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I work in a small software company where my boss is a great fan of Visual Foxpro. We are working on an ASP.NET project but my boss is insisting to use Visual Foxpro DBF instead of SQL Server.

I want to know what may be the advantages and disadvantages of using a Foxpro database file with ASP.NET 3.5.

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I think the real question is not as much using a DBF with ASP.NET as it is "what is this system going to do?" I haven't worked with VFP in more than a decade, but SQL Server is most likely more robust if this is going to be a "busy" system. DBF could choke quickly under too much pressure. – MetalMikester Sep 13 '11 at 11:33
I am going to guess that Visual Foxpro is no longer suggested by Microsoft. There are a number of solutons that are simply better then Visual Foxpro i.e. MSSQL Express comes to mind. – Ramhound Sep 13 '11 at 11:41
A more salient question is the relative Merits of a Client-Server version a file-system database. This is going to have far greater implications on the project than which specific DB of one type or the other that you use. – JohnFx Sep 13 '11 at 19:04
up vote 2 down vote accepted

I can only think of one advantage to using Foxpro data with ASP.NET 3.5:

  • Your boss can manipulate the data using Foxpro

The disadvantages include poor performance and/or unexplained errors and even data corruption.

There is a VERY active community of people who mix and match Visual FoxPro (VFP) and .NET quite a bit that I think could provide a lot of useful information for you:

In fact, if you ask this same question there you'll get much more detailed answers.

The owner of that site has written many articles on the subject of FoxPro and .NET and has even written a wrapper for communication between the two, wwDotNetBridge, part of the West Wind Internet Client Tools for VFP:

However, that tool is for accessing .NET from VFP. Oddly absent from his site that spans many years is a detailed explanation on accessing VFP data from .NET. The reason for this is, he doesn't recommend it (from what I've gathered from talking to him in person). The OBDC driver is woefully out-of-date and the OLE DB Driver can have serious issues unless it is only used for reads.

Here's a post on his forum from a very respected FoxPro expert, Doug Hennig, about the various ways of connecting to VFP data:

Here's a post on his forum about issues with the OLE DB:

You are bound to run into the same problems and more if you proceed down the path your boss wants.

A much better solution, IMO, is to either stick with native FoxPro for web development (for now at least) and use Rick's excellent West Wind Web Connection product:

Or just do straight ASP.NET development and tell your boss to use FoxPro's ability to access SQL data and bring it into a cursor where he can use FoxPro commands all he wants to manipulate the data.

For what it's worth, we've been using West Wind Web Connection for over 10 years for our ecommerce website. It works great and since all our in-house data/programming is VFP, it was the right choice back in 2000. And for everyone here who might chuckle at a VFP backend for a website, last year our website processed over 150,000 orders (sometimes 2,000+ per day) with a total value in the mid-eight figures. We are a leader (if not the leader) in our industry.

Having said that, I would highly recommend you stick with ASP.NET MVC and just do exporting or data mining processes to get the data into FoxPro for your boss' needs. We are in the process of converting to ASP.NET MVC right now.

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Your boss knows Visual Foxpro, thats its major advantage. Coders time is expensive and they can develop faster with a product they know.

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Unfortunately, I am the coder who used Foxpro 2.6 decade ago. My boss just wants for his passion's sake. – RPK Sep 13 '11 at 14:55
@RPK You should talk to him and ask him exactly why he wants to use FoxPro. Although I can see why he would want to use known technologies in this case it seems daft. – Tom Squires Sep 13 '11 at 15:00
I have an SUV but my boss is passionate about bull-cart, What should i do. Convince(show the merits of MSSQL) him, that's it. Otherwise he will tie the SUV to bull :-P – Pankaj Upadhyay Sep 16 '11 at 11:21

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