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Responce from Joel

I mailed this to FC:

How hard is it to give a decent answer when your clients ask for one, or are worried about the way Citydesk is going. Talking about being busy with it doesn't do the trick. If you have the time to answer questions from FogBUGZ
users then you also have the time to answer questions from CD users.

I am very disappointed about the way you care for your customers or better don't care for your customers.

It seems that CD is just a piece of income for financing the development of FogBUGZ.

I think it's called decency. So please find some and answer the questions asked.

This was the responce from Joel:


Thank you for your note. We do monitor the CityDesk forum and it looks to me like most technical questions are answered (usually by another user before we get a chance to respond to it). I will make sure our tech support monitor the forum more closely.

Believe me, I understand your feelings about future versions of CityDesk.
CityDesk 2.0 is clearly missing a lot of features that could make it much better; it has some longstanding bugs, some of which don't have great workarounds. But for many problems it is still the best solution out there. I am sure you have already seen my posts explaining why it is our policy not to talk about future software development, so I won't repeat that here.

All the best,


Monday, July 19, 2004

Hi Peter.

Well, he's right. This forum is pretty much self sustaining. As to info on what's up with the next version of CD ~ they aren't going to change their policy. Sad, but true.


Perpetual Newbie II
Monday, July 19, 2004

Let me just ask: what difference would it make to you if you did know what features were going to be in the next version of CityDesk?

John Topley (
Monday, July 19, 2004


It would be the difference of "Okay, they're working on it," versus, "Is this product going anywhere... Are they dumping it ... What the heck is going on?",  etc.)

David Burch
Monday, July 19, 2004

This forum is self-sustaining but dwindling. 

David Burch
Monday, July 19, 2004

"what difference would it make to you if you did know what features were going to be in the next version of CityDesk?"

Why, we could rant and rave about how they're working on the wrong feature, and they should be working on [insert my pet feature here]. We could pester them to find out when those features will be available. We could huff and puff about how such a small feature list shouldn't be taking anywhere near this long to develop. We could complain about how they don't answer our forum questions about exactly how new feature X is going to work. We could speculate about how new feature Y breaks some CD behaviour that we've become used to, and how only an idiot would make such a change.

It'd really inject a fresh spark into this forum!


Darren Collins
Monday, July 19, 2004

Joel has explained several times that it's Fog Creek's policy not to talk about future releases and yet when he does this you postulate that development work on CityDesk has stopped. I don't get it.

John Topley (
Tuesday, July 20, 2004

How can i be sure the development of CD isn't stopped?
If after a periode of 11 months of near silence indicates that development is still going on, i guess you have to be a really positive thinker not to be sceptical about it.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004


Here's what Joel said in December:

In June I predicted that there would be another major version of CityDesk at the end of 2003. Unfortunately, that prediction turns out to have been, well, wrong. In the three years that Fog Creek has been in existence I have learned that every release takes a certain amount of time, usually three months, for the beta cycle and to stomp bugs. That means that if we did two releases a year, we would spend 6 months writing new code and 6 months in beta. If we do one release a year, we spend 9 months writing new code and 3 months in beta -- fifty percent more new code in the same amount of time. Since CityDesk 2.0 only shipped on August 25th, and we have a beta cycle for German CityDesk in our future, it's just too early for another release. We've got some great new ideas for CityDesk and we'd rather code them up and get them to you as quickly as possible rather than go through yet another beta cycle without them. Some parts of the UI are being rewritten, and I would hate to waste time fixing bugs in old code that we plan to throw out anyway just to get a stable interim release. As usual, we thank you for your patience, and as usual, please don't buy our software if it doesn't already do what you need!

People buying desktop software expect bugs to be fixed.  Some people release bug-fix patches, Joel's approach is to ship a new version (and he admits 2.0 has some bugs with undesirable workarounds).

Last June, Joel set expectations for a CityDesk 3.0 by the end of the year.  We waited eagerly and did not get it.  In his December explanation on, he set expectations for both a German version and an annual CityDesk release.

His expectations for the release cycle are perfectly reasonable.  THAT is communication.  I understand.  Thanks for letting me know what is going on.  I'll wait a bit longer.

But there has been no further communication since then.  All we have to go on is the December communication for clues for when to expect the next release. 

If, as he says, it takes 9 months to write new code for a release, then we should have had a beta in March (and the German beta should have been out long ago).  So, okay it's taking longer, I guess, haven't heard anything... Maybe give them a few more months... Say a full 12 months to a beta? 

I'm not postulating that work on CityDesk has stopped.  I do think, as I stated earlier, that I think CityDesk and this forum has very low priority compared to FogBugz.

