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CityDesk for webloggers?

I've just been reading a post by longtime CityDesk user Steven DenBeste at He makes an excellent point -- CityDesk is probably a much better tool for bloggers than anything else on the marketplace right now (and much simpler to install for those who aren't Perl-heads).

Unfortunately, the barrier to entry for CityDesk ($349 for an unencumbered copy) is way too high for the average blogger. (I know the Home Edition is only $79 -- but one's likely to run into the 500 item limit pretty quickly).

I'd like some feedback about whether a CityDesk "Webloggers Edition" makes sense: this is an edition that is *not* subject to the 500-page limit, instead it has a limit on the number of templates that can be created: say three. This is because most bloggers tend to have three templates: one for the home page, one for the archives main page, and one for the individual post (which is the most sensible format for CityDesk-based weblogs).

This edition could also be tied to use only one database (i.e., unlike the free/starter editions, you wouldn't be able to maintain more than one .cty file with this edition).

Pricing for the Webloggers' Edition would be about the same as the Home Edition.

Would this make any sense for Joel and team to do at all?

Prasenjeet Dutta
Friday, June 6, 2003

For simplicity sake, I tend to make my sites with one template, even if it has several hundred articles, so I don't think that's a good delimiter.

But if you had a version of CityDesk with the .cty file integrated... it wouldn't load any other .cty files, and you couldn't share the .cty file with anyone else.... And you couldn't just install another one to get another weblog, it would detect it...
Friday, June 6, 2003

The 500 file restriction is just plain dumb.  Corporate and home users are equally affected.  500 files could be several years of company news, or 6 months of a personal site.  The only difference is that pro users can more likely afford $350.

I guess it's somewhere in the FogCreek business plan.  Users trapped between $350 and deleting stuff.

Any proposed 'blog' version limits may work similarly.  Perhaps the CocaCola Corporation could maintain their news pages with one template?

Is licensing dead?  Can't FogCreek just charge a lower price for non-commercial use of the full product?

Mark Major
Friday, June 6, 2003

I don't know what's Fog's plans are any more than anyone else here, but I expect that CityDesk 3 will have some more that can differentiate it - the server side component for example.

I always thought CityDesk 2 was like this, and that they'd drop the price on CityDesk 1 to $100 or so, branching the product lines at that point.

But it turns out CD2 is really CD 1.5, and CD3 is what CD2 was going to be.
Friday, June 6, 2003

<quote> I always thought CityDesk 2 was like this, and that they'd drop the price on CityDesk 1 to $100 or so, branching the product lines at that point. </quote>

Maybe it's naive, but I'd like to think that small, modern companies like Fog Creek are above such things.  It's such an undignified way to do business, withholding program technology as if you've got 5000 boxed copies of the old version in a warehouse.

Mark Major
Friday, June 6, 2003

I'm not entirely sure what you're getting at. You're saying that if they're going to release a version of CD with the same functionality as the pro edition but for a lower price, they should've released it at that price point all along?

At this point, let's remove Fog Creek from the discussion becuase it really is hypothetical.

So Company A has a product. Let's call it Netscape. It took a lot of work to develop this so-called Netscape, and they charged appropriate to recoup their expenses.

For some reason Netscape and Netscape like products take off to the point where major corporations are buying licenses for all of their several hundred thousand employees.

But one day a company, let's call them Microsoft releases a product that's free and does basically what your product does.

So you drop the price point on this Netscape and charge for the extras - an HTML editor, an Instant Messenger to the point where the, let's call it the "Netscape Suite" costs as much as the original Netscape product (Let's call it a Browser) costs.

You didn't plan it that way, but that's what happened.

Now, this is a highly fictitous example, but at any point where they screwing their customers?
Friday, June 6, 2003

I don't really see how your analogy fits closely with the pricing vs. features issue, but I think I understand your question.

My distaste is for any company which crassly degrades a good product to produce a 'home' edition.  What advantage is there, other than to extort more hard earned cash if a person has bigger aspirations than the home edition allows for?

Why can't Fog Creek just charge for-profit and non-profit users a different fee for the exact same product.  Plenty of other companies do it.  At any price, our honesty is their only defense against the software crackers.

Mark Major
Friday, June 6, 2003

Oh yeah, putting artificial limits on lower end products always bugged me too.
Friday, June 6, 2003

I don't know if the issue is that users want the full edition but can't afford it or don't want to pay for it.

I figure that the price of the product is $350. But, as a way to scale in users to that product, there are two prelim stages.

Steve Denbeste wrote a fabulous blog entry and I'm glad someone mentioned it. It is important for me to see that others use CD, and for them to describe how they use it.

My biggest complaint to Joel is that I learned of CD from another Steve Denbeste blog entry. Where is the marketing? I admit that I'm in my own little world! However, I do get PCWorld's daily shareware email, I have a subscription to, and I goto Hey, maybe I missed the rave reviews! In Toronto, I also read Toronto Computes! and The Computer Paper. Both are free and must reading, although I missed the last issues :-) 

It's important to market CityDesk. Obviously, there is a market for it. Market it!

Will more people use CD at $80 than at $350? You need 5 people to buy at $80 to equal one at $350. I think so. I think that's the history of software, to get as many people to use your software. Word of mouth only gets so far, IMHO. There s/b a marketing push too. Yes, marketing is expensive. So at least get the industry to publish reviews. Get CD's name out there.

If the target user is the small guy doing a site for him/herself, or for a small business, or a student, or a non-profit (that's me!), then keep the price in line with that market. I guess that that there are two discrete groups being targeted: the small enterprise at $350 and the single user at $80.

