May 16

Developers for the Microsoft .NET platform are blessed to have three high-quality .NET magazines available to them:  CoDe Component Developer Magazine, MSDN Magazine, and Visual Studio Magazine.

Why would a tech savvy software developer want to read a paper magazine when so much information is available online?  Well, some of us “old timers” still appreciate the fresh smell and slick feel of a high-gloss monthly.  Also, magazine articles are often produced by professional writers who explain subjects in greater clarity and detail than one may find on the Web. And there are times when a developer may not be connected, such as when riding the train, sitting in a meeting, or eating lunch. 

I have been a longtime subscriber to all three magazines.  CoDe and MSDN Magazine have been fairly stable through the years, providing consistent quality.  CoDe articles are often highly technical and provide great depth, but fewer articles and its bi-monthly frequency can result in a magazine that’s less relevant to my current needs.  MSDN Magazine is the most comprehensive of the three and almost always provides at least a few articles that are applicable to my current projects.  Visual Studio Magazine has undergone the most change, broadening its focus beyond Visual Basic to include all of .NET, while getting thinner each year.  It recently switched publishers and has a renewed sense of purpose, so hopefully we’ll see good things under new management. 

If I had to choose only one of the three, it would be MSDN Magazine for its variety and more complete coverage. But hopefully all three will succeed, because you can’t have too much good .NET information.

The three .NET magazines are compared below.  The “size” is the average of two recent issues with the approximate percentage of advertisements.


CoDe Component Developer Magazine

Publisher:  EPS Software Corporation
Published:  bi-monthly
Size:  76 pages, 25% ads
Cover Price:  $5.95
Subscription Price:  $29.99 for 6 issues ($5.00/issue)

Regular Columns:  MVP Corner, CoDe on the Road, Heard on .NET Rocks, Ask the Doc Detective, .Finalize()

Recent Features:

  • Enterprise Application Integration with Microsoft BizTalk Server 2006
  • 13-Step Crash Course for Learning Windows Communication Foundation
  • SQLCLR Security and Designing for Reuse
  • All Input Data is Evil–So Make Sure You Handle It Correctly and With Due Care
  • Layered Architecture, Dependency, Injection, and Dependency Inversion
  • Protect Your Downloadable Files Using HTTP Handlers
  • Building a PreserveProperty Control in ASP.NET 2.0
  • Everyday Use of Generics

Advantages:  Highly technical, great depth, lots of sample code, fewer ads
Disadvantages:  Bi-monthly, more expensive, not always relevant to current projects


MSDN Magazine

Publisher:  CMP Media LLC
Published:  monthly
Size:  156 pages, 40% ads
Cover Price:  $5.95
Subscription Price:  $34.95 for 12 issues ($2.91/issue); free for MSDN subscribers

Regular Columns:  Toolbox (product reviews), CLR Inside Out, Advanced Basics, Cutting Edge, Service Station, Wicked Code, Foundations, Netting C++, .NET Matters, {End Bracket}

Recent Features:

  • C# 3.0: Evolution of LINQ and Its Impact on the Design of C#
  • Unleash the Power of Query in Visual Studio Orcas
  • Inside Look at the Next Generation of Visual C++
  • Office UI: New VSTO Features Help You Customize Word and Outlook
  • Silverlight: Building a Deeper Experience Across the Web
  • Secure Your ASP.NET Apps and WCF Services with Windows CardSpace
  • Aero Glass: Create Special Effects with the Desktop Window Manager
  • XmlLite: A Small and Fast XML Parser for Native C++

Advantages:  Lots of articles, good variety and coverage, Microsoft insiders
Disadvantages:  Lots of ads, emphasis on future tech may reduce relevance


Visual Studio Magazine

Publisher:  Redmond Media Group
Published:  monthly
Size:  60 pages, 37% ads
Cover Price:  $6.95
Subscription:  free to qualified subscribers

Regular Columns:  Product Listings, Programming Techniques, C# Corner, Database Design, Web Services, Q&A

Recent Features:

  • Get Down and Glitzy with Windows Gadgets
  • Real-World Data Mining
  • String.Together Snazzy String Routines
  • Remember User Settings
  • Generics: Move Beyond Collections
  • Slim Down Local Databases
  • Roll Your Own Data Snapshot Utility
  • Add Custom Colors to Your Forms

Advantages:  Free subscriptions, often provides both C# and VB code
Disadvantages:  Fewer articles

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Article published on May 16, 2007

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2 Responses to “.NET Magazines Compared”

  1. DevTopics | What’s a Developer to Do Over the Holidays? Says:

    […] programming blogs, magazines and web […]

  2. Dr. Dobbs Journal is Dead Says:

    […] truly effective and advance in their careers.  So naturally .NET programmers will gravitate toward .NET magazines and websites, etc.  And so a generalist magazine like Dr. Dobbs will have little use in our daily […]

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