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Sharing cty files remotely

I'm liking CD from my whole one day of usage.  What I don't like so much is that the whole website is in one file.  While this has many advantages, it has one disadvantage:  sharing content authoring with people who are NOT at the same server, and may not have broadband connections.

Has anybody come up with any novel solutions to this?  I'd just pass around the file or upload it to our server, except that it is already getting to be large with only a small website.  The website I'm thinking of using this on (and purchasing "contributer" CityDesk editions for other) is medium sized, with the potential contributors not in a central location.  They mostly don't have broadband internet either.

Still, I can see CD making my life easier if I'm the only contributor to the website.  Good work.

Jeff Tulley
Thursday, August 21, 2003

I think the basic concept was that workgroup members all "live on" the same LAN and use the database from a file server like most traditional Jet-based applications.

Probably the only practical wide-area solution would be a VPN.  Here you get hit for performance twice: old-style PC LAN application performance over slow links, and the performance overhead of encryption as well.

I'm not totally convinced CityDesk was architected this way completely intentionally, but I do agree with all of Joel's statements about its advantages over web-based content managers (in a LAN environment).

The only other idea that comes to mind for wide-area access to applications like CityDesk is to use Windows Terminal Services.  Things built like CD are exactly what Citrix developed its technology for.  The low-end way to do this is to use an XP Pro machine as the "host" and have remote clients get to it via the RDP client ("Remote Desktop") over the Internet.  I'd suggest at least relocating the RDP service to some non-standard port as a bare minimum security measure, and probably to use at least a software firewall to allow only the bare minimum (the RDP port) through to that XP box from the Internet.

Upgrading to a Win2K or Win2K3 Server box as host offers the ability to host more simultaneous sessions (with appropriate licenses).  Citrix add-ins and clients will offer improved performance over slow links as well.  Note: Citrix isn't cheap.

Does anybody know if CD is "safe for Terminal Services?"  A lot of desktop applications were written with funny assumptions like one interactive user per computer and one image of the program running at a time, complicated by assumptions about registry settings, temp files, and so on.

But even "VB 101" projects will run fine with XP Pro remote access, since only one user is supported at a time.

If you're hard up for a host machine even a Win95 or NT 4.0 Workstation box can run NetMeeting in Remote Desktop Sharing (RDS) Host mode.  The firewall setup is slightly trickier and performace isn't so great though.

I've even found NT 4.0 Terminal Server Edition retail boxed for REALLY cheap, since it is basically "antique software" now.  That would work better than NetMeeting RDS plus it is multiuser (you'd need client-access licenses, but it often comes with 5).  Grab the latest Service Pack while you can find it though and burn yourself a CD!

I may be cheap, but I try hard to be legal.

Just my 2 cents and assorted pocket goblins.

Bob Riemersma
Thursday, August 21, 2003

this has been addressed before... Probably find a wealth of info in terry's and darren's tips.
Friday, August 22, 2003

Oh, and I think there's an official answer to this on a CityDesk site somewhere that Joel wrote....
Friday, August 22, 2003

Joel Spolsky
Friday, August 22, 2003

Thanks.  I think I'll do VNC or share the file via an "iFolder" -- a Novell thing, a folder that is synchronized/replicated between computers, so the files follow you around.  I just wanted to avoid bandwidth issues, but it sounds like all of those solutions will be a problem on slow connections, so passing around the .cty file it is.  We don't have a huge need for concurrent access, I just want to off-load some website maintenance to others.  At least CD makes it so it is easier for non-web savvy people to be putting in content, so it's not all my job. 

Thanks again.

Jeff Tulley
Friday, August 22, 2003

Speaking of slow connections... Terminal Services (Remote Desktop) is actually really amazingly fast even over modem connections.

On DSL type connections, it's blazing. I use Terminal Services exclusively from home to control a computer at work and hardly ever notice that I'm not there.

Joel Spolsky
Saturday, August 23, 2003

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