|CompuServe - The Fox Forum|
FoxForum-A Place to Share Ideas
How the Forum is Structured
The forum consists of two parts:
FoxForum is the standard technical support forum.
FoxUser Forum is the Fox user community forum.
Accessing the FoxForum
Enter GO FOXPRO at any ! prompt.
FoxForum is divided into the following areas:
Accessing the FoxUser Forum
Enter GO FOXGANG at any ! prompt.
FoxUser Forum is divided into the following areas:
Tips on Using the FoxForum
You may find it useful to print these out. From the File menu, choose Print Topic.
Hard and Fast Rules
There are no other "rules" but there are some conventions of behavior that will ease your life in the forum. Please see Manners and Ambience.
Manners and Ambience
Here are some pointers on using the FoxForum kindly provided by Nancy Jacobsen.
This is the FoxForum, so naturally what brings people together is an interest in Microsoft Fox products-most of the people here are working with FoxPro, FoxBASE+, or FoxBASE+ for Macintosh. These include developers, people using the products to manage their own data, and hobbyists. The range of skill and expertise is very wide-from the loftiest FoxPro guru to the absolute beginner. Experts and beginners are equally valued-beginners sometimes ask the best questions.
In addition to the people who write messages on the forum, there is another group we (affectionately) call "lurkers"-people who monitor the forum (reading messages, downloading files) but for one reason or another haven't chosen to write any messages to us. We might tease lurkers from time to time (that's why we said "affectionately"), but we value them as well, and if you want to lurk, that's fine with us.
Although intended as a "working" forum for sharing information and professional expertise, this forum is also a friendly and informal place. People here can become quite close-and a newcomer quickly finds him/herself accepted. When you join the forum, "old timers" will treat you as a friend as long as you behave yourself (smile).
As with any group of friends, you'll find that there are lots of "in" jokes, many teasing comments, heated debates, occasional spats and feuds, people having a bad day who may be cranky-the usual stuff of human interaction. You'll find the reason we're friends is that we share common interests, are working in generally the same field, and appreciate the opportunity to communicate. For some of us who are isolated, the forum members are the only people we know who understand what we're talking about (grin).
So, when you "walk" into the forum, it will be more like walking into a large party with people who share professional interests than like walking into an office or a professional association. It's like a user's group with no specific agenda. We hear that not all other forums share our "friendly" attitude and you may be in for a a shock if you're used to a more formal atmosphere.
As with all CompuServe forums, forum members range widely in personality, geography, race, gender, religion, etc., and this is definitely an equal-opportunity forum.
As for manners, all we ask is that you be considerate of everybody else. When we say "considerate," we mean consider that the person on the other end of your message is a human being with ups and downs, strong and weak points, and good days and bad days. Consider that a person may reside in a non-English speaking country and use English as a second language. Consider that a person might have a disability or that a person may not be the gender you think he or she is based on name alone.
Also, please consider that people here represent different nationalities, races, ethnic groups, religions, abilities/disabilities, and genders, and respect these differences. In this forum, it is important to us that we provide an environment where we all feel safe. If any one of us is ridiculed or insulted, we all lose because we lose that person's enthusiasm to participate with us and contribute to the work we do.
Consideration can be most important when you are upset. Within the bounds of consideration, you can complain, whine or throw tantrums, if you need to-we think we all have at one time or another. But it takes a certain amount of skill to complain, whine or throw a tantrum politely and with consideration for others. If you're upset, consider how your message might affect you if you were to receive it.
If you're considerate, you shouldn't run into too many problems here. But we must warn you that you are subject to teasing (because you're considered a friend from the beginning-please don't take this personally) and if you should stray beyond the bounds of what's considered "appropriate" behavior, you may receive a gentle admonition. If you are really out of line, a Sysop may decide to step in-a Sysop is a final authority on behavior, and even long-term forum members quake before a Sysop's pronouncements (smile).
As a rule of thumb, a belligerent attitude is frowned upon-it tends to make us uncomfortable because it upsets the balance of friendliness and consideration and retards the free flow of communication. Frankly, we seem to be able to have very "loud" arguments without resorting to this approach.
