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Bugs, features, questions

Nice little program.

Minor bugs I found so far:

- The famous right-click/rename/do-nothing
- Undo only seems to work for editing commands, not formatting commands (e.g. bold)

Missing features before I could maintain a site like

- Editing of HTML tables (are you not using the MS DHTML editing control like Homesite?)
- Multi-page articles with fwd/back navigation
- Customizable page numbering scheme
- Support for more / custom properties like creation / modification date, current URL that get picked up by template
- Custom properties that end up in HTML meta tags: author, description, keywords, date, section, channel
- Ordering of elements in foreach loops on arbitrary element attributes, e.g. article creation date.
- Converting imported files into articles. What good is the distinction, anyhow?

Nice to have:
- Pluggable upload mechanism (we have a two-step process: ftp to staging server, http command for updating live server). WebDAV could be interesting, too.
- Pluggable HTML snippets (like Dreamweaver behaviours / Frontpage bots, for page navigation, applet inclusion etc). Could be a published API and used internally for existing "insert image/insert link" as you have it
- Not yet another programming language/syntax: What's wrong with Javascipt/VBScipt and ASP/JSP/WebMacro syntax, something that people and other tools might already know ?

- I have a hard time understanding the positioning of the product, and the example use cases you mention in$389 :
Your site is a weblog/newsletter and already needs forms for subscribing and discussing, with appropriate server side logic. Are you using Citydesk? Jobs, properties listings and knowledge bases are typically server-side database-driven, if for self-service data entry alone. In your case every data entry requires Citydesk, and access to a local file share?
* IMHO a three digit price seems hard to justify in a world where Homesite costs $89 and plenty of free tools are available for the basic "non-designer" mode?
* What's the advantage of Citydesk over a server-side equivalent of designer-mode plus downloading the MS DHTML edit control in IE4/Win for editing content?
* Shared editing access is dangerous without revision control, or at least one backup. Is it locking on the article/page level?

If I sound a bit sceptical, that is because I am still marveling at how you can make money with a bug tracking system if there are plenty of good, cost-free alternatives. I hope you manage to pull off something similar here, kudos in any case.

Michael Claßen
Wednesday, October 17, 2001

Thank you!

Here are some answers:

In order to keep the HTML editor simple for people who just create new articles (e.g., reporters, contributors, etc.), we decided not to focus on creating the world's best HTML editor. In fact we expect that designers will still want to use Dreamweaver, FrontPage, or hand-coded HTML to get the control they want over templates. So we've made it very easy to use external editors on templates and embedded .HTML files.

Multipage articles: Just out of curiosity, why do people use those? Is it simply to get more page views and more ad inventory? (Personally I don't like them because they interrupt the reader in the middle of the story. Scrolling down is always easier and faster than hitting Next. So I'm curious why anyone uses those if not just for more page views.)

Creation date is supported (.filedDate). Modification date is a good idea. Current URL is available as .link. This is always a relative URL so that your site works wherever it's installed.

Other properties that you want in the HTML meta tags: you can use the EXTRA fields for these and put them in the template. Unfortunately you are limited to 5 extra fields so if you're doing something extremely complicated, you can't do it. (Next version!)

Ordering of elements in foreach loops: we have it. Look for "Creating a Loop" in the help file.

Converting imported files into articles: right now you can do this with cut and paste. Technically the difference between an article and a file is that a file has all the HTML it needs, while an article is a bunch of HTML fragments which need a template to be shown in a browser.

Pluggable upload mechanism: We're working on a more complete architecture, but in the meantime, you can configure a custom "browser" in the Publish window to do the second step (after the FTP).

We think that there are lots of advantages to a desktop application, rather than a web server application, especially in UI. I have yet to see a web-server-based application that lets you drag a picture into a story from the desktop -- due to limitations of HTML, getting a picture into an article always ends up being too clunky for words (which probably explains why so many web sites with high end content management, like, are basically unable to add a picture to a news story.)

Our target market is people who need serious content management software, but do not control the server. Think of how many friends and businesses you know who could use content management. Now -- what percentage of them have the ability to install and run software on the server? Most people only have ftp access and aren't allowed to run arbitrary server software. Try to imagine a small bowling club newsletter buying and installing Oracle and WebSphere :)

Joel Spolsky
Wednesday, October 17, 2001

Re: Multipage articles,
I agree, I'd rather scroll than than hit next most of the time.  But I'm publishing a book.  Each chapter is  self-contained and is a natural stand-alone article.  None-the-less it does flow from chapter to chapter.  I don't think my users are experienced surfers - I think they'll get to the end of the chapter and expect to "turn the page" to get to the next chapter - it's the book metaphor.

I will add a search because I expect family members to search for the names of relatives.  I hope that having the text in chapters will make it easier for them maybe not.

For stand-alone articles I wouldn't expect to have "next" and "previous."

Also, regarding the book metaphor, I'd like to sequence by Chapter number rather than date.  If I could could do a little arithmatic with a keyword (keynumber) called, "sequence," I might be able to handle the next chapter and previous chapter in the templates.  Moreover, since I'm receiveing chapters piecemeal from a number of family typists, I might want to publish chapter 5 before chapter 3.  If I order articles by date, well, I'll just have to keep adjusting the dates.  Folks really get excited when I can quickly publish their work, so I'll happily publish out of sequence.

Re: "So we've made it very easy to use external editors on templates and embedded .HTML files."  I'm having a tough time doing this as you can see in the discussion below:

"Opening files in the editor of your choice"

Terry Kearns
Wednesday, October 17, 2001

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