I’ve been a REALbasic/Real Studio/Xojo developer since REALbasic version 3.5. I’ve been through a lot of versions, UI changes, and have made a fairly successful business using the product. I am a huge supporter of the product and count a lot of the current and former Xojo Inc employees as friends. I am also a critic in that I always want a better product than what I have right now. This post is a laundry list of things that we find lacking Xojo.
The first thing that we want is stability in the product. Xojo 2013 Release 3 is better than the 2 previous releases but we can still get it to create exceptions fairly reliably (yes, we’ve submitted Feedback reports). Granted, Xojo has not been out for very long but we also had a year long wait from when it was promised to when it was released and we expected more. For example, Xojo still hasn’t fixed bugs reported years ago in Real Studio. Autocomplete still doesn’t work properly with shared methods and properties and namespace objects and there are a few other instances where autocomplete just doesn’t work.
The second thing we want from the product are power features (i.e. things that make my life easier). The debugger, while powerful, is still essentially the same debugger it was when I started using REALbasic many years ago. Many people want debugger watchpoints, and a better way to view application data while debugging (tooltip variable values are a common request). Plugin management is a royal pain for developers like us that have projects spanning a decade. We’d love to have a complete source code view of an object without having to click on each property, method, event, constant, etc. In my VB6 days I was a huge fan of MZTools which was an add-in for the VB IDE that provided additional functionality that we’d love to have in Xojo. In other words, we’d love to have the ability to have IDE add-ons. We’d also like to have the ability to compile applications via the command line and the ability to create libraries and plugins via Xojo itself.
The third thing we need is better RAD tools. For a tool that claims to be a RAD tool it has a surprising lack of RAD options. Despite many years of users asking for it there are still no good options for a data grid control. Sure, many things can be done with the listbox but it’s not quite what users are asking for (think embedded native controls). The fact that Xojo does not ship with a basic date, time, or calendar control for many is the kiss of death for using the product. Make them so basic (like Microsoft did) that any power feature has to be satisfied by a 3rd party developer (like Einhugur).
The last thing we need is better database support. We see no reason why the recordset can’t have an AddNew function. Why can’t the DatabaseRecord code be merged into the Recordset? Currently, the classes are close enough in functionality to be easy to figure out but just different enough to be highly annoying (for example, field vs column terminology). We’d also love to have a Batch Update function with the recordset and the ability to have Disconnected Recordsets. Both of these features lead to some interesting and powerful database applications. Another thing that we find lacking is that there are no built-in options to help the user with database operations as there’s zero error checking on table and field names (other than checking the database error property).
These are things that are on our short list and things that we’ve been talking with other developers since about 2008 when we helped found the Association of REALbasic Professionals (ARBP). This list does not include 64 bit support, LLVM, or SSL for Web Edition applications because those are already scheduled to be implemented.
Let me be clear, Xojo works for us – we just want it to be better. We spend an awful lot of money on licenses and going to the developer conferences because this is what we do for a living. Doing Xojo development pays the salary for all of our employees. We depend on the tool on a daily basis and even though we think it’s already pretty good, we simply want it to be better.
So what is on your list of things you really want/need in Xojo?