Company logo


Advice, tips, techniques and downloads for Visual Foxpro developers.

Home | Contact

Versión en español de este artículo

18 VFP Productivity Boosters

A bunch of time-saving tips that all VFP developers can use.

In the brochure for our Visual FoxPro training courses, we claim that our training "will make you a faster and more productive developer". Fortunately, that's an easy boast to live up to, given that VFP is crammed full of useful shortcuts designed to save the programmer valuable time.

To be honest, none of these techniques will save you a huge amount of time on its own. But, used together over the course of a development project, they could make a noticeable difference to your productivity – as well as making VFP a pleasanter place to work in.

So let's get started ...

  1. For a fast way of opening a table in the VFP development environment, just click on its name in the Project Manager.
  2. Holding down Ctrl, Alt and Shift simultaneously will temporarily hide all open windows, which is great if you need to see some output on the background screen. Release the keys to bring the windows back.
  3. If the Command Window is lost deep in your desktop, hit Ctrl-F2 to bring it quickly to the front.
  4. Talking of the Command Window, you know that you can scroll back and re-execute earlier commands. But did you know that you can also execute entire blocks of commands? To do so, highlight the block, right-click and select Execute Selection. This technique also works in code-editing windows.
  5. When working on the design surface within the Form Designer, hit Tab to quickly bring the Properties window to the front.
  6. Press Ctrl-PgUp and Ctrl-PgDn in the Properties window to cycle through the object list.
  7. To quickly locate a given property, press Ctrl, Alt and the first letter of the name. Pressing Ctrl-Alt-F, for instance, will take you to the first property whose name begins with F.
  8. In the code window in the Form Designer, PgUp and PgDn will cycle through all the methods which actually contain code.
  9. And double-clicking on an object on the design surface will take you to the first method in alphabetical order which contains code for the object.
  10. If you go to Tools | Options | Forms and de-select "Prompt to save changes before running form", the form will be automatically saved each time you run it from the designer.
  11. When dropping a class on the form, if you cannot find the appropriate button on the toolbar, drag the class from the Project Manager instead.
  12. If you cannot figure out what's gone wrong with the form, it usually pays to focus on the properties and methods that have changed from their defaults. These are highlighted in bold within the property window. Going further, you can right-click in the Properties window and select "Non-Default Properties Only". This will hide everything that is unchanged, making it easier to see what you have altered.
  13. How many times have you needed to type a field name in your code, only to find that you could not remember the exact name or the spelling? Just right-click, select Build Expression, and pick the field from the Expression Builder (this assumes that the table is open in the development environment).
  14. Or ... simply drag the field from the Project Manager (or Database Designer) and drop it in the editor.
  15. Similarly, you can insert a fully qualified object name (such as THISFORM.MyGrid.Column1.NameField) by right-clicking in the editor, selecting Object List, and picking the appropriate name from the resulting dialog.
  16. Need to comment-out a large block of code? Select the code in question, right-click, and pick Comment. Reverse the action by picking Uncomment. The nice thing about this is that the Uncomment command acts only on code that was disabled by the Comment command, not any existing comments within the block.
  17. Developers moving from FoxPro 2.x to VFP 3.0 were often dismayed to find that the Beautify feature had been retired. In 5.0, it made a come-back. Look for it on the right-click menu in the code editor, and also on the Tools menu in VFP 7.0 and later.

  18. If you don't want to be nagged to run a wizard every time you start a new form, report or whatever, visit Tools | Options | Projects and de-select "Prompt for Wizards". This affects the New button in the Project Manager, but not the File | New command or the New button on the main toolbar.

Useful as all these tips are, the real productivity booster in Visual FoxPro is its outstanding use of object-orientation, and especially the ability it gives developers to create re-usable code and components. This is the topic that we emphasize in our training courses.

Mike Lewis Consultants Ltd. January 1998. Revised November 2001 and January 2006.

More Visual FoxPro articles | Crystal Reports articles | Recommended books | Visual FoxPro consultancy | Contact us

FoxStuff is maintained by Mike Lewis Consultants Ltd. as a service to the VFP community. Feel free to download and use any code or components, and to pass around copies of the articles (but please do not remove our copyright notices or disclaimers).

The information given on this site has been carefully checked and is believed to be correct, but no legal liability can be accepted for its use. Do not use code, components or techniques unless you are satisfied that they will work correctly in your applications.

© Copyright Mike Lewis Consultants Ltd.