Letter to Geoff

Geoff sent me an email essentially asking why Tim Dietrich and I are upset and left Xojo behind. I have my reasons. I’d like you hear from you with a bulleted list of points.

My goal is to provide Geoff with a list of concerns that we’ve been ‘ranting’ about issues with facts and even better suggestions on how to fix the issue. I feel it’s a lost cause, but I’d love for Xojo to rock to make me want to come back.

Post here or email me directly at hal@campsoftware.com, where I will keep your identity private. If it’s full of rage, I won’t share it. I’m very very very not happy and have expressed that to Geoff very clearly. But for this email it needs to be logical and level headed without emotion.

I’d like to reply ‘soon’ meaning around Monday.

Hal

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I would point out the various threads on xojos own forums
And some here

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For the letter I need some specifics that I can express.

Various people said ranting doesn’t make any difference. It clearly does, just not to all developers, only the special ones :wink:

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I really would like this to be rant free. State issues and if you have ideas how to fix the issue. I get it. Ranting feels good to get it off your mind.

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Missed research opportunities
and https://forum.xojo.com/t/xojo-for-rant/56790/41


install of Xojo on Ubuntu fails and only seems to install properly on Mint
The impact one people who have built businesses around using Xojo for their business
(xDev, Bob, Einhugur, MBS, etc)
feedback cases stuck in “Needs review” for ever
reproducible bugs left unfixed
replacementnt / abandonement of a framework for one that isnt done / ready (by Xojo’s own admission they deferred numerous items)
glaringly obvious bugs leave a bad first impression

Norms own stats (no way to get everyones)
Reproducible bug in Xojo 114

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Thank you Norm! By the way, I’ve been typing up some notes and found my self ranting to myself. It’s hard to not get emotional about what we love[d].

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Entirely agree

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If i were to direct geoff to read anything on here it might be
https://ifnotnil.com/t/a-positive-rant/931/41
https://ifnotnil.com/t/xojo-web-2-0-review-on-alwaysbusy-s-corner/888/27




all of these end up revealing many things people LIKE about Xojo and their complaints about it

I truly hope he reads the letter and responds in a way that makes some, any, all of us feel a lot better about Xojo and where htings are headed

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Hi Hal,

bulleted list.

1, android, why on earth waste all that time and money on a complete waste of resources.
who made the decision the its a good idea to enter a market that has fully matured in respect of available ways to produce code to support that market.
its almost impossible to make any money from android, since android was started no one on the forums seems too much bothered its not turned up.
dump android and fix bugs.
there has never ever been a sniff of an alpha version of this, I do not think any one cares, dump it in the bin, move on and fix some feckin bugs.
B4A is free, it does everything that one might imagine is required to make an app on android, granted its windows only IDE which is a real off putter, but its going to be very very significantly better than anything xojo will ever be able to offer in years to come (if it ever arrives).

2, API2, why, Xojo.core came along, it did not work(for the majority), so API2 came along, its a half baked solution to a problem that never existed, API1 is still there and could just be updated if so chosen.

3, event name changes, WHAT THE FECK!, it’s just the seemingly most stupid endeavour that might be planned. my ability to perform an expletive free comment has been exhausted, one of the most incoherent, ill thought out and universally panned ideas in the whole history of stupid (Xojo-real basic…) ideas, from the perspective of the humble xojo community paying for the development of said company.

4, iOS, well looking for positives… nope none exist, I know there are some very dedicated (handful? I don’t know) people who took the iOS ball and have run with it and do some superb work.
I tried, I expected it to be usable without any external plugins and be at least more than hello world without getting completely stopped by lack of built in functions.
B4i is WAYYYYYYY more functional, its less than 30% of the cost and is significantly more feature rich.

5, web2, really, api2 only, hope everyone gets on board, half baked solution, again, kill web1 at the same time, really how to kill a business and then jump up and down on the corpse, utter madness.

6 ,the forum, just who is in charge there, ban this person, block the other one, pretend the world outside xojoville does not exist, feck right off, people who are asked to be engaged by the company and wish them to be involved in the community should rightly expect a modicum of negative response to some attributes of their product and behaviour as a cultured community.
but to ban and discriminate totally and completely against any one who has any singular comment or idea that is not within the party line is utterly counter productive in so many ways. it appears suicidal to me the path xojo is taking currently.

7, as a businessman and a user of xojo for some considerable time it saddens me enormously that this company is making decisions that are obviously negatively impacting on the future of the company and seemingly opposing the axiom relating to a company leader doing everything possible to provide its shareholders with a reasonable chance of profit.
I am predicting that the current situation will be the company downfall and that there is only one person who is responsible, may seem harsh to some, but lets see if its going to happen in the next 2 years.

just a few things off the top of my head, I have to admit I am not expecting xojo to be about much longer while pursuing the current course.
many users are now learning to use other tools.
if they are like me they are secretly hoping that this year there will be a big turn around and things will get sorted out.
but knowing that’s not happening, its time to learn another language or 2, and when that’s done whatever xojo does will not matter, for me its a year from now, my licence ends in December.
I have had nothing at all useful updated to xojo in that year, just an 8 month wait for 2020r1 which is a useless release for me, 699 dollars wasted in a pointless xojo wormhole.

