An Idea for Xojo's Future (with summary)

@MarkusWinter First of all, thank you for putting your time and effort into researching and creating this article. While a great deal of it feels like bagging on Xojo, the end result shows that it comes from a sincere place of worrying and a desire to see Xojo succeed.

It is interesting to me, because your solution has a similar result to the one I proposed some time ago, get some of the more experienced Xojo customers to actually help the Xojo product evolve and grow. My mechanism was different in that I suggested Xojo be burned to the ground, the Framework be ditched and it be rebuilt entirely in Xojo (using declares or interops to tap into system functionality).

Which would allow the more experienced developers to assist in providing bug fixes, and new components for Xojo. For a price of course, only Apple expects you to spend 1000s of a dollars a year to QA their products for them.

I want to see Xojo thrive and I am know that they do too. I don’t believe for one minute that they deliberately make these decisions to piss off their existing customers, but I do think they could work on handling the situation a lot better. I have given them feedback on their handling of the two major issues that we’ve experience recently as I don’t think Xojo did very well.

You know that I’m very unhappy with Apple at the moment, I’ve recently come to the conclusion that some of the things they’ve changed which have hurt a lot of indie developers, were not done to hurt indie developers, they were done to keep the profit as high as possible, so when combined with share buy backs, this keep the share price as high as possible, which in turn causes the poor CEO to get massive bonuses, because lets be honest a couple of hundred thousand a year is peanuts, right?

I’d like to believe that Xojo operates in the same way, they don’t do these things that irritate us, to irritate us, they do it because that is what they believe works best for them financially.

Same with Subaru, who no longer make a performance mid-sized SUV, because they make enough money selling underpowered mid-sized SUVs, even though every dealership knows that they’re turning away customers who want a mid-sized SUV with Subaru’s AWD, and can do 0-60 in less time than it takes to boil a kettle.

I think to say that your article was pure-speculation is unfair as you provide your sources. However it does suggest that Xojo isn’t performing as well as they could be, but without seeing actual unit sales, we’ll never really know if they are or not. We do know that in recent years they’ve made some questionable decisions that has cost them a number of Xojo enthusiasts, which means that these enthusiasts are no longer assisting in Xojo promotion. I hope that Xojo learns from this and will put extra consideration in to serious decisions like this in the future.

I know that you’re hurt and probably nothing I can say will make you feel better, I believe that you wrote that article with a serious intention of trying to help Xojo and I am sorry that Xojo didn’t see it the same way. Please don’t give up just yet, hopefully there is something we can do that will incur a positive change, that we can all prosper from.

Meanwhile, I’m off to Cupertino, I’ve got a 12" MacBook that’s started to melt it’s keys when charging, I’m going to go post it through the windshield of a certain CEO’s Mercedes (after making a hole in the windshield to post it through) :slight_smile: The fine for property destruction will probably be cheaper than the cost to replace the battery (just under $1000 USD is what I was quoted).

Edit: I forgot to mention that I am flattered that you think App Wrapper and the Ohanaware App Kit are great additions to Xojo and should be bundled with it. Thank you for your kind words.

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I think Markus was just being his blunt analytical german self! :wink:

IMO they have certainly made a lot of mistakes since becoming Xojo both technical and public relations wise. IMO overall they have not handled the criticism that the mistakes (or direction many did not like) generated from many (in a number of cases now former) long time users who once were their greatest advocates.

I have been using it for over 20 years now, and overall I am not happy with how things have gone either…

That and API 2 are a significants part of why I decided not to modernize/update my Mergeable Cell Listbox (And embarrassed myself by letting everyone see my messy 10 year old code when I open sourced it!).

I never made much money off of it, but I was kind of proud of it . If I was still as enthusiastic about Xojo as i once was, I would have done the work to update it as a labor of love.

I wish them well but although I still use it, as I said the enthusiasm and energy I had around the product is not what it once was.

-Karen

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We have an idea of their unit sales from the press releases. To quote from the article:

Xojo has made some statements over the years that are somewhat helpful in that regard:

■ Oct. 20, 2015: Xojo, Inc., the company that has enabled 300,000 developers.
■ Aug. 27, 2020: Xojo, Inc., the company that has enabled over 400,000 developers.
■ Mar. 31, 2021: Xojo, Inc., the company that has enabled over 425,000 developers.

This means, in the five years from 2015 to 2020, Xojo should have sold on average about 20,000 licenses per year. (We don’t know if those are sales to only new users or includes sales to existing users as well but, given that this is from a press release, it seems likely that both are counted.)