Who's Microsoft and Who Isn't
People on the forum who work for Microsoft tech support have [MSFT] or "Sysop" after their names in their identification. If somebody doesn't have [MSFT] or "Sysop" after his or her name, s/he is not an employee of the company and is just being helpful. Some forum members are so helpful that people assume they work for Microsoft even if they don't. Although we would hesitate to say that you can treat Microsoft people differently than anybody else, we think it's fair to say that it's their job to deal with questions and problems related to the Fox line of products, and you can relate to them in that context.
You may be interested to know that senior managers and many of the staff at Microsoft review the forum messages every day. They are all paying attention to what you have to say and their products reflect this interest. Also various Microsoft staff members will contribute to the forum from time to time. They will either have "(Microsoft)" after their name or identify themselves in their signature.
What To Do If You're Upset
It's not uncommon for people to log onto the forum for the first time because they're upset-because they've spent hours and hours working on a problem and can't solve it-because something about one of the Fox products doesn't work the way it should or the way they think it should (often there's a difference)-because they've tried calling tech support and haven't received an acceptable answer yet-because they had something working in one product that suddenly doesn't work in an upgrade.
We understand-and it just may be that we can help you if you give us a chance. If this is true for you, here's what we recommend: First, consider the other forum members (see Manners and Ambience) and second, start your message with, "I'm upset." Then try to explain your problem as succinctly as possible. For further guidelines, see Asking Questions.
Emoticons and Acronyms
As you may have noticed, so far we've been trying to express humorous comments with such things as "(grin)" or "(smile)." One of the things that most puzzles newcomers is the use of acronyms and what are called "emoticons."
In an electronic medium such as the forum, it's pretty hard to get across certain elements of face-to-face communications that would otherwise be expressed with tone of voice, inflection or body language-elements such as humor, irony, sadness and various non-verbal "comments" on what is being discussed. Consequently, certain conventions have arisen to express those elements.
Technically, an emoticon is an "icon designating emotions" depicted with symbols. Perhaps the most common of which is:
:-) = a smiling face on its side (tilt your head to the left to read it).
There are literally hundreds of others. However, we are also using the term to apply to the text-based equivalents that are more commonly used on this forum:
<g> Grin-either the previous comment was meant humorously or one is responding with a laugh to somebody else's humorous comment-perhaps the most widely used symbol on this forum.
<s> Smile-usually means that one is smiling at somebody else's comment or could refer to one's own comment that is slightly humorous.
"*" or "_" As in *emphasize* or _emphasize_-equivalent to italics or underlining.
Creative people on the forum will sometimes make up their own emoticons from time to time but they almost always explain them since nobody would otherwise know what they're talking about <g>.
Many acronyms have also become standard-mainly to save typing. Some of the common ones are explained here. Any others you encounter, you'll have to figure out for yourself, but once you've got the "trick" down, it's kind of fun.
General CIS-wide acronyms:
BTW By the way
CIS CompuServe Information Service
FWIW For what it's worth
IAC In any case (also IAE-in any event)
IANAL I am not a lawyer
IMO In my opinion
IMHO In my honest/humble opinion (in the latter case a sure sign the opinion is not going to be humble at all <g>)
IOW In other words
JIC Just in case
KOW Knock on wood
OIC Oh, I see!
OTOH On the other hand
PITA Pain in the "acronym"
POV Point of view
PPN Programmer project number, i.e. a CIS user's id#
RSN Real soon now (computer lingo for "don't hold your breath")
RTFM Read the f* manual (variously interpreted as, read the fine manual, read the fabulous manual, etc.)
TIA Thanks in advance
TSR Terminate and stay resident program
WYSIWYG What you see is what you get
YA... Yet another .... (as in YAA-yet another acronym)
Fox and Xbase Related Acronyms:
FB+/M FoxBASE+ for Macintosh
FP FoxPro (1.02, 2.00 and 2.5)
FPW FoxPro for Windows
API Application programming interface
CF, C&F Commands and Functions manual, now known as the Language Reference
DD Data dictionary
DDE Dynamic Data Exchange
DLL Dynamic Link Library
ER Enhancement request (request for an enhancement to a Microsoft Fox product or documentation)
GUI Graphical user interface
LLFF Low level file functions
LR Language Reference manual
ODBC Open Database Connectivity
OKL On key label
OLE Object Linking and Embedding
OO, OOP Object oriented, object oriented programming
RW Report writer
SU Single user
TP Transaction processing
UDF User defined function
UG User's Guide
XCMD External command
XFNC External function
In addition there are a large number of platform specific acronyms and abbreviations such as QEMM, DV, WIN, INIT, CDEV, DA, which you'll either know or can ask about.
