An Idea for Xojo's Future (with summary)

Enjoyed Markus Winter’s thought provoking article in the current edition of xdev.

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what did he say?

@MarkusWinter might summarize it here ?

It is a bit believing, a bit of hope and a bit of Murphy´s law. That will be the future of Xojo. So if I think about it I have to look on the Xojo history. Until the 2019r3.2 Version the Xojo world was still okay. Always Bugs where in fix and new releases had the functionality of the last one plus something. With 2020R1 that was immediately hard stopping. While Web 2.0 came and there was no Web 1.0 anymore the usability of Xojo Web had an abrupt end for the most users.

Together with renaming commands and with deleting the documentation in the knowledge that the Linux users had none at that time it was a brilliant combination. The reaction of the company was: use the old version until the new version is working like you need it. The 2019r3.2 was becoming deprecated and that is already the end of the story.

So what will the future bring? I see no chance for Xojo to become a big player. It is a really small company, following to the laws in Texas not one of the guys there would be allowed to call himself engineer or has even studies as computer scientist. That is the foundation for the not running Software and not fixed bugs together with a really small team for the entire IDE. six developers are to less for a programming language with so many targets and so many functionalities. And so it will go further like it was going the last two years.Xojo will try to repair the bugs but never reach the readiness and they will implement new functionalities for new customers and a less complex marketing.

That story will never end until the moment that they will have the problem that there are not enough costumers anymore. At that day they will disappear and the Story ends. A few users will still use it but the license is not renewable and computers are dying from time to time and Xojo will be history. That is the way it will go.

When? Who knows. All depending on how many people are buying it. That is why Marketing has to be perfect, that is why they have to have a clean forum and why they have to ban people like Norman, Hal, Dave and me. This is the fundamental situation. If thy will not find new customers anymore they are like an airplane which still flies but the engines are broken. There will be the time where the airstream will not carry the plain anymore and it will fall.

It’s a VERY long article (Marc had to seriously trim it down) but basically:

  • the history of Xojo starting with the classic release model (“Rapid Release Model for bug fixes”) and then the current “Rapid Release Model for Features”
  • an analysis of what the aims and expectations were and if they were met, which clearly shows that emergency bug fix releases have become a way of life for Xojo, and that none of the original objectives have been met
  • the state of the community measured by user numbers according to forum user numbers and Google trends
  • and an idea on how to move forward

The idea is basically

  • any solution has to make financial sense to all relevant parties: Xojo, third-party developers, users
  • you should do what YOU are good at (or only you can do) and pay others to do what THEY are good at (but you are not)
  • Xojo is understaffed and instead of concentrating on the things only they can do (framework, IDE, bugs) they waste their time on creating half-baked controls and features
  • Plug-in developers are very good at creating controls and features but only sell to probably far less than 5% of the Xojo community, and mostly to the Pro market which is shrinking as Pro’s are no longer Xojo’s target market
  • both Xojo and third-party developers want more license sales
  • users want features but NEED stability - basic functionality needs to be rock solid

Idea: what if Xojo would include all the plug-ins and make the third-party developers stakeholders?

  • If a developer sells his plug-in for $100 a year and sells to 5% of the market, and Xojo adds $10 to the price and now he sells to 100% of the market, then he has doubled his income
  • users get MUCH more bang for their money
  • Xojo attracts many more license sales (those on old licences would REALLY have an incentive to upgrade)

I cannot stress enough that this is NOT about just stuffing the plug-ins folder (as it may appear in this brief summary), but about a different way of creating the Xojo platform (Xojo Inc as coordinator of the stakeholders). In hindsight I guess it was a bit inspired by what Steve Jobs did on his return to Apple.

By basically taking experienced and very talented developers on board as stakeholders, and basically outsource plug-in / feature development to the third party developers, Xojo would suddenly be appropriately staffed for what only THEY can and need to do (rather than wasting time on badly implemented and buggy controls). Xojo itself can use the plug-ins (if they are so essential for professional development, then why isn’t Xojo using them already?) which would get rid of a lot of bugs already. Third-Party Developers have direct access to Xojo and can much better integrate their offerings.

Basically it is about using all the resources at hand to the best possible degree to get “Xojo on Steroids”, and a massive speedup in the pace of development.