Regardless of what he says, Joel has not operated using "Mouth wide shut."  He set clear expectations.  I also don't think communication with your customers has to go totally out the window if you do use "Mouth wide shut." 

I honestly don't think he is applying the "don't buy our software if it does not already do what you want" hardline with FogBugz customers.  I think he is, rightfully, communicating with his customers and changing that product according to customer input. 

He needs to do the same with CityDesk.

David Burch
Tuesday, July 20, 2004

For more of my thoughts on why CityDesk is very low priority, see:

David Burch
Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Great posts. Thanks for emailing Joel and sharing it with us.

Why should Joel tell us about what is coming down the pipe? I'll tell you why: money.

It was no small commitment on my part to learn CD. All the twists and turns. All the fun-and-games with the editor (which destroyed my javascript during beta). But it was worth it.

The html_dbscript utility is only half done, but it's not being supported. There's just too much functionality that is needed to fully integrate CD with creating dynamic html pages from an external database. **Obviously** this critical functionality can't be delegated to a third party developer (who did a kick ass job, btw).

Our little non-profit organization is getting ready to commit to a real cms solution. Collaboration, multi-user, blog-ish design, database back-end, content distribution, etc etc. The project initiation phase and requirements phase will take time, just like a real corporate project!

And I can't even bring CD on the long list of cms solutions, never mind the short list.

How can I in good faith go to my board of directors and recommend CD? I have absolutely no basis for continuing to commit to CD. I have absolutely no clue when the promised multi-user-with-administrator edition is coming out, never mind some advanced functionality.

Maybe CD was never intended to be a high functionality cms solution. There's just me maintaining the site, and for me it's been a great client-side solution.

It doesn't matter. Our little non-profit org is going to spend thousands on a new solution. How many thousands I don't know, but it's going to get serious.

I can't go to my board of directors with a business plan that the cms solution we currently have has absolutely no advertised functionality upgrade path. None.

Sometimes I think that our love for CD is unrequited. We were there for v2's beta. We stuck through the fun-and-games of an immature product, figuring that we were contributing to a killer product launched right off the launch pad. Now, it's just a small merry band of brothers (and sisters?) on this forum, sans FC.

I said in a previous post that CD "jumped the shark". It has. Unless something tangible comes up to turn the tide, and nothing will, I'll just go ahead and keep concluding that CD is yesterday's wonder.

We have to spend our money elsewhere. We can't grow with CD.


Bob Bloom
Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Joel’s answer is the kind of answer you can expect from your local congressman when you bring up an unpleasant subject. It’s no answer at all. Depending on your current mood you can interpret it as either very rude (Get off my land!) or as the closest you’ll ever come to “We won’t work on that little piece before we need more functionality ourselves so will you please stop asking me questions”. All in all it just shows that you can be a good programmer and not have the faintest clue of how to handle customers – which btw is totally okay for programmers. CD, like any other program, is “take it or leave it”. It’s us, the (very, very) small merry band of brothers/sisters, who will not face the grim reality: we’re all alone. “Daddy” couldn’t care less. So let us stop crying now and stick to the technical side as long as we’re still here. If so, in three weeks time this forum will be empty until Patrick comes up with another great idea. I’ll look forward to that.

Jorgen B.
Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Consider and alternatives -- much better than whining

If you're serious about CMS and want a *Desktop System* that is in a *class of its own* -- and your not afraid of investing the time and effort to learn [for me the leaning curve before I became productive was 150 hrs] check out CMS Encore Pro.

I like CityDewsk and for certain types of work the CityDesk solution works just great for my needs.

I now also like CMS Encore because -- it is -- a Desktop System -- that does * * * so much more * * * . I also currently *seriously doubt* that the folks from FC will ever approach the functionality that CMS Encore contains.

David Mozer
Wednesday, July 21, 2004

I am wondering: why does it take 150 hours to get productive with Encore? What is so difficult to grasp about it? I mean, you don't start using the full feature set, I guess... Isn't 150 hours is an extremely long time?

Ruud van Soest
Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Ruud van Soest :re why does it take

If you read my post carefully you will note that I stated 'for me the leaning curve'. Each person has a different learning curve. The fact the Encore does not have good documentation did not help me. As it currently stands the documentation is under development. Had I had the proper documentation from the beginning I could have cut the learning time down by 50% - 75% . However, the people supporting Encore are helpful to the extreme.

David Mozer
Wednesday, July 21, 2004

David Mozer wrote:

"However, the people supporting Encore are helpful to the extreme"

I can only support and repeat that statement. Encore is more difficult to learn, but with a little time and effort, a basic site like the one CD produces are easy to make. In time you can learn the more advanced features. The documentation is under development, and like David said, "Had I had the proper documentation from the beginning I could have cut the learning time down by 50% - 75%".

