Dr. Dobb's Changes

When Software Development was killed, I predicted that Dr. Dobb's wouldn't change markedly. Boy, was I wrong. Editor-in-Chief Jonathan Erickson and Publisher Stan Barnes clearly decided that the time had come to create what is essentially a new magazine: I don't think Dobb's has changed this much since at least the late 80s.

The "new" Dobb's really has taken a page from SD's playbook and dramatically increased the amount of technical-management-focused editorial. There's a fraction of the source code that used to be Dobb's signature.

They've dramatically changed the column lineups, which is a real surprise given Erickson's loyalty to his long-term writers. Mike Swaine is still there, Scott Ambler and Rick Wayne came over from SD, and Pete Becker is writing the C++ column. This was a bold move must have been a hard one, both for the columnists and for Erickson. But  think it was a good choice.

They also redesigned the pages. Note to publishers: Do we really need to go through the whole "the new font is too small," "you're right: we've changed it back!" charade every time? It looks like the new page layouts are more flexible, although at least initially, I think the readability has gone down.

As an old-time competitor to the "old" Dr. Dobb's, they've walked away from some of the things that made them hard to compete against: the "signifiers" of technical depth that came from their source-code and low-level articles. Pages of source code cue programmers "there is immediate value here." When flipping through a magazine, an article on, say, computer security, will be much more eye-catching if there is accompanying source code: the programming reader stops and "checks out" the source code to see what's going on. "Soft" articles, on the other hand, have a harder time catching the eye and coming to mind when the renew / resubscribe decision comes about.

It's gotta' be tough managing the editorial of a programmer's magazine nowadays.