Note: The uptick from 20,000 in 2020 to 25,000 in 2021 is probably due to Apple’s introduction of its own M1 processor architecture. Xojo works distinctly better on the Mac, so retention of Mac developers could be better than on other platforms. I know quite a few, who, instead of renewing their Pro license, bought a cheaper Mac-only license. On the other hand, it could be a big sale to a school district or country.

The big unknown is the number of active Xojo users; that’s those who might buy a new license if the right incentives are there.

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Dito.

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Agreed, especially as we’ve known Markus long enough to read it and understand that his intentions were true. It also expressed how upset Markus is, and yet even with all that was published, he still took the time to illustrate a potential solution, which if executed would benefit Xojo, Xojo’s customers and help strengthen the community.

I feel the same way, we all make mistakes, what matters is those mistakes are not repeated and how the fallout from those mistakes was handled. It reached the point where customers became really upset, and some things were said that upset Xojo’s staff also.

Agreed, I still think API 2.0 was a big mistake. Some of it really doesn’t make any sense.

Which is how a several people feel and that’s not great. IMHO enthusiasts are a real benefit to a product or company, they push the product (sometimes not in direction the company likes) forwards and help to promote the product. However I get the impression that a lot of companies no longer see value in enthusiasts, instead focusing on optimizing the profitability of the existing products.

If these are sales, 20,000 might not sound like a lot, but can easily be a couple million gross profit. Which may be enough for what Xojo wants to do.

@MarkusWinter I hope that you can understand that I don’t want you to get demoralized by Xojo’s reaction. I do believe that Xojo is better because of our whining, even if it is unwanted. We all want to see Xojo do well.

20000 users would be nearly 14 Million Dollar turnaround if all are Pro users. As there are not really so many pro plus let’ s do statistics. As far as I know many users have also single platform licenses or Desktop licenses. So I would say we are around 500 Euro per user for calculation. Ten Million Dollars.

In this case I would have to ask a question. A ten Million Dollar Company which uses nearly NO external commercial tool (llm and Co are open Source) has only seven developers (what costs seven hundred thousand dollars if you have professional studied developing engineers with Master Degree and maybe 400000 when you have people without any degree in computer science) is not able to pay the people for bringing the product up? Sorry but that can not be. Even we can do that with much more employees in our group. So how can it be that they have such incomes, no expenses? It can not. While If it would be so there would be the potential to build up the needed Updates, error- and Bugfixes and so on. Xojo has non. They have a few trained people which where coming up as hobbyists and not with a professional education in computer science. Cheap and possibly good. But the result shows: not really good.

If it would be so that this would be payed licenses I can only say: it is blaming fact that then Xojo, inc. is only grabbing money but not delivering. That would be near fraud. I mean: 10 Million Dollars, 1 expenses, 9 effect button working product? Wohoo. That is dangerous.

No, I believe that it is not so that they have so many users. It is unbelievable.

And beside that: compare it to the user base of Java, C++…and many more.

That this conversation about this article happens HERE on a non-Xojo forum says a ton about the state of things

I want to see them do well but my optimism is not high

Don’t be so hard on yourself Karen and frankly this is a good thing. If ten years later you now have ideas on how to make things better and see areas that aren’t so great, then that means you’ve grown as a developer and are well past where you started with the code base.

Also what you’ve given folks in the community is a gift. No one is being forced to use your code and if for anything else, you’ve now provided a free option to the numerous other commercial listbox alternatives out there.

You should still be proud of what you accomplished even though you might be changing direction. I’m sure the project was a great way to expand your skills as a developer and sometimes that’s the payoff.

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Of course that 425.000 number has been spiced up! I’m sure they can come up with some kind of calculation that adds up to that number (all downloads they ever had over 25 years? The accumulation of all licenses by the same users due to the forced-upon subscription model over 25 years?) but in no way does it represent the number of current active users, which is supported by the little activity on TOF, the non-interaction of users on social media, etc… Try finding a Xojo developer within a 100 miles of your location (or someone who has even heard of Xojo), someone once said…

Appearance is everything to Xojo Inc. (probably out of necessity/panic?) and representing themselves to the world as this highly successful company is part of it, even if this means purging everything that comes out that gives some kind of critique. Unfortunately, they are not that successful. Like many others, they just survive. Even their ‘longevity in tech’ statement seems doubtful to me (haven’t about 4 out of 7 techs been replaced in some way in the last decade?)

