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CityDesk

So I've done quite a bit of reading on this site and I decided to download CityDesk just to give it a try.
I heard all these rants and raves from various sites about how great it is.  But here's some things I ran across (and maybe because this is the free download edition?):

1)Why do I need to go to add/remove programs to remove CityDesk?  (Where's my Uninstall icon???)

2)Where the heck did the developers get those images?  It looks like they pulled those images from various different tools or googled them and embedded them in the app?

3)Some of the menu item icons on the file menus are black in the background???What happened here?

4)Shouldn't designer mode be the default?

5)Why does every carriage return result in a <p>...not really intuitive...and looking around I gave up and hit shift enter and voila.  Hmm...

6)I'm not too keen on that CityDesk ^ icon?  On the top right corner it almost looks like clicking that button will move the application up :-).  What's up with that icon?

7)Do the developers do the art work on this tool?  Don't you guys at fog creek have someone that can create images and look at how some of the icons look?  I know it may sound a bit anal but this is a commercial application!

8)When I add an image to say an article I have the following at the bottom:

The image is not a link (fine)

The image links to a CityDesk article or file

The image links to a URL (fine)

The middle option should be a bit clearer...I almost thought it was actually referring to a CityDesk link (something on Joel's site).  When I created my new "Site" it asked for a site (.cty) name.  So I gave it a name.  Why not use that name rather than saying "CityDesk" for the middle option?  It would help users understand that the link is from their own .cty or site name.

Out of 10 stars, I'd give this an overall 6/7.  I know eye candy and imaging is not so important, and it's probably not the intent.  But for a commercial application I think it would definately help.

Has anyone else purchased CityDesk?  Maybe the download edition looks a tad bit different because it's free ?

Jon
Tuesday, August 10, 2004

There's s CityDesk forum here:
http://discuss.fogcreek.com/CityDesk/

You might get better answers over there than here.

Yoey
Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Read "The innovator's Solution"

There are lots of good reasons to develop a "not quite good enough" product.

SIMPLE QUESTION:
What do you think Joel should have NOT done so that he could make CD just a little bit better?


The business landscape is littered with the remains of companies who had a GREAT product but failed in some other way.

A company has a finite amount of resources. EVERY erg you put into the program comes OUT of something else.

All those articles that Joel writes that drive website traffic?  That time could have been put elsewhere.

Mr.Analogy (ISV owner)
Tuesday, August 10, 2004

An uninstall icon?

O come on...don't tell me that is something requiring any additional code.  It should at least have an uninstall icon...that type of stuff annoys me!!!

Jon
Tuesday, August 10, 2004

i hate when apps install a bunch of different icons.  i don't want a freaking readme, help, website, uninstall, blah blah blah cluttering up everything.  just one simple icon is all that is needed.

IIRC, it's against the windows user experience design guidelines to place an uninstall icon on the start menu anyway.

brent
Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Ya but the keyword is "You"...what about the rest of the 300 end users you are supporting?  Didn't Joel just highlight an article of someone else's blog who said they would not hire hackers to develop good software.  Something about even though they know the ins and outs of writing code, they may be writing to serve to a specific set of people. 

In your case, if you don't like the cluttered icons delete them...but how can I add an "Uninstall" or a "Readme" if I don't know where there source is, better yet even if they exist.  Why do I have to go looking for "Add / Remove Software" to remove any software.

Jon
Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Jon,

To address some of your points:

1) Because that's the standard way to uninstall programs in Windows.

2) Agreed. The Search one is the worst for me. It's been ripped from Windows XP and you can see the jagged edge where the shadow has been removed. Fog Creek should pay Quadrone ( http://quadrone.org/graphics/ ) to design some professional graphics for them.

3) Joel's fixed this for CityDesk 3.0. See http://discuss.fogcreek.com/newyork/default.asp?cmd=show&ixPost=6003

4) No. CityDesk is a content creator's tool first and a template creator's tool second.

5) Probably because that's what Word does.

BTW, I think you can safely assume that other people on Fog Creek's forums have purchased CityDesk! ;-)

John Topley (www.johntopley.com)
Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Life in Windows land...

Items 1,2,3,4,6: does the tool help you get your work done or does it not?

"I don't like the way the icons look."

You have got to be kidding.

hoser
Tuesday, August 10, 2004

What's wrong with commenting on how the thing looks? It's perfectly valid. The first impression the user gets of a piece of software is a general impression based on how it looks. If it looks shoddy (I'm not saying CityDesk is this bad BTW) then why should they expend the effort on going any further with it?

John Topley (www.johntopley.com)
Tuesday, August 10, 2004

You go to add/remove programs to uninstall *ALL* software.

