XLSForm Offline is no longer being updated

XLSForm Offline is a Python desktop app that wraps pyxform and Validate so users can convert from XLSForm to XForm. It’s useful for users who need to iterate on forms offline and don’t want to use pyxform on the command line. As far as alternatives, there is pyxform (for those who need offline use) and XLSForm Online (for those who need ease of use).

The last XLSForm Offline release was April 2020 and that has been downloaded 5.6k times (4.6k on Windows, 1k on Mac). It’s not unpopular, but I would wager that a lot of those users could use XLSForm Online, the online version.

XLSForm Offline’s code is straightforward, but the release process is not. It’s surprisingly hard to build and test a cross-platform Python app and it’s gotten harder over time. We had some students try to automate the process via Travis CI and it worked for a little while and now it’s broken again and not looking so easy to fix.

As maintainer of XLSForm Offline, I no longer have the time to do releases. I also do not think the release burden is proportionate to the value the tool brings, so I would like to deprecate and archive it. As part of the archival process we follow, we will put a message out to the community and if someone else wants to maintain it, I’m glad to hand that responsibility over to them.

Going forward, I do think we should be cautious about what offline tools we introduce and continue to maintain. There is great value in online tools because they are easy to update so users get the latest features, make it easy to communicate changes to users, and provide us insights into user behavior (e.g., what widgets are in active use). Getting that in an offline tool requires a lot of work.

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The @TAB has approved this deprecation and I have made adjustments to the repo to say that XLSForm Offline is no longer being updated and removed references to it from the docs. We will put this deprecation in the next community announcement.

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