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Markus on Development and Publishing

This is Markus Egger's professional blog, which covers topics such as development, publishing, and business in general. As the publisher of CoDe and CoDe Focus magazines, and as the President and Chief Software Architect of EPS Software Corp., Markus shares his insights and opinions on this blog.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2005
My Interview on The Fox Show

Here is something that almost fell through the cracks of hurricane Rita:

Last week I gave an interview to The Fox Show (click here for a link to my individual episode). Looks like I went overboard again. :-) The whole thing is almost an hour long, which means I keep my record in terms of getting the longest shows when I give interviews (the same happened on .NET Rocks!).

The interview mainly focuses on using VFP and .NET together, and why that is important (or at least figuring out whether it matters for one personally, or not). I also talk a bit about CoDe Magazine, the Milos Solution Platform, and communities. I thought it was a fun interview to do, and I think there is lots of stuff there for VFP and .NET developers alike.



Posted @ 2:05 PM by Egger, Markus (EPS Software Corp.) (markus@code-magazine.com) -
Comments (18)


Sunday, September 25, 2005
All Systems Back Up and Operational

We just managed to completely restart all our servers and are back to what should be normal operating mode. The power situation may still be a bit shakey and we could experience additional outages, but most likely, we should be OK.

Really, not all that much happened where we are, even though we were pretty close to the storm. For those interested in the details, check out this blog.



Posted @ 10:50 AM by Egger, Markus (EPS Software Corp.) (markus@code-magazine.com) -
Comments (25)


Thursday, September 22, 2005
Hurricane Rita Downtime

EPS and CoDe Magazine offices will be closed for the rest of the week due to Hurricane Rita. Most likely, our servers will be down for the next few days, so none of our sites will be operational, and we will most likely not have any email access either.



Posted @ 2:13 AM by Egger, Markus (EPS Software Corp.) (markus@code-magazine.com) -
Comments (28)


Tuesday, September 20, 2005
Back From PDC 05 - A Recap

PDC rocked this year. Both for us personally, as well as in general. Here's why:

From an EPS and CoDe Magazine point of view, we had a great conference. We were a media sponsor, had a double-sized booth, and a lot of traffic and excitement going. Our magazines were in all the attendee bags, so we were able to do other things at the booth. We gave away tons of bags that ended up showing up everywhere (we even saw a few at the LAX airport a few days later). We also had temporary CoDe Magazine tattoos. If you were spotted wearing one, you were eligible to win cool prices, such as a PSP. People loved this one, and we had a lot more people with tattoos than we expected. Some in places we hadn't expected either. ;-)

So long story short: We probably had more than our share of exposure at PDC. Kudos to the CoDe staff, in particular Tammy, Cleo, and Tom, who came up with all the great ideas. (And also thanks to Tammy's mother who helped out at the booth!)

As far as PDC in general is concerned, I was also rather pleased. There seemed to be a lot of excitement around new technologies. Here are some that I thought were cool:

  1. Windows Vista. No need to say more.
  2. Avalon (excuse me: Windows Presentation Foundation): The Northface demo at the keynote rocked. Some of the other examples (like the photo album) were pretty cool too. There were tons of session on WPF, and many of them were very valuable.
  3. Windows Communication Foundation (formerly "Indigo"): Lots of great sessions on this too. There is a lot of information available on this, so you probably don't need me to write about this on my blog...
  4. Windows Workflow Foundation: This was a new announcement at PDC. Pretty nifty. Workflow built into .NET/WinFX on a framework level.
  5. Microsoft Expression: One of the highlights in my book. MS Expression is a suite of new design tools, including a new drawing program that is a mixture of pixel and vector based drawing. (Currently code-named "Acrylic"). Then, there is an Avalon/XAML designer called "Sparkle". This is a pretty cool piece, especially if you are into advanced UI design. And there even is a new web designer called "Quartz". So lots of new stuff here for both win and web developers. Check it out at www.Microsoft.com/Expression.
  6. LINQ (Language Integrated Query): The second major announcement at PDC05. C# and VB.NET will have query features integrated right in the language similar to how it worked in Visual FoxPro (xBase) in the past. This allows the developer to use SELECT style query operations on data sources as well as pretty much anything else such as XML and collections of objects. You want to select data from a database that is joined with controls on a form and data coming from XML and return a collection of business objects? No problem with LINQ! Unfortunately, this stuff will not release before Orcas (the next version of VS after 2005), but you can already get early bits! We will provide some in-depth info on this in the upcoming 2 issues of CoDe Magazine (first to the punch again ;-) ).
  7. Atlas: ASP.NET controls that use the new AJAX paradigm. Pretty cool as well!
  8. SideShow: Aux Displays are now called SideShow. This is still a very very cool feature.
  9. Office 12: Quite radically different from an interaction (UI) point of view. No more menus and no more toolbars. Looks pretty neat, but I haven't had a chance to play with it myself. Can't wait to start using it though...

