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VFP Conference Crash Myth

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For years I've argued with people about the rate at which VFP is dying (or not). Some delusionary pronouncements I've read say, in effect, that a sign that VFP is dying is the notable decrease in conference attendance. Ignoring for a moment that the aggregate yearly VFP conference attendance isn't down much (see VFP Conference Attendance), lets look at the biggest apparent loser, Advisor Devcons, and how it stacks against the tech industry conference barometer: Fall Comdex, held in Las Vegas each November.

I've said many times that the sinking of the tech industry as a whole is not to be confused with the sinking of FoxPro, that a rising or falling tide affects all boats, and that I see no evidence whatsoever that, in spite of Microsoft's insipid attitude towards VFP, that VFP is faring any worse than the industry as a whole.

According to VFP Conference Attendance, DevCon 13 attracted "only" 525 attendees. Ah ha! Right? Well, not so fast.

Here's data comparing VFP Devcom attendance to that of Fall Comdex, and graphed below. If VFP is sinking relative to the industry as a whole, then we would expect VFP's decline to be reflected in a variety of ways, one of them being conference attendance. See also Major Conference Attendance.
Raw Attendance Data
Year Devcon Fall Comdex
1999 1300 220000
2000 1100 206000
2001 752 125000
2002 525 110,000
Normalized, 1999=100
Year Devcon Fall Comdex
1999 100 100
2000 84.6 93.6
2001 57.8 56.8
2002 40.0 50.0

Therefore it looks like the past 4 years have shown that VFP's fate looks similar to that of Fall Comdex, North America's behemouth industry conference. Comdex 2002 is in November 2002, and I'll bet you a dollar right now that the 550 attendees at Devcon13 in Fort Lauderdale will compare very closely to the numbers attending Fall Comdex in Las Vegas in 2002 relative to the attendance numbers since 1999.

Note that this is a comparison between the VFP conference with the worst attendance drop. All the regional VFP conferences are doing much, much better than this. Some, in fact, run at or near capacity.

Of course I realize that these comparison are rather tenuous at best, and these are discrete data points subject to noisy variance effects, but it goes to show that a rising or falling tide affects all boats and that you can't conclude your boat is sinking using only one set of numbers as a reference point. Meanwhile observers are advised not to confuse hype, or lack thereof, with what's really happening. Is VFP down? No question. Is the grass greener elsewhere? Not typically. We'll see an interesting number from Las Vegas in November...

-- Steven Black

"Everybody knows" that VFP is a "scuttled ship that cannot be saved". It'll be the Inquisition for you, if you keep using this subversive "evidence" stuff to question these fixed beliefs.

Don't dare to put your name on it ? Are you that JohnP ? I sure don't know the VFP ship is sinking, nor does anybody else. VFP 9 is under construction and despite of what has been told for many years, yes I do believe there is going to be a VFP 10 as well. VFP is a great tool that has areas where its superiour compared to other tools, so its not a technical problem, rather a marketing one. I'll guess that MS will not actively promote VFP enough to take make it real popular, but won't drop VFP either. I'm a strong believer in the qoute: "VFP is MS's best kept secret"


VFP Devcon is a poor barometer for judging the industrial worth of VFP. VFP is used extensively in industry, but many who use it don't advertise this fact. How many corporations do you know that freely divulge the tools they use to conduct business?

It should also be noted that many companies are not funding these types of trips for their employees. Times are hard for many industries. But with this comes renewed interest in streamlining business models, which places more demands on IT... and their tools.

Michael Rankin

Category VFP Conferences
( Topic last updated: 2003.06.17 11:57:31 AM )