Programs which throw uninstall and other random links in the start menu are typically signs of crap. For example, the *first* item in my WinAmp menu is uninstall, does that mean that's the most important thing to do with it? Why does WinAmp have a submenu at all, there's two useless things then the actuall useful item at the bottom.

Unfortunately, apps do this (AOL puts itself in 4 or 5 places.) because people don't want to learn about how to use their computer. Which is OK, just put an 'uninstall' topic in the help file or something. Put a link in the folder with the exe if that's useful.

mb
Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Regarding the comment made earlier about me stating that I did not like the way the buttons looked...

No I am not kidding...are you kidding for asking me If I was kidding :-).  Where have you been living?  On planet Earth image means something, don't give me this crud about that not being a valid point.

Whose better looking Janet Reno or Cindy Crawford?  Same thing..my impression made me want to close the application..it was hideous...The sizes are all wrong, the coloring schema, the embedding of two images into one..you can see these things.

Jon
Tuesday, August 10, 2004

2 other things I noticed...

One on the main screen when I first initialize and startup CityDesk I got a menu with three options:

1)Create a new CityDesk site

2)Open an existing CityDesk site

3)Learn how to use CityDesk

The first letter ('C', 'O', 'L') in each option is underlined.  I thought this meant I could just click that letter on the keyboard and that function would execute.  Which doesn't happen ???

The other thing I noticed is lets say I delete my .cty file..didn't want my site anymore.  I reopen CityDesk and I get the message:

"File C:\Blah\Foo\blah.cty does not exist"

Well that's cause I Deleted it...why does CityDesk store this path in memory.  I know it wants to directly open this file, but if it's deleted it should never try opening this file at all.  You can surely open a menu allowing to select a project so why even bother with this message?

Jon
Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Jon, have you used CityDesk yet to create any sites? and if so, what do you think of it's functionality?

Chris Peacock
Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Yes I have created some test ones.

But again I am providing some feedback, like I said some of the functionality is there, but I do see things that either I am not understanding or are problems with either the download edition or the software itself.

Was hoping others could verify. 

Jon
Tuesday, August 10, 2004

"Whose [sic] better looking Janet Reno or Cindy Crawford?"

If you're storming compounds in Texas, Idaho and Montana?  Janet.

Right tool for the job.

hoser
Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Hahahahah...

No thanks.

Jon
Tuesday, August 10, 2004

I think that is a valid concern - would anyone argue that asthetic appeal is NOT a factor in interface design?

  --Josh

JWA
Tuesday, August 10, 2004

1. Who cares about an uninstall icon? How often are you going to use something like that anyway?

2. Yes, the images are funny and ugly, but so is the whole Fog Creek site.

3. Never saw it.

4. No, the assumption is there will be one designer and multiple non designers contributing. The designer will know how to open designer mode, everyone else would be better off without being able to do those things.

5. Because that's pretty much the default behaviour of the DHTML Edit control, Dreamweaver, and as someone else mentioned, MS Word.

6. I don't know what that icon is, but that's hardly much of a criticism.

7. Isn't this the same as #2?

8. Hmm "The image links to an article within CityDesk" may be better. You get the same dialogue when you add a link, by the way. It has to do with the way CityDesk links to internal documents using their "magic name" which lets you move them around & the links don't break.

9. The download edition & the professional (or whatevery they call it) edition are the same.

10. "Well that's cause I Deleted it...why does CityDesk store this path in memory.  I know it wants to directly open this file, but if it's deleted it should never try opening this file at all.  You can surely open a menu allowing to select a project so why even bother with this message?"

This isn't MS Word where you're expected to open dozens of documents, it's very possible that you use CityDesk for only 1 site, in which case opening up the last site is the *right* behaviour, and it damned well better tell you if it's missing, and not just open to a blank site, leaving you to wonder if CityDesk is what deleted it.

Hope this helps.

www.MarkTAW.com
Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Oh, and some of my other software behaves the same way. Treepad opens the last opened treepad file. Most Instant Messengers automatically log on to the last known ID you used, my newsgroup reader loads my profile by default, and my email client opens all my profiles and downloads my email by default.

CityDesk is intended to be used in basically the same way. Anyone who has to navigate from site to site will figure out how. I guess you can argue that the guy who has one site can use the pull down menu, but opening to the last site can cause some confusion when you add news articles to the wrong site because you weren't asked to choose early on, my guess is most people will use it this way - for one site only.

www.MarkTAW.com
Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Thank you for the comments Mark.

CityDesk is nice I agree in some ways.  But I guess it just really depends on the end users and the programmers.
We cannot all expect Joel or anyone for that matter to implement everything we want.  I was just giving some feedback, hope it doesn't piss anyone off :-).

