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Programming The Media

Dr. Dobb's 38-Year Run Comes To an End 156

An anonymous reader writes: Dr. Dobb's — long time icon of programming magazines — "sunsets" at the end of the year. Editor Andrew Binstock says despite growing traffic numbers, the decline in revenue from ads means there will be no new content posted after 2014 ends. (The site will stay up for at least a year, hopefully longer.) Younger people may not care, but for the hard core old guys, it marks the end of a world where broad knowledge of computers and being willing to create solutions instead of reuse them was valuable. Binstock might disagree; he said, "As our page views show, the need for an independent site with in-depth articles, code, algorithms, and reliable product reviews is still very much present. And I will dearly miss that content. I wish I could point you to another site that does similar work, but alas, I know of none."
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Dr. Dobb's 38-Year Run Comes To an End

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  • Pretty sad (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mingot ( 665080 ) on Tuesday December 16, 2014 @06:02PM (#48612959)

    Loved it growing up. I learned a lot from the al stevens run of articles where he built a terminal program.

    • Re:Pretty sad (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Dutch Gun ( 899105 ) on Tuesday December 16, 2014 @06:15PM (#48613037)

      I was a subscriber back in the day. Sad to see it going, but it's not too surprising, given modern trends.

      I have to admit, though, the content was a bit on the broad side to be really useful to me, since my focus was mostly on client-side application programming in C++ (I wanted to become a videogame programmer). I was still a student then, so about 90% of the content flew right over my head. As such, I found the C/C++ User's Journal more relevant. Even so, I enjoyed reading it and trying to figure out what they were talking about. Eventually, only about 75% went over my head, so I think I learned a few things, although I still couldn't write a database query to save my life.

      • Re:Pretty sad (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Austerity Empowers ( 669817 ) on Tuesday December 16, 2014 @06:23PM (#48613099)

        That's kind of the problem and why I dropped subscription a while back. The explosion of computing and computing jobs means that their target audience is wildly diverse and I found maybe one article in a year would touch on a subject or topic that was remotely applicable to me, and it wasn't paying out.

        • Re: Pretty sad (Score:5, Interesting)

          by bill_mcgonigle ( 4333 ) * on Wednesday December 17, 2014 @12:32AM (#48614791) Homepage Journal

          hrm, for me it was the wildly obscure articles that I thought expanded my horizons the most. I had other subscriptions (e.g. WebTechniques, JDJ) for narrow-focus learning.

          • I could not agree more. I cut my teeth on Dr. Dobb's starting in high school during the early 80's. Looked forward each month to receiving my copy in the mail and then, digesting it's contents from cover to cover. While some of the discussions and techniques covered didn't always have immediate impact, I have found that, over the years, that much of the older content was actually still relevant today.

            This view of "It isn't relevant to me today" will come, in time, to bit developers. The seemingly limit

      • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

        by rudy_wayne ( 414635 )

        I was a subscriber back in the day. Sad to see it going, but it's not too surprising, given modern trends.

        Ah yes. the modern trend of selling out.

        From TFA:
        "Our parent company, United Business Media (UBM), has decided to sunset Dr. Dobb's."

        Like so many others, the founders were happy to collect a big pay day and walk away, leaving it in the hands of some other company who only cares about maximizing profits at the expense of all else. And when the profits can't be maximized to their liking they are happy to shut it down. Oh well, Dr. Dobbs lasted a lot longer than most, so I guess there's that.

        • not shutting it down, sunsetting it. Content will continue to be available on static web pages for quite some time, and probably will find a home after that.

        • Re:Pretty sad (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Dutch Gun ( 899105 ) on Wednesday December 17, 2014 @01:19AM (#48614943)

          Or the modern trend of obsolescence of old media formats.

          The simple fact of the matter is that Dr. Dobbs and similar magazines really aren't as relevant in the modern world, and that's why they're being mothballed. They've been replaced by a number of things. Online technical resources are increasingly abundant, and are often more than sufficient to learn about any topic you desire. Nearly every question I have as a professional programmer has likely already been asked and answered, often in considerable detail, on sites such as stack overflow. Various how-to topics are explored on both personal and professional blogs or other programmer-focused sites, and everything is nicely indexed and immediately accessible through the magic of Google search.

