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Anticipation and fear of CD 3

The last release was on August 25th, 2003. I've managed to repress my anticipation for CityDesk 3 but with "CMS Encore Pro" mentioned in a previous topic, my imagination is running wild.

I have no doubts that CD 3 will be delivered and it will be amazing. But it will not have everything everybody wants nor be bug free.

One the one hand when? No earlier than August 25, I'm guessing, but more likely by year-end.

Then, there is the "how much stuff will be in it” question. For me personally at my level, CityDesk 3 will probably push my limits rather than me pushing CityDesk's limits but that's just me.

Finally, and here is the fear part, how much more complicated will it be? When I look at "CMS Encore Pro," I'm overwhelmed. It seems to do most of the things forum folks want but the price is complexity.

I don't want to learn a whole new product - I don't want CD 3 to be a whole new product. Joel has mentioned redesigning the user interface. I hope his problem is how to add more features and functions while keeping it simple enough - even for tk.

tk
Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Good post, tk.

Not only do I not want to learn a new product, but I want my version 2 sites to work in version 3 with absolutely no tweaking.

I'll probably love something in v3, and end up going through my site article by article to use the feature I fell in love with.

And if I'm changing the site, then that's when I'll look at the competition. I'm already thinking of an overhaul anyways.

A site I visit often, http://www.cbot.com, changed it's site recently. It's obvious to me that many of the changes were based on the CMS features being implemented. I sense this mentality overtaking me as well, changing my site to implement new CMS features. And at that time, tweaking the look-and-feel stuff as well.

(Of course, the one feature I need now is "seamless" creation of html pages from an external db.)

-Bob

Bob Bloom
Tuesday, May 25, 2004

The CBOT must have changed, there's a style error in the menu. I always use the biggest fonts: "News" hides behind the search box.

tk
Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Bah! With your experience and understanding of the current version of CD and its underlying engine the changes in CD3 (I'm speculating of course) will seem little more than incremental and a natural progression. CD will be CD with some new features perhaps under new pretty face. I can't see FC doing anything else. As I understand it the hitch is going to be the fixing HTML interface problems ~ a third party tool from MS which seems to have gone into limbo. We'll see.

Perpetual Newbie II
Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Don't underestimate the value of small, incremental changes :-) The way CD2 presents itself to the user is, in our case, much more important then whats under the hood. Thats what a prospect sees. When he goes "Aahhh" and understands what is being presented to him, we can close him (and to us thats the whole point of dealing with CityDesk = sales).

What simple improvements mean: renaming article fields made Wizards and the way they simplify website creation actually possible. Renaming article fields means that during a presentation, when the lady says "but we need an entry field called 'category', is that possible", you put in some magic and she goes "Aahhh" and thinks (i like that).

Very simple scripting enhancements, i.e. allowing "in (folder "xy/*")", actually made VANTAA and the automatic creation of unlimited-depth navigation structures possible.

Yes, there are areas in which FC should improve CD. But it should never sacrifice the simplicity with which it presents itself to the user = the customer.

CD3 will come but, IMHO, it will take some time. This might be a window of opportunity for competing products which might be functionally more powerful than CD. But to be viable alternatives, those products will have to reach the level of simplicity and elegance CityDesk has defined (while taming the feature beast they created).

Who knows, they might achieve that level rather sooner than later. But for now, CD's the benchmark.

Anyway, its gonna be fun to follow ;-)

Patrick Thomas
http://www.telepark.de

PS: A shout-out to FC... get some formal marketing processes in place to grow the CD market faster, much faster. And take those processes seriously. Don't be so 'geek' and hedonistic and rely on viral / jos only. Hey, business is not all fun, Joel :-) Accept the boring, painful, formal, stupid things one has to do and embrace a certain level of paranoia. And crank up the affilliate margin or tie a higher percentage to local marketing expenditure. Make it worthwhile for people from brazil, to holland, to australia to promote CD for the sake of CD.

Patrick Thomas
Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Patrick :re A shout-out to FC

I am very impressed with your contribution. And I am more impressed with you business approach -- refreshing 4sure.

I very seldom see/hear from people in this community who are business focused. IMO your dialogue is right-on-the money button.

David Mozer
Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Patrick,

As always, well said.

Why did I decide to buy CD? In the end, it was the active user base.

CD2 was in beta. It looked good. Obviously, there was an investment on my part to learn CD. I've never used a CMS product before, so yeah, there was a helluva learning curve, despite the simplicity!

But wow was I impressed with the active user base. People were using it. People had web sites about CD. People were participating in this forum answering geeky questions.

Also impressive was Joel's participation in these forums. He actually answered a few of my stupid user questions himself.

I knew I could accelerate my learning through the active user base.

Now, I can't find Joel in these forums, except once in a while. Users are getting disgruntled about the lack of info about v3.

That's my 2c -- gotta fly...

Bob Bloom
Wednesday, May 26, 2004

i think people like some minor updates more often, minor version releases, and so.

the cms tools need to be an open platform, i would like CD more flexible, like "mirc"... with powerful scripting and plugins. a customizable tool.

