Early in 2004 I was so fed up with the major Visual DataFlex IDE (VDF Studio), that I decided I could probably do better all by myself (sic). At the same time I was using Eclipse 2.1 for Java development, so there was an excellent opportunity for learning something new while using my favourite language and improving my daily work environment.
I started out writing the language grammar definition in ANTLR and continued to make the basic stuff work. (These days I’d probably use DLTK and X-Text). The progress was slow as I did not have much time on my hands and I soon discovered that ANTLR may not be the ideal tool for VDF because of the language’s dynamic nature. I ended up doing a lot of customization in order to handle dynamic keywords etc. As the indexer shaped up I spent the time copying JDT. In my opinion this tool is pure goodness and an example to follow. Time passed and I had been using VDF Tools in production a while before I shared it with others in early 2005.
It was a new experience this. If I found a problem I could just fix it immediately and continue with my work. Or as I would normally do: File a bug report and fix it when I got home from work. No need to wait until the next official release. It was great fun and the tool got a little better almost every day!
I did not have high hopes of making a profit as the VDF tooling market is tiny. But I still decided to give it a try. So In March 2006 the first commercial offering was ready to be shipped and I started selling licenses.
A few years later VDF Tools for Eclipse was still not profitable, so earlier this year I decided to turn it into an open source product. I created an account at Google Code and started uploading the source code. For some reason the network broke down and the upload was interrupted. I got it working again and rolled back the changes I had done in order to start over. In error I thought I had to reset the Subversion repository and for that I needed someone at Google. So I asked for help.
While I was waiting for a reply, I got an e-mail from someone I met at DataFlex conferences years ago, asking about VDF Tools. It did not take long before I decided to put the open-sourcing process on hold, because this person was interested in aquiring the VDF Tools IP.
The end of the story is that VDF Tools will now continue to to live; not as an open source project, but as an in-house consulting tool. To those of you that was hoping for another open source VDF IDE (the other is “The Hammer”); my apologies. I could not let this opportunity by me.