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What sorts of sites does CityDesk work best for?

I administer a couple of websites that could really benefit from a small CMS system.

Reading the blurb on CityDesk, it sounded like it was exactly the solution to my needs. I downloaded the trial copy and played around with it for a couple of hours, but I didn't make much headway.

Why do you think this might be?
a) City Desk is most suited for news or bloggy sites. (The sites I am thinking about ( and ) are basically catalogues)
b) You need to design a site for CityDesk, rather than design a site then transfer it to CityDesk
c) I'm a bit slow and need to persevere
d) None of the above

Thanks in advance for any thoughts,


andy bell
Friday, November 7, 2003

In my experience of CityDesk you can use it for literally any type of site there is, from news sites to estate agents to weblogs to corporate sites to intranet sites. Anything.

The trouble is that as the web designer you need to spend a bit of time figuring out how to use CityDesk effectively, including the scripting and use of templates. Once you've got that dialled there's no stopping you. When the site is set up, however, updating and publishing takes very little thought at all.

When I've put CityDesk sites together I don't tend to concentrate on what CityDesk can or can't do, I just concentrate on what I want the site do and so far CityDesk hasn't let me down implementing them. I've reversed a few sites into CityDesk and had few problems - again you just need to know it well enough to figure out a strategy that works.

Bottom line - I'd say it's well worth persevering a bit more with CityDesk.

John C
Friday, November 7, 2003


As far as a big complex catalogue, CityDesk has it's limits. I wouldn't start my CityDesk efforts on a big catalogue.

Here is a talent agency site in CityDesk:

Sam tells how he did it here:

Re: site design. You can design a site however you like, or move an existing design into CityDesk but that requires a little more explanation and study. Basically, you design a template or two, a file structure to organize your contents, some scripts to produce the pages and menus you want and start adding content. Or you can start with content and do the templates and scripts as you go along.

It's also possible to manage part of a site with CityDesk and part with another product.

What I really enjoy about CityDesk is the ability to change my mind without huge consequences. I work on several sites where I never know what is coming next. If they say, "change the picture in the header," I change the template, publish, and I've done the whole job. If they say, "list the projects in chronological order," I change the sort order in tiny script, publish and I'm done.

We haven't seen best and cleverest use of CityDesk yet. Fogcreek has promised Release 3 by the end of 2003. We don't know what will be in it but I'm betting that it will be more capable and useful.

Friday, November 7, 2003

I fully agree with John C and tk. CityDesk is a huge timesaver. I use publishing to subfolders a lot. It keeps the size of each cty file down and everything goes faster that way. On one of my sites it lives flawlessly side by side with a huge asp/access-based shopping database. I'm absolutely a fan of CityDesk even if I don't use version 2 that much but prefer to wait for v3. You can do things with it that is very hard to do otherwise.

Jorgen Brenting
Friday, November 7, 2003

andy bell :re sorts of sites

"(The sites I am thinking about ( and ) are basically catalogues)"

IMO CD can publish sites like the ones you have built above. BTW, IMO these site are *very* slick! As a Content Management System all you will have to do is intimately familiarize yourself with CD and then it becomes a breeze. For some the learning cure is a long one for others it’s a short one.

From the looks of your catalogue examples I would state that you're an expert with exceptional talent and learning CD will be subject to how patient you’re willing to be with the learning experience. IMO CD does not have a good tutorial specifically for people like you who are very advanced.

David Mozer
Friday, November 7, 2003

Have you seen the flash demo that Joel Spolsky has created on the fogcreek site?  It gives you the flavor of how to use CD.

Joel Goldstick
Friday, November 7, 2003

CityScript, the scripting language CityDesk uses should be accessible to anyone who knows HTML, so the design aspect sort of takes care of itself if you know someone who knows HTML and is willing to learn CityScript.

As far as what kind of sites CD can handle... Well I wouldn't want to create a site that held a lot of large files, but other than that, CityDesk is amazingly flexible and can do quite a lot.

With some forethought and logic, you can get CityDesk to run a Blog site, a News site, an Intranet with many subsections, etc.

Take a trip to Terry's Tips and Darren's Tips to the left there <--------------------------------------------------------- and visit some of the sites that have been made with CityDesk.
Friday, November 7, 2003

darn, those dashes didn't work quite like I wanted.
Friday, November 7, 2003

You can also check out

For some sample citydesk files and see CityDesk in action

Charles Reich
Saturday, November 8, 2003

Thanks very much for all the advice. I'll give it a go, and post back here to show how I get on.

David Mozer, thanks very much for the kind things you said about the sites. Just in case anyone cares, it wasn't me who designed these sites, it was my colleague at RDF Interactive, Noam Sohachevsky.

andy bell
Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Any site that repeats common themes or templates; any site that changes a lot.  In my case with a tabbed navigation menu, each page needs its tabs updated when I add a new "article".  It was killing me updating all that html (and the css!) every week.  Now with citydesk it's automated:

I started with the trial version and gave up after a few hours, but after looking at some of the examples and what can be done, I gave it another try.  Took me a couple days to figure it out but it's a great tool.  only problem is that every file including css and images counts to the 50-file limit, so I'll have to shell out $299 if I want to continue using it.

Jon Winchester
Monday, November 17, 2003

I used CD for the first time to convert an existing ASP website for two non-profit organizations that needed a content management system, but had a very limited budget.

The sites were small (only about ten pages each), but those few pages had ASP email forms, membership validation to enter a protected area,  and server-side include files for navigation menus.  So I had quite a complex structure to convert, even though the actual volume was small.

The entire conversion process for both sites took about a week, which included a little tear-and-rebuild on my part once I figured out how to use the CD approach instead of includes (this was before 2.0 release, which makes includes even easier).

I highly recommend using CD for any content-heavy pages that need frequent updating by non-IT staff, but there are some caveats.

With the two sites above, the difficulty was that the three people who would be updating the site all lived in different cities, and were basically just operating out of their individual computers -- no common server. Our workaround to this situation was to have them FTP the CD file to a common directory on the web stie. They download the master copy before doing work, then upload the revised version when they're done.

Training of the organization staff involved a two-hour phone session. It was that easy.  In fact, explaining the FTP process turned out to the biggest problem for training. Using CD they "got" right away; the FTP process utterly confused them because they weren't used to dealing with file structures on their own computers, much less on a web host.

Carmen Carter
Sunday, November 23, 2003

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