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The Story of X#

The origin of the X# Project has to start many years ago in the MS-DOS area with DBase III (Wikipedia). DBase III was a database with a integrated language and it was very easy to write applications with it.

But it had a few drawbacks: it was slow because interpreted and every user needed a licence of the product. Therefore a few software houses created compilers of this language to make the programs faster an run standalone. One of this new products was FoxPro (Wikipedia), and another, probably the most known of them, Clipper by Nantucket Software (Wikipedia).

After a few years Windows come to the market, and Nantucket started the Project Aspen to build a Windows based version of their compiler. Unfortunately this project took a lot more than planned, but it was so promising, that one of the largest software companies of the World, CA Computer Associates (that worked mainly in the mainframe world), acquired the entire company and dedicated a lot of ressources to this project. After another years of development they presented a prerelease of Visual Objects (Wikipedia). This version was very buggy and unstable, and so many of the Clipper users were lost.

Several years and releases after (in the meantime the compiler and the runtime were ported from Win16 to Win32), Computer Associates lost its interest in the product and decided to put it in “Maintenance mode”, practically to stop any further development.

At this point GrafX, s small company from Florida, but the largest Clipper and Visual Objects reseller in the world, stepped in and took over development and sales of the product, leaving the copyrights at CA.

The next step was Vulcan.NET ( the owner of GrafX, Brian Feldman, decided to start a new product, compatible to Visual Objects, but for the .NET Framework and using the CLR (Common Language Runtime). Vulcan.NET was a discrete success along the Visual Objects community and helped to discover some issues in the Visual Objects source code, contributing to make the latest versions very stable. The first developer of Vulcan.NET was Don Caton, but later also Paul Piko, Robert v.d. Hulst, Chris Pyrgas, Nikos Kokkalis and Fabrice Foray were part of the development team.

But the product had not the desired commercial success, and so GrafX decided to cut down the development team.

At this time Microsoft released the sources of their C# and VB.NET compiler as open source (called Project Roslyn - Wikipedia), and after checking the possibilities, the last four developers decided to build an open source XBase compiler, based on Roslyn, and understanding the Vulcan.NET syntax. But very fast the new X# compiler supported features Vulcan.NET never had supported, like the definition of generics, LinQ, AnyCPU platform and many more. And on the other side, it was more compatible to Visual Objects than Vulcan.NET ever was.

The last step in the Vulcan.NET story was the announcement on the GrafX website: “As of 12/31/2017 GrafX Database Systems Inc. is closed.”. Only sales should be available on a separate site, with PayPal as only payment choice.

Today X# is a mature product and can be used with the Vulcan.NET runtime and class libraries, and the work on their own runtime and macro compiler is in process. The first beta of the runtime together with the macrocompiler (but without RDDs) was released in June 2018, first to the FoX group, and then to the general public.

xsharp_story.txt · Last modified: 2018/07/02 04:45 by wolfgangriedmann