October 25, 2013 Last Updated 7:57 am

Tech community falls hard for The Loop update, though art directors might be skeptical

Update for The Loop is the first magazine to appear on the interesting new Glide platform

There is no secret that coders and tech reporters love the minimal digital magazines such as The Magazine and others that eliminate completely the role of the designer and art director. All the design is in the app itself, all that is left for the publisher (author, blogger) is to load in the content.

Jim Dalrumple’s digital magazine The Loop Magazine fell into this category. He is a very familiar figure in the tech community and as a result readers who enjoy his writing online, and were open to the scaled back look, would naturally be a fan of the new digital magazine.

TheLoop-iPad-update-lgYesterday Dalrymple released a major update to The Loop and TechCrunch raved over the new look created thanks to the Glide platform used to create the app.

Dalrymple loves the Apple Newsstand. And why not? Apple has been promoting this title non-stop, which makes all the difference. One’s attitude towards the Newsstand is almost entirely based on whether Apple promotes your product.

“Newsstand is the way to go,” Dalrymple told TechCrunch. “We’re committed to it. Apple does a good job of exposing Newsstand content. The onus of having a good app and a great experience — and good content — that’s on us.”

But Mark Edmiston, the former Newsweek executive who formed Nomad Editions and launched multiple magazines into the Newsstand told TNM “it was becoming very, very clear the only way you could succeed was if Apple promoted you. We had one edition that they (Apple) mentioned us for a day – and we got 17,000 orders. These were free trials,” Edmiston said. “Without their mentioning it we were getting hundreds.” Nomad later shuttered all their Newsstand magazines.

So a publisher considering launching a Newsstand app can take both points of view, merge them together, and quickly come to the conclusion that launching an app is pretty much a crap shoot, unless one already owns a recognizable brand. Jim Dalrymple is his own recognizable brand, the Nomad titles were all new. One had enthusiastic support from Apple, the other got much less. Lesson learned.

So what will established magazine publishers think of Dalrymple’s new update which moves the app onto the Glide platform?

The first thing one should notice is that it is, indeed, a killer app. Glide’s platform produces a smooth, attractive app that many will find appealing. For self-publishers, or those considering launching a digital-only product from scratch, the Glide platform is a definitely consideration.

Art directors, though, may see through much of the navigation and features of the app to it’s core, however. On the article level, the Glide platform (at least on Dalrymple’s magazine) produces a very simple layout – again, here is that “The Magazine” look.

But the difference is that the artwork is treated very differently, much more in tune with the way interactive magazines should behave. Photos pop out to full screen, there is motion and more variety.

But magazine art directors will still rightly ask if someone is out there trying to eliminate their jobs. There is, actually. That, I think, is the point of these tech-based publishing solutions: to make it easier to produce a workable, attractive magazine without the necessary coding and design skills required with other solutions.

Because of my own print magazine background, I’m not a natural advocate for these minimally designed digital magazines. But I can also see that the two sides of this design world – the look of The Magazine and the 29th Street Publishing platforms – and the print derived language one finds in digital publications built with Adobe, Mag+. Oomph and other platforms – move a bit closer together when one sees the newly update The Loop.

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