VFP Tutorial - Development Environment

Visual FoxPro is unusual amongst the current generation of Microsoft development tools in that it still retains a command-line interface. It has a menu system and a toolbar across the top of the window with all the familiar buttons that you would expect but you are also faced with a command window where you can enter FoxPro commands.

[The Command Window in the Visual FoxPro IDE]

The screenshot shows part of the Visual FoxPro environment with a few lines of Fox commands showing in the Command Window. That window is shown docked against the left-hand side of the screen. It can float free or be docked against any edge of the screen and in real life it would probably be wider with a smaller font size. The black pane on the right of the window is where the results of commands are displayed.


The keywords of the FoxPro language appear as upper case in blue because this is the default setting of Visual FoxPro's Intellisense feature. As soon as Fox recognises the word that you are typing it displays the rest of that word in blue. If you press the Space or Tab keys then Fox will complete the word for you and follow it with a list of parameters and options that can apply to that command. Unlike other Microsoft languages, the Visual FoxPro IntelliSense is open and documented - it is actually a lookup into a FoxPro table - and you can add your own entries to the list.

Using the FoxPro Command Window

When you first start to learn Visual FoxPro you might be tempted to close the Command Window because it looks so old-fashioned and drive FoxPro in the same point-and-click style as you would do with Access. This is possible but it is a slow and restricted way of working.

Just to take a simple example, you can create a new program file (code module) by selecting New from the File menu and specifying that you want a new file of type Code. It is so very much quicker though to type mc in the Command Window and hit Space or Tab. Intellisense will expand this abbreviation to Modify Command and you can either hit Return to get a new file, type "?" to see a list of program files, or type in the name of the file you want to open.

Advanced features of Visual FoxPro

The Visual FoxPro Command Window is very flexible. You can leave the main route through the tutorial and go to this page to learn about some of the advanced features of the development environment.

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