Book Reviews

Visual FoxPro Exam Help, Finally!

Don't go it alone. Here's an exam self-study guide for the FoxPro developer.

Visual FoxPro developers looking for a guide to help them study for the VFP certification exams have been out of luck until now. Hentzenwerke Publishing has released Visual FoxPro Certification Exams Study Guide, an in-depth discussion of the exam objectives needed to pass both the Distributed and Desktop VFP exams. The bonus is that it's also an effective tool for experienced developers to quickly leverage the power of VFP.

The book closely follows the Skills Being Measured guide from Microsoft; in fact, chapters titles are the same as major topics in Microsoft's guide. The similarity makes for an effective method for maintaining focus as you study. Each chapter presents the items needed for that topic along with some references for additional study materials.

Chapters 1 through 3 cover the conceptual, logical and physical designs and the logical data model. The authors have managed to include one of the most concise explanations of normalization and normal forms. Couple this with the definitions for object-oriented programming concepts, such as encapsulation and inheritance, and you have a decent primer for a new developer who needs a good understanding of database applications and theory.

Chapter 4, Establishing the Development Environment, should probably be read by every VFP developer. I guarantee you'll find something new here just due to the sheer depth of the integrated development environment. It covers common settings, such as how to remove the Print button from the Print Preview toolbar, to the tools integrated into VFP, including Visual Source Safe, Microsoft Transaction Server, Internet Information Server and Microsoft Messaging Queue.

One of benefits of VFP is that it is data-centric and offers more than one approach for accomplishing a task. Chapter 7, Creating Data Services, covers a few of the commonly used methods that Microsoft recommends, plus ways to use those methods to your advantage. This includes native tables, parameterized views and SQL pass-through. You'll also find buffering, locking and transactions, which you'll find on the VFP exams. Plan on reviewing this chapter thoroughly before exam day.

The only real complaint with this book is the lack of review questions and practice exams. There are sample questions at the end of each chapter, but I found myself wanting more. The inclusion of practice exams to assess one's preparedness would also help. One or two with the topics shuffled and various levels of question complexity would differentiate between remembering the chapter and knowing the topic.

The goal of this book is to insure that the reader is qualified to pass the exam. This means that the information presented is based solely on the requirements for the test. You won't find in-depth discussions on various techniques and styles outside of the exam objectives, but if you're looking to pass the VFP exams, this book is right on target.

About the Author

Paul G. Brown, MCSD, a developer, speaker, and a frequent contributor to, lives in New Berlin, Illinois. When not in front of the computer, he can be found chasing Jerry, Wesley, Jordan and Dillon for Mom.

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