|FoxTalk Editorial - March 1992|
Lisa Slater Nicholls
Editorial - Published in FoxTalk March 1992
The only way I can begin my first FoxTalk editorial is by telling you, honestly, that I wish I didn't have to write it.
Like you, I'm a member of the Fox developer community that Glenn Hart encouraged and nurtured. I think even those of you who did not know Glenn personally still felt a special connection with him through this journal. As I put together this issue, enjoying the novel techniques and insights that each contributor brings to FoxTalk, I couldn't help wishing that Glenn was here to share them. I miss him very much.
We owe a special debt of gratitude to Pat Adams, for so ably and promptly preparing the February issue. I know she was in great emotional distress as she worked on it -- but she "came through", out of even greater love, for us and for Glenn. Pat's supportive concern for xBasers in general and Fox people in particular is known to all of you, but it has never been more evident.
Glenn was a very accessible human being. When I look back to his first editorial, I can almost hear his voice in his words:
"We all wait expectantly. How will the readers like our new child? Are we meeting their needs? Are we on target in reaching the audience we've defined?... We hope that FoxTalk will become as interactive as print media allows. We encourage your feedback, both positive and negative... the FoxBASE community seems closely knit and communal. Hopefully, we'll be able to bring this spirit of cooperation and friendliness to FoxTalk."
Although I don't have Glenn's "special touch", I share his sentiments. I am looking forward, with anticipation and delight, to continuing FoxTalk's tradition of openness and dialog with you. From my experiences with Fox developers, very few of you are shy or lack for opinions! I hope you tell me about them directly -- what you want to see in FoxTalk and how you want it presented -- along with your always-thoughtful responses to Pinnacle's periodic readership surveys.
The next round of surveys will include questions about the format of code presentation in FoxTalk. As you know, Glenn was concerned with the changes required by code created by the new 2.0 tools. I shared his thoughts about this problem frequently, and continue to thrash around to find the best solution, as you'll see in this issue.
Both Tom Lewinson's and Tamar Granor's articles rely on screen sets as part of the underlying code. We've chosen to print all information necessary to build the screen where an SCX is central to the technique presented, or the elements of the technique are diffused throughout the elements of the screen, as is true in Tom's case.
Tom's article describes a very powerful and terse notation for substring searches. His screen allows a user to enter this "shorthand", and returns the properly validated FoxPro filter expression.
Expect a lot of different approaches to the problem of how users may specify search criteria within an application in the coming issues of FoxTalk. These techniques will differ in their fidelity to the RQBE interface as well as in their intended audience (Tom's design is somewhat idiosyncratic, concentrating on speed of use). We'll see if in fact our community regards the RQBE as an interface standard of any kind. I predict some lively debate.
Where the technique discussed can be used with a wide variety of screen layouts and objects, we are printing only the snippets and procedures you integrate into your own SCX to incorporate the author's concept. Tamar's article presents a very flexible lookup routine that will accomodate almost any available data structure and index expressions.
Not all articles cause us to scratch our heads over an appropriate manner of presentation! Yisroel Goodman contributes a mini-tutorial on the use of the Distribution Kit compiler to your best advantage. Steve Freides offers an explanation of BLOCKSIZE and a program to help you decide how to SET it for your memo field data. The code presented may be straightforward, but the detailed understanding you'll gain (about a FoxPro tool on one hand and a FoxPro command on the other) are invaluable.
Pat Logan shares a unique approach to the recurring question of data security. Here, as in Tamar's article, the interface design decisions are not in question, and may not even be very FoxPro 2.0-specific. But Pat's economic use of editable helpfiles for security purposes is the kind of thing you only discover in FoxPro!
Finally, we have a Workshop entry from Jeff Baker: a mouse function that can ably assist you whenever you have to know exactly where your user left the rodent on the screen. Tamar Granar adds some enhancements and corrections to her November 1991 article on the conversion of FoxView files to SCX format.
As I look over these articles, and indeed over all the submissions to FoxTalk that have been forwarded to me from Glenn's files, I am struck by the diversity and creativity in our Fox community. FoxPro truly demands that we not become "stuck" in our techniques. No article published here purports to be the one best way to solve a data problem. FoxTalk contributors would do a disservice to you, and stunt our own growth, if we decided we possessed the perfect interface or the perfect toolkit at any one point in time.
We all have a responsibility to share what we know in a manner that allows others a free hand to extend that knowledge. And this is what FoxTalk does best.
See also: People That Helped FoxPro to Become a Legend: Lisa Slater Nicholls