Xojo (the company) is in a weird state: big enough and successful enough for some things, but at the same time too small and under-resourced for others and really struggling. Basic features remain broken for years, unit testing coverage is poor at best, new platforms are delayed and old platforms suffer, etc.
(I assume most developers here would agree with this assessment, but if not, happy to provide more details as to my opinon)
To be fair to Xojo (Inc) the software environment has become increasingly difficult: many OSs having frequent changes and an increased focus on security has made making software very hard. I feel this as a (very tiny) app developer. I spend 85%+ of my dev time just keeping up with (mostly) Apple and (somewhat) Windows changes and bugs, and less than 15% on developing new features.
Open Source software (and the “in-app-purchase”) model has made it hard to sell software. Open source has driven the modal software price to $0. “In app purchases” have helped suggest software is free (though it’s a lie). Many corporations have adopted the “how much you got?” pricing scheme where their software is free (if you are broke) but $$$$$ if you have money. This is particulary hard for Xojo’s “citizen developers” (their term, not mine) who simply want to make a few $ selling their unique and (often) high qualty but low volume software.
Here’s my proposal:
- Xojo should open source the application framework.
- Xojo should not open source the IDE or compiler
If Xojo were to open source the framework:
- I would immediatlely dive in and fix my top 5 bugs and offer the fixes upstream to Xojo. I suspect other top developers would do the same.
- some plugin makers might do the same(?though see below?)
- Xojo Inc. could devote less time to the framework and more time to the IDE.
- The framework being open source, but without an IDE and compiler, would not cost Xojo any money - the value is in the IDE + compiler, which Xojo would control.
- Xojo (and many of us) use a lot of open-source software - it’s prudent and ethical to give something back to the community.
- Managing open source software is not zero cost - Emotionally, Xojo would have to make a big change in abandoning the “NIH” (Not Invented Here) syndrome - a culture shift. Fiscally, Xojo woud need to devote some staff time to managing pulls and reward this appropriately.
- Plugin authors might lose income? (if they decided to add their features to the framework, rather than selling plugins). However this would be up to them. Maybe Xojo could fund plugin developers who opt for open source?
I’m proposing this mostly seriously but also somewhat as a hypothetical for discussion – I, too, have a copmany that uses fully closed-source development, and I’ve seen dramatic market changes in the past 30 years, and I’m interested in new(er) business models.