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CityDesk similar

Came across http://www.triplehash.com/sitebreeze/screenshots.html as (trying to copy) CityDesk.

Anyone know about this? using it?

??
Thursday, April 29, 2004

Whoa! Break out the lawyers! Actually, it looks like it has some nice refinements over CityDesk.

John Topley (www.johntopley.com)
Thursday, April 29, 2004

Ahhh, competition. This is good. Let the feature wars begin.

Actually, I don't see FC getting their knickers in a bind over this. Does look very familiar though - bet it's easy to switch to ROFL.

PNII

Perpetual Newbie II
Thursday, April 29, 2004

Funny, it's almost an exact copy of CD2, just not as slick visually and feels kind of slow (its a Java app). Still, chapeau! Can't judge the scripting language as the Help button doesn't seem to work and couldn't find any info on their website.

Amazing what one will go through to make an exact copy of something existing - without actually really improving on CD - which again would not be too hard to imagine how to: standard scripting language, freely designable article forms, p2p synchronization of site databases, to name just the obvious. Would still be a lot of work, though :-)

Patrick Thomas
http://www.telepark.de/webwizards/

Patrick Thomas
Thursday, April 29, 2004

It uses a Java Database engine, HSQLDB, for local storage and the Sferyx HTML Editor Component for Java. The GUI side is made with the Java Foundation Classes (Swing), the jgoodies design components and the Kunststoff Look&Feel class library from incors. Also in use are the JvFTP Java FTP client library from that Czech lady and the JCalendar component from wannawork.

Why I looked it up ? Honestly, I don't know :-) Simple curiosity and its getting late over here in Germany...bedtime.

Patrick Thomas
http://www.telepark.de/webwizards/

Patrick Thomas
Thursday, April 29, 2004

It seems to have some interesting features that CityDesk could rip off - ToDo list, better image handling, runs on Mac/Linux/Solaris in addition to Windows.

From the small snippet shown, their scripting language looks very close to CityScript, with {**} changed to {%%} and SortDescendBy changed to OrderByDescending. Hard to tell if there are any improvements, though.

Why wouldn't they just embed a Python interpreter and get a rich, full-featured scripting language for free? That would really rock.

I like their Requirements page: It says "SiteBreeze works best on new computers with lots of RAM." :-)

I didn't see anything that would make me switch from CityDesk. And my feeling is that as new features are released in future versions of CityDesk, SiteBreeze will be playing catchup. Better to stick with the leader :-).

Darren Collins
Thursday, April 29, 2004

This should give the Fog Creek team heart. Marketing line: "It's so good, other programming teams have already started copying it."

I covet the to-do list, though. And the use of all that space on the right-hand-side of the main screen makes a lot of sense. (I'd love a set of panels - offering page information, template info, audience info etc) like the ones in Nick Bradbury's HomeSite or Topstyle.)

David Walker
Thursday, April 29, 2004

Hmm, guess I can delete my eval download now that you guys have had a crack at it. Didn't think much of the "20 uses" limit - that, in itself, made me hesitate. I too hope the CD gang at FC have a good look at it and snag some of the features - come on, CD3!

PNII

Perpetual Newbie II
Thursday, April 29, 2004

The template import feature looks nice too. You distribute templates as a single zip file, which contains an index.html (your actual template page layout), a template.properties file (defines a bunch of properties like jpg compression ratio etc), and all the image files, CSS files, etc used by your template.

It's explained here:
http://www.triplehash.com/Content/articles/2004_04/SiteBreeze_Portable_Template_Format.html

Has anybody seen any decent reviews of SiteBreeze? I found one or two really badly-written reviews that didn't say much. I guess the product's still too new at the moment.

Darren Collins
Thursday, April 29, 2004

What amazes me is that if I had any real programming skills, I could write my own home-made version of CD.

It's as if I was a mechanic, I could build a car by rounding up the parts and putting it together myself.

Access back-end, pass-through ODBC connection utility, python scripting (I assume that's an off-the-shelf scripting language that's available to developers), ftp engine, html editing via FrontPage (or notepad or whatever!),...