And there was a lot more. So there will be a lot of stuff to talk about for CoDe Magazine and also on this blog!

And there was lots and lots of other stuff. A number of cool community events like the MVP party, which provided great networking opportunities.

As is often the case at PDC, speakers were hit-and-miss. One can tell that these guys get paid to develop software and not to give presentations. But in almost all cases, the content rocked, even though it sometimes was hard to listen to the presenter...



Posted @ 10:14 PM by Egger, Markus (EPS Software Corp.) (markus@code-magazine.com) -
Comments (34)


Monday, September 12, 2005
Off to PDC

This year's main event is finally upon us: PDC (MS' Professional Developer Conference) in L.A. In fact, I would even consider this to be the main event of the last 2 years, since PDC is not an annual event. This is one of the few conferences I really am still looking forward to.

CoDe Magazine is a Silver Media Sponsor, so we should be fairly visible at the show. If you want to talk to me/us or our authors and editors, stop by at our booth (#516)!

See you in L.A.!



Posted @ 12:00 AM by Egger, Markus (EPS Software Corp.) (markus@code-magazine.com) -
Comments (14)


Sunday, September 11, 2005
The Wonderful World of Magazine Auditing

Magazine publishing is a much more complex business than "outsiders" realize. One of the aspects that makes publishing a magazine "interesting" is that of "magazine circulation auditing". What that means is that a magazine can have its circulation (all the issues that are sold) audited by a third party. There are two big player in the auditing industry: ABC and BPA.

Magazines do not have to be audited, but to be taken serious by advertisers and partner organizations, auditing is almost mandatory for a serious publication. Our own CoDe Magazine is audited by BPA. In the software developer magazine arena (especially for .NET), there are three audited magazines (to my knowledge): MSDN Magazine, Visual Studio Magazine, CoDe Magazine.

As the word "audit" implies, none of this is really fun. Audit companies make you collect an insane amount of data that has to be historically accurate, and you have to be able to answer questions such as "you claim this customer subscribed based on a special offer that included a free gift... prove to me that that person subscribed to get the magazine and didn't just subscribe to get the gift". Or "you gave away a free trial subscription, but we do not trust you... prove to us that that subscriber really went to the site (rather than us putting him/her in our database) by telling us the color of the person's eyes". Now you know why sometimes on magazine sites you are asked a personal question such as "what is the color of your eyes", or "what is the month of your birth". It gives the publisher a personal bit of information that is used to prove to audit organizations that the data is genuine.

Overall, this is very much like a financial audit, except, at times it seems tougher to pass a BPA audit. And it is done twice a year. Oh, and it is expensive to be audited. For a small publication like ours, the fee is significant!

Audit information can be very useful though. For instance, audit information is used to measure "wantedness" of a certain publication. Audit information not just verifies that a certain number of copies really reached a reader, but it also indicates whether a certain reader was willing to pay hard cash for the publication or whether the reader was only willing to receive it if it was free. Or perhaps, a reader never really agreed to getting it at all, but was identified as a valuable customer based on some other fact, such as a conference visit.

In terms of total circulation, Visual Studio Magazine is king of the hill. They distribute 108,392 copies of each issue. MSDN Magazine is #2 with 76,662 copies. CoDe Magazine is still the underdog here with 31,770 audited copies (so sign up already! ;-)  ).

Does that mean we only print 31,770 copies? No. We actually distribute quite a bit more, but as the newcomer in the distribution auditing business, we still carry baggage forward from our non-audited days. For instance, a little while back we had a special offer that gave people a VB.NET book with each subscription for a small premium. Unfortunately, the way the offer was worded, BPA said "ah... people are buying a book and get a free magazine with it... that does not qualify!". So all those subscribers do not count in our audit. I think the most realistic way to think about our publication is that at this point we are about 1/2 the size of MSDN Magazine.

