Case Study

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Xojo, Silver Bullet

Fred Roller and his Associates use Xojo for enterprise virtualization products.

Programming started as a high school hobby for Fred Roller and now it’s how he earns his living. He first learned to program in BASIC on TRS-80 computers. During math and science classes, he was allowed to use programmable calculators, like the TI-59. Between those two very different experiences and the programs he created for himself, fellow students and teachers, his interest in developing software was ignited.

Roller later received an undergraduate degree in Management Information Systems. During this time he was also developing software products and had his own business in full swing on the side. Decades later, software development and business consulting are still driven more by passion than revenue.

F.W.Roller & Associates LLC has been developing business software for nearly three decades and providing Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) consulting services for over two decades. He founded the business during his senior year of college and continues to be intimately involved in all aspects.

Their suite of software products for the VMware market include vmCLIpboard, vmProcessStrobe and vmProcessStrobeWeb. They uniquely enable users and administrators of VMware desktop and server products to manage their virtual machines (and the processes in those virtual machines) from mobile devices like smartphones and tablets while out of the office as well as from laptops and desktops while at work. Most of the features in their products are not available from VMware or third parties, such as the ability to run and stop programs, services and daemons inside virtual machines, repair, defragment, shrink and grow virtual disks and easily build complex CLI (Command Line Interface) commands for scripting. All of this is done with an easy-to-use point-and-click interface from the customer’s device and OS of choice.

vmProcessStrobe 2013 Release 1

“In addition to targeting products from VMware, we are in the process of developing support for Microsoft’s Hyper-V and the suite of Parallels products so that regardless of the device, operating system or virtualization tool, our products will enable much better management of most virtual machines, virtual disks and the programs, services and daemons in those virtual machines,” offered Roller.

An Alternative to Visual Basic
After Microsoft replaced Visual Basic 6.0 with Visual Basic .NET, Roller evaluated alternatives due to the complexities and overhead of the .NET framework. Around that time, four other events occurred that led him to Xojo, Inc. and the selection of Xojo for the business’ long-term cross-platform software development tool.

“The release of Windows Vista proved to be a great disappointment to both consumers and businesses. It was the second strike for Microsoft after their choice to abandon evolving Visual Basic 6.0 to 7.0,” commented Roller. “Next was Apple’s ever growing popularity and move to Intel processors that could run OS X, Windows and Linux. Concurrently, the release of VMware Fusion allowed virtual machines built for enterprise class workstations and servers to be run on Macs.”

Roller and his team had stumbled upon Xojo, Inc. and Xojo while searching the web for an alternative to Visual Basic.

“The last, and possibly the most significant event, was my attendance of XDC, the Xojo Developer’s Conference,” continued Roller. “It was there that I met the impressive Xojo team and their incredibly warm community of developers. Everyone from the company founder to the newest developers were all so friendly and helpful. This great experience, combined with the possibility of now being able to use one class of computer with just one operating system running just one software development tool to create and test software for a variety of operating systems, was like a dream come true. A powerful Mac running OS X, Xojo and VMware Fusion with lots of virtual machines was the ‘silver bullet’.”

Another significant benefit for Roller is that Xojo provides the means to do RAD (Rapid Application Development). It offers the power needed to develop very feature-rich software products that are consistent across operating systems but also utilize the unique strengths of each OS. The cross-platform capability also benefits their customers, who include the Harris Corporation, The NASDAQ OMX Group, Boston Market Corporation, Luigi Bormiolo Italy, Westlake Plastics Company and BTI-Coopermatics, Inc.

System administrators greatly appreciate software products that can run natively across their users different operating systems. It is just as common to find Windows and OS X running in a small business as it is in a large enterprise. Ubuntu Linux is also becoming more common, especially outside of the U.S. Users want the flexibility of being able to run Roller’s software products on their operating system of choice, which can vary from day-to-day, as they switch from their work venue to working at home remotely, or vice-versa.

“Being able to target multiple operating systems with one code base dramatically increases our potential marketshare with relatively little additional effort compared to targeting only one operating system,” reflected Roller. “With greater market share comes greater revenue. Another revenue driver is that by being capable of running cross-platform, our software often gets selected over competing products that target only one operating system.”

One More Thing . . .
Xojo was used to create their e-commerce and software licensing systems. Together they provide an online store, manage credit card transactions through PayPal, automatically send license keys to customers and then validate those license keys when used with each software product. Roller commented, “Without the new Xojo web framework, we would have had to purchase our e-commerce and software licensing systems or contract that work out to a third party. Thanks to the Xojo web framework and our expertise with the Xojo programming language, we were able to build, test and go live in a surprisingly short period of time considering they were our very first web apps. It’s amazing that we’re able to use one tool for so much. We love Xojo!”

Roller’s software products for the web services hosting and ERP markets are currently in development and will be released throughout 2013. For more information, visit their website.