Coding,  Flashback,  Technology

Clipper Programming Language

I have written earlier about my first experience with FoxBase & Clipper here & it is no secret I love the Clipper platform.

During my Engineering college days (1992-96) I spent many days reading Rick Spence’s Clipper Programming Guide (2nd Edition, Version 5) and Clipper 5.2 Power Programming Guide. I knew every page & its contents in Rick Spence’s books than any of my engineering syllabus textbooks. In the Clipper Summer ‘87/88 (or earlier) versions I liked the in-built features that made Data management straightforward and the simple syntax (like Display, Input controls) in the programming language. But as I wrote more complex applications, code-reuse became difficult and the time taken, to write increased, so implementing some Object Orientation was made necessary. That’s where Clipper 5.2 with its OOPS features (in-built and through 3rd party plug-ins) came as a blessing, and Rick Spence made the whole thing palatable and understandable. As a matter of fact, after I read Rick Spence’s Clipper 5.2, is when I read fully Bjarne Stroustrup’s book on C++.

So why I am writing all this today, a friend of mine called me today and said he had got an enquiry for an MNC asking him to do a week-long course on Clipper. What Clipper, do people still use it?. It seems so. That triggered my short trip in memory lane and in the evening when I came home, I searched my attic and found my 3 books on Clipper (shown below).

Clipper Programming Guide 2nd Edition Version 5 by Rick Spence, Co-Developer of Clipper
Clipper Programming Guide 2nd Edition Version 5 by Rick Spence, Co-Developer of Clipper

Shown above: Clipper Summer ‘88 Manual; Clipper Programming Guide 2nd Edition Version 5 by Rick Spence, Clipper 5.2 Power Programmer’s Guide by Rick Spence.


  • The director

    One word – “Marinas-GUI” – based on Harbour an opensource Clipper compiler and the QT GUI libraries it allows multi-platform applications in 32 bit & 64 bit environments to be produced.

  • Nasar Azam

    Clipper was very good and Rick Spence along with Greg Lief were great authors. I wrote some articles in “Reference Clipper” and Aquarium.

  • Sivaa

    Hi I have developed banking software with clipper 5.01 (with dbf file ) for 20 sectioins such as Savings ,current ac Fd deposit Loans daybook etc


    I am a Commerce Graduate of 1974 batch. Being introduced to dBase III plus in my
    work place, I have become a self made programmer in dBase. Even today I use about
    500 programmes written by me in the DOS based dBase and about 800 datafiles (.dbf)
    to accomplish my Office work. These programmes generate WEB deployable reports which we do publish on WEB.

    I do use clipper to compile a few of these programmes and run the (.exe) files to
    get a few works done.

    Even today we can write simple,useful and use friendly applications using dBase and

    The OS used by my Office is Windows XP. Our good old DOS programmes run very well
    in XP. We can even port it to Windows & by using a middleware offered by dBase LLC
    called dbDOS.

    With FRONTEND, BACKEND, DATABASE and REPORT GENERATION tools tied together dBase
    and Clipper are really useful. An experienced programmer can singlehandedly write
    solutions to a medium sized business house. The same in modern platform, split into
    the said four parts requires specialists in respective domain to create a software.

    South India


  • Raph

    Sincerely, I could really relate to that. Being exposed to dBASE and FoxPro in High School and College made me very interested in programming. However, I did not end up in I.T. related work. Because I reminisce so much these two softwares, I started “relearning” them again as a hobby–a hobby with a purpose. Being very close to one of my siblings who is working in a company who is still using Clipper Summer ’87–to which the system analyst/programmer of the company just left without leaving the source code or any documentation of the programs that the company is using–I’m giving my sibling all the help and support she could get.

    Wow!!! I really wish, hope and pray I could have photocopies of those books as those books are very hard to find nowadays. Wwwheeeewww.

  • Mani

    One of my friend in Trichy during 90s wrote Clipper application for HEB. He learned just by the macros foxbase generated and modified it a bit and wrote a beautiful ERP app for HEB. He is still in Trichy. His main business is Aquarium (Sree Vinayaka Aquarists) in Vaanapatarai street.

    Good old days of Clipper