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September 96 - Editor's Note

EDITOR'S NOTE

DAVE JOHNSON FOR CAROLINE ROSE

As I write this our esteemed Editor-in-Cheek is off on sabbatical, indulging in a little global gallivanting and some well deserved (and completely unstructured) hanging around. Thus it falls to me to write this editorial, making this only the second issue of develop that has had two pictures of me in it (trivia question: which was the other?), and also marking the first time (and hopefully the last time) my signature has been aired in public. (Yes, I know it's illegible, and I confess: I never really learned to write cursive. So it's only a rough approximation. Even my printing is barely legible. Thank goodness for keyboards.)

Unaccustomed as I am to editorial speaking, I was having a hard time thinking of something to write about. Fortuitously, Apple's Worldwide Developers Conferenceoccurred just about the time I needed to settle on a topic, and as always the developers I talked with at the conference brought up several issues about what we on the develop staff do and why we do it that way.

One issue that came up is conveniently editorial in nature. We're often applauded for the better-than-usual (at least for a technical journal) writing in our articles and columns. It's quite true that in addition to trying to make sure everything in the magazine is correct, we also put a lot of ef fort into making it read well. This is great for you, the reader, but as with any way of doing things there's a downside. In this case, it means more trouble and more work for those who generate the content of the journal. Occasionally an author thinks it's a hassle, all that fussing over finding the right word or phrase, all that questioning and worrying over something that's "off the topic" as far as they're concerned. For others, of course, it' s a real blessing, having our highly trained team of crackerjack editors swarming over their work, nipping and tucking and polishing it until it's snug and smooth and gleaming. While I naturally tend to side with the latter, ever ybody's entitled to an opinion.

Those of us here at develop believe that it's absolutely worth it. It' s a truism about technical writing that if it's done well no one notices it. That's our goal, and always has been, and I think it' s a good and important one. If you have to read a sentence twice or three times to figure out what it means, or if you have to backtrack a page to make sense of something you just read, or if you can't find a constant in Inside Macintoshbecause it's spelled wrong in the article, then the writing will be noticed, because it's getting in your way. That's something we' re proud to avoid more often than not, even though it takes longer, and even though it's a lot more work. We hope you agree.

So that's my editorial. An easy out, some might say, simply restating our editorial philosophy rather than coming up with new thoughts. But it's something that' s often lost in all the noise, and I think it's good -- both for us and for you -- to be reminded once in a while why it is we do what we do.

Dave Johnson Editorial Pretender

DAVE JOHNSON (dkj@apple.com) and his wife Lisa have a tiny but thriving mask-making business in San Francisco, selling masks for a one-month period each year around Halloween. In 1994 they had sales of $344 and gross profits were $159. (There was a write-down of $188 that year for retooling, resulting in a net loss of $29.) In 1995 they had total profits of $287 on sales of $330. If this explosive profit growth keeps up, this small garage business could, in time, be worth literally hundreds of millions of dollars. Dave is rubbing his hands in anticipation. *

 
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