          The simple fact that Google rarely points to Dr Dobbs' site about things I search for (maybe your searches are different) tends to highlight its increasing irrelevance. As much as I enjoyed reading it a few decades ago, it's time to move on. The world has changed, and some things inevitably get left behind.

          • The "old media format" that killed it for me was loss of the Dead Tree option, although in DDJ's case, much of the charm went out when they stopped "Running light without overbyte".

            I have the first several years of DDJ as collected volumes and a few more as loose issues. From back in the day when bare-metal programming was still common and we didn't have a vast universe of ready-made software solutions at hand. There's some interesting stuff in there.

            Once it shifted to other topics, I dropped my subscriptio

            • After a while, they seemed to develop into MS-specific articles, when I was working on mainframes and Unix of various flavors and using a Mac at home and generally avoiding MS-DOS and early Windows.

          • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

            The internet is a wonderful resource but the one area where it tends to be a bit lacking is long form learning/tutorial type material. Japanese magazines make great use of this fact to remain relevant.

            I think it helps that in Japanese they use the same word for "book" and "magazine". Their technical magazines are more like textbooks, with each month having very long chapter like articles, complete with masses of heavily commented source code and related information. Unlike internet tutorials which are often

  • by ndykman ( 659315 ) on Tuesday December 16, 2014 @06:10PM (#48613001)

    Can't think of any one source that had the breadth and depth of Dr. Dobb's. Always look forward to when it came in the mail back in the day, because I knew that I'd always would learn something.

    Seriously, I hope they can find funding or start a project to ensure their archive exists and is available to all. It'd be a unique contribution to computing history.

    • See and that is what is happening in the world, Dr Dobb's was a general knowledge publication, where you learned and gained insight from your peers. Now everyone is focused on a solution. Where just 20 years ago, 20 different solution would happen for a problem, now we just see 2 or 3, lack of creativity.

      So as I will advise you all, read, and read a lot, and about stuff you never tried. You would be surprised at the solution you will create.

  • by raddan ( 519638 ) * on Tuesday December 16, 2014 @06:11PM (#48613007)
    Anyone know if there's going to be an offline archive?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      They sell a DVD with the 1988-2009 archives on the site. Maybe there will be a last update.
      https://store.drdobbs.com

      • Re:Offline archive? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by OrangeTide ( 124937 ) on Tuesday December 16, 2014 @06:53PM (#48613297) Homepage Journal

        I ordered the current DVD up to 2009, so I have at least some of the articles. I still occasionally go back to old articles because a lot of the software I do hasn't changed much in decades. (Unix and embedded)

        Several years ago I ordered the CD collection of Small C articles, and found it pretty useful for grasping the essentials of compiler design. Even if the information is decades old, it was still relevant for the fundamentals of how C compiling and linking works. (at least on Unix/Linux, which is based on decades old designs)

        • The link for those nostalgic, but lazy: https://store.drdobbs.com/prod... [drdobbs.com]
        • Several years ago I ordered the CD collection of Small C articles, and found it pretty useful for grasping the essentials of compiler design. Even if the information is decades old, it was still relevant for the fundamentals of how C compiling and linking works. (at least on Unix/Linux, which is based on decades old designs)

          The overall compile-link step is roughly the same (although LTO changes it a bit), but the compilation process has changed hugely in the last 20 years. Dealing with code 'hand optimised' by people who still have a mental model of how PCC compiles code is a constant source of pain.

          • Well, I follow pcc [ludd.ltu.se] development pretty closely and still use it for a few small projects.

            To be sure there are some pretty significant advancements in compiler design that are important for someone who is working on a compiler in a professional or research capacity. But for me it was more of an exercise in understanding enough to hack a little bit on pcc, lcc and now llvm. I really only got as far as graph coloring for register allocators, and type inference for non-C ML-like language (a flawed approximation

  • Creative Computing...
    IBM PC Technical Journal...
    Byte...
    DEC Professional...
    UNIX Review...
    Perl Journal...
    Linux Journal...
    SysAdmin...
    And now Dr. Dobbs?

