Should I write a book?

Lately I’ve noticed again that while the Xojo documentation has lots of little bits of code, and there are quite a few books, it pretty much leaves beginners alone as soon as they go beyond simple examples. So everyone stumbles over the same problems (as can be seen on the forum where the same questions are being asked again and again) and has to fight their way through it. People tell you how they do it, but rarely why. Often there are several ways to attempt something, but alternatives are discarded without explaining why the chosen path was chosen in the first place. In my opinion that is detrimental to real understanding as what is taught is aping (“do. as I do”), and not comprehension (“understand why I’m doing it this way”). Post-mortems of code often simply describe what a piece of code is doing, but more often then not the big picture is left out, making it near impossible to understand what is going on.

If I had one wish then it would be some more advice bits from the expert coders on this forum on how to do things right. Anyone remember the old REALbasic forum and the thread “Tips for using databases with REALbasic”?

Why not have a sub forum with “Things to know” threads on every aspect of Xojo.

I so wish Xojo would hire Matt Neuburg for a “Xojo - The Definitive Guide” (though I doubt he would be interested).

Now I’m no Matt Neuburg and not even an expert (there are whole areas of Xojo that I haven’t touched yet) but I think I can explain things, and I wonder if it is worth my time writing a “growing book” containing tutorials on how to do things and why I do it this way, including the questions and problems one encounters as well as the decisions made. To those who have a subscription to xDev and have read the tutorials and articles I wrote (often containing a lot of background researched over weeks): what do you think of that idea?

Yes, please write one.
I bet @Marc Zeedar could help you selling it and promoting it!


As a long-term user of RealBasic/RealStudio/Xojo I would welcome a book like this.

I feel like I am an experienced Xojo programmer and have a lot of apps that I support but I come to the forum at least once per day (sometimes more) to get insights and help with my issues. Even if you just trolled the forum and copy some solutions from the threads and add your explanations (or get the author of the solution to give you that insight) I think it would sell well.

So, Yes, PLEASE.


@Markus Winter

A book like this is a good idea Markus. I wish you all the best on your journey!

yes… write the book. great idea!

I think so too.

As an example: the LR says (for Listbox.RowHeight):

Gets the ListBox row height. All rows in a ListBox are always the same height, which you can change using DefaultRowHeight.

I am quite sure some people in this forum says It’s possible !…

Also: nothing in the LR is said if you want to synch two Listbox(es) when scroll vertically. Last time I asked, the answer was yes, it is possible and use the CellPaintBackground to do that. Would you go there naturally for doing a vertical scroll synch for two Listbox(es) ???

Please write the book! Build a complete app that does everything. I see some great looking apps, like Simon Berridge’s , and wonder HOW did he do that?

I mean the look and feel of the presentations are just stunning, but how you make them is a mystery. I sold my Windows app to over 950 doctors and hospitals using pretty much cookie cutter looking parts. No one ever bitched, about the looks, just the cost.

Xojo is great. Lots to learn though. Alpha 5, Visual Foxpro, Visual Objects, Visual Basic, and Microsoft Access, all have much easier Visual tools, maybe not as powerful, and certainly not cross platform, but easier to piece together.

I would buy your book in a heartbeat if It would help me develop applications faster. I’m NOT a very good programmer. More of a developer than a programmer. Seems like Xojo needs more of a programmer than a developer. Filemaker, and Access are much easier to develop quick and dirty apps than Xojo. Xojo is better, just not as easy to piece together…

2 cents…

Just to make one aspect clear: the aim of the book is to help beginners become intermediate level programmers. As I’m no expert I can’t help with turning intermediate level programmers into experts. I too have seen some astonishing apps but I’m still a long way off writing something like that myself.

Some of the ideas I have range from explanation of basic concepts to simple tips&Stricks, to making methods and modules that you’ll use in every app, over custom classes and tutorials on creating something like a calendar or proper calculator (1/3*3 is NOT 0.9999! First test I do on any calculator I try), to a whole application framework that you’ll use as a template for your apps, and finally some complete apps. Add in some background information on how things work (if you read the articles “Spot the error” or the “Multicore” series then you know what I mean).

I also want to do code post-mortems of example code that comes with Xojo. For example there is some very elegant code by Joe Strout that I could not understand for years. It would have greatly helped if the code was not just commented but included a note on the approach taken to achieve the aim.

Despite the fact we often disagree with each other, this is an excellent idea Markus. I will look forward to your book very much.

However, keep in mind that writing a book is a long lasting project. Taken the release cycle of Xojo, it will be a “never ending project”. Your book can be out of date soon and to prevent that needs regular updates. For that case, if it is an ebook it is a very good idea because once written, it can be easily updated.

