I wanted to speak at Southwest Fox because I had heard good things about conference and because FoxPro was the first computer language I was paid to program in. I have fond memories of both the technology and of the community surrounding this language.
Spending time with FoxPro developers 15 years ago gave me my first taste of a passionate developer community. People who developed in FoxPro believed in its power and often expressed frustration that it didn't have the commercial success of other products. I remember hearing the audience boo loudly when a photo of Visual Basic 6 displayed on-screen at a FoxPro Developers Conference in the late 1990s.
So, here I was - back to my roots - hanging around people who make their living writing Visual FoxPro – a language that finally released its last version a couple years ago.
You would think a community like this would be ready to move onto something new, but that wasn't what I found. There are thousands of applications successfully built with FoxPro and still going strong in Production. And in many cases, the businesses have no compelling reason to migrate these applications to a newer language. I learned there are even some good reasons to stay put, such as the low hardware requirements. As a result, many people have found a good business maintaining and enhancing these applications.
Attendees flocked to Southwest Fox in Phoenix, AZ from all over the world. I met people from New Zealand, Germany, Holland, and Nigeria. They came because this is one of the few events where you can learn about FoxPro in person and meet other Fox developers.
This year marked the tenth consecutive year of the conference and about a dozen people had attended all ten conferences.
It was my first time attending.
I delivered almost 7 hours of content at Southwest Fox - 3-hour session on HTML5; 2 75-minute sessions on jQuery; and a 75-minute presentation on maintaining legacy code. Even though my sessions had nothing to do with FoxPro, many people went out of their way to tell me they learned a lot from them.
Several people told me that Southwest Fox is their favorite conference - an event that attendees look forward to all year. Partly, this is true because so few conferences have a focus on FoxPro; but the most common reason was that people had the chance to see friends they only see once a year.
"It's about the people", said speaker Jody Meyer.
The event felt as much like a family reunion as a developer’s conference.
I am grateful I was invited as part of this family event.