CD its not easy for my clients today (¿languaje modules for contributor version?), and if i have to manage a simple CD site, i like to have more "power" in my hands.

sorry the comparison... i know CD is not a mirc or winamp.

Roberto Porcar
Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Patrick
I think you pretty much pegged it with the simplicity of the CD UI and getting up to speed with scripting. It doesn't have a (very) steep learning curve. IMO the keys to success.

Bob
Joel is here, he's lurking. Saw a post from him a couple of days ago but I have to agree, the feeling that we're on our own still exists. Consider the predominant topics of conversation though CD3 and competitors products. The remaining How-Do-I posts have been handled nicely by the experienced users.

PNII

Perpetual Newbie II
Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Could it be that there is nothing to talk about with CD, except speculating what the next version will bring ?

As CD does what it does really well and CD not being really extensible, pluggable in any way and CityScript being as limited as it is (like an adventure game you are through with in 2 hours)....there is no real mental challenge, no amazing tricks, no hidden depths to explore...and to talk about. Its all outside of CD (javascript, PHP...).

Mind you, in a way this is a big positive. But the lions are hungry and want to be fed. Test their skills. Get over the waiting period. Actually, need to stop thinking about CD3.

What to do ? How about an official DLL with a clean set of APIs to the CD2 database ? Should not be too hard (never mind CD3 might break it; bring out a new one then)...we could add a nice, simple, little procedural programming language for all to the party (free), so that anybody can have fun writing to the CD2 database directly.

Patrick Thomas
http://www.telepark.de

Patrick Thomas
Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Joel has said before (can't find a reference right now) that he doesn't want to promote CD heavily until it's a mature product. I'm hoping that's why CD3 is taking so long - they're adding essential features, banging out all the quirks, and making the HTML editing control rock-solid.

If FC were to heavily push CD right now, they'd have a lot of people come along and try it out, and go away disgruntled because of the little wrinkles. Those people won't return to look at the next version, they'll just remember "I once looked at CD - it sucked, it mangled all my HTML".

Look at how many complaints we see in these forums right now about HTML mangling, funny little hiccups, interface inconsistencies, scripting limitations, and other problems. Imagine if the user base was 10 or 100 or 1000 times as large - FC would be spending all their time just answering 'bug' reports and complaints!

Of course, time is a factor too. If they take too long, they'll hit the market with a fantastic product that would have taken the world by storm back in 2003, but has little demand now that it's 2007. So it's always a trade-off. I think if CD3 goes beta by August and is released by October, with one or two patch releases by the end of the year if they're required, and a big marketing push starts in the new year, they'll be onto a winner. If they leave it much longer, some of the similar products we've seen in recent weeks might grab a foothold and eat CityDesk's lunch.

Fingers crossed, let's hope Fog Creek has played it right!

Darren Collins
Wednesday, May 26, 2004

I guess FC is making a big mistake by leaving the current users in the dark. They ask for feedback but when you give it there is no or to little response.
And i'm not just talking about things said in this forum. I even emailed them with some questions and didn't get an answer. So i guess CD isn't that important to them anymore.

Even Joels standardtext at the bottom of every article on is own site has changed. If i remember correctly it was about CD. But now it is about FogBUGz.

Get me right, i still like CD a lot. And still use it until it's time to move on when nothing happens with it.

PeterM
Thursday, May 27, 2004

Every time I've had a real problem - and mind you those have been few and far between - the response from Fogcreek has been prompt, courteous and helpful.  I think that they don't respond to every feedback email or post on this board simply because they don't have time. Joel said as much here...
http://discuss.fogcreek.com/newyork/default.asp?cmd=show&ixPost=3377&ixReplies=4

As far as I'm concerned I'd rather they spent their time working on CityDesk than responding to the umteenth email about how badly City Script sucks. Yes there is a lot that CityDesk won't do. Yes there is a lot more I could do with it "if only" but there's nothing wrong with CityDesk that prevents me from doing what I need to do right now.

I've seen no indication that CityDesk is dead, in fact Joel has made numerous comments about current work on it....

http://discuss.fogcreek.com/newyork/default.asp?cmd=show&ixPost=5156&ixReplies=4

http://discuss.fogcreek.com/newyork/default.asp?cmd=show&ixPost=6003

http://www.joelonsoftware.com/items/2004/04/16.html

There's been a lot of complaining here lately from a fairly small number of people. I'm not saying the issues raised aren't valid but we've heard it all already. Lets move on.

Ken McKinney
Thursday, May 27, 2004

Thanks for the support, Ken! I have spent many years in the computer industry being burned by vaporware and vendors promising much more than they could ever deliver. We have a strong conviction that we should only sell features that are shipping now. I know that many people would to hear about upcoming features and future benefits, but I will repeat endlessly: if CityDesk doesn't do what you need, don't buy it. If you bought it and it doesn't do what you need, I'll be happy to refund your full purchase price. If you're afraid that CityDesk is not under development anymore, don't be... it's not true. We're adding code to CityDesk all the time and 3.0 will be a great release. This afternoon I wrote code that addressed one of our user's complaints (he wanted the right to put <small> tags outside his <p> tags; invalid, but he still wanted to do it. Badly. So that's what I did this afternoon.)