    What the heck am I going to do for leisure reading now?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      First the print magazines died, and now even the websites are dying. They said they had over 10 million page views last year. If only there was a simple, unhackable micro-payment system that could have delivered them 2 cents a page view they would have plenty of money for the content and delivery. Google should have delivered this years ago because they already have all the google stats on every page. You would just have to depost $10 or $20 to your account, then each click would show the cost and balance r

      • I don't see why Amazon could not do micropayments. One could access content via Amazon's web site, they could lend you, say, $5 when you enroll and when your usage adds up to $5 they bill your payment card, and they bill your payment card anyway at the end of the year. If you become a bad debt they pass the risk on to their content providers. Amazon takes a cut of the micropayment on each transaction.
      • agreed on needing micropayments. I hate ads and I block them. but I'd happily pay in uPmts for sites I like.

        it has just not happened. and not due to tech issues; its not a tech thing that stops this from being implemented.

      • I don't know - Google seems to do very well indeed on advertising revenue, I can't think why the sites that display their adverts aren't doing nearly as well....

      • 2 cents per page view for 10 million views is a whopping $100,000. That is not anywhere near enough to pay for a year of content.
        --
        JimFive
    • by cruff ( 171569 )
      Linux Journal is still around as an electronic only publication. They keep sending me emails to subscribe again years after I gave up on it for becoming too light weight. As far as leisure reading, track down the IBM z-Series and Unisys Clearpath architecture reference manuals and see how things are done in mainframe land. :-)
    • IEEE magazines. Still available in print, if you want to pay the extra, or electronic format if you like trees. IEEE Security and Privacy and IEEE Software work for me. And if these are too lightweight, there's always the IEEE Transactions on $SUBJECT.
      • by rnturn ( 11092 )
        You're a mind reader. It's that time of year to re-up my membership and I was thinking of adding a couple of the Societies to the fee for this next year.
    • You left 80 Micro off the list!

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/8... [wikipedia.org]
    • Compute!
      Computer! Gazette

      Magazines for the 1980's "toy" computers (i.e., Atari, Commodore, Texas Instruments, etc.), as my middle school Apple ][ instructor snidely called them. Compute! was the general purpose magazine. Gazette was for Commodore 64/128. I subscribed to both back in the day.

  • "it marks the end of a world where broad knowledge of computers and being willing to create solutions instead of reuse them was valuable"

    No, it pretty much just marks the end of Dr. Dobb's. Them young whippersnappers are quite capable of their own innovations.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Them young whippersnappers are quite capable of their own innovations.

      As long as they never have to leave the protective cocoon of a VM with GC.

      • Them young whippersnappers are quite capable of their own innovations.

        As long as they never have to leave the protective cocoon of a VM with GC.

        And lots of base classes written by somebody with a clue.

    • "it marks the end of a world where broad knowledge of computers and being willing to create solutions instead of reuse them was valuable"

      No, it pretty much just marks the end of Dr. Dobb's. Them young whippersnappers are quite capable of their own innovations.

      There is no denying that the true hacker is well on the way to becoming an endangered species, as we are making far fewer new ones than would be required to replace those who retire, much less keep up with the exponential pace of software systems growth. Great news in terms of income security for this increasingly elite niche, not such a great omen for the quality of future software.

  • Still going? (Score:2, Interesting)

    "Hard core old guy" here. Never actually seen one. Only tangentially aware of this while I was growing up, eliciting surprise at its longevity each time I've read about it since. Then again, I was in the UK...

    I suspect I have a few more decades of surprise remaining. Sigh.

    • I'm from the UK and I hadn't really heard of it either, but I ended up getting a few copies when EXE magazine folded and the remainder of my subscription was fulfilled as Dr Dobbs. I always kind of resented it though because I wanted EXE mag!
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Why is it always outright KILL a project instead of scaling it back?
    How about less in-depth? How about occasional reviews? Why not move to a quarterly publication of content?

    There are many many things that can be done to keep something going.

    Damn shame.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 16, 2014 @06:27PM (#48613129)

    There were some truly excellent magazines way back in the 70's and 80's. We had BYTE to set the standard, with excellent publications like Dr Dobbs, Computer Language, and even Nibble.

