This week resulted in a good amount of coverage online from the Microsoft PressPass article released Monday morning called Developers Report on Power, Productivity and Extensibility of New Visual FoxPro 9.0. I was recently asked by a Microsoft executive in our developer division why I thought the coverage of the news about Visual FoxPro 9.0 was better than it was for Visual FoxPro 8.0 which also had a PressPass article (from April 2003, see New Microsoft Visual FoxPro 8.0 Driven By Customer Feedback).

The three key factors in the good Visual FoxPro 9.0 coverage this week were timing, RSS, and blogs. Timing of the VFP 8.0 release and announcement in April 2003 was during the same time that Visual Studio .NET 2003 was released which probably interfered some additional Visual FoxPro 8.0 coverage that could have occurred. But even so, many of the news sources that had top story headlines this week about the Visual FoxPro 9.0 announcement didn't actually create an entire new article from scratch for their reporting, other than ENTMag.com story which was reprinted on RedmondMag.com. This week, news sources generally summarized their news coverage with excerpts from the PressPass article with a link to it or with information directly from the Visual FoxPro web site.

What happened for Visual FoxPro 9.0 news coverage this week was a bit of a domino effect mostly contributed to the use and benefits of RSS XML newsfeeds and blogs. Microsoft PressPass has had email newsletter for many years which people can subscribe to for email summaries of press releases. While this is still available and useful, it gets sent out around weekly instead of daily. It use to be that many people including journalists would receive news about Microsoft PressPass articles released by visiting the site on their own via web browser favorites, or by receiving the email newsletter summary which often was sent several days after the press releases were posted online.

But these days there is Microsoft PressPass RSS Feeds allowing many more people to be made aware of the new PressPass announcements as well as having them be received almost instantly. Beyond that, many news sources have their own RSS news feed which other news sources subscribed to. When the Visual FoxPro 9.0 story hit on Monday, there was an InfoWorld story as a top story headline on the InfoWorld.com home page in less than one hour. In addition to the web site posting, the news was also included in the InfoWorld Top Stories RSS newsfeed which many people including journalists subscribe to. The result is that many other news sources saw that InfoWorld made the VFP 9.0 news a top story. Then other news sources quickly reported in it which led to a chain reaction of various web sites reporting on the Visual FoxPro 9.0 story and including it in their RSS newsfeeds, all within 24 hours.

In my blog post Monday requesting FoxPro developers to blog about the VFP 9.0 news, I was sending a subtle request to the FoxPro community to be more active online with the news. One of the results was that within 48 hours was a brand new free blog hosting service for FoxPro developers called Foxite.com Community Weblog. Since this new free blog service was created, there have been new FoxPro community members including VFP MVPs creating their own blog for the first time and joining the blogsphere with enthusiasm. I expect many more FoxPro community members will create a blog on Foxite.com and other blog hosting services in the near future.

For a great example of RSS used for receiving information about what's new, check out the article on Netflix.com called What is RSS & Why is it Important?. I use Netflix and I also subscribe to the Netflix's New Releases on DVD RSS XML feed that they provide for all new DVDs are released. What is cool is that you can subscribe to this RSS without being a Netflix customer to see what's new released on DVD each week. For FoxPro developers interested in tapping into the power of RSS in their Visual FoxPro applications, there is a great n a recent issue of FoxTalk 2.0 newsletter now republished on msdn.com called RSS: Publishing News via XML which includes Visual FoxPro source code examples working with RSS.

Last year I had a 50 minute phone chat with Steve Gillmor about RSS and how more could be done with software to leverage the power of RSS. It was during a time Steve was posting many blog entries about the power of RSS. The chat was based on the fact I was requesting more examples from him about benefits of RSS in action rather than just comments of how RSS is cool and important. I recall saying to Steve that I thought it was not RSS that is a killer application, but rather what software applications and tools do with RSS under the hood that really surfaces RSS powerful and useful. I'd like to think that my blog post here summarizing one of many good examples of RSS usage goes towards acknowledging how right Steve is in his evangelism of the importance and benefits of RSS.