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Issue 6.5

COLUMN

Thoughts from the Publisher

Issue: 6.5 (July/August 2008)
Author: Marc Zeedar
Author Bio: When RBD publisher Marc Zeedar was a kid he used to create magazines just for fun. Now he's doing it for a living! You may contact him at editor@rbdeveloper.com.
Article Description: No description available.
Article Length (in bytes): 9,009
Starting Page Number: 5
Article Number: 6500
Related Link(s): None

Full text of article...

A Major Change

By now you have probably heard the news: I am ceasing production of the print edition of REALbasic Developer.

I had always imagined that if the day came I had to write this I would begin it with, "It is with a heavy heart that I announce..."

But the day has arrived and I find that my heart is not heavy at all -- quite the opposite. I am filled with excitement and anticipation. I actually feel the need to apologize it has taken me so long to make this decision!

You see, I had fallen into the assumption that eliminating the print edition of the magazine represented a step backward. Now that I have made that decision, the scales have fallen from my eyes and I see that it is not a negative move at all, but overwhelmingly positive. Digital is the future.

The print edition of RBD has been holding us back. Most significantly, the print edition sucks up an enormous percentage of our resources. I liken it to the overhead of a brick-and-mortar store versus a digital storefront: without the burden of print, RBD can actually be a viable, successful business and provide you, the reader, and the REALbasic community, with a better product.

Other advantages of digital-only:

  • An improved, more readable magazine design not restricted by the print edition

    Shorter lead time for articles

    Simplified pricing

    A business focused on digital media

    Business flexibility for an unpredictable future

The print edition has been an albatross around the neck of the business, choking the life from it. Instead of being profitable and growing, we've been stagnant and struggling. There are many things about the publication I've wanted to improve but could not afford to do so. With the move to digital-only, I plan lots of exciting new things.

I know not all of you will be happy about this decision. Some of you may be upset or even feel betrayed. Please understand that my motivation for doing this is out of a desire to make REALbasic Developer a better publication. We could have continued on for many more years, just barely breaking even, and me constantly worrying about rising printing and mailing costs and working a second job to make a living. But I don't believe that's the best thing for me, you, or the REALbasic community.

What This Means

If you're already a digital subscriber, nothing has changed. You'll receive the magazine as before. The only difference will be an improved design better suited to home printing and on-screen reading.

If you're a print subscriber, your subscription will automatically be converted to digital. For U.S. subscribers, since we charge the same amount for the print and PDF subscriptions, there's no change in the number of issues you have left in your subscription, but since overseas print subscribers have pre-paid extra postage, I will be prorating the extra funds into additional issues in your subscription. This will happen automatically -- you don't need to do anything to receive your additional issues.

Print Issue Alternatives

I realize there are some of you who absolutely insist on a printed edition. Perhaps you have poor eyesight or just prefer the convience of paper. I therefore offer some alternatives for you.

First, it's important to realize that REALbasic Developer is not a giant book: it is a 50-page magazine. Almost everyone who has a computer has a printer and it's really not that big a deal to print 50 pages. It takes ten minutes and RBD is 90% text, so it won't even use much ink. You've waited two months for the new issue: is it such a burden to hit "print" and wait a few extra minutes?

As another option, I plan to make RBD available via a print-on-demand (POD) printer. This is a third-party printing company that will take your order, print your magazine, and mail it to you. I won't kid you: it's going to be expensive, but a few of you may choose this route. Unfortunately, there isn't a way to handle a subscription in this manner, so you'll have to order each issue manually (six times a year). I also plan to offer really nice perfect-bound books of each annual volume of RBD via the same POD system. That will simplify the process of ordering printed back issues even after our existing limited supplies are exhausted. In both of these cases the print quality should be higher than the printed issues we've been producing.

The Future

I hope you share my excitement at the bright future of RBD. Eliminating the print edition, while disappointing and annoying in the short-term, dramatically changes our business model. It opens the door to all kinds of exciting possibilities.

For the moment, to keep the transition as smooth and simple as possible, I plan few radical changes. We will still publish on the same schedule, use PDF-based distribution with a similar layout and design, and keep our pricing unchanged.

As you can already tell from this new issue, I am redesigning the magazine for to make it better suited for digital reading and personal printing (note already the more readable code font and more color throughout the magazine). For example, I used to have to cram text and source code to get it to fit into our fixed page count for the print edition. This makes text less readable, but I had no alternative. With a digital-only workflow, I can simply add additional pages.

The same goes for those of you who have complained about articles continuing onto pages at the back of the magzine. Without the page contraint of the physical edition, articles can be as long as required with no more "continueds!"

Feedback

I want to hear from you. You are the lifeblood of a publication, and your opinion matters. I know I can't make everyone happy, but I will certainly listen to your suggestions and ideas. Please let me know what improvements you'd like to see, or any concerns you have regarding the transition. This is a great time to get me ideas because I'm making plans for the next few years and if there are features and services you'd like RBD to offer, I need to know what they are.

I do need your support, however. A business like this is like a bank: if everyone comes and withdraws their money at the same time, the bank fails. In that regard, I need most of you to renew your subscriptions. Since we launched in the summer, the bulk of my subscribers have renewals coming up. I could have waited to do this until after people had renewed, but that did not seem fair. I do not want to mislead you into thinking you are getting a print subscription and then yank it out from underneath you. I want to be honest with you and let you know exactly where I stand. If you genuinely don't feel the content in RBD is valuable and worth a couple hour's pay a year regardless of the media format, then don't subscribe. But I'm hoping that most of you will stay on. If you do, the magazine will be on a secure foundation and we'll be on course to become an even better publication.

In This Issue

This issue introduces two new columns. First, Brad Weber will write regularly about Yuma development. Since Yuma is mostly REALbasic code, this is appropriate, but since Yuma is web development, there are some differences Brad will be able to address.

Second, Christian has replaced his "Intel Focus" column with a new series called "Inside REALbasic" which will explore REALbasic at a deeper level.

For our features, we've got a terrific introduction to databases from Mike Titlebaum. It's based on his REAL World presentation and it'll be helpful if you haven't explored the brave new world of databases yet.

Yours truly chips in with an innovative project I call Picture Packer: it's a simple way to embed multiple masked graphics files into your REALbasic project. It's ideal for sets of toolbar icons, game graphics, and other pictures.

Finally, JC Cruz explores graphics this issue with an in-depth look at image histograms.

Of course we've got our regular columnists with articles on shell scripting, Valentina, contextual menus, solving the "two generals" communication problem, and much more. Enjoy!

End of article.