But I highly recommend to read the full article.

Remember that I predicted the current state of Xojo way back in 2005 when they introduced the Rapid Release Model (and in general my track record for long-term predictions is very good). If Xojo would implement this idea then they have a chance. If not then they will see the big boys eating their lunch over the coming years.

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Seems the shit has hit the fan (not unexpected). As I have no other way of clarifying the statement that was just send out to all xDev subscribers I am doing it here:

It has come to my attention that the article, “An Idea for Xojo’s Future,” in the latest issue of xDev, was not as clearly marked as Opinion as I would have liked.

It is important to know that all the data in the article is pure speculation by the author. The piece was not fact-checked and Xojo, Inc. was never contacted and did not verify any of the information included, much of which is inaccurate.

The author’s conclusions are his own, and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of xDev Magazine or Xojo, Inc.

To rectify this, I have generated a new PDF of the issue with a more prominent disclaimer. Please download a fresh copy of the PDF (which also fixes a few other minor errors) using the same URL as sent to you previously.

My apologies for this error and sorry for the trouble. I will be more careful in the future when publishing opinion pieces.

Marc Zeedar

Publisher, xDev Magazine

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First off, the article was clearly marked as being an Opinion in the original PDF, and I have no problem with that.

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I also don’t have a problem that some of my assumptions and conclusions are speculative, and I pointed that out in the article.

But I absolutely refute the assertion “It is important to know that all the data in the article is pure speculation by the author.”

The data aren’t speculation, they were sourced from the publicly available information like Xojo’s own forum, Google Trends, Xojo’s press releases, and the feedback app, and everyone can verify them using the Wayback machine or the Feedback app.

Essentially calling me a liar who makes up data and basically accusing me of scientific misconduct is NOT on, and is something I take VERY personal.

Dr. Markus Winter

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Geoff bitched
Marc capitulated

That probably sums it up

The paragraph

It is important to know that all the data in the article is pure speculation by the author . The piece was not fact-checked and Xojo, Inc. was never contacted and did not verify any of the information included, much of which is inaccurate.

reads like it came directly from Xojo

Curious : Did Marc talk to you at all before publishing this ?

Pot. Meet kettle.

No. And that is really disappointing.

The reaction (assumption and speculation: from Geoff) is stupid in the extreme. It now REALLY puts the spotlight on the article and shows that the situation might be even worse than I described.

It is so that this Company lost in my eyes all respect. Instead of using this as milestone for doing changes they try to do disinformation campaign. Looks a bit like a mixture of DDR-Stasi, German Gestapo and Donald Trump. All of them have one point together: the history was overcoming all. I feel sorry reading this in this wise. The panic of the magazine and the listening to the company. Journalism has to be allowed to do that.

Markus, out of interest, what is your background in software engineering?

I was initially astounded that Marc published this since as opinionated as it may have been it was in direct contrast with everything you hear from Xojo. The “correction” read way more with what I would have expected as I couldn’t see Xojo relinquishing one penny or one line of code of control over their product.

The article was pretty good by the way. It certainly had a bias, but it also provided some good arguments and a few counter-arguments.

I am now waiting for the other shoe to drop and have the fully unbiased, totally fact-based Xojo response (a.k.a. the fairytale version).

Thanks for the read Markus.

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This I was citing in TOF but they deleted that post. Hmm.

The magazine’s subsequent email was very disappointing. Everyone could tell that it was an opinion piece–and a very interesting opinion at that. It would have been great if third party developers chimed in with their thoughts. Xojo could have commented too if they had wanted, but actions speak louder than words.

I don’t know what is the best course of action for Xojo. But, I do know where they’ve been headed for a while and I decided I didn’t want to go there.

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What, you never liked playing Lemmings?

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I was fooling around, then decided to check xDev and was surprised to see a new issue that was not advertised on the TOF.

Xojo possibly declined to do so with that article in it ?

As long as Xojo is forbidding the freedom of speech and telling people what they have to do, think, believe and how to do, as long it is so I will never ever pay for any byte related to Xojo in my live again. What ever will be happened: not in this way. Even if I would have to use Visual Studio or, what would be really extremely worse that that, if I would have to use Delphi.

Right on cue

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