TK, you don't have anything to worry about in CityDesk 3.0. As usual our focus will be on refinement, not difficult new concepts. We want to better serve our existing customers, not chase after customers who should be using "Big Iron" content management.

My inclination is that 3.0 will have a longer beta period than usual ... maybe 4 months instead of our usual 2 months ... to reduce the need for service packs and to give the first round of beta testers a chance to get last minute feature requests in that still have a chance of getting done.

Joel Spolsky
Fog Creek Software
Friday, May 28, 2004

Hello Joel,

You wrote "We want to better serve our existing customers".
And, I guess, that is exactly the point where all the "complainers" where talking about.

We where asking for some information about the development and everything that surrounds Citydesk. If your using a programm since august '03 and 8 months later there is nothing to show for, in terms of an upcoming version, than people get worried.

You can say that that's not policy to give out that kind of information, but you are on the other side of the fence. Is it so difficult to imagine what the kind of thoughts can be that crosses our minds.

If you want to serve me better, because i am an EXISTING customer than tell me something about the upcoming version. I don't care if that's 3.0 or 2.0.20. Show me a screenshot that's great enough to make me drool. Tell me something about what's fixed and what's not.

It's not all about money you know. I can have my money back if i want. That's not the reason why i bought CityDesk. I think CityDesk is a great product with a lot of great features. Walking out and taking money back, is taking the easy way. Why do you want customers to go that way. All i want is a bit of information, what are you afraid of.

PeterM
Saturday, May 29, 2004

Dear Joel

Citydesk is a great product! That's why I bought it. And then there are all your wonderful writings. I really appreciate those too, thank you.

Can a new user such as myself become a beta tester?

Sincerely

Maurice Fäh
Saturday, May 29, 2004

When we announce the beta I'm sure it will be open to old and new users.

Joel Spolsky
Fog Creek Software
Saturday, May 29, 2004

Joel,

Thanks for commenting.

You know that you're plugging away at v3, but if you don't communicate it, then the impression grows that you're not committed to CD.

Well, now I know that something is cooking.

I hope you're working on dynamically creating html pages from my own mdb, that integrates with templates, and ftp's properly. And not just <p> and <small> tags...

-Bob

Bob Bloom
Saturday, May 29, 2004

What a nice discussion: everybode has a point. Excellent posts, everyone... ;-)

Simplicity is complexity in disguise. If an instrument is simple enough to use, you can focus on what you wanted to do in the first place and achieve some pretty complex things (cf. the brush of Rembrandt: the mental challenge was never in the brush, Patrick ;-) )

As always, the opposite is also true: complexity is simplicity in disguise. Sometimes it is easier to do your thing with some extra whistles and bells (not sure if this is english...). More powerful conditional branching, for example, or opening up to the content in other databases.

There is always room for improvement, but I would say that CityDesk has solved this paradox reasonably well. It's place in the order of things is somewhere between the swiss knife and the egg: the can-do-all thing and the simple structure that produces chicken.

This, of course, is all about CityDesk and the new CMS with the feature list from here to Tokyo. Maybe the distinction between developer tools and user tools is relevant if we compare the two. As a user and intermediate developer I prefer CityDesk. Yes, it is a powerfull tool. Everytime I am surprised what I can do with it and the problems I can solve using combinations oftemplates, keywords, audiences and scripting.

For example, we use CityDesk for producing a location based service: personalized cultural on mobile phones (first i-mode, soon WAP), combined with spoken comments via interactive voice respons. To be 'backward compatible' we also produce a stripped printable internet version.  All from the same CD-file, all with their own layout, subsets of content etcetera.

When we have developed the infromation model for tours and have translated it to CityDesk, cultural organisations should be able to produce the tours themselves, using the CD client version. For that, simplicity is a conditio sine qua non. Hey, we even got some funding from a government organisation for innovation - with CityDesk!

But I understand a developer who has a preference for the other CMS. After all, a user developes for one or two situations, developers have to cope with many varied situations. The bottom line: I don't see the other CMS as competition for CityDesk, at least for a while, but as inspiration for FogCreek. As no doubt the others were inspired by FC.

I hope FC will take notice of facilities in the other CMS like the travelling templates, or something, so that we can exchange templates with customers. And if some import mechanism (as in CopyBoy) is added, we can send our current service model to heaven. (we call it the digital garage model: customers have to bring their CD-file to us, that is, they send the whole file with everything in it to us, and after servicing it we send it back. Of course the first time we used digital garage, the customer's ISP had set a maximum Mb limit for attachments.)

One last point. I also have good experience with respons from the FC helpdesk, even with a question about what to expect (or not to expect) from the near future CD release. So...

One really last point: the oppositie of announcing vaporware is not radio silence.

Ruud van Soest
Sunday, May 30, 2004

Hmmm... when my incoming mail is checked, Norton Antivirus takes over and what type at that momen doesn't appear in the text. The locaton based service I mentioned is personalized cultural tours (walking, biking).

Ruud van Soest
Sunday, May 30, 2004

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