring up the VFP interface and it’s beginning to come back, after all these years. It’s like saying hello to an old friend, a forgotten me. I’ve found a key to a door long closed, so that I could get on with life.

I’ve spent all these years despising Bill Gates for what he’s done to the VFP community. His recent attempts at genocide and transhumanism merely confirmed those emotions.

My dreams are always about the Insurance Policy Management System, which had nearly a dozen iterations. The Policy file had detail files for Residences, Related Structures, Contents, Mortgagees and Additional Endorsements. Each Policy database had iterations for current Current, History and Archive.

I could open 25 files at once, keeping the Current database clean and running fast by Archiving previous years to History. I kept the History database clean and fast by Archiving iterations no longer required by the auditors.

When the NCDOI hit us with accrual based accounting, the History file had snapshots of the policies prior to any change, giving us the ability to construct an Unearned Premium Report, designed to put them out of business.

When the NCDOI hit us with an unprecedented Market Conduct Audit, my customers were able to produce the required file and submit it electronically, as required, another attempt to put them out of business.

The construct also made it possible to freeze the system as of a said date, and use it to spend five years distributing $25M in reserves back to the policyholders, based on the amount of insurance, as specified by the terms of dissolution in the company by laws.

The guy who owned The Chair Company in Liberty could forecast his Accounts Receivable out 12 weeks, enabling him to generate a $50,000 payroll every two weeks.

My software generated every GL report required by the CPAs on a monthly basis. We were able to track inventory cost extremely accurately. We had seven week lead times on some inverntory items.

It was a NASA moon shot. It was a Swiss watch.

I wrote a system for Liberty Oil, where one screen allowed entry of sales invoices and relieved inventory, updated AR, and posted GL entries. It ran for twenty years and there will never be anything like it, again. CPAs fucking loved me.

I had a Farmers Mutual in North Wilkesboro who could print her annual reports at tax time and the accounts would balance to the fucking penny, as much a result of her work as mine.

My seventeen years in Asheboro ended up getting so fucked up that the code actually included policy numbers, in order to get their declarations to come out as requested.The dumbshit insisted that every policy said X number of X number of pages at the top.

I finally wrote him a note telling him exactly what I thought of him, so he would fire me.

Toward the end, I successfully moved all my customers to Microsoft Visual Foxpro’s Object Oriented Programming interface, which was merely a matter of sticking the menu code in objects on the form.

It was much prettier, but essentially did the same thing.

I even moved Asheboro’s Policy Rating app to .NET, doing the same thing, allowing agents to access it online, instead of installing a CD. The actual rating algorithm didn’t change at all..

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