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Deploying Visual FoxPro Solutions
Table of Contents


Detailed Table of Contents (PDF) here
Complete Index (PDF) here

Chapter 1 - Deployment Fundamentals
Today's Information Technology (IT) professionals are responsible for managing a multitude of different platforms, operating systems, networks, application development tools, and third party components. Implementing and maintaining custom software and vertical market products you develop in this environment is more complex than ever despite running in the most advance environment since the dawn of the personal computing era. A strong understanding of deployment fundamentals can reduce the problems you introduce into the process and increase your ability to react to unexpected situations and resolve inevitable problems.

Chapter 2 - Planning for Success
Do you ever plan for success, or even plan for a failed deployment? Planning a deployment helps in avoiding the pitfalls and helps set your customer’s expectations as to what happens when the software development is considered complete and ready for installation. It also hopefully ensures you are more prepared to deploy the solutions successfully than you would be if you did not take the time in advance to consider all the issues that can cause problems.

Chapter 3 - Packaging the Installation
Creating a professional installation package can be as important as creating the defect free software product it installs. It is the first impression you create with end users as they install your product on their computers for the first time. Creating a professional installation package takes preparation and planning.

Chapter 4 - Setup Tool Roundup
Back in the golden days a developer could literally copy files from their development machine to a floppy disk, and then take that disk to a customer location and copy the files to the customer computers. It worked and was extremely efficient. Today more and more our customers expect us to deliver a professional setup, just like Microsoft, Intuit, Symantec, and even smaller players do in the world of shrink-wrapped software.

Chapter 5 - Windows Installer Inside and Out
Windows Installer is Microsoft’s solution for a reliable, standardized, and open method of installing software. Tools such as InstallShield Express, which ships with Visual FoxPro, build setup packages for Windows Installer. While it is possible to use a Windows Installer-based setup tool without knowing much, if anything, about Windows Installer itself, your ability to use these setup tools comfortably and effectively improves significantly when you have some understanding of how Windows Installer works. This chapter helps you acquire that understanding.

Chapter 6 - Workstation and Traditional LAN Applications Step-By-Step
The twenty-first century developer faces developing buzzword-compliant applications, yet customers are still demanding workstation and local area network-based applications as much as ever. This chapter addresses issues in deploying Visual FoxPro data (free tables as well as database-contained tables) in this traditional environment.

Chapter 7 - Client/Server Applications Step-By-Step
In the context of this chapter, Client/Server applications are accessing remote data, data that is not Visual FoxPro tables (DBF). More and more we are seeing CIOs and IT Managers require new applications use a SQL backend database. This architecture presents new challenges when deploying Visual FoxPro solutions. This chapter addresses these issues and presents some solutions for you to consider when you approach a deployment.

Chapter 8 - Release and Post-Release Tips
Release day is finally here! The process of moving an application into production is the end of a long road traveled. Depending on the project, you might spend hours, weeks, months, or even years of blood, sweat, and tears getting ready for this big event. Now the light at the end of the tunnel approaches. Is it the sun at the end of the tunnel or a freight train about to run you over? Deploying a project into production can go smoothly, or not, depending on the planning and attention to detail.

Chapter 9 - Support and Ch-Ch-Changes
Supporting a deployed application is not exactly glamorous work, but it is a task most developers face at some point in the development life cycle. No software is perfect. No software is really ever complete. At some point, if you are lucky enough to have your customers trust you with new ideas for an existing application, they might call you in to make changes to their program. This situation requires some special consideration when deploying the update to the production environment.

Chapter 10 - Security
Security breaches in your favorite operating systems get big-time publicity in the world news. The topic is so important Bill Gates has taken on the task of making Windows more secure with the Trustworthy Computing initiative inside of Microsoft, and the Open Source community releases security patches on a regular basis. How secure are your Visual FoxPro solutions? This chapter briefly discusses some of the application and data security issues, and focuses primarily on addressing the security of your source code inside the executables you deploy.

Chapter 11 - The What and Why of ‘Wares
There are several different ways developers can market and distribute the applications they develop. As developers of custom software we are most familiar with distributing custom applications. But, what about the really cool tool you just developed and want to share with the world. Is it better to distribute it as freeware, shareware, or a vertical market tool? This chapter helps you decide the right method for your application.

Chapter 12 - Legalese
Who owns the code? How do I license an application? What’s a non-exclusive license? Why do we need to bother with a formal contract? Who supplies the contract? Intellectual property, copyrights, derivative works, oh my! Help! I’m sinking in a pool of legalese. This chapter deals with the deployment issues handled in the contract and defines some of the legal terms developers should become familiar with.

Appendix A - How To: InstallShield Express
Visual FoxPro 7.0 and 8.0 come with a special edition of InstallShield Express. This setup tool is the designated successor to the old VFP Setup Wizard from VFP 6 and earlier. Like its more fully featured siblings, InstallShield Express—Visual FoxPro Limited Edition builds setup packages for Microsoft Windows Installer. This appendix takes you on a walk-through of building a complete setup package for a VFP application using InstallShield Express. It also explores the differences between the version of InstallShield Express that comes with VFP 7, the version that comes with VFP 8, and the full version of InstallShield Express available from InstallShield Corp.

Appendix B - How To: Wise for Windows Installer
Wise for Windows Installer is a powerful tool for creating Windows Installer-based setup packages. This appendix shows you how to use Wise for Windows Installer to create a setup package for a Visual FoxPro application.

Appendix C - How To: InstaFox
Would you like to be able to quickly and easily create professional, customized installation (setup) processes? Would you like full control over the installation process? Would you like to deploy your VFP applications using an installation program written in VFP? If your answer is yes, InstaFox is the application setup tool for you.

Appendix D - How To: Inno Setup
Would you like to find a light-weight, easy-to-use, script-based installation program for deploying your VFP applications? Would you like it to support all 32-bit versions of Windows? Would you like it to be free? Look no further: Inno Setup is the answer.

Appendix E - Third Party Tools
Third party tools are produced because developers either found something lacking in the process of developing custom software solutions, or vendors somehow found a better or more automated way to solve a problem we frequently run into when we craft solutions for our customers. Today, more than any time in the computing age, we find ourselves purchasing or finding free tools to make our lives easier as we deploy applications to our clients.

Appendix F - Support Forums
The Fox Community has a long tradition of peer-to-peer technical support. Getting help on all facets of deploying applications is something we have become accustomed to over the years. In addition to the free (and not so free) peer-to-peer support we have become dependent on, a host of commercially supported forums exists sponsored by the vendors of products used in creating deployment package as well as the products used to develop custom solutions.

Appendix G - How to Copyright Code
Inserting the Copyright notice in our code is sufficient for securing Copyright. Refer to Chapter 11, “Legalese.” However, some developers may prefer to formally copyright their code by registering it with the United States Copyright Office. This appendix lists the steps required to register copyrighted code. It is a fairly simple process. You just have to figure out what form to fill out and how much of your code actually needs to be included.