To Web or not to Web


All my software is desktop software, some multiplatform, and some windows only.
I have never jumped onto the web app wagon, more or less because I havent had the nerve
to do so.

As I see it, a web app is possibly easier to maintain, but the responsibility of having
an online web app that needs to be up an running the whole time, has sceared me away.

Until now I have never had the will/nerve to go that route. And beeing a ‘one man band’, I think
the responsibility might be to much.

I have a couple of projects that would benefit from being a web app, so I am considering doing this
now, but I am hesitating…

As I understand, many of you are running a ‘one man band’. Du any of you run 24/7 web apps for your customers?

What is you experience doing this? Any advice to give?

Is it worth it?

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If properly configured, a Web app is just as easy to run as a simple web site. Unless the host is down (usually a very rare occurrence), it runs automatically.

If you have the budget for it, it doesn’t get much simpler than Xojo Cloud. You can deploy your apps to the server right from the IDE.

I’ve used Digital Ocean many times for my web apps, but it does require a little knowledge and ongoing maintenance. I run a number of web apps there for clients, 24/7. Like anything, it’s not that scary after you’ve done it once.

There are definite advantages to running web apps, not least that you can fix issues on the fly, without jumping through hoops of the various app stores.


I see they have servers in europe, so that might be an option. VPS is my preffered choice though. I have expersience from running linux servers for several years. So the technical aspect is not where my issues are. But the Xojo cloud might make me sleep better at night maybe :open_mouth:

What I am most conserned about, is what it means for my everyday life too run theese SAAS style businesses. Its not like I can ignore when a server is down at 3.30 in the morning for example.

Desktop apps in need for bugfixes, usually isnt that time critical.

Yeah, thats what makes it appealing to go trough with it, that and also no need to be compatible with all kinds of desktop pc/mac/linux configurations.

Depends who your customers are, but web apps allow for a rental scheme, contrary to desktop apps which are often one shot licensed.

Big publishers such as Adobe have massively switched to web apps.

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If this is really the case for you, means that you want it to run 24 / 7, then make your problem to the problem of others (=> Xojo) and go for Xojo Cloud. Their product is top-notch in terms of optimizations, specifically for Xojo and security aspects. As you have worked on and with Linux you know that if you take it seriously it means staying informed, backup your servers, databases etc. Not too much work for a one-man-band (I’m doing it), but if you really have customers who need to work, when your plan is to have a nap, then don’t run it on your own ;-).

I have tested their offering a few times, and I was really satisfied, unfortunately, most of our customers are NPOs and the price ticket doesn’t (yet) fit to those, but this is not the fault of Xojo of course. I can concur with the promises on their webpage, posted below.

Some observations I made with Xojo Cloud:

  • Didn’t bother me: but it is extremely easy to delete apps, databases, etc :-). Convenient for a developer but nothing like the typical workflow where companies will ask you ten times if you really want to delete your stuff, so keep that in mind.

  • I had a few smaller issues and there was once a down-time but they were extremely fast in responding and fixing the issue. Granted that the timezone difference did help, but it happened on a weekend, so ++ for this. I would not have expected that.

  • For some reasons, the upload to Xojo Cloud was significantly slower than on my own hosted servers via an ssh script (seconds versus minutes). In all fairness: I never complained about it, nor did I raise a ticket, it’s only an observation, and might very well have changed or be related to the way they are securing their infrastructure.

  • I missed more options in the admin panel. For instance, a way to restore a server from a backup on your own. They are advertising daily backups and I trust they do, but it seems that you need to ask them for a restore. There are pros and cons to this. Probably better them running a restore and being accountable for it. But in case of an emerency you are usually impatient and the magic button to restore it yourself to the latest running version would be the icing on the cake.

  • You are (as with every SaaS offering) limited to what they are offering to you. That’s fair, honestly, I would do it exactly the same way, if it was my company. SaaS is about standards, and you can’t allow everyone to install all kind of libraries. However, I prefer my own IaaS solution, with all the involved pros and cons, but I have the freedom to run a certain version of a database brand, install python or php or whatever else I want. But I’m sure that if you are a committed customer, and you can justify your needs, they are agile enough to help you. Again, I never discussed that with Xojo, as for the time being, my customers are on a very tight budget and every penny counts if, as an NPO, you don’t have a real sustainable budget at all. NPOs might have money for a certain project, but hate any recurring cost. Not that they don’t want to pay for it, but they don’t know if they will have a budget in future.

  • I had (at that time known) issues to run connect multiple domains to different apps, it was ultimately not possible (multiple subdomains with certs not possible). So if I have, let’s say 10 very small apps for 10 different(!) NPOs I will need 10 instances of Xojo Cloud. That was my showstopper. I can run 20 small apps on my own IaaS instance for the fraction of the cost of one Xojo Cloud instance. But that’s again mainly my own challenge, and I know that Xojo has this change on their roadmap, but I have no idea if it is implemented yet. But I’m eager to know. My Apps are smaller tools, each very rarely accessed by more than 2 people in parallel, so performance will never be an issue. I’m seeing on their webpage that multiple subdomains are now possible, but I would need mutliple different domains, each pointing via https to a different app, I believe that’s not yet implemented.

:innocent: wow thank you for taking the time to write such a detailed reply. I will certainly consider xojo cloud.

Multiple domains and subdomains is in my opinion a must if you need to host several small apps.

But if it is a large app, then maybe one domain with subdomains is enough, because you don’t want to host several apps on one instance in such situations.

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Yes, recurring payments is definitly one of the positives with apps like this.

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I fully agree, for “real” businesses you want as well to segregate the databases etc. and best via a physical or virtual separate instance. So I always understood that for larger businesses the Xojo model works perfectly fine.

Multiple domains (and not only subdomains) is for me a must, as customers tempt to create these days own domains for their products. For instance, we are not selling a single product under the brand of our own company url, but are using separate urls … so I hope this is either implemented (don’t know) or will be implemented soon.

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You can have multiple domains and subdomains, we just don’t have support for multiple SSL certificates yet.

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so, still - unfortunately - useless to me. At least in Europe :-(. In times of GDPR, no one should even think about using a non secured app. But good seeing the progress and the word “yet”!