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Introduction

This started as a response to message #596617 (you have to be logged in the Universal Thread in order to check this link) posted in The Universal Thread by Fernando Alvares: "For those that knew about: was this the start of all FoxPro forums?"

Tamar Granor gave the start and Doug Dodge suggested the wiki page approach ("As far as someone doing an article I'd recommend a wikis type approach to begin with where a lot of folks can each add their own 'piece' of the picture"), and here it is. Join!

CompuServe - Memories

Tamar Granor: Online discussion of FoxPro did start on CompuServe. Original, there was a single section within a forum that supported multiple products. After some time, that section had so much traffic that an entire forum was needed. It was called FoxForum and originally, as was the CompuServe standard in those days, had 17 sections. (This is why there are 17 questions in Whil Hentzen's original "dreaded list.") Later on, two things happened, but I don't remember in which order. CompuServe expanded forums to 24 sections (which is why the VFP version of Whil's list has 24 questions). In addition, there was so much traffic in FoxForum that a second, less technical, forum called FoxUsers (also known as FoxGang) was created.

When VFP was released, yet another FoxPro forum was added, VFox. So, for a while, there were three FoxPro forums. As traffic in the original FoxForum declined, as people moved from FoxPro 2.x to VFP, that forum eventually closed.

A couple of years ago, CompuServe (now owned by AOL) decided to consolidate a lot of its forums, and the two remaining FoxPro forums were combined with forums supported Access, VB and a few other things to from MSDevApps. VFP has 4 sections in that forum, and they are the busiest technical sections. In addition, the FoxGang accounts for almost all of the traffic in the Breakpoint/Chatter section of the forum.

Anyone who wants to check it out can do so (for free) at go.compuserve.com/msdevapps. You do have to create a unique screen name (or use your AOL, CompuServe or Hotmail name).

Doug Dodge: I can add a couple of items here.

The forum was started by the late Glenn Hart. He was a huge advocate of the Fox product line. He also wrote some early articles for dBASE Advisor about Fox.

Nancy Jacobsen wrote the original entry that you referenced above. Apparently it was so well written that the folks in Perrysburg added it to the product. She was also knwn affectionately as "Miss Manners". <g>

At one point Lisa Slater was the official archivist for the forums. Nancy Jacobsen and I were 'junior archivists' <g> so to speak. We helped collate the varios materials for Lisa (who did most of the work By the way). Essentially our job was to download every single message for offline storage as a sort of backup in case Lisa wasn't able to get some messages. As a result, somewhere around my home I should have an almost complete set of messages that would span a few years. The time frame would probably be around the 1991-1994/5ish period. This would have covered all the discussions you've heard about. The messages themselves are, if I correctly recall, copyrighted by CompuServe so I don't think I can hand them out without regard to satisfying them in some manner, unless they (CompuServe) gave me a waiver or something. However, if I can find them and if they are not damaged or have missing parts and if CompuServe permits at some point I can certainly make them available in some form or another. I wouldn't know if Nancy or Lisa still had their copies. I know I do - somewhere. <g>

Craig Berntson: This is great information to add to the history. I never knew the 17 and 24 questions were tied to the number of forums.

Fernando Alvares: I asked Whil why of that relationship and he kindly explained: "I sort of matched each question to the topic of the forum section. For example, one section in the original FoxForum had to do with Browse/Read, and so there's a question in The 17 that had to do with Browses/Reads. Another section was on Reports, so there was a question on reports."

Tamar Granor: Couple of comments. First, I'm not sure that Glenn _started_ FoxForum. It was an official Fox Software support venue. However, I think you were around earlier than I was (I picked up FoxBase+ in 1988), so there may be history I don't know.

On another front, Glenn was the first editor of FoxTalk. I'll never forget receiving an email from him asking if I'd write an article based on something I'd posted a message about. Put me on cloud 9 for the rest of the day at least (though it took me months to actually get around to writing the article).

Fernando - I'm sure you're watching, so to add to the list, the editors of FoxTalk, in chronological order, were Glenn Hart, Lisa Slater, Bob Grommes and Whil Hentzen. I'm the only one who had the title "editor" for FoxPro Advisor.

There was another short-lived FoxPro publication - FoxPro User Journal (or maybe "Users" plural) that John Hawkins owned and edited.

Doug Dodge: Actually I think he did - as an extension of his duties at Fox Software. I seem to recall that, with Dr. Dave's blessings, this was in response to the tremendous interest in Fox products that happened sort of as a result of Tom Retting switching from Clipper (I think he ditched dBASE for Clipper) to Fox.

Also, Fox Software would have had to have been the company that sponsored the forum anyway as that was how CompuServe did (still does?) things anyway.

Things never seem to change. I've had offers for years to write but never have really gotten around to it. *shrug* However, I'm working on a nifty little add-on that I'm hopng to finish (prototype anyway) and put out in the public domain. A simple little control but one we're having some fun building here. A young programmer by the name of Jacob Statham is the one who took an idea I had and made it work in VFP. With his help I'm going to extend it and see just how far we can take it and then toss it out. Jacob just informed me that Jeff McKay (our other rising star) was in on the original discussion.

Say.. If I get the chance I'll dig out your first CI$ post if I can.. We'll see what was troubling you way back then. As a matter of fact I ought to load all that data up and find the first post of everyone I can.. Hmmm.. Something to do this weekend. < BG >

You know, another area to explore would be the beta t-shirts, sweatshirts & two known FP 2.0 jackets.. I have one and Walt has the other.

