What About Bob?

A number of recent forum threads and blog posts have invoked my name.  I mostly didn’t respond to those individual posts and decided to write one big post.

I’m still in the community:  Sort of.  I took a full-time job just before the pandemic hit the US and I’m so thankful that I’m able to provide for my family in a stable and hopefully long-term position.  Xojo consulting wasn’t keeping me very active and that’s even after it was just me doing the Xojo consulting.  You can chalk this up to a variety of issues that all revolve around Xojo.

Consulting leads just don’t show up like they used to:  At the height of BKS we had 4 full-time developers and a DBA/Project manager.  That means we picked up at least two big projects a year and a ton of smaller filler projects.  Those just don’t show up any more.  Do cross-platform apps now use a different language?  Is it because of Xojo quality issues?  Is it because of bad press?  Is it because I expressed my displeasure with Xojo?  A global pandemic that greatly accelerated a looming recession? Sure.  All of the above probably.  But I know other consultants that are in the same boat though a select few have flourished during this period too.  So maybe it’s an ebb and flow thing.

The whole API 2 fiasco:  API 2 is of dubious quality for existing projects.  If you have a couple hundred thousands of lines of code in classic API code you simply do not have the time or resources to convert.  What’s worse, is that I have several Windows apps that crash (as in poof!  No crash log or catchable exception) in any version of Xojo that uses API 2.  This one thing keeps me using 2019 R1.1.  (Update, this was resolved in one app that used WebKit for the HTMLViewer renderer and is marked as fixed for 2020 R1.1).

If you want proof of this statement ask anyone at Xojo when the entire IDE is going to be converted to API 2.  That alone is a multi-year project and I don’t care what Geoff says – they are NOT eating their own dog food when it comes to API 2.  They decided that it wasn’t worth converting to API 2 for existing work.  That says volumes if you ask me.

More targets less engineers:  Xojo used to have only desktop targets which meant that everyone on the development team focused on desktop.  Since then they’ve lost/fired engineers and created more targets.  How much time and effort has gone into iOS, and now Android development?  You simply cannot tell me that they are adequately staffed to handle all of these targets.  Web has been a multi-year project as has Android.  In the meantime they touched every single class in Xojo for API 2.0 and given the results I’m not sure the platform as a whole is better for it.  As far as I know they have no *dedicated* compiler engineer and that seems to be an issue with 64-bit debugging.

Locking of threads and banning of users on the forums:  It’s their sandbox and their tools so they can do whatever they want with their forum.  But it sure seems like a lot of threads get locked (by non-Xojo employees!) and posts get deleted rather quickly.  Look, I get it, they want to present a consistent look to the world but the almost fanatical control of the forum feels…desperate. Banning of users should be the very last resort.

The comical stance that professional developers are not the core users of Xojo:  Xojo will deny this, of course, but I’ve been around for 20 years in this community.  I’ve seen a lot of developers come and go.  There’s the hey, this product is very cool phase.  Then there’s the now I’m going to do something hard with this tool phase.  Some get through it.  Many don’t.  With the many dealings with former Xojo users not once have I heard of Xojo contacting them on why they left.  

Hell, maybe the users that know Xojo the best are the hardest ones to please.  Maybe it *is* easier to find new buyers than to appease existing customers for renewals.  But it’s the existing users that are the best marketing tool of the company in my opinion.  How many times have I promoted Xojo over the past 20 years?  Many people accused me of working for Xojo and being a shill.

Trust is Earned:  One of the things that we, as developers, need is trust in our tool of choice.  For many developers that have been around a long time that trust was earned a decade ago.  The API 2 fiasco and the many new targets has eroded and downright sheared off the goodwill for many of Xojo’s most ardent supporters.  I don’t know how the company recovers from those hits without being brutally honest with users and themselves.  They simply cannot be everything to everybody.  With Swift getting ported to Windows and .NET Maui on the horizon, in addition to other tools that are making big strides in cross-platform development Xojo needs to be laser focused on quality releases or they might find themselves in the dustbin of history.  Earn back our trust and I think they’ll be rewarded.  Keep mucking around with the above issues and the future doesn’t look bright.  Again, in my opinion.

Where I’m at:  I’m still doing Xojo programming for a living.  I am not doing much consulting because I don’t desire to.  I’ve always tried to do the best for my clients and, frankly, Xojo is not living up to my expectations for my clients.  I think they’ve forgotten where they came from and what developers LOVED about the product.  I’m sure there are some people that find Xojo because of web apps or iOS but I can’t imagine it’s a lot of new users.  I could be wrong on that but I’ve wondered for many years who is Xojo’s audience.