Later gang,
Jon

Jon
Tuesday, August 10, 2004

CityDesk has its quirks, but it is definately the easiest way to get a templated site up and running without doing any server side programming.

Matthew Lock
Tuesday, August 10, 2004

What I find ironic about CityDesk is that the user interface is inconsistent.  Some menu shortcuts work, some dont'.  Sometimes copy|cut|paste are on the context menu when they are available in the pull-down menu, sometimes they aren't.

David Burch
Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Oh, I find it ironic because Joel is a user interface design guru and he didn't follow his own advice in creating CityDesk.

David Burch
Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Why? Isn't a painter's house always unpainted and a Doctor's kids always sick?

Matthew Lock
Tuesday, August 10, 2004

"Why? Isn't a painter's house always unpainted and a Doctor's kids always sick?"

Bad analogy. Joel markets himself and by extension his products on his software craftsmanship, and particularly UI, expertise in the same way that a painter would refer you to the quality of his paint jobs done for customers. Joel's internal private apps would be analogous to the painter's house. CityDesk and FogBugz demos are his portfolio.

  --Josh

JWA
Wednesday, August 11, 2004

On the underlined letters...

Its part of the consistent Windows interface that menu options or similar links in an application are run using Alt- and the letter that's underlined.  If it doesn't do this then you might have some cause for complaint.  Otherwise it does right what it says on the box.

Simon Lucy
Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Joel isn't a User Interface Guru. Joel is a self-proclaimed UI guru. Or at least, the first time I saw that phrase it was on Fog Creek's website.

www.MarkTAW.com
Wednesday, August 11, 2004

> On planet Earth image means something

Only because people believe what fuckwit marketing people say.


Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Why _shouldn't_ enter give you a <p>? You press return to end a paragraph - it ends a paragraph, sounds perfect to me.

Mr Jack
Wednesday, August 11, 2004

That's bullsh*t. On the whole, people like things to look nice.

John Topley (www.johntopley.com)
Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Odd that you'll curse, but censor the actual word.

What are you afraid of?

www.MarkTAW.com
Wednesday, August 11, 2004

I think Jon is a Troll

Gary van der Merwe
Wednesday, August 11, 2004

I'm sure Jon is a troll, but this did prompt me to take a look at CityDesk for the first time. I'm only here for the software dev discussions usually, and i'm the kind of guy that would just roll his own if it came to needing this kind of content management, but this made me curious.

I have to say, the overall level of "polish" on CityDesk was something of a surprise.  Then I remembered Joel's article essentially stating that UI is something you can do yourself, it doesn't need an IA or HCI expert, just some common sense, and it all fell in to place. Although it may work very well, I am absolutely convinced that if it were given a week with a good graphic designer, and a good UI expert, it would look 10 times better.

I for one uninstalled the trial after about 5 minutes, purely because the app doesn't seem of sufficient quality. It seems like shareware written by an enthusiastic coder, with not much artistic sense.

I don't know quite why this problem is there. It seems a very strange situation for a company that prides itself on quality?

Andrew Cherry
Wednesday, August 11, 2004

I had a lot of the same kind of comments, actually, when I installed CityDesk for the first time.

www.MarkTAW.com
Wednesday, August 11, 2004

That's the odd thing. I'm damn sure I'm not the only one to have said this, so... Why hasn't something changed? Do they just not know any designers or UI specialists? Meanness? Has to be a reason!

Andrew Cherry
Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Because Fog Creek is "Insanely profitable" and because:

Contrarian insight #13: Forget about the customer always being right.

Or something along those lines

www.MarkTAW.com
Wednesday, August 11, 2004

I've also never looked at citydesk. The download is a bit big to download during working hours, but I just looked at a screenshot, and I see what you guys are saying about the icons.

One dose not even need to go to a graphic designer. Most of the icons are siting right there on Joel's computer, in a resource in a file called shell32.dll. And you get free upgrade when you buy the next version of windows. ;-)

Gary van der Merwe
Wednesday, August 11, 2004

"It seems like shareware written by an enthusiastic coder, with not much artistic sense."

That was my impression of CityDesk too, and FogBUGZ as well actually.

Neither product demonstrates any UI finesse, which is indeed ironic for someone who wrote a book called "User Interface Design for Programmers".

I guess the title gives it away really, i.e. "for Programmers". Joel is just a programmer, not a UI guru, HCI genius, etc.

Not that there's anything wrong with that, its just that if you want to know how to do UI, this is not the site to find inspiration.

Nemesis
Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Is there any reason why I was labeled a "troll".  I find absolutely nothing wrong with my comments.  I think they are valid and anyone who doesn't is hardly considered a good software developer.