Craig Berntson: As I recall, you did the 3.0 shirts. I did the 6.0 and 7.0 shirts.

Doug Dodge: Well, actually I did the 2.0, 2.5, 2.6 and 3.0 shirts. A fellow (who's name I can't recall right now) did the 5.0 ones. Then you took it over at that point.

Craig Berntson: There was a newsletter that the Ziff Davis published, but I don't remember the name. Let's not forget Les Pinter's newsletter either.

Yair Alan Griver: Great memories, folks... <g>

Fox started support of PCVEN section 12 (which later become PCVENA - as they added PCVENB). Then they added FOXFORUM as the section messages started to scroll off in under 3 days. <g>

Joel Leach: If you run across my name, I wouldn't mind seeing my first message. I spent a lot of time there trying to figure out FP2.6 cross-platform stuff. That seems so long ago now. I think of FoxForum as "the good ole days". Thanks

Christof Lange: I don't think that they are copyrighted by CompuServe. A CompuServe forum is always owned by a business partner, CompuServe only provides the infrastructure. For example, the current VFP forum (MSDevApps) is owned by WUGNET. By the way, we do have an archive available on CompuServe that dates back to the end of 1997 (and files going back to 1989). When we published it, the only restriction was that we only could make it available to members, not to guests. However, this restriction was lifted when our forum became available for free to everyone.

Doug Dodge: Ok.. That's good to hear. When you say 'files going back to 1989' would those be the upload files, not the messages? I'm hoping to get some time to dig my old set out and extract the first message various folks posted.

Christof Lange: In any case, I'll try to find out who is responsible for giving the permission to publish your archive. It might take a while, though. I don't think posting the archive on CompuServe itself would be a problem, but there might be an issue making it available somewhere else.

Doug Dodge: Great. As I mentioned above, I'd like to find my old set of archived messages and extract a few individual messages out for the historical benefit of the community. I don't think anyone would have a problem with that as it wouldn't be a comprehensive 'dump' of data. Still, if you wouldn't mind asking I'd surely appreciate it. If you bump into Lisa (aka >L<) would you ask her if she still has her archives? If she's willing to send them to me I can fill in anywhere I might have some holes.

Lisa Slater Nicholls: Christof is incorrect about the copyright of the FoxForum archives. As it was explained to me on numerous occasions, CompuServe did indeed retain rights to the messages. However, there are some subtleties involved here. The messages archives in DBF format (all of which I have, btw, probably in compressed formats appropriate to all possible platforms ) were the property of Fox Software and okay to distribute as long as it was okay with Fox (later MSFT).

There were also various pieces of software written to view and manage the threads, and convert them between various formats, in various versions of Fox, by me, Roger Bischoff, John Hosier and others. Those that were posted in the public CIS libraries were all distributed freely as far as I know.

Doug is correct about Glenn having started FoxForum. Glenn did this in his role a public relations consultant to Fox Software, so yes of course he created it as "an official Fox Software venue", and it had employees of Fox Software on its staff from the beginning. But it was originally Glenn's idea and Glenn made the arrangements that set up the forum and managed it thereafter. Glenn nurtured and shaped the community to an extraordinary degree.

The Primary Fox-employee Sysop for quite a long time was Kristine Ulrich (née Dietrich I think). Either Toni Taylor (later Feltman) or Roger Bischoff would probably have assumed Primary status when Kristine moved to lead the Telecommunications team, unless it was Bart Hanline(?). But the Forum was always Glenn's baby and he made all the policy and "character" decisions related to the Forum in consultation with other Fox Software notables including Janet Walker, Walt Kennamer, and Dr. Dave. All these people read the forum messages with great interest, even when they did not actively participate.

Speaking of Bart, Glenn, and Walt, and the "character" of FoxForum... below is a typical Walt contribution, excerpted from THREADS1.DBF, that will give you the flavor quite well.

****31-Oct-90 07:03:00 Fm: Walt Kennamer--Fox 74025,514
To: Glenn Hart 76703,4226 (X)

Re: Rushmore and BROWSE FOR. You indicated that performance should be wonderful. From what I can tell, performance is damn near paranormal.
About the time Rushmore came into being, I noticed that all the mirrors around here quit reflecting any of the programmers. And today is Halloween. Everyone in the office is dressed up as witches, vampires, devils (except Bart Hanline who, naturally, is wearing a Bart Simpson mask). But all the programmers look perfectly normal. Probably doesn't mean anything though.


Toni Feltman: Lisa is correct that Kristine Ulrich was the first “real” sysop of the FoxForum along with Glenn Hart. Prior to the FoxForum, Bart Hanline and Mike Feltman monitored the PCVEN forums. Back then, support was pretty slow and the forums did not take much time. When traffic picked up, I was moved to CompuServe support under Kristine. I did all of the DOS support. Roger Bischoff (and later Matt Pohle) handled MAC support. I believe that we had about 3000 message slots around the time I left and the scroll rate was 3 days. That means that we were averaging 1000 messages a day. Not all of these were technical, but they still had to be read just in case a response was needed. It was pretty crazy.

The forum was a GREAT place. I really enjoyed my work; I just wish there had been just a little less of it. J I was so devoted to the forum members like family. I remember Mike (now my husband) calling me every hour on my last day at work telling me to come home. I ended up working until 8:00pm because I could not leave any family member in need. What a wonderful time!

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