My products, the ones I’m still selling, are getting minimal to no effort on my part simply because I’m not doing much consulting.  These products were things I used on a regular basis and with no consulting there’s no usage and no need to update.  I’m looking for homes for them because they deserve to have a developer that cares about them.  Some in the community have suggested open sourcing them and I can tell you right now there is no freaking way that’s going to happen.  No argument in the world is going to convince me otherwise so just stop sending me that recommendation.  I’m not asking for much (in my opinion) to get these products but perhaps that’s also indicative of how poor the Xojo 3rd party market is right now and an overall indicator of the health of Xojo.

I wish nothing but the best for Xojo.  This last year and half has soured my outlook to the point where I just can’t recommend it to anyone that’s serious about a commercial desktop applications.  I haven’t done a web project in well over a year and it’s been many years since I’ve done an iOS project in Xojo.  Without outstanding desktop support I’m left in limbo and wondering why the hell I keep renewing a license.

I know I’m not the only one with these thoughts and ideas.  Feel free to add comments below.  Please try to be respectful towards Xojo employees and each other.

13 thoughts on “What About Bob?

  1. I wanted to address your comment about the forum. Banning a user is 100% the very last resort. In fact, in 22 years we have only permanently banned 3 users. Each of these people are banned because they broke the rules numerous times and received numerous warnings about it. During the same time period, two other users have received temporary bans for personal attacks. We really do not like to ban people and it has nothing whatsoever to do with censorship, targeting individuals unfairly, or controlling the messages on the forums.

    On that same topic, we have volunteer moderators who help with our forum and I am so thankful for their willingness to do so. Forum topics are only locked when they have too many rule violations, when they just get too far off topic, or when requested by the original poster. In the case that threads are too far off topic, participants are encouraged to start a new topic so we can keep the forum organized. 

    It is, however, important to remember that not everyone shares the opinion that topics should be left open indefinitely with no moderation. We get messages from forum users all the time when topics go too far asking for it to be closed. It’s a balancing act – try to keep it constructive but also not over-moderate. So, we just try to follow the rules we have set out and having clear rules allows moderators to be more objective.

    • @Norman: You beat me to it – was just going to ask about you.

      Sorry Dana, what you are saying does not wash with Reality. Some of the “moderating” on the forum is exceedingly heavy-handed and not only frustrates forum users, but makes Xojo look weak and nearly paranoid … and you do not trust someone who is paranoid. Ask Dell – they shut down their forum because of mounting criticism for low quality, and their sales subsequently tanked because nobody trusted them anymore. In 2012 I renewed my Xojo license for 5 years because I trusted in the company and the product (and while it was a good deal it was still a lot of money for me). I would never do that now … and that wasn’t my doing!

    • Dana, you also removed me from Testers at the same time you banned Dave and Norm. No warning. No nothing other than to send me a message.

      I got the message which is that Xojo uses the forum software to squash discontent. Xojo doesn’t understand that we want Xojo to do well. We’re uber frustrated with all the bugs being ignored and lack of QA.

      That said, my Xojo license expired in September 2019 which I decided to not renew after the XDC 2019 debacle. Since I don’t have a license, I understand being booted from Testers, but we both know it was meant to be a punishment. Lots of others are not renewing but they still have access to Testers.

      All you’re doing is proving that Xojo is only interested in silencing CUSTOMERS.

        • While that’s true, it’s a lie. You took me out of tester the same day Dave and Norm were banned. It was retribution from Xojo.

          There are others with non-active licenses that had access to testers.

          Good try! 🙂

    • I am sorry, Dana, but reading your words gives me the same impression as are Geoff’s statements: Politicians using numbers very creatively to justify their unholdable point of view.

      Speaking about the bans: Yes, when there was that one guy – I don’t remember his name anymore – causing havoc on the forums, that caused a lot of discussions, because a ban is ALWAYS the last resort and nobody wanted to take the weight of that decision carelessly.

      Could you please draw a timeline containing bans and warnings issued on the forum? What would you see? 1 a few years ago, and the majority during the last two months. There is a alarming tendency, isn’t it?

      Can you prove that there had been several warnings? Or was it – which was very impolite IMHO, and I do not recommend it – that personal feelings had been hurt when Dave called Geoff a liar? (And I guess it was a very similar thing when you decided to kick out Norman, your senior developer. Be honest to yourself, you don’t have to tell me.) And the fear that interested people could shy away because of such threads. So you banned for marketing reasons, instead of getting into touch with a long-time user who helped at least some hundreds of newbies to become developers, including me. In my eyes, that is something very different than throwing out a clear nuisance and can be an alert that image has become more valuable than user satisfaction.

      You are talking numbers, Geoff is talking numbers. In the latter case, I cannot imagine a single possible way for them to be valid. Where does that “only one developer suffers from this bug” come from?
      Xojo is not calling back to you with source code, Feedback has only five points to share, and if I find a workaround or that a ticket already exists, why should I visit Feedback and move one of the rare points?