Forum Organization-Messages, Threads and Sections
The forum is comprised of individual messages from one forum member to another. These messages are organized by thread. A "thread" is simply a string of related messages and replies brought together under a "thread topic," which serves as the "message header" for every message in that thread.
Threads begin when an individual creates a new message (not replying to a previous message) and grow as other individuals reply. A new thread may also be created when replying to a previous message by changing the topic or posting the reply to a different section.
New threads should be posted to the section appropriate to the topic.
Messages themselves may be either private or public (see Private and Public Messages) and cannot exceed about 10,000 characters in length. For assistance in composing and posting messages, please refer either to the CIS help files or to the documentation provided with your communications software.
Message Traffic and Scroll Rate
Message traffic is the number of messages which get posted to a forum in a day. The volume on the FoxForum is very high-ranging from about 100 messages a day when a lot of folks are at the developers conference to as many as 700 messages a day when something really interesting happens (such as a new version of one of the Microsoft Fox line of products). Message traffic probably averages about 300-400 per day.
A CIS forum is limited to a certain number of message "slots" or total number of messages at any one time. As messages are posted, the message slots fill up. When they are full, messages begin to "scroll off" (disappear) on a first in, first out basis (early messages scroll off before later ones). With message traffic (also called the scroll rate) of 300 messages a day, the first messages in the queue will disappear in about six days.
Private and Public Messages
Some forums, and this is one, allow members to post private messages to each other. Private messages can cut down on some of the extraneous messages that everybody has to wade through, but they also take up message slots. Please delete private messages to or from you when they have been received. Many forums do not allow private messages because the sysops can't delete them. However, Microsoft feels that its forum members are responsible enough to delete their own messages so that important public messages will be available longer.
The nature of threads and the high scroll rate in this forum frequently have consequences for how you ask questions, how you formulate replies, and how you can help the forum function efficiently. Details will be included in later discussions where appropriate. Forum members are very helpful, patient and forgiving-no matter what level of expertise you have. You will almost certainly get an answer to your questions, if you are aware of certain facts of life.
Due to the high message volume on the FoxForum, forum members who read all the messages (and there are many) are trying to keep up with forum traffic, be helpful, earn a living, and live something like normal lives-all at the same time.
It's recommended that you check in again within two or three days after you leave a message and that you read all the messages in your thread-otherwise you might 1) miss responses that have disappeared due to the high scroll rate and 2) miss responses that may not have been addressed directly to you-people tend to reply to the most recent message in the thread rather than going back to your original inquiry. Any message sent directly to you and not read before it scrolls will automatically be sent to you via CompuServe Mail.
Before You Ask
You are welcome to ask just about anything, but you might want to check out our archives first.
It should be no surprise that over the course of this forum's existence, many questions are asked over and over again and many have already been answered. But this is FoxPro/FoxBASE+ territory and we've got a solution to this. We have archivists who patiently and unselfishly accumulate the collected wisdom of the forum messages into database and text files that are available in the Forum libraries. The database files are in the form of the FoxPro or FoxBASE+ for Macintosh Help file and can be accessed in FoxPro and FoxBASE+ for Macintosh by issuing the command: SET HELP TO
For more information, see Libraries.
Phrasing Your Question
The way you phrase your question can make a big difference in the kind of response you get.
Here's the "worst case" question-one that forum members will want to avoid (tech support will answer, of course, but you may be missing an opportunity to get a speedy reply from someone else):"I just got Fox and it doesn't work. Can anybody help?"
Obviously, the first things anybody has to ask are: Which of the Fox products are you using and what version of it? What do you mean it "doesn't work"? Just finding out the basics could take quite a bit of time.
So, here are some guidelines:
If it's a programming problem, post the actual bit of code that you think is causing the problem or a close approximation.
For really difficult problems, it helps to post code that can be extracted from your message and run without modification. Obviously, if this involves data files, it helps to know what files are needed, what their structures are, what kind of fields they have, and how they relate to each other. However, for brevity's sake, try to post something that's informative but not necessarily complete. If further action is required, you can begin to fill in the details.