Joel and the site praises itself on good software, to me CityDesk is not good software.  Everyone has their own opinions.  Calling people a "troll" for a no apparent reason is hardly worth posting...

Jon
Wednesday, August 11, 2004

I think both products contain something that most software lacks: the right set of features.

What you get is very simple, and it's done that way deliberately, not out of laziness or incompetence. Yes, there are instances where things could look better, but all in all, I'd rather use a _slightly_ aesthetically displeasing app that works the right way without getting in my way, than some over-bloated sack of crap with 25,000 options and pretty icons.

Brad Wilson (dotnetguy.techieswithcats.com)
Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Brad, in theory everyone would probably agree with you, but in this world all is judged on looks - people, places, products, and yes, software utilities like CityDesk and FogBUGZ.

Nemesis
Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Hi Jon

I would have prefred to take this off forum, but no email address provided - so I have to put this up here.

What realy did it for me, was the comment about the Underlined letters.  Alt+Underlined Letter has been the standard in windows apps for yonks. If you've tried to use the underlined letter an any other windows app, you would have descovered this. This leads me to belive that you are one of the following:

a) A very experenced devloper from another platform, who is new Windows.

b) Compleatly new to computers, let alone windows.

c) A very experenced windows devloper, Trolling for some fun.

I thought that it was most likely c, and if you are realy a case of a or b I apploigise.

+++I think they are valid and anyone who doesn't is hardly considered a good software developer.+++

If you are a case of b - you have not right to say this.

(Maybe you are a Troll. Then I am an Idiot for replying)

I hope this clears things up,

Gary

Gary van der Merwe
Wednesday, August 11, 2004

"I'd rather use a _slightly_ aesthetically displeasing app that works the right way without getting in my way, than some over-bloated sack of crap with 25,000 options and pretty icons. "

Then why not an app that works the right way without getting in your way AND is a pleasure to look at? Surely with a "ridiculously profitable" company spending a few hundred on an icon set is hardly an issue. Particularly when said app has a relatively narrow feature-set it should be possible to allocate time to replace a few icons.

So maybe Joel SHOULD devote less time to build buzz and more to develop the product the buzz is going to sell. Although I personally prefer more of his great write-ups...

Also, I think the comments about the product being made by an enthusiastic coder with little sense of aestethics is not far off. Didn't that interview mention a total of eight employees? Counting all staff functions that's not many. Why not hire a good graphics guy with those piles of cash? Maybe front-end guys get turned off by Joel's 'guerilla' hiring techniques: "How would you design a house for giraffes?" "(Eeek, I'm outta here)"...

jz
Wednesday, August 11, 2004

"So maybe Joel SHOULD devote less time to build buzz and more to develop the product the buzz is going to sell."

Why? Joel's way has made Fog Creek "ludicrously profitable".

Mr Jack
Wednesday, August 11, 2004

jz, great points..love the giraffe one !

Gary, you almost sound like you are one of the eight developers :-).  One comment I made you might have not liked what about the others? 

You are entitled to your opinion and that's fine and dandy but don't force someone to like something that doesn't look pleasing and is misleading in many ways.

Trolling is for kids.

Jon

Jon
Wednesday, August 11, 2004

I agree on the icons.

Gary van der Merwe
Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Just a thought, but if Fog Creek don't want to invest any money right now on improving the graphics, why don't they get some budding graphic designer to do it for free, in exchange for the exposure and having it in their portfolio? Alternatively, make it a JOS competition to come up with a new icon set for CityDesk! I've seen similar things done in the past.

Or maybe CityDesk 3.0 already has beautiful new alpha-blended icons and we're all just wasting our time on this...

John Topley (www.johntopley.com)
Wednesday, August 11, 2004

You could be right, guess we aren't the last one's laughing :(.  I can see all 8 of them now "muhahahhaaha those guys are wasting time!".  We will have to wait and see!

Thanks for everyone's comments!

Jon

Jon
Wednesday, August 11, 2004

John Topley's suggestion reminds me of SourceGear's recent competition to create a design for their upcoming bug-tracking software.

I always find the contrast between the approaches taken by Eric and Joel most interesting.

Nemesis
Wednesday, August 11, 2004

The software sells as-is, why do they need to prettify it?

WS_FTP is hideous, but everyone uses it.

www.MarkTAW.com
Wednesday, August 11, 2004

It sells?  Who told you that, Joel ?

Jon
Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Once the Google IPO is finalised, I doubt Joel will care if he sells another copy.

He always seems to have treated his business as a hobby.

Nemesis
Thursday, August 12, 2004

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