Readers Weight In on eBooks

Readers sound off about the recent experiments that delivered VSM in an eBook format.

Letters to Visual Studio Magazine are welcome. Letters must include your name, address, and daytime phone number to be considered for publication. Letters might be edited for form, fit, and style. Please send them to Letters to the Editor, c/o Visual Studio Magazine, 2600 El Camino Real, Suite 300, San Mateo, CA 94403; fax them to 650-570-6307; or e-mail them to

Keep the eBooks Coming
I think the sample May 2006 Visual Studio Magazine in digital format is wonderful.

Now I can have my "printed" resources right on my laptop and take them wherever I go without adding extra weight. All the comforts that PDFs offer go along with it. The format is easy to read; I can zoom in, as needed; paging back and forth is a breeze; and the ability to cut-and-paste text is nice. This format really works for me.

I love eBooks-keep them coming!

Daniel A. Wright
received by e-mail

Sign me up for VSM eBooks. This format looks good to me. I already receive Dr. Dobbs and Scientific American this way; it would be nice to receive VSM this way, as well.

George T. Hahn, Jr.
San Jose, CA

eBooks Are Nice, But?
The VSM eBook format has lots of advantages, but there are drawbacks to this format, as well.

I typically read VSM when I am away from the office, which would be hard to do with out the paper.

Indeed, four of the five areas I typically read magazines in do not have computers available. For example, I keep the latest issue of VSM in my car; I spend hours each week reading magazines in my car while my wife is in the store shopping. I sincerely hope the paperback version of VSM is not eliminated.

Newton Stetson

I like the idea of receiving VSM as a PDF, and you've done several things right.

But you have to make a page be a page. By that, I mean that I can't read this as I would a PDF. Each PDF page is actually two pages, so I'm going side to side, and this causes some problems. For example, my Page Up and Page Down keys don't move me from page to page anymore, and the two-pages on one format also prevents me from printing out hardly any articles because I'll have to use all that toner-and color toner at that!

Also, I can't click on "Fit Size" to get the page to fill my monitor as a size I can read. Fit size puts two pages on my screen, which I definitely can't read.

However, I do like the idea of making this version available. I like the clickable table of contents. That's a nice feature. I also like the clickable links. That's also nice. These eBooks are getting there. I think you need to make some more tweaks, and it'll be a fine e-publication.

Dave Bender
received by e-mail

I downloaded your digital edition, and I like being able to zoom in and out, but I would suggest two improvements:

First, there is the same annoying page-turn factor in the digital edition as the paper edition: Articles are interspersed with pages of advertising. I understand ads need to get attention also, but a link between non-contiguous pages of an article would be helpful in the digital format. It's not a huge complaint, but I do think it would just be easier than zooming back down, selecting the next page, and zooming up again.

Second, I think you could add value to the digital edition if you supplied the link to the "Download Code" area (like the links to the referenced articles). This would be a big plus over the paper edition.

Grace Ford
received by e-mail

Thank you for your feedback and suggestions. We will take a look at incorporating these features should we produce future editions of the VSM eBooks. The second suggestion in particular could end up saving readers a significant amount of time and effort.-Eds.

I'm a little confused by your request for feedback of the PDF version of the May 2006 issue.

Will future electronic versions be available in eBook format, or are you looking at making them PDFs?

If you're just looking for feedback regarding the interest in electronic vs. print, then I'd prefer the electronic format if and when it's available in whatever format that will be.

John Champoux
received by e-mail

At this time, we're looking most closely at producing the VSM eBook in PDF format. However, we haven't made any final decisions about our future plans with these eBooks. We continue to experiment with this format, and we appreciate your feedback (and the feedback of the many readers who responded to this experiment).—Eds.

Thanks, But No Thanks
I still prefer to read the pages in print. In that format, I can cut interesting articles and file them for future reference. I can also make circles and highlight areas of interest on a given page. Finally: Print versions of VSM are much easier on my eyes.

Thanks for asking.

Jay Puduvalli
received by e-mail

Request for Novice Version Proves Prescient
I recently came across Patrick Meader's article, "VS.NET Needs a Novice Version" while perusing VSM's archived issues at [Editor's Note, VSM June 2004].

I was pleasantly surprised to see just how many items in from this article's wish list of features for VS.NET have materialized in the Express editions of Visual Studio 2005.

Wrote Mr. Meader:

This novice version of VS.NET would give you the core VB.NET and C# language syntax and tool features; a stripped-down version of the IDE (IntelliSense is a must); and MSDE or a similar, lightweight database engine. It would also include many beginner-oriented samples. Free or cheap to download and use, this version would place limits on the scope of what you can create with it. The novice version would not include a conversion tool. Rather, it would assume that the user has no foundation in programming. Microsoft should promote this novice version heavily, with a dedicated Web site that includes unique content and sponsored contests to encourage people to do something cool with it. It would also be nice if Microsoft partnered with vendors in the community to create low-cost add-ins that support this version of the tool.

I've emphasized the aspects of his wish list that have come to pass under VS Express in italics.

Wow! This was an amazingly prescient article.

Arun Philip
received by e-mail

Shortly after this article was published, I visited with a couple Visual Studio program managers at Microsoft's headquarters in Redmond, who informed me that Microsoft was already working on a free or low-cost edition of Visual Studio, which would include many of the features that I asserted this version of Visual Studio should have.

Of course, I didn't know any of this at the time I wrote the article, but it was exciting to see Microsoft had already come to a similar conclusion about the need for such a product, and I think the release of the Express products will contribute significantly to the ongoing popularity of Visual Studio for many years to come.—P.M.

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