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Improving Feedback

For a while now we have been managing our API proposals with Issues, a web-based task management system from Gitlab. Issues can be used for many things but one for which it’s especially well-suited is bug and feature request tracking. 

Lots of big projects (both open and closed source) use it for that purpose. We found it has some really great features. For example, they have simplified the process of entering a new case which almost certainly leads to more people using it. The author of a case can close it themselves and then later reopen it without having to ask someone to do so. You can upvote or downvote any case. I could go on and on. That it’s so full-featured and well-thought out is actually unsurprising upon reflection since that’s Gitlab’s business. Naturally we wanted to have all of those features in our own bug/feature tracking system, Feedback. 

Over time that list grew and grew. We decided that some testing of Issues was in order so I wrote an app (in Xojo of course) to transfer all of the data from Feedback into Issues. There are just over 59,000 cases (since Feedback began more than a decade ago) and as you can imagine, transferring all the data along with all the attached files, was a long process. It took nearly a week running almost non-stop 24/7. The API they provide is extensive and allowed me to represent in Issues every case as it was in Feedback. Having all the cases in Issues helped us to see how well it really works.

After much research, test usage and consideration, maintaining bug base software is not the business we are in. While we are disappointed that our nearly complete web-based version is not what we will be using, we are confident that using Issues instead makes more sense. We are in the business of providing Xojo and anything we can do to devote more resources to that, is an improvement. In this case, a system that already does everything we want and more and is being maintained by others out-weighs having one written in Xojo. We already have hundreds of example projects, a great web-based example (Eddie’s Electronics which we will continue to improve), the Xojo Showcase, the Xojo Cloud control panel as well as many internal web apps, all of which are written in Xojo. The development of each of those has resulted in many improvements to the Xojo Web Framework and will continue to do so in the future. Many of you have created even larger and more sophisticated web apps in Xojo such that we have no shortage of feedback from you on how it can be improved. We continue to be grateful for that. We also develop the Xojo IDE and much of the frameworks in Xojo as well. The engineers at Xojo spend more time in Xojo every day than in anything else.

Our migration to Issues is now complete, so launching the Feedback app or clicking on Feedback in the Xojo toolbar will take you to the new Issues system. You will find all of your cases there and you will be notified when they change. You can begin using the new system to look for existing issues, up or down vote them, add new comments, files, create new issues, etc. It’s also very well-designed to promote conversation about an issue. I think you will find it to be easier to use and at the same time more powerful than Feedback. We have implemented single-sign on so you will be automatically logged in using your Xojo credentials. All of the Feedback case links on the forum are being updated to point to the same case but in Issues. 

Issues is far more transparent than Feedback. The benefit to you is that you’ll see more information about each issue. You can see how many issues have been created. You can see to which member of the Xojo team an issue is assigned. You can see which Xojo release (milestone) it’s assigned to as well. Remember that this is only a best guess. When it comes time to begin pre-release testing, if an issue is not yet closed, it likely will be moved to a later release.

We have always strived to be quite open with the community. While change always comes with some cost, we are convinced that this one is in the long-term best interests of the Xojo community and that in the end is what drives us to do what we do.