Lying and making false promises is a sickness of the times (it will be very interesting to see how the Theranos trial will go!), and it may work for a limited time, especially for start-ups to gather seed funding. But one would think, after 25 years, Xojo Inc. would’ve outgrown that phase.

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Are you all so sure that the numbers you’re calling sales aren’t including people who just download and try it out for free,

First off, I would like to say that we have to take the numbers as they are. If we say “that number can’t be right, let’s go with a different number” then we are in conspiracy theory territory.

That doesn’t mean we cannot make reasonable assumptions based on things we know (like that money is tight at Xojo which wouldn’t be the case if it was the number of active developers), and therefore it is a reasonable assumption that 425,000 is not the number of active developer but the total number of licenses sold over 25 years.

That’s also why I think Thorsten’s estimate

is way off. There are free Pi licenses, single desktop users, Web users, iOS users, Desktop users, Pro users, sales to schools or districts (Xojo once sold 60,000 licences to Polish schools, presumably at a large discount). I would estimate (and that now is pure speculation) that the average licence is more around the $150-200 mark.

I went through some more press releases (should probably have done this for the article - mea culpa):

Jun 4, 2013: Currently serving more than 150,000 users worldwide,
Sep 17, 2013: not stated
Dec 17, 2013: Currently serving over 150,000 users worldwide

Mar 11, 2014: Currently serving over 250,000 users worldwide
Jul 1, 2014: Currently serving over 250,000 users worldwide
Dec 9, 2014: not stated

Feb 17, 2015: Currently serving over 280,000 users worldwide
Apr 14, 2015: Xojo, the company that enables 280,000 developers
Oct. 20, 2015: Xojo, Inc., the company that has enabled 300,000 developers.
Dec 17, 2015: Xojo, Inc., the company that has enabled over 300,000 developers

Apr 5, 2016: Xojo, Inc., the company that has enabled over 300,000 developers
Jul 12, 2016: Xojo, Inc., the company that has enabled over 300,000 developers
Sep 13, 2016: Xojo, Inc., the company that has enabled over 300,000 developers
Dec 6, 2016: Xojo, Inc., the company that has enabled over 315,000 developers

Mar 28, 2017: Xojo, Inc., the company that has enabled over 320,000 developers
Aug 15, 2017: Xojo, Inc., the company that has enabled over 330,000 developers
Dec 5, 2017: Xojo, Inc., the company that has enabled over 330,000 developers

Apr 18, 2018: Xojo, Inc., the company that has enabled over 340,000 developers
Aug 7, 2018: Xojo, Inc., the company that has enabled over 340,000 developers
Oct 23, 2018: Xojo, Inc., the company that has enabled over 360,000 developers
Dec 11, 2018: Xojo, Inc., the company that has enabled over 360,000 developers

Apr 9, 2019: Xojo, Inc., the company that has enabled over 375,000 developers
Oct 9, 2019: Xojo, Inc., the company that has enabled over 375,000 developers
Dec 11, 2019: Xojo, Inc., the company that has enabled over 400,000 developers

Aug. 27, 2020: Xojo, Inc., the company that has enabled over 400,000 developers.
Nov 24, 2020: Xojo, Inc., the company that has enabled over 400,000 developers

Mar. 31, 2021: Xojo, Inc., the company that has enabled over 425,000 developers.

I’m not sure what happened 2013 to 2014. Maybe a big sale to a school or country? Maybe a change in how users are counted?

Anyway, that roughly means:

At the end of 2014 there was an increase of about 100,000
At the end of 2015 there was an increase of about 50,000
At the end of 2016 there was an increase of about 15,000
At the end of 2017 there was an increase of about 15,000
At the end of 2018 there was an increase of about 30,000
At the end of 2019 there was an increase of about 40,000
At the end of 2020 there was an increase of about 0 ???
Since the end of 2019 there was an increase of about 25,000

It seems that there was a massive slowdown in growth from 2014 to 2017 (rise of mobile platforms?), but then it seems to have sped up in 2018 and 2019 (concentration on new users?) before hitting a wall in 2020 (API 2?). The need to compile for the M1 architecture might explain the 2021 numbers.

The RR model is not the issue, as I tried to articulate in the other thread, there was 3 years of no emergency patches. Addition of new unrelated features doesn’t suddenly cause a 5 year old implemented features to start bugging out. If rapid release of new features causes problems there would have been some in those 3 years after first introducing the RR model as this would have been the most critical time for it to happen, just after it was introduced when new procedures/tests were being introduced. The major contributing factors to the need for emergency patches now is:

  1. the increasing feature set of the platform
  2. the lack of developers working at xojo
  3. their experience levels
  4. the lack of testers.

