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Idle Speculation Never Does Anyone Any Good.

Two recent JoelOnSoftware articles were interesting. One was for using Groove to allow multiple publishers around the world to synchronize. The other was for finding a new place to host the fogcreek websites.

Now why would Fog need their own server plugged directly into the internet's backbone, rather than signing up for a hosting company that has dedicated boxes?

If I were FogCreek, I'd find a way to modularize the .cty file so that distributed publishers didn't have to copy the whole db over any time someone added an article, you could somehow just copy that article or file over.

Then I'd make a subscription service that allowed people to keep an archive of their file on my server, and people all over the world could log in and download the latest changes, either manually (for people on a dialup) or automatically (for people with always-on connections). All secure and password protected, of course.

I'm sure something like Groove could do this in a CVS sort of way, but that would involve creating a whole new product, or buying licenses for another product. Maybe something freeware exists, but why not use CityDesk's architecture?

In fact, you could do this via FTP or file copy & the existing citydesk.xml structure - each element would publish without parsing to this central repository. Then users on the other end could check the citydesk.xml file and see what changes needed to be downloaded. Each element could even be zip compressed to aide people on a dialup.

You could ping the server every 10 minutes or so to check the datestamp/filesize of that citydesk.xml file to see if you need to download updates.

This could also be a good way for people to keep backups of their .cty files. You wouldn't need to do this on fogcreek's website, and you wouldn't need to buy/install any special server software. All you would need is more disk space wherever you host you content. You could even do it behind a firewall.

Whaddaya think?
Monday, February 10, 2003

I was thinking more about this & I really like the idea.


1. citydesk.xml was encrypted
2. each publisher had a unique ID
3. magic name was included in citydesk.xml
4. magic name included the unique ID
5. templates & unpublished articles were published - encrypted, of course


1. distributed publishing should be easy to accomplish without everyone needing direct folder access to CityDesk.
2. backups would be automatic.
4. the raw files could be compressed - text compresses quite a bit.
5. the non-published articles & templates would be protected, and even their presence could be averted by letting the user define the folder they go in & putting a blank index.html file in that folder.

Other feature ideas:

1. Using a scripting language, people could contribute articles via the web that landed on the server in one file that got imported into CityDesk on the next server sync. These could appear in an 'inbox' and kick off a workflow. Minor server scripting, huge benefits.

2. Workflow. I'm sure something on par with Interwoven Teamsite or Vignette Storyserver is doable.

3. Strong encryption. If you could publish a completely encrypted version of a file, only users with CityDesk with the poper key could view that file. Sort of a secure intranet without needing SSL & user authentication on the server. This seems like a good tie in to audience.

4. Plugin to IE. a) for easy viewing of #3 above, and b) similar to the "Edit with Citydesk" button but fancier looking. If you've used Teamsite you probably know what I mean, you can see the architecture of the site & edit items via the web GUI, but it's a plugin. This would probably be a good selling point just because it looks impressive.

The workflow system should also work with the encryption so that secure preview versions of the site can be created & worked on by people, again, without requiring SSL on the server. Add a more powerful scripting language, some of the commonly requested features such as versioning, and this can become a truly enterprise strength solution and really close the gap with Interwoven and Vignette.
Saturday, March 1, 2003

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