The Future of the XDK

The Future of the XDK

Hi Intel Team/Community,

I stopped by the forums yesterday evening after a short development hiatus to discover that the XDK and the Cloud build system are being deprecated and set to be retired next month! I have been an incredibly satisfied user of the XDK even before Intel acquired it from AppMobi many years ago and wanted to reach out to understand the future of the tool. I have been very grateful for the improvements and continued customer support that the Intel team (including the members of AppMobi that followed their product) gave to the XDK (including the new GUI, crosswalk, better build logs, transitioning to the more standard cordova system, constant updates, etc.) I had hoped that the transition from a smaller company like AppMobi to Intel would mean a longer life/support for the great toolchain (and I am quite pleased with the support and attention it got), but sad that this is coming to an end.

For me, the XDK was a great way to centralize by development of the interface of my app (with quick view testing) and of native multi-platform plugins that I could use to integrate more advanced features and build for multiple platforms with one click. There was a perfect blend with the simplicity of a GUI tool for common tasks, and the ability to customize everything else with powerful configuration files and options. It served as a wonderful GUI layer to manage icons, splash screens, certificates, and other build assets/code on top of what could be done with the Cordova CLI and other tools that we are being suggested to move toward setting up. It was also tremendous that this could be backed up and retrieved by loading the XDK from any computer and not having to worry about a full toolchain setup. Probably the biggest loss here is the marvelous ability to build for any platform (including iOS) from any computer without a complicated setup of the toolchains and configuration of compilers and environments.

I wanted to ask, on behalf of everyone, what the future holds...

  1. Is there a possibility that the XDK GUI, native testing app, and the setup for the cloud build tools could be open-sourced? I would personally consider running a community instance of the cloud build servers (after a brief discussion with Intel about the historical associated costs/usage, etc.) I would love to hear the thoughts of the community on this as well.
  2. What do you see as the closest replacement for the XDK (development GUI, cloud builds delivered OTA to devices, and native testing app)?
  3. Other than the focus on IoT and the costs associated with running/supporting the XDK, what is the reason for this decision to quickly remove the XDK? Was there waning usage, technical complexities, and/or something else? Will there be any extra communications/suggestions to users who may have not been as lucky as me to stop by the forums/docs since March and may not be aware of the sad news that is happening so fast?
  4. Is there an opporitunity for someone to takeover the service entirely (code, tools, etc), including the user database/forums such that they could continue to support the service for the community? Perhaps a crowdfund campaign if we could get a reasonable estimate of a target that Intel would like for this.

I appreciate everyone who takes the time to read this and really welcome input from the community that still very actively uses the XDK. I look forward to learning more about the situation from the Intel team and what the future of the XDK will be. I also want to thank Paul and the rest of the Intel team in advance for being so responsive to users and for advocating for this transition to be as smooth as possible for everyone. My goal here is just to understand the reasons for these changes and explore all the ways this community of developers may continue to use the great tools that were created (that appear to be unrivaled by any other offering).

Thank you very much!

David

P.S. I have read the, now outdated https://software.intel.com/en-us/forums/intel-xdk/topic/700951 which says that some supporting components of the XDK will not be open-sourced, though this was before the sad news that the cloud build tools are also a casualty of this change in focus. I would really like to learn more about why the cloud build tools do not fit into the future IoT plans and what the complexities that resulted in this change were.

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I stayed away from this forum for a while. I dedicated a long time studying Cordova Cli, Android Studio and XCode. At this moment I am creating apps using these tools, without XDK.

I am very sad about the XDK future. For me, it was a very good tool. Fast to create a new app, easy to build. But, if Intel understood that it must follow another way, I need to accept and find another my own way.

The support was always perfect, especially Paul. With me, he always had great patience and gave good advices. I learned a lot white him and the team.

Nowadays I am using Cordova Cli, Brackets, Android Studio and XCode to do all the steps to publish an app. With XDK all things were simple. 

I am very sorry about this end (of XDK), but in ours lives nothing is permanent. Then, lets move on.

There is a lot of thing to learn, but it is possible to continue without XDK. For me, XDK was a great school.

If anyone wants some help with this new way, ask me, I will try to support.

Quote:

David S. wrote:

Is there a possibility that the XDK GUI, native testing app, and the setup for the cloud build tools could be open-sourced? I would personally consider running a community instance of the cloud build servers (after a brief discussion with Intel about the historical associated costs/usage, etc.) I would love to hear the thoughts of the community on this as well.

As you read in this post > https://software.intel.com/en-us/forums/intel-xdk/topic/700951#comment-1... < our management has decided that we will not be providing an open source project for any of the XDK components. Unfortunately, company policy does not allow me to provide specific details behind that decision, since it represents an internal business decision.

Quote:

David S. wrote:

What do you see as the closest replacement for the XDK (development GUI, cloud builds delivered OTA to devices, and native testing app)?

Unfortunately, there is no "closest equivalent" for App Designer. There have been several forum posts by users regarding alternatives to App Designer, but there is nothing that you can consider to be compatible.

There are alternatives listed in the XDK release notes for several of the recently retired features. Search for the phrase "Alternatives to the Debug Tab" in the release notes and you'll find such a list.

The best alternative to the XDK build service is PhoneGap Build. Adobe has been very active in the development of Cordova from the very beginning. They bought Nitobi, who created PhoneGap which became Cordova, many of those original Nitobi employees continue to work for Adobe.

