Since the 1980’s xBase has been a very popular development language for developing applications on the PC platform. It started with dBase II for CPM, quickly followed by dBase-III for Dos.
The popularity of dBase was picked up by other companies. Soon products such as Clipper, Foxbase, QuickSilver and many others entered the arena.
With the appearance of Windows on the PC market a successor for these products was needed. Nantucket, the owner of Clipper, worked on a product called Visual Objects (VO) . This product was bought by Computer Associates.
Other xBase products for Windows were FoxPro, dBase, Xbase++, FlagShip and Harbour (the last two were not only targeting Windows but also Linux and UNIX).
Computer Associates lost its interest in xBase and their products Clipper and Visual Objects and in 2002 GrafX Software bought the marketing and development rights for these products. GrafX also started to work on a successor of Visual Objects named Vulcan.NET which is a product that produces .Net solutions.
Microsoft has lost its interest in Visual FoxPro and that product has also been “abandoned”.
More information about the history of the xBase language can be found on wikipedia
In 2015 there are still a couple of active xBase languages, but there is only one language targeting the .NET framework: Vulcan.NET from GrafX.
Unfortunately GrafX has never marketed its product very well and the market share is shrinking. Also the GrafX development team has shrunk over the last couple of years.
In April 2015 a group of concerned customers and some members of the GrafX development team have talked about starting a new open source project to give the xBase language for .NET a new future. This initiative is called XSharp. This was partially inspired by the fact that Microsoft has published the source code to its C# and Visual Basic compilers under an open source license (.NET Compiler Platform "Roslyn"). The plan is to create a new development language (compiler, runtime libraties, IDE, tools) where the compiler is partially based on the Roslyn source code.
Robert van der Hulst, an independant software developer from the Netherlands, a former member of the Visual Objects and Vulcan.NET development team and author of several 3rd party products for Visual Objects and Vulcan.NET has volunteered to found a new company XSharp BV. This company is the legal entity behind the XSharp Project. He has the support of several members from the xBase community who have chosen to remain anonymous until further notice.
The purpose of this project is to create an open source version of the xBase language for the .NET platform.
Since there are many xBase dialects the team will develop a compiler with different language "flavours" such as
- Visual Objects compatibility
- Vulcan.NET compatibility
- Xbase++ compatibility
- FoxPro compatibility
- (x)Harbour compatibility
The Core language is an xBase language version of the Microsoft C# compiler. It has the same features as C# 6, but will of course use the well known xBase syntax.
Based on this core language compiler different flavours have been created with support for the data types, classes and objects that make each dialect unique.
The Core language is able to produce .NET assemblies that run under windows, but also "universal apps" that run under other platforms as well. .Net Native support is planned as well.
At this moment the Core, VO and Vulcan dialects are "ready" and we are working in completing the Xbase++ and FoxPro dialects.