I’m Not Xojo’s Target Audience. Is Anyone?

I took the time out of my schedule to reach out to Xojo this week to discuss the issues I have with API 2.0 and other topics.  It was a fruitful, if somewhat disappointing, conversation with Geoff.  Like Anthony from Graffiti Suite I am cautiously optimistic that some of the worst issues third party developers have with API 2.0 might be alleviated.  Really we won’t know until we see their solution

One of the topics that I brought up was that these issues (the new Event names and marking anything from API 1.0 Deprecated – even though they’ll be around for a many years to come) were brought up early and often in the beta program.  I said that honestly, it made us feel that our input is not valued.  Geoff’s response is that the beta testers that brought these issues up is a small subset of the overall beta program and what they (Xojo) didn’t realize was those beta testers have other Xojo developers behind them (other Xojo developers) that aren’t in the beta program.  They assumed that most of our users were using the most recent version of Xojo.

So, in other words, the biggest, most active users of their development tool, that are in the beta program because they want to be and need Xojo to work because of THEIR clients, their concerns could be ignored.  It means the professional Xojo users aren’t considered a part of their target audience.

Wow.  That is stunning to tell someone that has been in the beta program for (probably) over fifteen years that their input doesn’t matter.  The three pro licenses that I’ve been purchasing year after year for over a dozen years doesn’t matter.  The many years of blog posts promoting the product don’t matter.  The thousands of hours of streaming video training about the product don’t matter.  

I’ve been going to Xojo Developers Conference (XDC) for years.  I’ve spoken at all of them since 2004.  The conferences are expensive enough to attend that really it’s only the professional users that attend.  There are some citizen developers that attend but mostly it is people that make a living off of using Xojo in some way.  Maybe this is why XDC is now being marketed as Xojo.Connect? Targeted for citizen developers?  I don’t know but it’s not any less expensive.

I asked Geoff if they’ve ever asked why long-term users stopped renewing.  The answer was no.  They did it years ago with people that signed up to download Xojo but never purchased.  They couldn’t find a pattern which I totally get.  Heck, I’ve downloaded and discarded dozens of development tools over the years just to kick their tires.  But not knowing why someone stopped paying you $700 year after year?  Seems like it would be an important thing to know.

I’ve been around a long time and have remained friends with some of those former Xojo developers.  Some leave because of long-term bugs.  It is disheartening to report a bug that affects your app that gets ignored for years on end.  Granted not all bugs are equal but a show-stopper bug is just that.  When your bug is ignored it’s pretty easy to check out.

Some leave because Xojo isn’t as RAD (Rapid Application Development) as it is billed as.  Database driven applications (which I would say is what most businesses need) is pretty bad (hence why we’ve had our own library forever).  Why use Xojo if it’s not RAD?  

Some leave because there is a lack of capabilities in the product.  iOS (but also true for all targets) is painfully lacking in capabilities that force you into learning complex declares.  There are no built-in controls for Date, Time, Timestamp, or numbers only Text Fields, exporting to PDF, no ability for applications to have a report editor, a good grid, etc.  Some of this is because Xojo is the lowest common denominator between Mac, Windows, and Linux (for desktop) and doing these things cross-platform is really hard.  

Some leave because of the lack of options.  Xojo has a tiny 3rd party add-on market.  You only have a few options (if any) for some things or you make them yourself.  Users hate reinventing the wheel.  Xojo itself doesn’t do much to promote or help the 3rd party market.  Other development tools have significantly more options to choose from.

Regardless, there are probably a ton of reasons why people leave.  I suspect that most come down to some variation of the above.  These are also the same reasons why new users will walk away too.

Citizen developers can walk away from Xojo with hardly a second thought.  They’ve invested practically nothing in the tool.  When you’ve been in the Xojo ecosystem for many years apparently we’re taken for granted because the cost of moving is so high.  But who are the cheerleaders for the product?  Who helps new users in the forums?  The less active the community the harder it’s going to be to get those new citizen developer sales.  I see this as a negative feedback loop.

I’ve been a Xojo consultant for over over sixteen years.  I guess I’m not their target audience.  Is anyone?

32 thoughts on “I’m Not Xojo’s Target Audience. Is Anyone?

  1. very well written and level headed.
    I agree with what you said.
    and this is why I left Xojo as my platform of choice..

  2. Yup. With this sort of casual upheaval, it’s really difficult to take Xojo seriously, let alone consider it a sound business decision. The idea that this did not occur to them is stunning.

  3. You hit the nail Bob. As an ex-RB/Xojo blogger and framework maker myself I had the same feelings a couple of years ago. I moved on, but keep watching in the hope there is any progress on Xojo via blogs and the forum. Unfortunately it is still the same mantra they keep preaching.

    From my ‘goodbye’ post on my blog, a similar feeling I had now almost 2 years ago:

    “… But because of Xojos decision a couple of years ago to start using a new syntax framework, most of these projects won’t work anymore without a major overhaul. So I feel it is time to let them go. I recently noticed Xojo had removed this blog from their resource list too, so they must’ve had the same feeling. Honestly, no hard feelings about that! I would too when a blog doesn’t write anything on me anymore.

