Features, Roadmaps, and Pricing. Oh my!

Lot’s of drama on the Xojo forums the past couple of days.  People are gnashing teeth at perceived slips in timeframes that were really estimates at the 2013 Xojo Developers Conference.  There’s also some gnashing of teeth going on whether or not Xojo Pro licenses will include iOS ot.

Xojo has a number of options in regards to feature sets, timeframes, and pricing.  Let’s review:

One:  They tell us nothing and release new features when they feel they’re ready.  Always an option but not satisfying to the users especially at developers conferences.  We go, in part, to find out about the new and upcoming features and provide some feedback.  Without this information it’s hard to get excited about future releases.

Two:  They tell us about possible features and give rough timeframes.  They’ve done this in the past and it seems that once they say it, people assume that’s it’s gospel and that it will be in the next release.  It doesn’t take long for people to complain about ‘missing’ features but at least the new features get released – eventually.

Three:  They give us a timeframe and release regardless of whether it’s ready or not.  It’s been a while, but I can remember new ‘features’ that did not work.  Period.  Not how I wanted them to work or even how they intended it (as in demo projects didn’t even work as intended).  Thankfully they don’t pull crap like that anymore and I can’t imagine anyone wanting to go back to that.  Trust me, that lead to very pissed off customers and people leaving the community for good.

Of those three options, option two is the only viable one and is a balancing act.  Unfortunately it leads to speculation, misinformation, pissed off users, and much trumpeting of outrage (real or feigned).  I can live with this because option 1 is hard to deal with as a professional users and option 3 is simply unacceptable for any developer.

Pricing is a bit trickier since the new licensing scheme lets anyone use the IDE without buying a license.  If you wish to build a final executable you need a license for the target.  Theoretically, this should mean that when Xojo iOS is released anyone on a Mac can test it.  It’s only when you want to build you’ll have to buy a license.  Currently, Pro users can build for all known targets targets (note that this does not include iOS).

The question everyone is asking:  Will current Professional license holders have to upgrade or will iOS be included?  As with features and roadmaps it’s an irrelevant question right now.  You either need the Pro license or you don’t.  Forget about 3, 6 or 9 months from now.  Buying a license now for a feature that doesn’t currently exist is kind of pointless.  Get what you need now.

Honestly, I doubt that iOS will be included in current Pro licenses.  Maybe I’m wrong but iOS is a HUGE deal.  Perhaps the biggest deal Xojo/Real Software has ever done.  If it were *MY* company iOS would be an additional cost even for existing Pro users though I’d give a nice discount for early adopters since there is a risk for those developers.

So my bit of advice is to hold tight.  The 2014 Xojo Developer Conference is towards the end of March.  That’s not very far away and in realistic terms it means that Xojo is already preparing for what they’re going to talk about at at the conference.  I’m sure they already know what new features, updates, roadmaps and pricing they are revealing.

Watch this blog and I’m sure I’ll be writing about all of these things.  Just take it all with a grain of salt.  Oh, and I’m sure we’ll be reliving this conversation about the same time next year.

7 thoughts on “Features, Roadmaps, and Pricing. Oh my!

  1. Sad thing…
    I’m really “waiting” for the iOS feature. If it takes another year I can think about buying a mac…. :-/

  2. The problem is the pricing model “subscription” combined with the teasing for upcoming features (and also the list of important unresolved bugs).

    The subscription pricing model feels like giving Xojo a steady salary-like cash-flow, but you don’t know – at the moment of the payment – what you will get out of it. For me, it would feel more natural to pay for an upgrade every time a new software version is available.

    I can understand that for such a small company a constant cash-flow is important. But on the other hand they’ve managed with this pricing model to move a problem from their company to us, their subscribers.

    Sometimes it reminds me a bit of a “snowball system”…

    • Well, the subscription system is certainly ‘different’ than what we’ve grown accustomed to with software. However, there’s nothing stopping you from from upgrading only when there’s a good reason for you to upgrade. If the current version does what you need then you could presumably live without an upgrade for a while. I know plenty of developers who do just that.

      However, the fact the new features are added in every release makes this less than ideal. The fact that Xojo is usually very incremental in new features and enhancing them over time makes the subscription model appealing to many.

      I know many that complain about bugs, but every release has a lot of bug fixes and enhancements. They don’t trumpet it, but the entire framework has been pretty much rewritten in the past 3 years for Cocoa and getting ready for 64 bit. Not an easy task and for the most part we (as users) never noticed it. We ‘see’ the IDE and may or may not like it but the underlying framework is pretty solid.

  3. I’ll probably get yelled at for this but… y’all can do what I did and learn Objective-C. Xcode is free, the app store fee is $99/year. Being a 3rd party, Xojo will always be behind, and there will always be problems along the way… Just look at the MAS havoc going on due to QuickTime linking.

    • No worries. You’re entitled to an opinion. 🙂

      The MAS issues with QuickTime have already been addressed so it’s not much of a concern unless you happen to be using QuickTime calls.

      But you’re right, by its very nature Xojo will be behind the 8 Ball when it comes to changes by Apple, Microsoft, and any of the Linux distributions. However, in all the years of looking I’ve not found a better solution to cross platform development.

  4. Yep, they rock for cross-platform. 🙂 And I’d rather use Xojo than learn .Net. For Apple-only development, it’s safer to stick with Apple’s tools. Now if Xojo will cross compile for iOS & Android, they’ll pique my interest again. I have no desire to re-learn Java.

  5. I had no desire to learn it the first time around – but it was required for the project so we did. 😛

    iOS compilation will be sometime this year (I forget the schedule)

    Android is an entirely different beast because their runtime model is more or less JVM based – although there is some room for truly native code. To get the “best experience” you seem to need to run on the built in VM – which means a slightly different compilation model than we’re used to – not necessarily impossible just different. And then a framework to go with it. And then the question of declares, plugins, etc is all up in the air.
    Android has a lot of unanswered questions about “how to”.

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