If only I had the expertise!

Maybe Joel should be flying the extra functionality as it comes.

Anyways, I'm interested in this other product. They'll end up with an import-from-CD function and that'll be interesting.

Right now, the only extra function I need right now is dynamically created pages. Lou's utility does this, but the full elegance of dynamically creating html pages s/b integrated into CD  proper. So pages are created with their concommitant templates, etc.

Maybe the "other guys" will jump on this.

Bob Bloom
Friday, April 30, 2004

Bob, it's one thing to have the expertise to clone CityDesk for your own purposes but it's quite another to have the time and inclination to actually do it!

All in all SiteBreeze (imho) looks like a reasonable feature copy of CityDesk. It's not as polished and misses out on a lot of things that I've come to love about CD (such as being able to name an article something like 'This is an article' - SiteBreeze assures me that I should only use letters and numbers but no spaces).

Oh, and if you put non-compliant html into the code view of SiteBreeze and close an article, then when you open it up again it has tidied it up for you. So all those people who love the fact that if you save an article in CD in 'html' view your code is preserved - don't bother with SiteBreeze.

Phenomenal attention to detail it isn't!

I like the to-do list and the info window on the right but they'd have to innovate _way_ more than they have done to get me interested. Plus I wasn't sure about their icon alpha blending technique (that was a joke).

John C (www.johnsadventures.com)
Friday, April 30, 2004

John,

Great post!

Now that I have experience with CD, the cty file via Access,  html_dbscript, etc, I see how it works. I lament that I don't have the programming moxie to whip it up myself! Of course it wouldn't have the polish of CD, but it wouldn't be a commercial product.

I don't do any html editing in CD anymore. None! I use FrontPage. And I battle Word to plain ol' html via export-to-html_cleaner_v2 & html_tidy_UI & notepad.

I use CD for templates, scripting, ftp/file management, and dynamic html page creation via Access & html_dbscript v1.5, which is not a complete solution. Oh, if I could program some of the functionality myself...

-Bob

Bob Bloom
Friday, April 30, 2004

The most complex part of CityDesk has to be the HTML editing (with Normal and HTML views). People can type any old crap they like into the HTML view, and poor old CityDesk not only has to do its best to render it properly in the WYSIWYG Normal view, but it has to make sure it doesn't change the intent of the code when the user edits the content some more and switches views back and forth. That's hard.

Before CityDesk was released, I was developing essentially the same app myself in Python. The HTML editing was the bit that really bogged me down. In the end, I just forced the user (which was only me, luckily!) to edit in plain text using traditional *text-based* _markup_ as used in newsgroups etc. That type of solution is a lot easier, but really wouldn't cut it for a commercial app.

Darren Collins
Friday, April 30, 2004

Darren, there is an easy solution to this: scrap the HTML view. IMHO, it never was worth the effort in the first place (sorry Joel, I can imagine the amount and fun-level of the work which went into this).

Rather give us templating for the article windows so we can develop our own, customized data entry - per article and/or folder (with the ability to associate article templates to entire folders and subfolders). One area could be an HTML control...including table support :-)..., another could be plain text / HTML, another could be a placeholder for a picture...etc. Heck, even slightly extended HTML forms would do as article templates, to begin with.

And on the topic of redoing CD yourself: give it a try :-) Its not intellectually difficult in principle thanks to an excellent blueprint, but don't get frustrated when you are getting bogged down with crap little details which refuse to work with other crap little details which interfere with some stupid component being annoyed by that data format you changed yesterday. And the better components cost real money. And the 30.000 word help file won't write itself. And, oh well, at least if one is shooting for commercial-class, shrink-wrapped software.

On the other hand: CD is a good base and there is lots of room for improvement, so definitely give it a try (after looking at CD3, that is).

Patrick Thomas
http://www.telepark.de/webwizards/

Patrick Thomas
Saturday, May 01, 2004

Regarding "redoing CD", I was relating to Bob...