If you decide to give your idea a “go”, I will surely buy your book.

@Markus, excellent idea.

May I make a suggestion to start a Wiki and get all of us in the community involved.
There is already a lot off stuff out there, and then everybody can add his/her contribution.

You can be one off the editors and ensure that all articles are up to the standard.
Wikipedia offers such platform and guidance.

@Markus Winter
Great idea!, Would be better if possible please add also Video Tutorials, i am more visual person than textual person.

@Paul Ross
You have meant is Media Wiki?, which is the platform behind wikipedia, if yes then we might need to community supported hosting it (Media Wiki).

We had a Wiki. Very few people actually contributed, and more importantly I don’t want to be a site administrator for something that most people - let’s face it - expect to be free. If I make enough money to pay for my Xojo license then that’s fine, I don’t expect to become rich of it. But I draw the line at paying for it.

With all videos Paul created, you are certainly very happy !

I think such a book would be great. Personally, I’d like one that was more of a “handbook” that I could reference, than a book at gradually advanced from chapter to chapter.

That said, even better than a handbook would be a really cheap subscription-based website. And by cheap I mean like $9/year for just reference stuff. Maybe a second tier to include video tutorials. Some other tier that lets you dl sample projects.

The more expensive on-line learning solutions are overkill for some of us.

Slightly aside, I am convinced that one of the reasons people ask the same questions over and over again on the forums is because it’s so incredibly hard to do a decent search.

There really should be a sticky at the top that says “use Google site search if you value your sanity”.

I suspect that sometimes, some of them just do not search at all :frowning:

That will open the Google Advertising doors :frowning:

Not if you use Ghostery.

I think if you have to ask the question, ‘Should I Write a Book?’ the answer is no. If it’s not a burning passion right now I don’t think it ever will be.

It’s been my experience from writing, and hanging around professional writers, is that the voices in your head, words in your gut, (whatever you want to call it), really want to get put on paper (or document - you get the idea). You can’t think of anything else until you get it out of your head. Technical writing is a bit different but if the passion is not there it’s not going to get done.

Yes Bob, you are 200% right.

I like the idea of a book to new users. I’m a new user, not real coding experience but some technical practice. I don’t quit at first trouble and I try to find the solutions on my own/search. Even with my background it’s been hard to get to know Xojo, there is a lot to learn, many examples (some not clear for basic newbies), many options and many new things to learn.

I think it will be hard to write 1 book to take a beginner to intermediate level. There are a lot of things to teach a beginner, and to be able to take them to intermediate level will be a hard task. Some will say that an intermediate Xojo programmer should now this and that, but others will say they also need other things or more knowledge/practice.

I have read a few docs, pdfs, also bought an ebook about Xojo and Sqlite, watched many hours from the videos (webinars) that Paul L. posted. Now I know some things but I need to learn a lot more.

If I’m having a hard time getting some concepts I can’t imagine what my friends/family will do if they want to make a program (not only with Xojo). That’s why I say there are a different beginners. So you will have to draw a line to where to start and to what level you want your readers to get.

People with technical expertise and experience sometimes forget what is to be a newbie. For us newbies everything is new, every problem is a big one, we can’t easily find the errors in our code, there are concepts that are hard to comprehend, many times the docs are too technical and not newbie friendly, even the examples that come with Xojo don’t have Notes with some information so newbies can ‘get it’.

If you need a newbie with your book I can help. I will not get to intermediate user any time soon.

We have nearly 66 hours of video training at available to subscribers. Even with over 200 videos we have a LOT of topics that we’ve not even tried to tackle. Some of that is time and some of it is how to demonstrate how to use something complex in a way that’s understandable to everyone.

One of the feedback items I get on our videos is that people appreciate that they are ‘looking over my shoulder’ as I’m doing the work. They can stop and view the actual project file, backup and listen to a particular clip again, and so on. I get a lot of ‘I didn’t know you could do that with the IDE’ comments too. There’s no way to get that from a book.

Using the written word for teaching is even harder, in my opinion. At least during a video I can point to things and show it in action. Doing that with words is very challenging.

I tend to think that technical books should be geared towards intermediate to advanced programmers rather than beginners. The beginner can learn from the more advanced books and the book is still valuable later as they advance. The few beginners books I’ve used over the years, once consumed, are never opened again because I’ve gone beyond their advice.

Xojo changes so often that doing videos or books is challenging. Whatever you do is almost always out of date (to some extent) within a year of publication.