Quote:

David S. wrote:

Other than the focus on IoT and the costs associated with running/supporting the XDK, what is the reason for this decision to quickly remove the XDK? Was there waning usage, technical complexities, and/or something else? Will there be any extra communications/suggestions to users who may have not been as lucky as me to stop by the forums/docs since March and may not be aware of the sad news that is happening so fast?

We announced the build system deprecation in March of 2017. We started supporting IoT apps back in September of 2014 and announced our move to focus on IoT apps in August of 2016. Knowing how important the mobile build system was for so many users, we have tried to make the transition to PhoneGap Build and Cordova CLI as seamless as possible, thus the reason for the "Cordova Build Package" export tool introduced several releases ago.

We have been trying to get the word out to our users through a variety of channels. We have a Twitter channel that many developers follow, a blog written by the product manager, product update notifications, our release notes and this forum. It has been a frustrating process, even with multiple "in your face" notices in the product many people are still not getting the message. Unfortunately, many people, like yourself, will only find out when they come back to work on a project after a six or twelve month hiatus, usually to make an update to an app they have published.

Again, I cannot discuss the details of internal business decisions on a public forum. I think the best way to understand the reasoning behind our decision is stated here > https://software.intel.com/en-us/forums/intel-xdk/topic/700951#comment-1... < and here > https://software.intel.com/en-us/forums/intel-xdk/topic/700951#comment-1... <

Quote:

David S. wrote:

Is there an opporitunity for someone to takeover the service entirely (code, tools, etc), including the user database/forums such that they could continue to support the service for the community? Perhaps a crowdfund campaign if we could get a reasonable estimate of a target that Intel would like for this.

Of course, you are always welcome to implement a system of your own, based on the ideas and design that we implemented, but you'll have to do so without the help of any code we already developed, since we will not be offering any of the XDK software components (backend or frontend) as open source projects. There will be no opportunity to take over the system we have in place today.

Quote:

Hamilton Tenório da Silva wrote:

The support was always perfect, especially Paul. With me, he always had great patience and gave good advices. I learned a lot white him and the team.

It has been a pleasure working with you, Hamilton. Wishing you the best on your new work with Cordova CLI.  :-)

Thank you Paul and Hamilton for your replies. I'd like to echo Hamilton's thank you to Paul and the Intel team for always being so active and helpful on these forums. As I said, I have been using the XDK since it was under AppMobi and I have always loved the support. The most salient example of this was when I asked for build logs to be included with the cloud builds and that feature was rolled out within a week... those were super helpful for me for custom plugin development so I thank you a ton for that! I wish every product team was as responsive as you have been!

It has been a frustrating process, even with multiple "in your face" notices in the product many people are still not getting the message. Unfortunately, many people, like yourself, will only find out when they come back to work on a project after a six or twelve month hiatus, usually to make an update to an app they have published.

I can totally understand that Paul, perhaps this is not possible, but an email update to anyone that used the XDK service describing the recent deprecations may be helpful to the community. In that same message, the alternative suggestions along with the decisions not to open source any components would help answer everyone's questions at once. It would help those like me, who have been away from the XDK for a bit, to hear about the recent changes.

I have personally used the CLI before and now am trying Adobe's Phonegap cloud build and Visual Studio's build agent methods (https://taco.visualstudio.com/en-us/docs/ios-guide/) to see what will work the best for developers like me that prefer windows even if they are doing iOS work (so a native Xcode install as Hamilton suggested is not possible). I have found myself hoping for more GUI configuration for the simple parameters that all apps require so it's easy to make sure we don't forget anything and set up everything that is needed.

The config editor (settings and icon assets) and the cloud builds/distribution are what I will miss the most. I was never a user of the app designer gui since I prefer to code my own components, but setting up the toolchain and all the config parameters is what is usually most troublesome for most people so the XDK did a great job of putting those all in one place.

Lastly, my question #4 was asking not about open source but instead about a closed source purchase of the components from intel (perhaps via a crowdfund) though based on your answer that this code is being saved for other business reasons, this also seems unlikely. As such, I wonder if old versions of the XDK (prior to deprecation) may be made available as legacy software (if these versions are somewhere, where might I be able to download them?). I understand that build tools etc. will not work, but I still see tremendous value in the XDK for setting up the common features of an app like icons, splash screens, and other package parameters as a GUI layer on top of a CLI app. This component is probably actually the most simple (code wise) as it's just configuration options, but packed the biggest punch (other than the Build Tab) so it would be nice to see it survive, perhaps as a standalone interface as a node package for use with the CLI. This is something I would consider rewriting for the community but would hate to use time to reinvent the wheel if this already built component were made accessible.

Though I am sad such a great product (and great product team) are moving on, I wish everyone the best as well. I hope that everyone in the community is made aware of all the future and current alternatives for configuration and cloud building that made development with the XDK a pleasure. 

Thanks!

Hello! Anyone that want to move their apps(or build a signed copy of Android or iOS app) to different app stores can contact me and I will help you out on a professional level in order to avoid a free service that won't be supported after a while just like Intel XDK.

I just checked in to see what's up since I read a rumour on Fudzilla that now Intel is backing away from the IoT business as well, and I was wondering where that would leave XDK.

I want to echo some user comments about the XDK, and in particular Paul's support. I always felt the XDK was only a step or two away from being a mature platform for mobile HTML5 development and was very disappointed when that focus was deprecated.

That's all.

Thanks

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