If you have a very difficult or complex problem, it may eventually be resolved only by sending it to someone else for review. There are two approaches:
DO NOT UPLOAD ANYTHING TO ANYBODY WITHOUT THEIR SPECIFIC PRIOR APPROVAL.
Downloading something from CompuServe costs the recipient money in phone and CIS connect charges. Many active forum members use automated programs to download their messages and files and these programs do not give them the chance to refuse a download-anything in their box is downloaded automatically. It's simply not fair to impose this burden on them without their consent. The above rule also means that if somebody has been kind enough to look at something before, it doesn't necessarily mean they want to look at it again. It's a simple matter to request and receive permission before you upload.
In either case, when you upload something to somebody, be considerate again-send them the minimum that's necessary to "get the job done", in other words, give them the information they need to assist you (a small sample program with sample .DBF files, etc. if possible) and compress the file (using PKZIP for DOS or Stuffit for the Mac) to reduce transmission time.
Responding to Answers
If you have asked a question and someone has replied with an answer, read what they have to say carefully. If they've solved your problem, great! If they haven't, but are trying to help, answer their questions. Remember they may be in a hurry, or have misunderstood your question or situation, or may even be telling you something incorrect (not on purpose, of course), so if you don't understand something they say, don't be afraid to say "I don't understand."
If somebody helps you out, a simple "Thanks!" is appreciated. However, these simple messages add to the forum message traffic and take up precious message slots. If you want to thank a lot of people, generally one "thanks, Bob and Ann" message will suffice. If you're thanking just one person, post it privately (and make sure to delete it when it's received) or, better yet, send it via CompuServe mail.
If you've had a particularly knotty problem that appears to have been a challenge to resolve and/or if many people have made a lot of different and possibly conflicting suggestions-when you've finally got it working, we'd appreciate knowing what exactly you did that worked. The reason we appreciate this kind of summary is because many of us may have or anticipate having the same kind of problem. In addition, it may be valuable to the forum archives.
If You Don't Get an Answer
If you leave a message and nobody responds, it may be because it "just happens" that nobody has time to respond, because everybody simultaneously decides that "somebody else will answer," or because your message was unclear and nobody knew how to respond.
You can increase your chances of having a response to your message by:
Thread Integrity and Continuity
As we mentioned earlier, the message traffic on the FoxForum is very high, averaging 300-400 messages a day. It can be quite a chore to manage this volume of communication and keep CIS connect charges to a minimum. Here are a variety of hints that may prove useful. All forum members, experienced and novice, benefit from the forum threads. Often a thread will address a problem that many other forum members have or anticipate having. Consequently, it is important that all messages that contribute to the thread remain available during its lifetime (thread integrity). In addition, it's extremely useful if relevant messages are contained within the thread and in the proper order (continuity). With this in mind:
Related to this issue is the "other side of the coin" where messages are no longer relevant to the topic. It is possible on CIS to scan available messages by "message header" or thread topic. This can be a useful approach if you're trying to save on connect charges. However, this is not guaranteed to be a foolproof approach. Threads on this forum tend to wander, and strict adherence to a thread topic is not rigorously enforced. Consequently if you're downloading a thread whose topic looks interesting, you may discover:
At a rough guess, some of us estimate that the really relevant messages in a thread are the first 1 to 10, although that is not necessarily the case-when a topic is complicated, messages may still be useful during the thread's entire life or, OTOH, a thread may deteriorate into jokes almost immediately. Unfortunately, due to the high message traffic, the beginning of a thread may scroll off so that all that remains in the forum are the less relevant messages. This is not to say that the messages which aren't relevant to the topic aren't useful-indeed, they are frequently useful-and the jokes are often good, too.
In consideration of forum members who do not read all the messages (those who download the threads whose topics sound interesting) and to support thread integrity and continuity, please observe the following suggestions:
In the interests of thread integrity and continuity:
There are two approaches to splitting messages which are a little contradictory.
Rule of thumb: Use /SPLIT unless you want to guarantee that the recipient will see all parts or all parts as soon as possible. In the latter case, continue to reply.