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If my comments are of any interest.

  1. API 2.0 continues to slow down usage of the product. I build a lot of components for apps as new projects (after linking in my App Kit). If these smaller projects are created in 2019.x they ONLY auto-complete API 2.0. An option to re-enable API 1.0 Auto-complete would alleviate this frustration. feedback://showreport?report_id=57885

  2. Since API 2.0, none of my feedback cases appear to have gotten any traction. Some have been incorrectly closed, with the engineer claiming on one case “that it works internally”, but claims to understand that it is unusable when deploying apps to customers.

  3. I want an assured way of knowing that when I pay Xojo 100s of dollars (or 1000s of dollars) that some of the things that matter to me will be resolved in a reasonable time frame.

  4. I want to improve Xojo not only for my own use, but also for every one’s use.
    In particular take case feedback://showreport?report_id=30959, if this had been implemented, I could actually solve case feedback://showreport?report_id=61413 on my own, or in the case where a customer wanted to prevent his customers from creating new folders. I could even provide the ability for Xojo customers to customize the options in the save panel.

Same can be said for case feedback://showreport?report_id=60707, if it was implemented, I could also enable additional functionality that’s already present in the underlying OS object, but not exposed by Xojo.

Or case feedback://showreport?report_id=61125 where I am asking for information that will benefit Xojo’s own customers when they code sign their console applications.

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Many of mine have been covered above. Some others are:

  • Fix bugs. I’m sure anyone that’s done any significant development in Xojo has run into bugs that have lingered on for YEARS. Stop working on new features and fix the damn bugs! This includes bugs in the IDE and bugs in the frameworks
  • Switch to modern Windows UI & framework - only after bullet 1 is completed
  • Design a much better debugger - easier to navigate amongst the variables (maybe popovers on them directly in your code, ala VS), watchpoints, run until value reached, etc.
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I’ve always said that basic functionality needs to be rock solid.

With that being said I would like to point to the thread about Autodiscovery being unusable.

As for the letter:

The core product has to be good. Many companies that neglected their core strengths and went after “new markets” went under - so Xojo neglecting desktop like this is hard to understand.

In my opinion Geoff decided to take a page out of Apple’s book. “Forget about the Pro’s - go after the consumer mass market”. But what he failed to realise was that Apple prepared that move diligently. Steve Jobs came in and put MacOS on a stabil footing: MacOS X has Unix underneath. Then all the übergeeks that learned and loved Linux, earned their money with Windows (but hated it), and didn’t even look at that Mac “toy computer” were running around with Apple’s PowerBooks. [I realised that Apple was onto a winner and wanted to buy shares back then at USD8 but my government insisted on me repaying my student loan instead - those shares would now be worth over 76 Million UD$]. That had a trickle down effect - those geeks started recommending Macs … and the rest is History as they say.

Without Steve Jobs Apple has lost its way a bit under Ivy, and the Pros were leaving, but it seems they are now getting back into it. Because the Mac is an integral part of the platform experience.

Xojo is trying to go after the consumer market without having laid the ground work - as a shortcut they tried to distance themselves from the “bad” BASIC moniker and renamed themselves. But with the Pro’s giving Xojo bad reviews left, right, and center, will consumers be willing to shell out money … especially when other products start approaching Xojo’s ease of use (I just love Swift) and are free to boot, with better job and long-term prospects?

Or as Bob said: What is good for the Pro, is good for the “Citizen Developer”.

And that is where Xojo’s strategy falls down.

If Xojo is just for “home use”, has a bad reputation among Pros, and costs a lot of money (not for Pro’s but according to everyone else) - then why not use B4 or Python or Swift or Go or whatever instead? Where users rave about it, Pros recommend it, and people flock to it?

If Xojo had done its homework and was a mature and stable development system that Pro’s rave about - then it would have a chance and a much larger user base. But they made the capital error of not just neglecting the most influential user group, but actively driving them out.

I’m pretty good at spotting long term trends and predicting long-term consequences. Watching their “strategy” unfold hurts, because it has more holes than a Swiss cheese …

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I’m actually surprised he didn’t just offer you an MVP status. Seems to have worked in the past to stop people from being critical… :grinning:

Reading the forums, I wouldn’t think it is that hard to figure out the reasons, but here is my list with some imaginary percentages until a real poll exists. Maybe they can give an indication on how much time to spend on each of them. @HalGumbert feel free to adjust them as you see fit.

I haven’t much hope either it will help putting Xojo back to the right track and that this may just be another attempt Xojo makes to take the heat of things (temporarily). Geoff should try to be gracious in defeat and simply admit they have made a lot of bad decisions in the last decade. Forgiven, but now (finally) get a grip of yourself again! The plebs are getting tired, and the rumblings among them are getting louder and louder…

So without further ado, here we go:

  1. Fix the bugs (70%): For Xojo, having bugs became the new ‘normal’. It isn’t. The phrase ‘every tool has that’ came up way to much. They don’t. At least not in the amount and duration before a fix comes out compared to Xojo. Stop reinventing the wheel and build on giants. You aren’t the sole cross platform maker anymore and a lot of people out there have really smart ideas too. Use them, expand on them. B4X is a prime example of using this system.