    But what is there currently to write about Xojo? The Web part hasn’t changed in many years and still looks like it is 1995. iOS still feels like it is only partly finished and is missing to many out-of-the-box features to be useful (will the new upcoming android suffer from the same problem?). Should I write about the many bugs and workarounds one has to do? …”

    The users are getting tired and this can be seen in the many negative blog posts, the non-retweets and likes of their ‘annoyingly repetitive’ social media posts (sorry Dana, but staff likes don’t really count), the many seasoned users who left and the lack of activity on the forum.

    Only Xojo Inc. doesn’t seem to (be willing to) see what is happening. And this time, a name change will not be enough to hide the many shortcomings of the tool I’m afraid…

  4. This explains so much. But why listen to customers with the larger churn rate instead of the oldtimers? And you need to ask your customers why they stop using your product.

    This attitude to customer feedback also explains the terrible navigation in the current IDE. There they also solved a non-existing problem.

  5. As a Windows-only developer at my own company using Xojo since 2005 (and before that as an employee where we actually evaluated CrossBasic’s Java-target before Geoff bought CB and created RB) I have come to terms with us finally parting with 2019r1.1 as the Swan Song. Sad in so many ways but inevitable and as always when breaking up from a bad relationship – much too late!
    I let our licenses expire in September after seeing where API 2.0 were heading and the lack of attention to Web 2.0. iOS and now Android while still limping forward on an aging Windows framework? No thank you!
    I feel sorry for MBS and Einhugur that we have been supporting all these years buying their products and consulting hours. Without their add-ons (actually “band-aids”) for Windows we would have left Xojo earlier. We will bump projects that require Mac support to 2019r1.1 (our final version) and other projects will move to other tools.
    Thank you all for some great years!

      • For many years we have been using Sencha Ext JS framework for web-projects. We will now take the step to wrap web-apps into desktop applications using Electron.

  6. One final thought:
    Comparing how a language such as PHP handles changes to the language through an open RFC and voting process is pretty inspiring. Accepted RFC:s are almost always going into the next major release, i.e. not the current.

  7. I asked myself if I am willing to play the API 2.0 game and accept its costs.
    The answer is clearly NO.

    Why?
    It is the second time, the damaged my business.
    First the made the GUI less user friendly, so it still costs a lot of time to handle large projects in the new navigator.
    Now the want me to learn API 2.0 and rewrite old code and mess up older projects and 3rd party extensions.
    If I am playing this game further, then API 3.0 or what ever will come next.
    Sorry guys … it’s time to quit.

  8. The Great Firewall of Xojo continues to function well at least!

    “The purpose of this forum is to help people be productive with Xojo. Locking this thread because it is not conducive to productivity. If anyone has any specific issue they wish to discuss with us – we are here, write us at hello@xojo.com.”

    • If you don’t like it they suppress diverting opinions on a trumped up charge? I find that despicable.

      • Meh. It’s their forum and their rules. They are under no obligation to let anything that detracts from their platform be visible. So be thankful they just locked the thread and didn’t delete it. Similarly, I can delete any comments from this blog that I feel like because it’s mine and it’s my rules.

        • Their forum their rules, absolutely. It’s an unusual forum in wanting everyone to go by their real names and also wanting people to use personal photos as their avatar. I don’t know of any other forum that had the ‘user not verified’ thing going on, as though people ought to be careful communicating with that person. It doesn’t seem too healthy an attitude to one’s users, to me. A chance was missed back when the old forum and the the mail list were shut down. Users ought to have set up an independent forum at that time. For a start, the hard pressed staff at xojo would not have needed to take time out of their day, working on the product, to censor the forum. Without the ability to control the forum they might also have had to attach more importance to keeping the existing users happy over doing the latest thing that interested them.

        • I have no problem with “their forum, their rules”, but as far as I can see that thread broke none of the rules (profanity, discussing other development tools, etc). The reason given “the forum is for increasing user’s productivity” is trumped up as far as I can see – THAT is what I find so despicable.

          • No, I was one whose comment they removed because I noted that I decided to go with Swift and Xcode instead of waiting years and years for their iOS side to get up to speed. And I mentioned that since I was now learning Swift my choice going forward even for MacOS apps would be “wait for Xojo n years or delve deeper into iPadOS and Catalyst?” and I linked to Catalyst on Apple’s site.

            Also, someone then quoted me and mentioned they figured I was probably not alone in looking at Xojo that way.

            So, my bad, that was against the rules and they were perfectly in line removing my comment. And I suppose that and one or two other user’s comments led them to lock the thread.

          • @Dave: as your comment had been removed there was no reason to lock the thread. I simply don’t buy their excuse as they have buried critical threads that went on “too long” several times in the past. And I could point out several threads that SHOULD be locked if “not increasing productivity” is a criterion.

