Visual FoxPro: You Need This Old School Programming Language In 2021.

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Visual FoxPro is an object-oriented programming language, as well as a development environment, application platform, and database engine.

It started life as FoxBASE in 1984, and had what was — at that time — the fastest database management system available. This was a derivative of the dBase systems designed in the late 1970s. At that point was FoxPro was a programming language with built-in database system.

Fox Technologies, the company that created FoxPro, merged with Microsoft in 1992. In 1995, Visual FoxPro 3.0 was released. This was the first "Visual" version (the last non-visual version, 2.6, was released in 1993). This added a drag-and-drop GUI editor and development environment, very similar to Visual Basic.

The language was never hugely popular but it did decently well, peaking in 2006 at number 12 in rankings of language use. Moreover, it grew an extremely dedicated developer community which continues to use and extend the language today.

That enthusiastic developer community was extremely disappointed when Microsoft announced in 2007 that there would be no future versions of Visual FoxPro. The last official update to Visual FoxPro was a set of extensions which were released in 2008.

In response to petitions and general frustration from the VFP community, large portions of VFP have been released as Open Source and are available from CodePlex. Unfortunately a working runtime cannot be created from this collection, and the core of VFP remains closed-source. Microsoft's intentions surrounding the release of VFP to the development community are unclear, at best..

Getting Visual FoxPro

The only way to get an officially licensed full copy of Visual FoxPro from Microsoft is to download it through their Subscription Service. Once you have created an account, you can find available FoxPro Downloads. Unfortunately, you have to purchase a subscription product to be able to download FoxPro and you cannot purchase FoxPro by itself. It only is available as a sort of side benefit to purchasing another product, such as Visual Studio.

There are people selling used or unopened copies of Visual FoxPro, but there is some potential risk here (at least one reviewer apparently received pirated software).

Visual FoxPro Resources

Because of its long history and dedicated following, there are a lot of resources for people who want to learn and use Virsual FoxPro.

Online Resources

Be sure to check out Visual FoxPro Developer Center, Microsoft's Visual FoxPro page.


VFP Community

Visual FoxPro Tools

Books on Visual FoxPro

Should I Learn Visual FoxPro?

Well, it depends.

There is a common misconception that the most lucrative careers in development involve knowing the latest, greatest, trendiest languages. It turns out that this is only true in very narrow sectors — mostly startups focused on web applications development.

Visual FoxPro was released in 1984 and was discontinued in 2010. That's 26 years of continuous use by many thousands of companies building applications in dozens of industries. A great deal of this software is still in use, and needs to be maintained, replaced, extended, or otherwise dealt with.

And what types of companies have this sort of legacy software? Well established companies that have been doing business in solid industries for at least a couple decades. These are companies that can afford to pay well, and — in many cases — the legacy technology is mission-critical, so they are often willing to pay well. Additionally, because most people would rather work on fun, new languages, there are relatively few developers who are both willing and able to handle Visual FoxPro.

Legacy languages like Visual FoxPro — along with others such as Visual Basic, Pascal, and Cobol — might not be trendy, but they can be very lucrative for developers who take the time to learn them.

Adam Michael Wood

About Adam Michael Wood

Adam specializes in developer documentation and tutorials. In addition to his writing here, he has authored engineering guides and other long-form technical manuals. Outside of work, Adam composes and performs liturgical music. He lives with his wife and children in California.


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omar jarrah

October 7, 2019

I’m disappoint of ending visual FoxPro ,what language can be replace or can convert my projects to .


Fred Matano

October 9, 2019

I can summarize by saying, Visual Foxpro is a sleeping giant. I am amazed at its power up to today. I still love and use it.


Harjaspal Singh Janeja

October 15, 2019

I have extensively used all versions of dbase from dbase iii to vfp 9.0. As expressed by you vfp is a great language and is in use by a large number of professional programmers an d developers. However as dbase evolved from dbase iii to vfp 9.0 it missed on one crucial aspect – it was not meant for professionals at all! It was a very simple language designed for non-programmers to create simple software for their personal or business use. This aspect needs to be revived now to enable non-professional programmers to learn and make productive use of this great family of languages. An idea about how this language was originally meant to be used for less demanding users like the owner of a small business can be had from a video available on YouTube called The World of dBASE. It was made by the creator of dBASE, Wayne Ratliffe himself!



November 27, 2019

My company uses many internal (non web) VFP applications and I will retire in about 3 years. I have often thought we would have to find a new day programmer and re-educate him or her using many of the listed resources above. I can verify Adam is correct on 2 points he made. My company is a rock solid and its success was built with the help of VFP and its capabilities. My salary is well into 6 figures along with many benefits to keep me happy.



February 24, 2020

Mike, I have about 2 decades of solid experience in VFP. However my employer isn’t as smart as yours and refuses to pay me the 6 figure salary that you are making. Is there anyway I can interview with your employer?


Mario Felisbino

January 22, 2020

Excellent text on VFP. I have always worked with VFP since its first version and to this day I find it an excellent language. Today I only do hobby work and lastly I did a complete integration with the ERP SAP. Many people did not believe that VFP would be to connect fully with SAP. In my opinion it is one of the best languages ​​ever created. Even though it was discontinued in 2007 until today in 2019 it is possible to use it fully integrating with new technologies.