  2. Make Desktop your priority again (15%): Windows and Linux need a lot of love. I know you are primarily Mac oriented, but you do have a big chunk of users who want to develop on/for Windows and Linux. Start thinking globally, where not everyone (unlike America?) uses Mac/iOS. Programmers need to be able to rely on their IDE. It must be swift and rock solid. It is enough we have to deal with our own bugs, let alone the underlying ones of your tool (see #1)

  3. Web (10%): Again, stop trying to write everything yourself. Using jQuery (although there were a lot of better alternatives, but that is another discussion) and picking Bootstrap was a good first step. You should’ve searched the market and used a established server side engine. It would have been better. Example: B4X build its engine around Jetty and can easily handle a large multitude of users Xojo can. Hardly any bugs, because Jetty was build by a lot of experienced programmers in such things. Not everyone is a specialist in everything. Use existing established engines and avoid a large number of bugs (see #1).

  4. iOS (5%): A gimmick in its current state. Feels like it was abandonware from the start. Relies way to much on 3th party providers to be usable for real-life production apps. A lot of better alternatives on the market. The mobile world is a completely different animal than you were used to and frankly, the company didn’t have the experience in-house to make this a success. The mix in frameworks/APIs didn’t help, as it broke down the promise: write once, compile many. Impossible to let this one go, I know, but don’t bet the company on it. There are more important things (see #1)

  5. Android (0%): just let it go. You missed the boat completely. If it is only to complete the circle to be able to make 'Hello world’s on all platforms, it is not worth the effort. Soon, another platform will pop up so make sure you keep a keen eye out for it and jump on that one from the very start. A serious waste of precious resources that could’ve been used elsewhere (see #1).

  6. Other (no percentage, should be done continuously): Embrace the pros and 3th party devs. They are the core of your business. Citizen Devs are probably easier to handle. But it is a temporary solution for a bigger problem you now have. Pros can make or break your tool. They elevate Xojo way more than you seem to realize. They bring expertise that (maybe due to the lack of resources) are missing in your programmers pool. This is not throwing a stone: programmers nowadays just can’t be experts in everything anymore. But use them, indulge them. It will avoid a lot of trouble and frustrations. They can help with a lot of things (see #1)

Finally, don’t try to play Apple: you are not them. You are a small company and still are after 22 years. Accept it and love it. It has a lot of advantages over being a mastodon. Return to your successful roots, desktop. And just as a small reminder, reread #1. It’s important.

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At our university I am responsible for the support of four very complex software products we lincensed for doing research (aquiring and processing data). So I am in contact with both: users and the support teams of the software companies.
By far the most efficient measure to reduce user dissatisfaction (ranting, bad reviews etc.) ist to deliver a product that works as expected. If the users can’t do their jobs because of bugs they will get impatient and if you ignore them they also can get very angry. So the primary aim is: deliver a reliable product and fix bugs as soon as possible.
The software companies I am in contact with seem to know this fact very well. If we report a reproducible bug, they apologize for the inconvenience and tell us that the problem will be fixed in the next release. There is a new release roughly every month which brings almost exclusively bug fixes and little improvements. So you have to wait for a fix maximum a month. After they solved your problem, you will get an email where they ask you to give them feedback about how satisfied you are with their work (there is a link you can click to rate your satisfaction). Through the years, they got a lot of positive feedback from us. Both sides (the users, the software companies) seem very satisfied how this works.

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A very simple win may be to stop banning people and rescind existing bans from the official forum for having a dissenting voice. Without the forum and the help and advice provided over the years in each of the forum iterations I don’t think I could have ever stuck with XOJO. To me the community is what sets it apart from other tools I have used, or did before the company decided to suppress alternate viewpoints in such a draconian fashion.

I now find myself, as do others clearly, in a position where we have to check two forums to keep in touch with the vast wealth and experience of long time professional XOJO users. Yes, they may have different views of the company and its direction but should not have been banned as a result. These actions takes away a valuable resource from new XOJO users. It simply makes no sense when critical friends are certainly worth keeping in touch with as most replies to this post appear to show.

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I really would like to make my apps on Android as well. Currently, a kind of “Remote Desktop” app I made works elsewhere but on Android. Granted, it’s mainly for my own use, but I have an Android device I use everyday that I’d like to use for this purpose.
That’s just one case among others; Android with Xojo code would be nice, for me at least.

My personal Bullet list:

  1. Hire more Dev’s or make the Compiler Open Source (the IDE may remain Closed Source aswell any Services around)

  2. Drop Mobile Development (iOS and Android). To me it was more a wrapper than an real alternative. Swift and XCode is the standard, you cannot compete with.

  3. Focus on Desktop (Linux and Windows)! It’s still a fact, that the IDE is best run on a Mac, that’s a risk! (have I said, that I am using Linux more than Macs?)

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For Android? Wouldn’t have expected this…

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Haha Did you swallow a clown today?
Of course regarding iOS (didn’t think I needed to mention this specifically)