            Btw I have been suspended from the forum for 30 days as I send a sarcastic “well done” pm to Joost (who called for the locking) and Dana (who locked the thread) 🙂 …

  9. “I asked Geoff if they’ve ever asked why long-term users stopped renewing. The answer was no. They did it years ago with people that signed up to download Xojo but never purchased. ”

    Those two things are huge difference in kind… I can not even comprehend how someone running business could equate the two!

    besides that, the people just browsing are less likely to be motivated to respond…

    Now a frustrated ex user might not respond, but many if not most long term users tend to get passionate about the product in some way… and IMO are more likely to answer than a casual ‘browser’ about what frustrated them and why they left… unless the expressed all of it BEFORE they left and felt ignored.

    – Karen

  10. It does not matter if Geoff considers the professional as part of the target audience because what is good for the professional is excellent for the citizen developer! To ignore the professionals in the betas is to shoot Xojo in the foot since the professionals are professionals for a reason and can spot poor design decisions as they happen! The switch to the navigator and the new API 2.0 (especially the event naming thing) are signs of poor analytical thinking skills that would allow them to see the consequences of their decisions. The beta testers provide reality checks against what they are thinking and to ignore their advice is hubris. Their pattern of thinking in making design decisions is what disturbs me the most because there seems to be no indication of them changing their ways. A couple of times they have been publicly caught red-handed making REALLY poor decisions in the face of a tide of warnings before the product was released. So the current mea culpas seem rather hollow, but what really matters if they will fundamentally change their thinking when it comes to future product features and decisions.

      • My point is that Xojo is in the position it is because they are not “listening” to the people that have Xojo best interests at heart, the professionals. Will they change their ways and listen when red flags are raised to them? This starts with Geoff since he sets the direction. My experience with Geoff over the years is he tends to dig his heels in when confronted with opposing points of view. Until Geoff changes his ways, you will keep getting the same thing over and over no mater how they resolve the current problems. So the argument that professionals are his target audience or not is a moot point since arguing it will not change Geoff’s behaviors. Why did Geoff not listen during the betas and release a potentially disastrous product with really bad marketing consequences? The answer is hubris. Only Geoff can change this by listening to the voice of the customer and be willing to change direction when called for.

        • I just realized that this history has decades…
          Teh rebranding from RB to RS, then To Xojo, The new IDE, the “new” framework and now the “new” api, rebranding the languaje itself as not so Basic…

          No wonder why the decade od bugs and feature request for basic functionality like PDF or SVG, more RAD controls and usable reports.

          They spent more time and resources changing the languaje and rebrandings than improving the core framework 🙁

          • The name changes sort of made sense. The move from RB to Real Studio was to get rid of the BASIC in the name. Real Studio was an awful name because it was two generic words combined that never got really good search results. Xojo is at least a decent searchable name.

            But yeah, I think there a dozen or so improvements that would make everyone happy. But instead of those we get API 2.0, which *sounded* good but was implemented in the worse possible way. I have zero faith in Android will be usable when it’s finally released and I have doubts that Web 2.0 will be usable right away either.

            Prove me wrong, Xojo.

    • I am a citizen developper. I don’t know much about you but nope the tools doesn’t fit this kind of audience.
      do you know what we citizen doing a lot? a hint:
      “Some leave because Xojo isn’t as RAD (Rapid Application Development) as it is billed as. Database driven applications (which I would say is what most businesses need) is pretty bad (hence why we’ve had our own library forever). Why use Xojo if it’s not RAD? ”
      this is definitively not a RAD
      check what you may do with Access or Windev . those are really RAD.

      • From their website and brochures it looks like Windev does NOT target women developers!

        Also single platform and more a Lot expensive than Xojo X-Platform desktop!

        I have never used Access (have always been a Mac person), but if it is anything like Filemaker… Really RAD for DB stuff, not so good as a general purpose language…. and of course single platform as it has never been ported to the Mac AFAIK.

        -Karen

  11. Speaking of Xojo alternatives, googling fro X-Platform tools I came across Free Pascal and Lazarus (a IDE and GUI builder for Free Pascal) that a lot of people say good things about… and it’s open source and free and can supports Object Pascal.

    From what I’ve read it seems unlike Xojo you have to build on the target platform, but the same source can be used without issue.

    I have not used Pascal since the late 1980s IIRC on a VAX. I don’t remember the language very well besides it was strongly typed, assignment was :=, you can create your own data types and IIRC has semicolons at the end of each line…

    Has anybody tried Lazuraus/Open Pascal recently? Is comparable in capabilities to Xojo in general, X-Platform GUI app production, nd overall productivity once one became familiar with it and it’s framework?

    -karen

    • I’ve never had any success with Lazarus on macOS
      Its been quite some time since I last looked so maybe it has improved

    • comparable in capabilities to Xojo in general, X-Platform GUI app production?

      No, it has tons of functionality and RAD components out of the box, plus lots of free add ons.

      Im am also looking for alternatives and Lazarous had an important growth in recent years.

      I have only tested Windows

  12. Simple question:

    What language/IDE must I learn to get a job.

    Everything else can only be verbose.

    IMHO.

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