Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board




Knowledge Base
Documentation
Terry's Tips
Darren's Tips

Alternative uses & abuses of CityDesk

You knew this thread had to pop up sooner or later. With such a simple templating engine & database, someone was bound to come up with alternative ways to put it to use.

It seems that someone with enough knowledge could create a templated DHTML script (see thread: http://discuss.fogcreek.com/CityDesk/default.asp?cmd=show&ixPost=1762&ixReplies=5 ) for dropdowns and such. You'd have to add .js to the list of parsed files, and set up the .js in such a way that it did what you wanted.

How about a "Poor Man's MS Access." For example, you could keep your HR chart in it, the body would be stuff about the employee, the headline would be the employee name, etc. Fired the employee, or promoted him? Change the keywords, audience, or folder.

Online Address book. Similar to the HR idea above, you would make the contact info the "Headline" and such, and easily publish your address book online. You could keep a departmental version this way.

In this way you could *almost* automate the inventory process, and publish inventory in 'real time' to your website (similar to Amazon.com's "Only 5 remaining")

In fact, CityDesk could be used for almost any information management system - a recipe book, your CD collection, your Restaurant's menu - drag and drop the current selection into the "Today" folder and recipies you aren't making today into another folder, then publish a seperate shopping list and recipie list for the Chef.

The above examples focus on creating HTML pages. What about creating non-html pages? Keep your factory inventory in CD and export CSV files (Comma Seperated Value) for import into Excel. Then automate the creation of various reports that can *also* be published "online." Or synchronize your print catalogue with your web catalague by using different templates. One meant to be mail merged into your publishing program, the other published straight to your website. Even use it to maintain your mailing list.

Through some clever maniplation of templates, I was hoping to semi automate the creation of INFORM design ( http://www.gnelson.demon.co.uk/inform.html ) games. INFORM is a C++ type language with libraries for creating Text Adventure Games like Zork. (You'd have to escape any odd characters though, and use fields in ways they weren't meant to be used.)

Any other wacky ideas?

Mark W
Saturday, February 02, 2002

Several of the examples you mention relate to "webifying" a database. While one could do this with CityDesk, there is not a general mechanism in place for adding article-specific meta-data. You could use the "audience" and "keywords" (or Extra1-2) fields, as you say, but what you want is a general set of name-value pairs by article. (Sounds more and more like a real database.)

A more apt tool for this kind of work might be FileMaker Pro, which is a pretty good poor-man's database utility with auto-web capabilities. OR maybe this is a feature of CityDesk 3.0.

Alan Armstrong
Sunday, February 03, 2002

I use it to steam vegatables.

A.
Monday, February 04, 2002

Nice. I've only been using it to peel mine.

You're right, I am largely describing web things or "and web" things, but I was thinking of it's uses as a templating system for anything that may be otherwise repetitive. I realize a 'real' database would work best for these things, but there's only so much room in my brain, and once i've learned one system I tend to want to squeeze every single ounce out of it that I can.

Mark W
Monday, February 04, 2002

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home