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Out of the Box Blogger?

Any plans on CityDesk templates that let you do some of the more popular stuff "out of the box." A lot of sites give you a blogger that requires little to no configuration, I figure CityDesk should do the same.

Perhaps you can hold a design contest, and the winner would get their templates included in a suite either downloadable from your website, or included in a future release.

In addition to Blogger, a family website, small company's first web presence, comany Intranet, and other common templates could be included.

Also, some things should probably be easily configurable. I'm thinking of the Manila "Flip this page" feature where you can choose between one of several homepage designs. Perhaps automatic sub-page creation based on folders. I.e. I choose "Blogger" mode and when I create a new folder I can give it a title such as "The ongoing saga of my family" and a link is created on the homepage "The ongoing saga of my family" and clicking on it gives me an index of all the stories in that folder.

Hey, if they can charge for Radio, you can add some functionality to CityDesk and offer it to un-savvy people who wish to Blog.

RSS should be another template.

Mark W
Monday, February 11, 2002


I am totally on board with you.  I've spent the last five years building web sites with a variety of different tools, from the low-end M$ tools to the high-end Vignette and Interwoven packages.  During this time, I have found two types of mindsets on content management:

1.  Developers and designers prefer to start from a blank sheet of paper.  Having been a developer, I understand the mentality.  The odds of a package meeting the actual requirements are low to begin with.  As you add complexity, the odds become astronomical.  Every developer has been burned by this and once burned, twice shy.

2.  Customers would prefer to start with an "in the box" solution and pay for customization than start from a blank sheet of paper.  I've seen multi-million dollars deals closed because one firm showed up with comps of a navigation and branding scheme and the others took the white sheet of paper approach.

No offense to the people on this board, but I have found the group mentality here far closer to #1 than to #2. 

Personally, I'm a #2 kind of guy.  If I am asked to build an intranet for a client, then I would far prefer to start with a well-designed set of templates than start from scratch.

With the templates, I can immediately start conversations with the client on what the gaps are instead of what the basics are:  content areas, input fields, basic page layout, etc. 

I spend 80% of my time adding functionality and 20% of my time changing infrastructure.  Without the templates, I spend 80% of my time building infrastructure and 20% of my time working on customer requirements.

Yes, the first time I work with a set of templates there is a "ramp-up" cost associated with learning the templating system, but the next one is pure gravy.  The smartest developers will value-price their first engagement dramatically improving their profitability.

Admittedly, CD makes it a heckuva lot easier to start from nothing and show a lot of progress quickly.  But it still doesn't match a basic set of functionlity out of the box.



Kevin Sherwood
Monday, February 11, 2002


Why not a simple template kind of like Joel on Software?

Russ Lipton
Monday, February 11, 2002

We're looking for the first CityDesk entrepreneur who will do a "CityDesk for Dummies" that comes with a CD full of templates.  I'm also looking for a "CityDesk Accessories" program that lets me manage articles from a table.

I doubt that the ultimate CityDesk blog, real estate, small business, whatever site has been done yet.  Once they are done, I hope I can understand them.

Monday, February 11, 2002

I'm not sure if anyone is familiar with Inform. Inform is a compiler, language, and library specifically designed to build text-adventure games. It'll run on the same platform as Zork.

Sometime during the 90's, a video game company (Infocom, I think) designed their whole game in Inform as a prototype, worked on the story, puzzles, etc. and then started the real graphical game.

In that same way, even if you plan on eventually building something in Vignette or another bohemoth (sp?), you can create a "static" mockup quickly in CityDesk, mimic certain aspects of the functionality, quickly edit the layouts, areas, etc. and do a very rapid prototyping for the client.

That'll probably win a few contracts. If you can do Vignette, it should be no trouble learning CityScript.

And then there are those who will want to go with CityDesk all the way without doing the whole Vignette thing. CityDesk will allow them to maintain a frequently updated public website easily and inexpensively.

Built-in templates may also be a good sales tool. An executive somewhere downloads it, but can't figure it out. Built in templates and good demo's on the fogcreek website (flash type stuff) can really convince him of the power of this tool.

I recently stumbled upon a community outreach program. One of their programs is to teach communities how to use the Internet to create local websites for their neighborhood & set up mailing lists (on yahoo! groups). CityDesk would be great for this type of thing, it's cheap or free, depending on the size of your website, and easy to use. However, if it came with a template for this type of thing out of the box, then someone "just learning the internet" could get up and running that much faster. (Nevermind the whole FTP thing, they'll have their children set that up.)

My 2cents

Mark W
Monday, February 11, 2002

I made a deal with one of my creative friends to design some templates in exchange for an Aeron chair.

If you know any good web designers who already have nice templates that they want to submit to us, we'll set up a library. It would be a good way for a designer to get free publicity.

Joel Spolsky
Monday, February 11, 2002

Joel, now you're talking. A good community page with categorized links to templates is the sort of thing missing from this site. Of course CityDesk is too new to have that sort of thing rolling yet, but you should really think about doing that. That's the sort of site that itself would be very easy to manage with CityDesk.

Though I've already bought CityDesk, one of the number one things I look for before buying software is the community support -- do others use it, like it, and share tips and related files? If so, that's the software that wins my dollar when I'm trying to choose between a few. CityDesk doesn't really have any competitors that I've been able to find, but you know it will eventually. A good community download site with scripts and especially templates might make a difference at some point, especially considering the number of people on this forum that ask for templates.

Troy King
Tuesday, February 12, 2002

One thought I have had is to target market certain professions.  Take, for example, dentists.  Many of them have PC's in their offices with internet connectivity.  I would create a very specific site that consisted:

1.  Default design and navigation
2.  Default content and graphics
3.  Placeholders for pictures of the dentist and his staff, office area, directions to the office, etc.

The dentist could purchase a package from me that consisted of a copy of CD and my templates.  Optional fees would include me showing up with my digital camera to take the pictures, registering his domain, establishing a hosting contract, a printed piece to advertise his site, etc.

Better yet, I'll barter with him for my kid's braces and we'll both win big :-)


kevin sherwood
Tuesday, February 12, 2002

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