Best

Patrick Thomas
http://www.telepark.de/webwizards/

Patrick Thomas
Saturday, May 01, 2004

Oh, I was referring to something like Darren was building, just for himself.

Nice to see someone else suggest the html view be scrapped.

I do realized that a commercial software package has to offer html view and some editing solution. But why not...

* have an option that makes html view the default view
* have a warning dialog when entering html view that the html tags will be played with
* have an option to disable html view in case I click the wrong tab!

That way, CD can appeal to a wide audience without alienating anyone.

My html content is in Access memo fields. Oh, the fun!

My CD articles are just scripts now that create my html content from Access. Oooooh, to have CD3 have this ability...

If I could program this capability myself for my own custom use!

Y'know, I think I just thought of a solution for the problem Lou's HTML DbScript v1.5 has in creating dynamical html pages. The fact that it doesn't recognize different CD templates. But I think I have a non-programmable solution... I'll share later!

-Bob

Bob Bloom
Saturday, May 01, 2004

If CD didn't have a HTML view, I'd never have bought it. I'm sure a lot of other people are in the same boat.

Not having HTML view means you can't do anything the designers of CityDesk didn't allow for. In the current version, that means no tables, no javascript, no anchor tags, no CSS, etc.

HTML View/Normal View aren't perfect, but if you understand and can work within their limitations, CityDesk is a joy to use. I'm sure it'll only get better with CD3.

Darren Collins
Sunday, May 02, 2004

It's of little use to me without HTML view. It's pretty much the only view I use. That is unless CD becomes a _FULL_ feature WYSIWYG HTML composer ... naw, even then I want the HTML view to edit/nudge things.

PNII

Perpetual Newbie II
Sunday, May 02, 2004



I use Namo Web editor (namo.com) to create my articles then paste them into CD. I also use Treepad to crerate some articles.

If CD had a three screen (WYSIWYG view, html view, and Preview) it would be HOT!!! Kinda like FP.

I still love the power of CD to create and manage a site.

john cesta
Monday, May 03, 2004

I second Bobs suggestion: have an option to disable HTML view (and have an option to disable Normal View for templates).

Patrick Thomas
http://www.telepark.de/webwizards/

Patrick Thomas
Monday, May 03, 2004

I think the reason that the HTML editing is so hard is CityScript.

Because we can embed CityScript in our articles, they are no longer necessarily valid HTML. For example, using the before, after and between clauses in loops means that HTML tags are out of order and not necessarily paired with a closing tag, so the article can't be parsed by a normal HTML parser. CityDesk has to do a lot of work to preserve the intent when switching between views.

For a while now, I've been thinking that much of the complexity could be removed by changing the way CityScript works. Instead of mixing CityScript in with the HTML code, it could be moved into HTML comments. Parsers won't modify stuff inside comments - they'll just preserve the whole block intact. This is the way many other scripting languages get embedded into HTML pages.

Then, when editing an article in the Normal View, CityDesk could just show a placeholder graphic wherever you've inserted CityScript. Clicking on the placeholder would make the CityScript visible for editing, either in a pop-up window or in another text area within the article window. You need to know HTML anyway to do anything non-trivial with CityScript, so I don't think this would cause much of a problem for users.

Darren Collins
Monday, May 03, 2004

Cityscript in comments makes alot of sense. So does eliminating HTML view. However, if you do remove HTML view, you at least have to offer some sort of WYSIWYG view in its place.

If you take the idea of eliminating HTML all together to its natural conclusion (substituting forms built on the fly, as per another post), CD becomes less of en editing tool, and more of a DB front-end. IMO, it needs to preserve at least some of the qualities of the former. Right now it doesn't *look* like an access front end, even though it is.

I think I would settle for some sort of compatibility with another commercial HTML editor, with good round trip capability (surely facilitated by putting cityscript in comment tags). I am partial to homesite, but I realize it is probably a dead end.

Robert Pawlak ( www.chessassistance.com )
Monday, May 03, 2004

Yeah, the ability to edit articles with other programs would be a major benefit of having CityScript inside comments.

Darren Collins
Monday, May 03, 2004

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