FoxPro Migration or Conversion: Why should you migrate?

Part 1 of our series covering FoxPro migration and conversion..

The primary reason that many businesses have for considering a FoxPro migration is that Visual FoxPro is now classed as “end-of-life”. This means that Microsoft, the developer of FoxPro, no longer provides any form of support for FoxPro itself. This doesn’t mean that your software is going to stop working immediately. Over time, there is more chance that necessary updates to Windows could prevent the FoxPro application working. Further, there’s no guarantee that new versions of Windows even will run a FoxPro application. At the very least, it’s more likely that some aspects may not run properly without modifications.

Planning your Visual FoxPro migration strategy

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There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer. It’s dependent on your specific circumstances. You will need to consider many factors, both practical and financial.

7 reasons for considering a Visual FoxPro migration or conversion

Below are some of the most common reasons (in no particular order) that our clients have had for considering a FoxPro migration or conversion project.

  1. Support and maintenance of FoxPro applications is becoming more and more expensive. This is due to the ever decreasing availability of skilled FoxPro developers. No new developers are learning the language so the pool of people who have appropriate skills and knowledge is shrinking. Most have moved on to new languages, retired or even passed on.
  2. You may be bound by regulations which require computer systems to be kept up to date. This relates to the end-of-life reason above where you cannot afford to be stuck running outdated versions of Windows. Even being unable to install some software updates may cause you to fall foul of your regulations or certification criteria.
  3. FoxPro and Visual FoxPro is legacy software. Whilst it can still hold its own in relation to many newer languages it’s not getting updated to modern software development standards and efficiencies. This means that you’re not able to take advantage of advances in today’s computing environment.
  4. FoxPro is a file-based database system. As such there are limits to how well the data can be secured. It’s not possible to introduce higher levels of security without compromising on functionality. The data in the database, by necessity, has to be available to all users of the system for it to function. The database tables can be opened outside of the application itself. The incoming GDPR regulations, which come into force in May 2018, are likely to be a big driver of change to stay compliant as a business.
  5. Scale and scalability. FoxPro can handle large databases and hundreds of users but there’s still a finite limit that cannot be exceeded.
  6. FoxPro is a 32-bit application. The world of computing is moving towards 64-bit. At present, there are 32-bit compatibility layers, but over time these will no longer be maintained and FoxPro won’t be able to run on a 64-bit only operating system.
  7. FoxPro doesn’t work natively on the web. There are ways to web-enable FoxPro but they are not very effective. Further, there is no platform to develop mobile applications against (e.g. for iPhone/Android). More and more business services are going online and whilst it is still possible to change FoxPro systems to access them, there is a tipping point where it isn’t cost-effective.

There are a host of other reasons that might also play a minor part in your decision to migrate. For example, the interface looks dated and cannot be updated to modern standards.

When shouldn’t you migrate?

So let’s now look at this from another angle – when shouldn’t you migrate? You may not need to migrate if:

  • Your system is not critical to your business. If it stops working, you can continue to operate your business until you get it running again.
  • Your FoxPro system is doing what you need it to do and you expect to stop using it within 3-5 years or so. In this scenario, if you are planning to move to another tool we can help you extract and convert your data.
  • You have no requirements to stay up to date with current operating systems or other software. You are happy and able to maintain out-of-date software and a stock of old PCs for the foreseeable future. You cannot buy new PCs with outdated versions of Windows – and they often won’t even run the older operating system.

Get in touch with us if you would like to discuss your individual needs and circumstances – we would be more than happy to provide some initial guidance or fill in the form below for some sensible advice on the subject.

Once you have decided that you need to consider a FoxPro migration, the next step is when should you migrate? We tackle this in part 2.

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