If someone sends you a private message, please delete it (after you read it) so that it will not take up a message slot. Private messages can be deleted only by the sender or receiver so the sysops can not sweep them out when they have been received. Sysops can delete public messages and may delete simple "thank you" notes when they have been delivered. Do not delete public messages if they are relevant to a thread. Do delete public messages that were garbled or duplicated in transmission, that contain errors or misstatements, or that were ill-considered (in this particular case, "repent in haste" <g>).
Online vs. Off-Line
CIS connect charges are high and FoxForum message traffic is high-the two can combine to deliver whopping credit card bills (not, unfortunately, much to joke about). If you plan to frequent the forum or other CIS forums, it is highly recommended that you investigate several programs that download and upload forum messages in a more efficient and less costly way.
Note: CompuServe offers a product called CIM (CompuServe Information Manager) for both the PC and the Mac which is useful to manage your work on CIS-however, it mainly works online and will not reduce your connect charges as much as some of the other products that are available.
Forum sysops are the people who keep the forum running smoothly. They handle chores such as making sure uploaded files are free of viruses, keeping order in the threads, managing the libraries, answering questions about the Microsoft Fox line of products, and offering technical support. The forum sysops, and their CIS identification numbers change from time to time so we won't give you a detailed list here. A list of current sysops is published frequently in a public notice on the forum.
Tech support questions should be addressed to "sysop" or "all." Avoid sending questions to a specific sysop because these people's assignments change frequently. The tech support sysops keep a close eye on all messages and may respond if no one else has given you an answer-however, to get the quickest response from tech support, a message directly to them is most effective.
Tech support may download messages in groups. If your messages are posted afterwards, you may not receive a response from the sysops until the following day (Monday, if you miss the last Friday download). Response time from tech support is also dependent on the message traffic and other factors. For instance, Monday's download, a download after a holiday, or a day of high message traffic may take longer for tech support to process.
If you want to order a demo of one of the Microsoft Fox line of products, order a product, or request an upgrade, do so through the new MSIC (Microsoft Service and Information Center) forum for non-technical information, product orders, and so on.
The forum libraries contain many informative and useful files. An exploration of the libraries is well worth the trouble.
Files in the libraries come in two basic forms: ASCII and binary. ASCII files are text files that will be readable without further attention. Binary files are either files (including text files) that have been compressed to save space and downloading connect charges or other binary files such as programs or graphics files.
There are several types of compressed files:
.ZIP files (DOS/Mac) - Compressed using PKZIP-these are uncompressed by using PKUNZIP.EXE. PKZIP/UNZIP are shareware programs available in the forum libraries under the name PKZ110.EXE. PKZIP/UNZIP are DOS programs, but files archived this way may be unzipped by Mac users with UNZIP.SIT.
.EXE files (DOS/Mac) - Mostly this extension indicates that the file is a "self-extracting" compressed file. This means that the file will unpack itself when you type the file name. Usually these files are also compressed using PKZIP-however, because they're self-extracting, they do not require PKUNZIP. UNZIP.SIT (Mac) should also work on these files but you will need to include the .EXE extension when you are referencing the file. Sometimes .EXE files may be compressed using another compression method and UNZIP.SIT won't work in that case.
.COM files - Sometimes also self-extracting files. Unless the person who provides the file reveals the compression method, it may not be possible for Mac users to uncompress using UNZIP.SIT.
.ARC files - Compressed using Arc utilities or such commonly available compatible programs as ARC-A.COM. Can be uncompressed with ARC-E.COM, available in the IBMCOM forum, and elsewhere (look for ARC-E.COM and ARC-E.DOC).
.SIT files (Mac) - Compressed using Stuffit and uncompressed with UnStuffit. Stuffit (including UnStuffit) is shareware and is located in the MACNEW forum. Look for STUFFI.SEA- a file that "installs StuffIt Classic 1.6 to your disk. This version fully supports both StuffIt 1.5.1 and StuffIt Deluxe Archives. It compresses files much smaller than 1.5.1 and is easier to use. It has many new features."
.CPT files (Mac) - Compressed using Compactor Pro.
.SEA files (Mac) - Self-extracting Compactor Pro and Stuffit files.
Note: Several forum members have reported that downloading Macintosh files (.SIT, .SEA, etc.) to a PC and then transferring them to the Macintosh corrupts the files and make them unreadable on the Macintosh.
