The March issue of PragPub is out and we’re eager to know what you think. Not just about the content of this issue, but about our overall direction, coverage, design… whatever you think we should know.
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- Thank you for posting the direct HTML version of the magazine… Way more linkable/tweetable/shareable! :-)
- The HTML version of the magazine is unreadable on Android’s built-in web browser (at least on the Android G1). (The right-side column gobbles up about 90% of the page-width when displayed.)
- Am I the only person who prefers to call the magazine “PragMag” instead of “PragPub”?
Haven’t read the new issue completely yet, but I “flipped through” the HTML version. It seems like a good idea to have it available on the web, but the layout doesn’t do much to stand out from the rest of the web. “Yet,” I know.
Have you seen “Thinking for a Living”:http://www.thinkingforaliving.org/ and their layout? Really a great take on the “magazine for the web” idea. I don’t think your content would match that exactly, but it’s a really forward-looking take on the webzine format.
Stuff like deliberately limited the column width to match the “printable” magazine layouts might help - you don’t have to give up design and take on the standard blog-like layout to be on the web. I also understand that maybe some readers will prefer one or the other format, and if they’re exactly the same it doesn’t take advantage of each format’s strengths. Sure. But in the same way that I’ll tear through all of Wired magazine in a sitting because it’s got (in addition to great articles) a deliciously-readable and interesting layout, and Thinking for a Living has me right-arrow paging through the whole thing at once, and even go through the PragPub PDF rapidly because I can just page through it - organize the articles so they are connected. At the very least, give me “previous” and “next” article links at the top and bottom of each article. Make it easy to move through the issue, rather than
- Table of Contents
- Click article
- Read article
- Back to ToC
- Click article
- et cetera.
I don’t read a magazine by thumbing back to the table of contents after every article, and I think there’s some mental inertia there.
Another thing I just thought about - print magazines are often compelling because there’s some variation among the articles in terms of layout and appearance. This is the same principle that video games use between levels, particularly Blizzard’s games. If the colors and appearance and enemies change from level to level, it feels like you’re making progress even if you’re just left-clicking repeatedly (as in Diablo). One of the strengths of a magazine is that color/content shifting, so that I’m excited to see what the next article looks like, in addition to what it’s about.
… That said, I’ve gobbled up entire issues of PragPub with no complaints about the uniform layout and colors. But I’ve noticed my interest waning slightly with each subsequent issue, and that may be partly from a lack of visual novelty. The covers don’t vary much, and the interior is virtually identical, so especially if the articles’ titles don’t grab me, there’s not much reason to flip through. Besides trust in the editorial judgment, of course. I wonder if anyone else feels that way.
Your publishing method - articles/books as coded plain text, which can be output to fit various formats - has the strengths of consistency across media, and of flexibility. Also, I suppose, going easy on the designer, who can take advantage of layout styles and really only has to get it right once, which makes it possible to cost-effectively produce a free magazine. The content is strong, and may not need a ton of gussying up. But it’s something to think about.
Another example: Ars Technica’s “article on responses”:http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2010/03/desperate-cities-beseech-st-google-bless-us-with-thy-fiber.ars to Google’s ISP “contest.” Standard layout, wide single column with sidebar, but the simple illustrations to periodically break up the content really give the article its own feeling and context. The house-wired-to-house separators make an already great article stand out in my mind. Things like that, even simple illustrations or colors or something, could do a lot to give each issue or article in PragPub its own flavor.
“Magazine as artifact” is a powerful concept. Each issue as an event unto itself is one of the reasons really great magazines assume that status.
Along those lines: why is the only link to PragPub on the PragProg home page the tiny “Magazine” link in the upper right? If I didn’t get your newsletter, I’d never know there was a new issue. Give it some attention elsewhere!
[Edited for formatting. Why does one double-hyphen in a paragraph successfully turn into an em-dash, but a pair strikes out what’s between them? Also, my links didn’t format correctly, even though I think I got them right according to the instructions below. And it looks like they almost worked. Tried a few different variations with no success.]
Jason, I agree with you about the name. I always hiccup a bit when I type “PragPub.” PragMag is easier on the tongue, and differentiated a little better from “PragProg.” And PragProg is a publisher, so they Pragmatically Publish, and there’s a lot of room for confusion.
Ultimately, I’d prefer “Magmatic” but I think a volcanologist periodical by that name already exists.