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Tell Us What You Think: The 2nd Mac DevCenter Survey

by Derrick Story

The online survey for March 2004 is now closed. Thanks to all who participated!

About this time last year, we ran our first Mac DevCenter survey. The turnout was fantastic, and the information was helpful in terms of letting me know who you are and what you want. As a refresher, you can review what you said last year by reading the survey summary. Now it's time for round two, and I hope you'll participate again.

If you would, there's another thing I'd like you to keep in mind as you read last year's results and think about your comments for this year--do you know developers who are willing to write some of the in-depth content that I am seeking here? If so, please send them my way. Every now and then I get letters with great ideas for heavy-duty programmer articles. And they are great ideas. But we also need the writers to construct these pieces, and they are much more difficult to come by than the topics themselves.

This site, and any web site really, is a work in progress. All of your contributions help--from completing the survey to authoring tutorials to sending quality developers over our way. We sincerely appreciate all of the positive energy.

How It Looks

For those of you familiar with Zoomerang's surveys, this is one of those. It's fairly short; I took it in less than 10 minutes, clicking on buttons that represented how often I visited the site, what technologies I work with, and so on.

There are about 30 multiple choice questions, plus a text field that allows you to submit comments up to 200 characters long. You can also include your email address if you want to enter a drawing for three O'Reilly books (of your choosing). Five winners will be selected from survey participants.

Our Motivation

We want this information for three primary reasons:

  • To shape online editorial direction. If I see, for example, that a significant number of you are using REALbasic to construct apps, then I'm going to start looking for writers who can author that kind of content.

  • To influence book titles we pursue. Books are a lot harder to publish than online articles, and we want to make the best choices possible for our audience. This information could be the tipping point when debating between one title and another.

  • To describe our audience to sponsors. We try to make Mac DevCenter self-sufficient and not draw revenue away from our book program, especially in these tight times. But as you know, sponsorships are hard to come by these days. We can increase our odds of signing up a sponsor by having good information for them about the type of visitors we attract. The more self-sufficient we can make Mac DevCenter, the more secure its future.

In case you're wondering, we will not share the email addresses of survey participants with advertisers. That would actually undermine our business plan. Instead, if they want you as a customer, they have to attract your attention via our web site or through sponsoring our newsletters.

Your Motivation

OK, I'm going to give you the noble reason, then I'm going to appeal to your sense of competition.

First, the noble reason. We want to continue to offer Mac DevCenter for free. Your participation in this survey helps us do that by providing us with the demographic information we need to attract sponsors.

Plus, we want to give you the editorial content you want. If nobody is interested in IP over FireWire, I certainly don't want to waste your time publishing articles about it.

But there's something else too ... we're going to be running a similar survey on Last year we blew their doors off by gathering more than twice as many surveys as they did in less than a week. No other O'Reilly site even came close to the participation on Mac DevCenter. So we've had bragging rights for the entire year. I'd really like to extend the bragging for another 12 months.


After the numbers are in and compiled, I'll write a brief summary of the results and publish them here on Mac DevCenter, just like I did last year. Seems like you'd want to know who your comrades are and what they are thinking.

Now's a Good Time

All you have to do is click on the survey link and tear through the multiple choice questions. Please add a brief comment about what you'd like to see offered here, or what you don't want to see. If you have more to say than can be captured in 200 characters, take the survey first, then send me an email, and I'll factor your comments into the final report.

And finally, thanks for your support these last three and a half years. I've really enjoyed being your Mac editor.

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

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