There are more interesting facts to be found in audit numbers. For instance, we can tell that Visual Studio Magazine, although very large in general, is going through a drastic decline in wantedness. Here are some stats on how Visual Studio Magazine's number of paid readers changed:

  • 2001: 109,610 paid copies
  • 2002: 106,066 paid copies
  • 2003: 74,274 paid copies
  • 2004: 38,294 paid copies

So they are basically at a point where they lost two thirds of their paid readership. Ouch!

Their newsstand sales declined in a similar fashion:

  • 2001: 12,469
  • 2002: 5,208
  • 2003: 2,121
  • 2004: 1,969

So here they lost more than 80% of their newsstand business. Ouch again!

Interestingly enough, as far as newsstand sales go, all three magazines are now roughly in the same ballpark. For us, this is great news, because from a relative perspective, we out-sell all our competitors on the newsstand. In other words: A larger percentage of CoDe Magazine sales come from the newsstand than MSDN Magazine's or Visual Studio Magazine's. We are excited about that, because a good number of new readers tend to discover magazines at newsstands and we can apparently drum up more interest that way. Personally, I think that's partially due to the fact that our covers rock, and other magazine's covers do not... (of course, it is cheaper to produce ugly covers).

MSDN Magazine seems to be doing better than Visual Studio Magazine. Personally, I think they deserve to do better than Visual Studio Magazine, because MSDN Magazine has excellent content. Nevertheless, MSDN Magazine also faces a drastic decline in paid subscriptions:

  • 2001: 61,734 paid copies
  • 2002: 55,659 paid copies
  • 2003: 43,499 paid copies
  • 2004: 32,441 paid copies
  • 2005: 29,655 paid copies

So they too lost half their paid readership. (And they do not deserve to, so go and sign up for their magazine too!). I am not sure why that is exactly (I have a pretty good idea about Visual Studio Magazine's dilema ;-) ), but it may be that MSDN Magazine's partnership with MSDN Online hurts them unfairly in the audit.

How is CoDe Magazine doing in comparison? Well, we have a lot less paid subscriber than either one of these magazines (have you signed up yet? ;-)  ), but as a relatively new magazine, that is to be expected (rule of thumb: it takes at least 5 years for a magazine to break even, sometimes longer...). However, what is very exciting for us again, is that we have increased our paid base with every audit and every issue. As far as I know, we are the only magazine in this market space that has growing readership at that level of wantedness (of course, it is hard to tell for non-audited publications). I think this is a great compliment the community pays us! Thank you very much.



Posted @ 12:00 AM by Egger, Markus (markus@code-magazine.com) -
Comments (14)


Saturday, September 10, 2005
New CoDe Magazine Content Online (September Update)

We just released a whole bunch of new CoDe Magazine content online:

For one, the September/October issue has been online for a little while now. This issue has a lot of ASP.NET content, plus a whole bunch of other topics, such as SQL Server 2005, as well as articles about technologies that are available today (we always like to have a lot of content that is ov value here and now).

Plus, this issue has one of my all-time favorite covers. There just is so much hidden meaning there. Cool! Kudos to Ellen who "won" this month's "EPS internal cover idea competition". Check it out.

Also, new eColumns are available. The latest one I wrote is called The Quest for the Killer App, and it already seems to have sparked a bit of discussion. Let me know what you think about it. It certainly seems to polarize a bit... ;-)

Also, Rick is now writing regular eColumns as well. His first one is called The AJAX Hype - Some Things to Think About. He is already off to an excellent start there.

These eColumns are available via email newsletter (and usually also online). Make sure you sign up today so you don't miss out! This is some of our highest rated content...

Plus (as you probably know if you read this blog regularly), we are gearing up for a whole bunch of CoDe Focus issues. You can sign up for free simply by letting us know which ones you are interested in. There is no cost associated with this, but we already had a lot of interest, and we will fulfill requests on a first come/ first serve basis. So make sure you sign up as soon as possible.



Posted @ 11:52 AM by Egger, Markus (markus@code-magazine.com) -
Comments (21)


Tuesday, September 06, 2005
Avalon Presentation at the Houston User Group - Thursday

This Thursday I will be giving a presentation about Avalon (well... "Windows Presentation Foundation") at the .NET User Group in Houston. This should be a fun talk. I will be disussing a lot of the Avalon fundamentals. I will address the "why use Avalon" question among many other things. The majority of the talk will show samples and code though.

For more details about the user group, and for the abstract of the presentation, visit www.hdnug.org.

 



Posted @ 12:00 AM by Egger, Markus (markus@code-magazine.com) -
Comments (16)


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dev and Publishing Dev and Publishing
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