    As the PC arose, however, magazine after magazine seems to have been taken over by jerks at places like CMP who drained them of all their meaty technical content, flushed all non-PC-compatible content, and in some cases tried to convert them into industry rags. Younger computer users do not have that same joy of getting a monthly magazine with articles loaded with code and/or schematics and parts lists or (in the case of computer language) coverage of some new computer language that has some interesting featrures and might be just the right fit for some new project. The publications are sadly a case study in how hired-gun "interchangeable" CEOs with too many MBAs and no common sense or technical backgrounds can ruin a good institution. One would have thought the spectacular lessons of Scully at Apple (or Fiorina at HP) would have put an end to such screwups acress the entire computer industry...

    Dr Dobb's Journal of Computing Calisthenics and orthodontia running light without overbyte was among the very best, and you just cannot precisely reproduce that (or a half-inch thick issue of BYTE (from before about 1985)) with a web page...

    • Every word of your comment is right on. Not many here will understand that, and that's why DDJ is going.
    • by Gim Tom ( 716904 )
      Thanks for giving the full title of the original publication! When I saw that on the shelf I KNEW I had to buy it! However, my path diverged and went more toward system design and analysis and less coding -- which I did miss. I subscribed to Byte till well after it was bought out by the corporate Borg, but I have something between 6 and 10 years boxed up down stairs. Haven't looked at them in years, but just can't bring myself to get rid of them.
  • Former subscriber (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jgotts ( 2785 ) <jgotts@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday December 16, 2014 @06:31PM (#48613153)

    I was a subscriber for a few years but I found their content to be too Windows-centric so I quit.

    It's sad to see them go but as a full-time programmer I haven't cracked a single book or magazine related to programming in over a year. My extensive library collects extensive dust.

    • I was a subscriber for a few years but I found their content to be too Windows-centric so I quit.

      That's how I felt too.

    • as a full-time programmer I haven't cracked a single book or magazine related to programming in over a year. My extensive library collects extensive dust.

      I'd suggest you read something, perhaps something outside of your professional area. Reading up on things outside of your area of focus can help you develop as a programmer, see things in a different light, etc...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 16, 2014 @06:36PM (#48613195)

    Back in my day, we had to read books and articles to understand some of the current trends. You had to get some serious depth.

    These days, a lot of it is google leading to stack overflow for a quick pattern match of a fix.

    But at least it means the good (those with real understanding and real depth) will look different than those that build a career out of quick-n-dirty stack overflow searches.

    Note that I find stack overflow an amazing resource, however, when I ask current gen "unix-heads" how to do something and they google for a stack-overflow page vs doing "man bash" means the associated concepts were completely missed.

    • by digsbo ( 1292334 )
      Huh? If you are someone with a deep knowledge of Unix and thus know better that an answer can be found in the man page for bash, why are you asking people who don't know to look there? Are you saying you're trying to teach them to fish, and they don't get it?
  • by Snotnose ( 212196 ) on Tuesday December 16, 2014 @06:39PM (#48613213)
    Back in the day Dr Dobbs, Byte, Embedded Systems Journal, and Computer Languages were the 4 I read every month.
  • by smittyoneeach ( 243267 ) * on Tuesday December 16, 2014 @06:50PM (#48613275) Homepage Journal
    Sunset Dr. Dobbs
    Ye nattering nabobs
    Who'd prefer cleanshaven
    Java refactoring jobs
    Burma Shave
  • by swillden ( 191260 ) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Tuesday December 16, 2014 @07:14PM (#48613435) Homepage Journal

    When nearly all of your readers block ads, it's tough to make it as an ad-supported site.

    (Yes, I have AdBlockPlus installed, too.)

  • by Anonymous Coward

    From the article: ...
    Despite our excellent growth on the editorial side, our revenue declined such that today it's barely 30% of what it was when I started. While some of this drop is undoubtedly due to turnover in our sales staff, even if the staff had been stable and executed perfectly, revenue would be much the same and future prospects would surely point to upcoming losses. This is because in the last 18 months, there has been a marked shift in how vendors value website advertising. They've come to real

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by zippthorne ( 748122 )

      Wrong premise. Click-throughs were always dubious, and a silly way to measure the impact of an ad. When was the last time you bought something through a movie poster or billboard?

      • Personally, my inclination to watch "the Interview" increased more and more as the hacking went on and on. I am disappoint that I will not be able to see it likely now, in the theater. I will, however purchase it, in the very likely soon DVD/BluRay release.
  • hrmf... (Score:5, Informative)

    by hitmark ( 640295 ) on Tuesday December 16, 2014 @07:59PM (#48613663) Journal

    seems to be the pattern of media in general these days...