Slowing down the time between releases isn’t going to magically impact on the introduction of bugs because:

  1. the feature set is always increasing or shifting, new code is being added, existing code is being tweaked, bugs are introduced
  2. more developers aren’t being hired, work still needs to be done, if they don’t have the time to test all edge cases then bugs can creep in
  3. their experience levels aren’t growing fast enough or in the right direction, if they don’t know to think outside their knowledge base then they might not even consider a bugs could be introduced
  4. the number of testers isn’t increasing fast enough, speaks for itself, it’s sad that they reduced the number of testers, I can only assume to try and move those users to a paid version, it was even more sad that it took Anthony an hour to persuade Geoff to ask for more testers

Making a year between releases isn’t going to magically reduce the number of bugs, all you will be doing is making it painfully slow to introduce features that people or the company wants and painfully slow to get those bugs fixed. I often find 1+ year old bugs and by some of your rationale, they shouldn’t be in there by now due to the number of eyes on the product (both from testers and all the users), yet they are still there, you cannot eradicate all bugs by making the time between releases longer while further developing the product. If if you increase the time between releases, people will move from the release version to the test version as they will get frustrated that they have to wait 8 months for a feature or their bug fix which slipped through anyway.

I’ve not read your article and honestly I don’t want to it sounds like all the other threads you’ve made over the last n months where you claim to know the answer to xojo’s problems and tout yourself as some kind of soothsayer. You’ve ended up at the last bastion where you can impose your opinion without being checked or challenged, in print. Marc should have approached Xojo about that article and asked if they wanted to write a piece to include with it, that should have been the minimum and the honourable thing to do as Xojo goes out of their way to help in the promotion and sale of the very publication. I my opinion, giving someone who has been repeatedly suspended from their forums a voice without a right to reply was a low blow from Marc.

As for your comment to why Xojo doesn’t use 3rd party plugins, I doubt Xojo will ever put themselves into a position where they have to rely on someone else’s plugin, where they have no control over its source or longevity. If they need to do that, they will bring it inhouse either by buying the source or bringing the developer inhouse with their tool.

The idea of adding $ onto the sale price of Xojo is extremely naïve, not only does it give third parties knowledge of how many sales xojo makes, which is something they clearly don’t want outsiders to know, but it is an administrative nightmare. Does Christian get $10 per sale, is that pro or desktop, what does Joe Blogs get for his tiny app that gets 1-2 sales a month for $10? Do you honestly think that Christian could support his product with 95% more users for just 2x the income? All those users of varying skill levels not just the ones who at the moment are competent enough to install a plugin and have the desire/need to use the features? I suspect he’d be swamped with support tickets, customer dissatisfaction and a longing to return to a quieter time.

Probably the best option for Xojo would be to take a leaf out of the book of Unity. They introduced a store to their product where third party developers could sell their plugins directly through the app. It’s integrated tightly into the program and is seamless for the end user with single click installs. When this was implemented it catapulted the reach of the application and popular plugins have been brought in house with the expertise of those developers being added to the Unity team. Unity make a nice cut from the sales which goes to further fund the development of the product and the developer get 100% reach unlike at the moment.

The current Xojo extra’s website where you can buy plugins is horrendous. Take Window Placement + Screen for example (nothing personal), there’s no useful information about it on there, no links to download a demo, I’m never going to buy that even if they have a 90 day refund policy for it as it could take 24 hours to get access to it. Who want’s to go through all that just to try something? I could google it and find the persons website and download a demo but that isn’t slick, it’s stuck in the 2000’s.

Contrary to your statements of fact, you don’t have a clue about their sales. The press releases where they mention that the company that has enabled x developers does NOT equate to that many sales, ergo, your comments are pure speculation. No matter how many doctorates you have or whatever you class as “scientific” in relation to this topic. You have literally made up the sales data based on some unrelated metric.

I could pull apart your other comments but quite frankly I have better things to do, so I’m going outside to cut the grass before it rains.

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Which pretty much says it all …

Well said!

we truly dont know what those numbers represent
Is it all licenses ever sold which might mean that a single user that renewed year after year is counted multiple times.
downloads ?

TBH I have no idea what that number represents and without context its just a number

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Personally, I wouldn’t take those number too seriously.

