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Results from the Second Mac DevCenter Survey

by Derrick Story
04/02/2004

The tallies for second Mac DevCenter reader poll are in, and they extend many of the themes you established in last year's survey. But there are a few twists, too.

Once again, the turnout was outstanding. More than 1,200 respondents managed to complete the online form. Beyond that, a very large percentage included comments to help us better understand what this community likes, and dislikes, about Mac DevCenter.

To put things in context, site traffic is up about 12 percent from last year, with a nice steady upward growth curve. Increased traffic has brought some diversification to this site's audience. Based on survey comments, Mac DevCenter feels like a healthy ecosystem expanding at a reasonable pace. The core audience of developers and programmers turned out in big numbers for this survey, lobbying for their interests. They were joined by power users and recent converts who seem less passionate about the specific types of articles we publish, but certainly are not less committed to the platform in general. One sentiment that spans our entire audience is enthusiasm for the platform itself. And I share that enthusiasm.

Bottom line, the editorial game plan for Mac DevCenter will continue in the same spirit as in 2003, with a few adjustments, of course, based on survey data.

Survey Data Highlights

The first two-thirds of the survey was essentially the same as last year's, enabling us to compare ... well, apples to apples. But we added a few questions to help provide a more complete picture. Here are a few highlights.

Survey Comments: Likes and Dislikes

Overall, there was the natural push and pull between those who only want developer content and others who like diversity. I'll start with the developer-related issues first.

Cocoa was once again the most discussed developer technology. Some were lamenting that Mike Beam is no longer writing his regular column and yearned for the return of those in-depth pieces. But many also commented that they enjoyed Seth Roby's beginning series. Overall, the request was for more of both.

We've been churning away behind the scenes to line up new Cocoa content, and you'll see some stuff, including a guest appearing to write about the number-one-requested Cocoa topic, in April.

The desire to publish Cocoa content isn't the problem, however. Getting developers to actually write the pieces is. I get lots of bold commitments from readers who are going to write us tutorials, only never to see them materialize. If you've got what it takes to write a Cocoa tutorial, then please contact me at derrick@oreilly.com. We'll get it going!

Another popular request was for Mac server articles. This is a shift from before, when there wasn't as much interest in this area. We'll pick up the pace here. Personally, I think we're entering an era where Macs are going to blossom behind the firewall. I hope I'm right.

Other hot topics included Python, Ruby, open source tools for Mac OS X, anything Unix, scripting, and WebObjects. A number of folks asked what happened to our Java editor. Well, he took on editorial duties for two O'Reilly-produced sites, ONJava.com and java.net. ONJava publishes lots of good stuff that would interest our Mac audience, and I'll start pointing to more of those articles on Mac DevCenter. We'll also start producing more original content and get that engine fired up again. Thanks for the reminder.

I also noticed an increase in requests for articles on bioinformatics and life sciences. We had a few of those last year, too, and I never really found a good writer to cover that area. But the Mac platform is on the upswing in these areas, and I really want to provide science content on Mac DevCenter. I hear you guys. I'm on it.

Even though some readers don't want anything but pure developer content on this site, many others like the diversity. Digital-photography- and music- related technologies drum up the most interest. But the iApps in general garnered favorable comments.

The most popular article of all time on Mac DevCenter, and for all of the O'Reilly Network, is Top Ten Digital Photography Tips. Articles like these that circulate throughout the entire web-o-sphere help others discover Mac DevCenter. They also speak to the other activities that Mac users, regardless of their level of sophistication, engage in.

The editorial plan is to balance core developer content with intelligent iApp and digital media articles. We want to give the savvy Mac user a variety of compelling content, for both in the office and after hours.

Final Thoughts

One thing I like about this audience is the expressed support for the site, even when complaints were part of the communication. Almost every comment contained encouraging words, urging us to keep moving forward and to continue serving serious Macheads all over the world.

That's exactly what we're going to do. We'll be adding new technology areas, such as life sciences, and we'll redouble our efforts in the Cocoa and Java spaces. we'll keep daily news and weblogs fresh, so you always have something interesting to read when you stop by, even if you've already plumbed the depths of our posted articles.

Our publishing schedule is two to three new articles a week, refreshed news at least twice a day, weblogs as they appear, and the newsletter every other week. The welcome mat is always out for new writers, so please drop me a line if you have something good to share with your peers.

Also keep in mind that our professional publication, Mac Developer Journal, is designed to scratch those serious developer/programmer itches that many of you have. It's a solid complement to Mac DevCenter.

And finally, the emails go out on Monday, April 5 for the winners of the survey drawing. If you won, we'll contact you at the email you listed in the survey.

And once again, thanks so much for being an active participant in this community. We're glad you're here.

Derrick Story is the author of The Photoshop CS4 Companion for Photographers, The Digital Photography Companion, and Digital Photography Hacks, and coauthor of iPhoto: The Missing Manual, with David Pogue. You can follow him on Twitter or visit www.thedigitalstory.com.


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