    Deep articles are going the way of the dodo. Not enough ad impressions etc on those as they appeal to a narrow audience.

    Shallow product "reviews" and flame baiting on the other hand...

  • by Prien715 ( 251944 ) <agnosticpope.gmail@com> on Tuesday December 16, 2014 @09:01PM (#48614023) Journal

    "I wish I could point you to another site that does similar work, but alas, I know of none."

    You mean you haven't read Bennett's high-quality journalism?

  • by hermitdev ( 2792385 ) on Tuesday December 16, 2014 @10:20PM (#48614355)
    From a C++ perspective, the only lately useful articles are from Andrew Koenig, but how the release of the articles is done has pissed me off so much I removed it from my feeds. His most recent article series, is at part 9: Abstractions for Binary Search. How about write an article that can be released in a single piece and consumed as such. Trying to consume parts of something every few weeks is an ineffective learning tool. There doesn't seem to be any more single articles. The interesting ones are broken up into multiple parts released every week or two. FUCK THAT. Give me an article that I can read, start to finish. Don't make me come back next week. I'm a developer. I'm already being torn six ways to sundown by various issues, I don't need a publication compounding that. Give me single, solitary articles that have all the content in a single page and I'm happy (it also makes the googling easier).
    • From a C++ perspective, the only lately useful articles are from Andrew Koenig, but how the release of the articles is done has pissed me off so much I removed it from my feeds. His most recent article series, is at part 9: Abstractions for Binary Search. How about write an article that can be released in a single piece and consumed as such. Trying to consume parts of something every few weeks is an ineffective learning tool. There doesn't seem to be any more single articles. The interesting ones are broken up into multiple parts released every week or two. FUCK THAT. Give me an article that I can read, start to finish. Don't make me come back next week. I'm a developer. I'm already being torn six ways to sundown by various issues, I don't need a publication compounding that. Give me single, solitary articles that have all the content in a single page and I'm happy (it also makes the googling easier).

      I am of a different opinion. I prefer to see complex topics broken down into segments. Yes, it is sometimes advantageous to have the entire enchilada. But I don't have much of a problem digesting pieces on a weekly basis (even though, like you, I'm pulled in all directions on a daily basis.)

      • I don't have a problem with a long/lengthy article being broken into a series (so long as there's a view as single page). Lately, I've gotten my choice Dobbs articles via redit & RSS, and they come in as just "Part 1", Part 2", etc. Not even "Part 1/9". I understand that, because they're probably publishing them as they receive them/write them and arguably don't even know how many parts there will be (which is probably due to an arbitrary editorial decision of number of lines/paragraphs). But, what I wa
  • I originally set it up to reduce bandwidth limitations and then malware delivered through ads. Now, it just reduces clutter, but I have to admit I am part of the problem for sites that I truly do enjoy and appreciate the people who build content and publish. Bad on me.
  • Dr. Dobb's 38-Year Run Comes To an End

    I will miss it. I've been a fan of it since I got into CompSci back in 92. I remember fondly going through its articles. I had a subscription for it (alongside Windows Development Journal and others.) One would learn really nice stuff in these old school magazines. Hell, even catalog-like productions like "PC Shopper" would have great articles on software and hardware.

    One thing, however. Couldn't Dr. Dobbs have adopted a model similar to InfoQ (which seems to be doing rather well)? I wish they had (but ma

  • Most of the current magazines are very machine-specific: Apple or PC. I liked the general software nature of Byte and Dr. Dobbs.
  • I believe they could have stayed on indefinitely if not for the silly name. We all know why it has that name, but I would never have discovered this magazine unless an adjunct professor in college pointed it out to us in 1990.

  • ...without overbyte.

    But with all the OOP being done, who cares about that anymore? Too big, too slow? Throw more storage and CPUs at it, and offload some of it to the user's machines, never mind that they've never tested their bloated crap on the generation or two old systems that most people use....

    In the nineties, when I changed jobs, and didn't have a company paying for my subscriptions, I had to chose between Dr. Dobb's and the IEEE Comnpute - that was easy, I dropped Compute.

    It's a real shame.

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