What do you want to learn in 2017?

We’re getting close to releasing the Call for Speakers for the 2017 conferences. (Watch the News page.) As we’ve done in the past, we want to offer prospective speakers ideas for welcome topics. The list below comes from both the evaluations filled in by 2016 attendees and a survey we did recently. Please add your thoughts,both on these topics and on what’s missing, in the comments to this post.

First, the list from the 2016 evaluations:

  • UI
  • VFP in cloud
  • Computer/network security (general session)
  • REST API with VFP
  • oAuth with VFP
  • Reporting sessions
  • Disaster recovery
  • Case studies
  • Error handling
  • Advanced SQL Server
  • Business development, marketing, advertising, sales, customer service
  • Web technologies (Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced), Client side web development – JavaScript, jQuery, Angular, JSON, etc., Web services
  • .NET technologies (Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced)
  • Mobile technologies (Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced)
  • 64-bit VFP compiler
  • Building applications to run as a service and building complimentary UI based apps to interact with and/or control that service’s behavior.
  • Upsizing applications
  • VFPX bonus session
  • Q & A session

Now, the additional topics mentioned in our SurveyMonkey survey:

  • More of the Xbase++ from the FoxPro perspective (like Alec Gagne gave in 2016)
  • Refactoring (to Xbase++)
  • A overview of web development – MVC, ASP, Angular, JSON, etc. what is each.
  • Business Intelligence
  • Remote Desktop
  • CXP within Web Technologies
  • DBF corruption causes and avoidance
  • Migration Ideas and Case Studies – Going from VFP to cloud and/or mobile
  • Non .NET approaches to replace Visual FoxPro
  • “Foxpro is _NOT_ dead!”
  • Foxpro and AngularJS
  • Who earns a lot of money these days WITH FoxPRO, and how they do it
  • Stupid mistakes with VFP you probably don’t know you’re making
  • Reporting through XBASE ++
  • Creation of forms in XBase ++
  • What’s broken in VFP? Given changes in Windows and Networks what does not work in VFP any more? What are the work arounds?
  • Node.js
  • Big data
  • No SQL databases
  • Express++ with Roger Donnay
  • The good way to do things with Steffen (like File Locks and Unlocks, when, how the system works with files on the low level)
  • User Interfaces
  • More on CXP

Microsoft Virtual PC Video

Doug is doing a session at Southwest Fox 2009 titled “Microsoft Virtual PC for VFP Developers.” VPC is one of the indispensible tools every developer ought to use (or if not VPC, one of its competitors such as VMWare), and yet many haven’t embraced it. Hopefully, this session will convince you to start using it immediately.

Doug created a short (5 minute) teaser video showing part of his session: how VPC is useful to test application installers to make sure all dependencies are included. Attendees of Southwest Fox will receive a complete white paper on installing, configuring, and using VPC. See you there!

Choosing speakers and sessions: harder than ever

We’re deep into the speaker and session selection process and it’s harder this year than ever before. We have a record number of submissions, both of speakers and topics. What makes this really exciting is the number of submissions from “Southwest Fox virgins.”

We received proposals from 27 people, nearly twice as many as we need. About half of the 27 have never spoken at Southwest Fox before; some have previously spoken only at user groups. We’re really excited that so many people want to share what they’ve learned.

We have proposals for 92 topics; we need 28 to 30, plus 4 pre-conference sessions. Obviously, there’s some overlap among the topics proposed by different people. However, there seems to be less of that than in previous years. That’s both good and bad. It means we don’t have to do as much of “Do we want person X to present topic Z, or would we rather that person Y do that topic?” On the other hand, this means that we have a lot more topics proposed that aren’t going to make the cut.

The number of topics proposed per speaker ranges from 1 to 19! The median and the mode (most common) is 3. Veteran speakers know that giving us more than 2 to choose from is a good idea, and increases the chance of being chosen.

The topics proposed are pretty well distributed among the tracks. We allowed people to designate two tracks for each topic they proposed. Not surprisingly, the most common track is “Solidifying VFP Development” with 33 submissions. We have 29 topics that fit into “Integrating VFP” and 25 each for “Extending VFP” and “Technology for VFP Developers.” We got 9 proposals for pre-conference sessions and the same number for “Taking Advantage of VFPX.” What’s amazing about those statistics is that, for four of our tracks, we have enough topics to practically fill the whole conference.

So what does all this mean? First, that I’m really glad we gave people a VFP application to submit their proposals this year. Consolidating the submissions into our database was pretty easy. I just unzipped each submission into a separate folder and wrote a little program to loop through the folders and populate the master tables. If we’d had the usual mishmash of Word docs, with some speakers submitting a single document and others submitting one per session, I would have spent much, much longer. (And, of course, now that I have it working, the program is reusable. Maybe next year, I’ll extend it to handle processing the emails and unzipping the data.)

For the three of us, it’s meant somewhat more time working through the proposals and making our individual selections. Interestingly, though, the amount of variance among our individual choices isn’t a lot higher than in the past. We have a conference call scheduled to resolve the differences. (Think House-Senate Joint Conference Committee.)

For those who submitted, of course, it means more competition and that we’ll have to say “sorry, thanks, please try again” to more people than ever before.

For our attendees, we think it means the best line-up of speakers and topics ever. We hope you’ll agree.