Updates to Fox Products
Patches are available for various FoxPro products in an update library. There is also a READ.ME file that explains how to apply the patches. It is extremely important that you read the READ.ME file before you proceed. When you are reading this file, pay special attention to the product that you must patch. Patches are cumulative and only one patch is required per product to bring it up to date. This may change as we refine patching techniques, so be sure to read the READ.ME file carefully.
In addition to the patches themselves, Microsoft has provided change logs which list all changes to FoxPro between patches. As changes are made, a new change log is added to the libraries (they are not cumulative). If you review the change logs and do not see any changes that would affect you, you do not need to apply the patches-although you may wish to do so to stay current. If you run into a problem that Microsoft tech support cannot duplicate, techs may ask you to install the patches in case your problem has already been addressed.
Patches are also available on disk by requesting them from tech support.
Scanning the library listings for files to download can often be rather confusing. This is especially true if you're trying to scan them online. To make things slightly less confusing, we recommend first downloading either the file FOXFIL (.ZIP or .SIT) or the file LIBDBF (.ZIP or .SIT) that contains all library listings, updated approximately monthly.
It's somewhat confusing that updates to files may coexist with earlier versions. Usually the file name and narrative make it clear which is the most recent and the date will also provide a clue.
For instance, PROER5 is an upgrade to and replaces PROER4. (Note to people uploading files: You can help alleviate this problem if you upload a revised file under a different name, by deleting the old file yourself at the CIS Library menu.)
However, some upgrade files are not replacements to prior files but additions to them. For example, the updates to the second forum archive THREADS2.DBF are named THD01, THD02, etc.-each of these files contains completely separate information and should be appended (preferably in order and using the updating programs) to THREADS2.DBF.
Note: When files are uploaded, there is a delay between the time they are sent and the time they are merged into the libraries. This time is needed to check for viruses and evaluate the suitability of the file for the FoxForum.
Note: Several forum members have reported that downloading Macintosh files (.SIT, .SEA, etc.) to a PC and then transferring them to the Macintosh corrupts the files and make them unreadable on the Macintosh.
Most files in the libraries have been uploaded by forum members for use by other forum members and we encourage you to do the same. If you have developed a utility or a function or a bit of code or have some particular information to share that appears to spark general interest, please send it on up. Remember, uploading to forum libraries is free of connect charges.
If tech support specifically requests it (and at no other time), you can also upload code you're having a problem with and which appears to be too lengthy or complex to post on the forum itself.
The mechanics of uploading a file can be fairly tricky. Please refer either to CIS Help or your CIS communications software documentation. If you want additional help, CIS has a practice forum (GO PRACTICE) where you can practice uploading a file, writing messages, etc. Time spent in the practice forum is free of connect charges.
Here are some guidelines for uploading:
Note: If you are uploading a file with the same name as a file you previously uploaded, the old file will be replaced with the new one. However, if you are uploading a revision and want to use a new name, please help with library housekeeping by deleting the old file yourself using the CIS Library Menu.
Afterword-The Spirit of Contribution
One of the things we feel distinguishes the FoxForum from many others is the very unselfish way forum members help each other day after day. We feel there is an underlying intent on the part of most forum folk to make a contribution to others on the same path. We also feel as long as this "spirit of contribution" remains a force, the forum will work well for all of us.
You can really help maintain the value of the forum by logging on with an intent to contribute. If you want to ask a question, ask it with an eye toward contributing to our knowledge as well as yours. Share experiences that you feel will be of value to others. Answer the questions of others. And try, especially, to keep to the public agenda and avoid self-promotion.
There's certainly opportunity on the forum for vendors of products and services to offer their wares (in moderation), and vendors are just the kind of people we need to help us. Yet it's always a little irritating when we see a vendor log on only to promote something while so many others are helping for free. If you are a vendor, hang around a little and contribute; give back a little to the community that supports you. (And from a purely practical point of view, establishing a helpful presence on the forum should serve to enhance your marketability.)
Although making a contribution is always a source of personal satisfaction, we firmly believe that there's more at stake here-we are building a community that can support us in our work and in our lives. We think that's something worth investing in-contribution is truly an investment in our future.