      *You are working on unreliable, imagined data*
      I am sorry to be that harsh, but that is my only conclusion.

      Dana, please be assured that all of us who are articulating their discontent – and sometimes emotions – do so because we are afraid that the way you have chosen and that you hold to this strongly despite the fact mentioned above can ruin the IDE that we love and that we want to see survive and prosper again.

      I have no insight into your statistics. Please check your sales, forum activity and PR responses, especially against the date when you decided to shift your target group. I am certain there will be a visible connection.

      I also wonder how attractive the revamped language may look without the active forum of pro developers giving guidance to newcomers? That was one of *the* major highlights of Xojo.

      You don’t have to believe me.
      I can only hope that you will be as wise to put away possible personal feelings and start a survey, followed by a realistic, unbiased analysis. Don’t only have checkboxes for customer satisfaction etc. Include text fields to articulate anything that moves the person about Xojo.
      Only an adequate number of replies can give you a realistic overview. And you would avoid all the forum turmoil. Because: We don’t want it either! We are in fear that we somehow turned against each other, and that some stubbornness that arose from this will cause a situation none of us wants to happen.

      I came to know you all very open-minded, friendly and driven by a community spirit. Please let us come back to that state and save it. Take the assistance that has been offered. What can realistically speak against it?
      We should imagine the product mutually, not on contrary sides. Xojo cannot exist without its Pro users, and (with limitations) vice versa.
      That’s what’s driving us.

      Thanks for reading, Dana.

  2. Bob,

    A superb and almost 100% rendering of my thoughts on the ‘Xojo’ subject.

    I was banned from the Xojo forum.

    “You have been suspended from the forum until August 28, 2020, 5:00am.

    Violated Forum Rules

    As a result of violating our forum rules regarding personal attacks posted here – https://forum.xojo.com/faq – your account has been suspended for 30 days.”

    that is what I was sent in an email.
    this was my last straw.
    I have since removed my link in safari to the forum, I have no intention to use the forum for any sort of reference or help.

    All the help and sensible Xojo (and any other programming) requirements are now perfectly met with the ‘IfNotNil’ forum where all the people disenchanted with Xojo, or have been banned, appear to spend a significant amount of time.

    For me the last time I will engage with Xojo is when (I say when, I actually mean IF) the compiler is updated to the next release version, should that occur before the end of my current (and completely useless) PRO subscription in December 2020.

  3. > Each of these people are banned because they broke the rules numerous times and received numerous warnings about it

    0 warning
    1 bans (but no worries, I’ll be back on in 3020!)

  4. about the same time Bob started looking elsewhere (1.5 years ago) I started looking too. I have been around the Real/Xojo community for a long time (not as long as Bob) but I could not depend on Xojo (the product) anymore. This sadden me greatly. I spoke to Xojo (the company) about my issues and the collective “we” could not come up with a good solution. So I left.

    I do agree with Bob that Xojo (the company) has lost its way/direction or has lost its sight of where it came from. I hope the best for both Xojo and Xojo (the company & product).

    thanks
    –sb

    • Xojo Inc now feels like and acts like a totally different company than REALSoftware…

      I fell in love with RB… For what it was, what possibilities it had, and how the company interacted with and worked to meet the needs of its customers…

      I trusted the direction they were going in… and like Markus I payed a lot of money (for me) to update for a long time (IIRC 6 years) right before REALSoftware became Xojo Inc, because of that.

      But since then their direction seemed to me to take a wrong turn, and the whole tenor of how the company feels and behaves seem to me to have changed for the worst.

      I bought my first license April 22nd, 2001 (REALbasic 3.0 Commercial Pro) over 19 years ago. and have been current for most of that time.

      The company will need to do something that shows me their direction and understanding is changing in a way that meets my needs for that to continue…

      API 2 causes a lot of us long time users headaches. I think it was a big mistake.

      That said I don’t expect they will go back this time…

      But to compound the issue, they can’t seem to even understand why this feature request is needed for those of us who have been around a long while:

      To me speaks of a company very much out of touch with it’s (previously) most loyal and ardent supporters.

      If we keep using Xojo, even if we keep using API 1, if we want to keep up Mac OS changes, we would still need to renew licenses , so it is not as if it would cost them sales….

      But come hell or high water they know what is best and try to force us to ‘update’ our code on their timetable (IMO Mixing API 1 and 2 code, even outside of backward compatibility issues, is dangerous because of change indices… potentially bug city!) …

      So for Xojo inc it seems to be “Damm the customers. Full speed ahead”

      I used to be excited by new IDE releases… but it’s been a LONG while since I felt that way.

      -Karen

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