I had saved this:

Mar 19, 2014 Video:
“Over 250,000 users world wide”
“2226 Twitter followers” - webinar video 57:46 minute mark
https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=3466&v=qfWxKeD7kbY

“More than 200,000 users around the world”
-Feb 28, 2018 Video:

Xojo has over 375,000 users worldwide. Xojo apps can be found everywhere - from the Fortune 500 to commercial software, small businesses, schools and everything in between!
-9/6/19
https://www.xojo.com/

Another company I know used to say they had a “million users”. Yeah right. In those days they had a lot of stuff like manuals, in addition to software, they sold. I always interpreted to mean a million sales (or downloads when that became available) of something. That company is still around. They don’t seem to make such fantastic claims anymore. My guess is that other company (not Xojo) have a 1000-1500 annual license renewals - tops (@ $1500 a pop). If that.

Small struggling companies put on a good face - IOW’s they lie/stretch the truth/whatever.

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By that logic there should never be an accumulation of bugs leading to a slow decline in quality, it’s either go down suddenly or not at all. Sorry, that is nonsense. Ever heard of “death by a thousand paper cuts”?

YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY RIGHT. It is so blindingly obvious that UNRELATED features don’t influence each other that I have to ask myself how I could POSSIBLY have missed that.

Unless I didn’t.

You are making the same mistake that a programmer makes when he does this:


select case TRUE

case A

// call methodA

case B

// call methodB

case A AND B

// call methodC

else

// call methodD

end select

As you are an experienced programmer you will undoubtably have seen the problem immediately.

The underlying bug is not the code per se (on the contrary, it compiles and runs just fine), the error is the programmer’s assumption that those cases are unrelated. But they aren’t, and therefore methodC will never be called.

And that is exactly where you are going wrong too.

Let me demonstrate by investigating what related or unrelated actually means.

Let’s start big.

Are Xojo and Python unrelated systems? Can a bug in Python affect your Xojo app?

Of course not. It’s obvious.

But what if you use Björn’s Python plug-in?

“But that’s a different situation!”, I hear you protest. Actually, it isn’t. We are still talking about Xojo and Python. It is just that whether something is related or unrelated depends on circumstances that you might not have considered. Your PERCEPTION about something being unrelated might or might not be right.

What about Xojo itself? That’s much more tightly integrated.

You assert:

Hmm. As just shown “unrelated” is a BIG presumption. The debugger, the text handling system, and the maths module are clearly established systems, so according to you should not be affected by the introduction of new features. Like being able to compile for 64bit.

But the debugger could show wrong values due to the format function failing because the maths module had an error that caused 32bit problems and integer overflows in a 64 bit environment. The same error caused the mod function to fail at times too.

In short, the introduction of 64bit caused old established systems to fail sporadically because they were still using 32bit maths.

Which disproves your argument.

So what exactly do you mean by unrelated? Are Text handling and maths related or unrelated systems? Obviously not. Databases and Text handling and Maths are also not unrelated. Graphics are related. …

Come to think of it: which systems in Xojo do you think are “unrelated”?

Ever heard of “Six degrees of Separation”?

In any integrated system it is quite nonsensical to talk about “unrelated".

If you had said “There are bugs that have only limited local effects, and others that ripple through”, THEN I would have said you are correct.

But as it is you are not.

And judging without even reading what you judge? Really?

Well, I have never understood why people nowadays like to flout their ignorance as if it were a virtue. I know I would be embarrassed writing something like that. But maybe that’s just me. After all, we seem to live in the times of “alternative facts” where everyone likes to make it up as they please.

Gentlemen, please lets not turn this into bickering.

IMHO I believe that you are both correct in your assumptions, I believe that both the RRM and lack of staff is causing a problem, but is it really a problem? Does it affect Xojo’s bottom line? You can bet your bottom dollar if Xojo’s sales were really tanking bad, they’d be scrambling to fix it.

Like Markus I want to see Xojo do well, I’d even like to see Xojo become so successful that people use it instead of Electron (at least our harddrives and RAM would thank us). I have other wants for Xojo too, but…

Please stop fighting, perhaps if we could put our heads together, we could some up with something that truly inspires, to which we all benefit from?

They could start by dumping that god awful API 2.0, or at least make it consistent and logical. I hate it every single day.

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Internet goooooold, thanks for the smiles Markus, cheered me up no end.

That would be akin to herding cats, there’s too much unchecked ego and vitriol here from many parties to get anything done.

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Sigh…

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