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

I can't fault the technical support for CityDesk.  I've always found the answer for what I needed--if it was possible to do using CityDesk.  The support most often came from users of this forum but occasionally from Michael or Joel directly.

I do want to know the general direction of the product, that the product is still alive, will continue to evolve and be supported.

David Burch
Wednesday, July 21, 2004

If you would like to see what customer relations can be, check out

*hourly forum input from the author
*frequent free updates
*suggestions constantly heard and implemented

This is one man producing great software - compared with a whole team at Fog 'we attract the best programmers in the world' Creek.

Mark Major
Thursday, July 22, 2004

David Mozer and PeterM,
Your comments about Encore are fascinating but your comments on difficulty of learning Encore are understandably  vague.  Perhaps I can ask some specific questions about the increased difficulty? Information on the Biit Soft website is fairly unhelpful and the tutorials, like all tutorials, do everything possible to avoid real life complexity.

The beauty of CD is that it tries to sub-divide the website production process into two separatate roles -- a technical role (that can be difficult) and a content preparation role (that must not be difficult). In some cases, the two roles represent different people; in some cases, the same person doing different things.

In my case, the  problem has always been making the job of the content provider easy enough. I have a number of content people who write articles a single time, inevitably in MS Word, and two student editors who try to keep things in order and up to date. None of these people know HTML. My promise, usually broken,  is that they do not have to know HTML. In CD2 terms, the editors should never have to leave Normal view editing.
Here are the two web sites.

With regard to Encore vs. CD 2
- Is it just the technical role that is more difficult?
- Is the content provider role easier in Encore? Is the Encore learning time longer for a content provider than it is in CD2?
- For the people I deal with, the big resistance is that they want to use the editor they are familiar with and that is inevitably MS Word. The editors receive completely formatted articles and all too often end up pasting without formatting only to try putting the formatting back in using CD2's limited tools. Can you paste from Word into Encore and get it to keep formatting but clean up the MS Word code mess?
- Can content providers take advantage of  Word AND the CSS that the techncial person uses without going through all kinds of gyrations?
- How easy is it for content providers who are familiar with Word to use the Encore editor/word processor to do the sorts of things people do with Word without a lot of relearning?
- Can a content provider work entirely in WYSIWYG mode without resorting to an HTML editor?
- How limited is the Encore WYSIWYG editor compared to Word? Compared to CD2?

If the increased difficulty is all on the technical side but  there are no gains on ease of use for content providers (or a loss on the content provider side), I'm not interested. I will gladly  sacrifice some technical difficulty for improved ease on the content provider side.
Thanks for any information you can provide based on your unique positions as experts in both CD2 and Encore.

Dick Dillon
Saturday, July 24, 2004

Dick Dillon :re specific questions

I suggest that you post your qustions in the Biit Software Forum under 'General'.

David Mozer
Saturday, July 24, 2004

It looks like we're moving in this direction:

And for an idea of what we're looking for in communicating CD3, try this:

I've never heard of open source cms until a week ago(!), but I can see why Joel is giving up on CD.


Bob Bloom
Sunday, July 25, 2004


I've used Zope before, both alone and with Zope applications such as SquishDot (a SlashDot clone).  Zope has a tremendous learning curve and I had a hard time getting my content out of it.

David Burch
Sunday, July 25, 2004

Zope is a completely different type of product from CityDesk. It doesn't compete with CityDesk.

Zope is server-side. You have to install it on your server, and that adds enough complexity to rule it out for many users. Also, many small businesses don't have the kind of hosting plan where they can install software on their server.

CityDesk is completely client-side. You install it on your PC, and most computer users are familiar with that process. All you have to do is configure it with the address, username and password that your host set you up with, and you're ready to publish.

Zope is a powerful web app development framework. Content management is only a smallish subset of what it can do.

Darren Collins
Sunday, July 25, 2004

Zope and Plone are (I think) open source, so publishing their roadmap isn't a competitive disadvantage to them.

Joel has said repeatedly "If CityDesk doesn't meet your needs now, then don't buy it now." That about sums it up for me.
Sunday, July 25, 2004

Bob said....
>I've never heard of open source cms until a week ago(!), but >I can see why Joel is giving up on CD.

Bob what's your source for this?  I haven't seen anything from Joel saying that Fog Creek has given up on CityDesk. In fact quite the opposite. I understand that you're frustrated by the lack of updates. I understand that you're concerned that Fog Creek is not really committed to CityDesk.  If you think Fog Creek has abandoned CityDesk you are of course entitled to your opinion, but would you please state it as that. I don't think you do anyone a service by representing it as fact here.

Ken McKinney
Monday, July 26, 2004

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