By P.J. Plauger
也正是在那时，C++渐渐成为瞩目中心。好几本杂志、每年数个研讨会，都在探讨标准C++的成长。C++标准尘埃落定后，这些讨论也没有了。（还有Java热潮、关于各种吹牛语言的讨论等，不过我不想离题太远了。）C Users Journal变成了C/C++ Users Journal，并又赢得了十年时间。
True enough, but probably not for the reasons generally espoused. What killed CUJ is what's been killing newspapers slowly for the past half century, and what's killing off print magazines more rapidly today -- a dying market. In the case of technical magazines in particular, the internet is the single largest factor of late. I used to buy Byte Magazine every month to get the latest news on microcomputers. Now I get much of my news from newsgroups like this one, with all the followup detail I can eat from subsequent web searches. Byte also served as a reality check -- I'd never buy a hardware or software product until its ads appeared for three consecutive months in Byte. These days I do a Google search for specs, reviews, and best prices. And I am hardly alone in this new modus operandi.
Magazines (and newspapers) live and die on their advertising revenues. And they're like restaurants -- large fixed costs and tremendous leverage on profits. Thus, a successful magazine (or restaurant) can make a bundle, while a loser dies quickly. It's those in the middle that hang on month to month, sometimes making a profit, sometimes losing a bit. CMP owns a boatload of magazines, so CUJ was more like a single restaurant in a chain. The owners might let it lose money for a spell, in the hopes that things will improve. Sooner or later, however, each entity must justify its existence, or get shut down.
If you go back and look, you'll see that *all* magazines began slimming down late in the Dot Boom, and have kept doing so ever since. CUJ has been around 48 pages for years; and that's about as close to life support as you can get. But it is also hardly alone, and not the first to die.
I've said next to nothing about technical content, and that's intentional. Those of us who generate it, or whip it into shape, are primarily responsible for keeping the ads separated by a bit of text. At least that's how it feels to me, as long time writer and editor, when I discuss economics with the money people. Some lucky mags, like Cosmopolitan, need diddly squat for editorial content; people (mostly women and hairdressers) buy it for the style message conveyed by the ads. Some technical mags make no bones about soliciting free, or even subsidized, copy from vendors. CUJ pointedly did *not* walk that path. We tried, month in and month out for 25 years, to provide articles of genuine technical merit. The quality did vary, of course, as did the focus. But I have to say that it kept a pretty high average. That was not what killed CUJ.
The last consideration I'll cover is the extent to which CUJ is a canary in a coal mine. Does its demise presage the death of C and/or C++? Not really. People read magazines mostly to learn about *new* things. When the C Standard was being developed in the 1980s, many of us in X3J11 were continually pestered to give talks and write articles. Once ANSI C was approved in 1989, there was a marked fall off in such activity. CUJ shifted to more utilitarian articles about how to use C, less of "here's what's coming next."
But at just that time, C++ stepped into the limelight. Several magazines, and numerour conferences each year, discussed the hothouse growth of Standard C++. That too began to fade as the C++ Standard settled down. (There was also the Java boom, speaking of strongly hyped languages, but I don't want to drift too far off topic.) The C Users Journal became The C/C++ Users Journal and won another decade.
Today, both C and C++ are workhorse languages, with little in the way of sexy new development. My local Barnes and Noble devotes only two shelves to both languages, freely intermixed. There are whole racks devoted to the latest fad languages and tools. And that's because people buy books for the same reason they go to talks and read magazines -- to learn about the new stuff. For the established technology, look at support tools, advanced textbooks, industrial training, job ads, etc. (Note that I do *not* include introductory computer science texts. Academic fads are only loosely coupled to real world needs.) There you will find C and C++ consistently at the top of the heap. And, aside from a five-year bump as the Java pig passed through the python, it's been that way for the past couple of decades.
So don't write off C and C++ as dead because CUJ withered and died. PC magazine is the skinniest I've seen it since it was born, yet there are about a billion PCs at work throughout the world today, and new ones sold by the tens of millions every year. The PC is much more of a workhorse, a commodity. What's new and sexy in the PC world are its novel uses as an appliance. And that calls for a different kind of coverage. But you can't produce a monthly magazine consisting mostly of wallpaper samples.