Now here's my confusion: The enterprise edition is not an enterprise edition. At least not what I expect it to be. It is billed as a multi-user edition; however, it lacks multi-user features. Now, I would pay more for those features. I would expect the single user would not want those features and would pay less. But I want it! I need administration features that can turn off designer mode, that give read access only to certain files and folders, that use passwords. I also need a way for users to access the cty file via the internet without a VPN. I need to have logs of who is doing what. That's an enterprise edition!

In the absence of a true enterprise edition, how does Fogcreek get a sufficient return on its investment in CD? Charging $80 seems too little for Fogcreek shareholders to make enough money.

Again, it depends on how many of us buy it! Will 5 times as many people buy it at $80 as at $350? Oh yes, there is a critical mass out there. I don't know if Fogcreek quite trusts the marketplace to buy it, but I think it's a go. I think version 2 is such a winner that with mere reviews out there, that it is a go. From the reviews will come visits to CD sites. From the visits will come the free edition which is a key component of the sales process. Keep it crimped at 50, you got that just right!

In fact, I remember getting a coupon to buy CD for $59 "if I do it within 48 hrs". Well, just make it $59. I think that's a perfect price point. Cheap enough to hit the market you are looking for. Expensive enough to imply that it is a decent product that is worthy. It's not just some shareware product.

Maybe one day Fogcreek will come out with a true Enterprise Edition. Can I let you in on a secret: you don't have to! I'd rather have core functionality increased than have you spend time developing the Enterprise functions. Since Larkware is honing a version that works with CDv2, that may be enough of a workaround. I'm willing to cope with working with multiple users with just the single user edition. CD is coming off version 1, so I'll grow with the product.

I am happy to pay $350 for a true Enterprise Edition. Usually that's for products that are beyond version 1 and have real admin features. But CD isn't there. Let CD stick to its roots, and grow over time.

Ok, I wanted to double check the CD web site. "The Professional Edition... allows multiple users to edit the same site at the same time, which makes it suitable ... where a group of people collaborates on a web site". Even if my team of volunteers used the site on an intranet, the lack of admin rights and security scares the pants off me. For instance, as far as I can see, any user can publish anywhere, and any user can modify any page. I love my volunteers, but I can't let 'em all publish to the site. There has to be controls! At minimum, there is a group of 3 so far that act as quality control, and any one of the three s/b able to publish.

I think that version 2 s/b $59. There s/b no volume discounts unless someone is going to buy ooooodles of copies. The "Professional Edition" s/b discontinued because it is too immature a product for "multiple users [at] the smae site at the same time". Relaunch the product later. Start marketing the product aggressively -- it is pure chance that I stumbled on it, and so there must be lots of people out there like me who can't wait to discover CD but don't know it's out there.

Joel: I love your software; my website co-chair is busy post vacation, but we are going to buy CD because I'm already getting good reviews on my "beta" site made with CD. 99% sure!

Whew! That's a blast. Let the flaming begin :-)

Bob (oh I'm gonna get flamed!) Bloom
Friday, June 6, 2003

Joel said he didn't want to market CD widely until it was "ready for prime time." I feel the same way about my site - the core functionality is there, but I don't want people finding the site and seeing that it's in it's infancy and never coming back, even if they hear of it again later. So I rely on word-of-mouth advertising to get the site around, and I expect it to snowball... I just don't want people seeing a snowball and thinking "this place is cool, but not worth my time."

The Enterprise Edition is good for small teams. I used it @ Citigroup. One person added content, and I worked on the templates, simultaneously.

Beyond that, there needs to be strictly defined rules regarding the human behaviour because the program itself doesn't enforce any rules.

As far as I know, there's one person @ Citi still using CD1 to update one of the Intranets. I was seriously considering getting a few more licenses and handing it over to various people for their Intranets, but that never happened.

I was also going to use it for personalization, which is one of the cool things about CityDesk. You can easily repurpose the same content and create different views of it. I had a javascript that would redirect you to a "personalized" homepage based on a cookie.

To do this otherwise would've cost several hundred thousand dollars... You know large corporations, they'll never embrace Linux, PHP or MySQL, so you need Solaris, JSP and Oracle.  But I digress.

Perhaps "Enterprise" is a little ambitious, but it's certainly a great business tool.
Friday, June 6, 2003

You missed the rave reviews in Developer Central. Of course, our circulation is only about 27,000 :)

Mike Gunderloy
Saturday, June 7, 2003


Buried in his article about Fixing Venture Capital (, Joel gives his theories on growing a software business. The relevant part is that code takes time to become stable, mature and feature-rich.

If you pump up the PR too early, lots of people just discover an immature product and never return. You even said yourself that CD is not quite there yet, so why would you want to start promoting it heavily before it's ready for prime-time?

Joel has said elsewhere that he expects CD3.0 to be the prime-time version. I reckon you'll see a lot more promotion, reviews, ads, etc when that version ships towards the end of the year. And when those new users come, they'll find a healthy and enthusiastic community of us CD fans ready to help them get started with it.

Patience, Grasshopper...

Darren Collins
Monday, June 9, 2003

Thanks for your excellent post, Darren. And BTW, your site is terrific!

(You have this title listed in "Articles Coming Soon": "Using CityDesk for Non-Profits and Other Small Organisations". I'm looking forward to it! I may have addendums for you!)

True, I didn't read Joel's article. I'm glad he has a long term view, which means that CD is a product that will be supported and improved over time.

Will CopyBoy features be included in version 3? Such as, importing templates, variables, and articles from other CTY files? Perhaps something akin to Word's Template Organizer. 

Another CopyBoy feature to consider is finding and deleting articles where Today > NeverPublishAfterDate.

The CD community is wonderful. I've been the beneficiary of some wonderful emails, which were a great help.

Well, I didn't get flamed for my post as badly as I feared :-)

Bob (the flaming coulda been worse!) Bloom
Monday, June 9, 2003

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