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CityDesk flash demo: lame? useful? boring?

Since it's my voice on the CityDesk flash demo, I'm totally biased (to wit: I can't stand listening to my own voice). But I want to get as many unbiased opinions as possible about the flash demo. Is it useful? Does it look professional or just cheesy? Should we bother with these things in the future? Have you seen any online software demos elsewhere and did they help you understand the product?

Joel Spolsky
Tuesday, August 20, 2002

Link to the demo:

A helpful soul
Tuesday, August 20, 2002

It rocks. It made me want to try the product. 
It's a good way to get hands-on with the product without the hassle of actually installing it and finding your way through menus, etc..
I think this will work for you.

Claus Christensen
Tuesday, August 20, 2002

It's helpful. I would try to speak a bit slower and clearer though. Might also be the quality of the recording, because at my end it sounds like my speaker was overloaded (too much distortion).

Erik van Linstee
Tuesday, August 20, 2002

One thing... There needs to be a way to restart it from the beginning.  I started it without realizing my volume was turned down and sat watching the desktop doing nothing for about 20 seconds.  So I completely missed the introduction.

I would also show how long the demo will last and maybe a progress bar on it.

Otherwise it was good.

Chris Rickwood
Tuesday, August 20, 2002

BTW Joel, I just reinforced your hypothesis that users don't read anything.  I just noticed the "make sure your sound is on" notice next to the big blue arrow.  Clicking the arrow was obvious, so I didn't bother checking my volume.

Chris Rickwood
Tuesday, August 20, 2002

What's the matter -- was Fran Drescher unavailable to do the narration?  Just kidding.  Your voice is fine.

I downloaded CityDesk a few days ago.  I really only found one thing that was unexpected -- I thought that CityDesk included some FrontPage-like way of creating templates.  It's no big deal for me, as I know HTML, but you might want to emphasize in the demo and in your marketing materials that CityDesk assumes that you (the designer) have some independent way of creating templates (i.e., there is no WYSIWYG template-design tool included as part of the CityDesk package).

Alex Chernavsky
Tuesday, August 20, 2002

I agree, I think it'll work for you.

I don't think any of the tech users will get much out of it but, assuming your great untapped market is the non-tech content producers, the more you show CD doing with the fewest point-and-clicks, the better.

If you're looking for suggestions for future voice-over artists, may I nominate the smoky-voiced Jill Hennessy (of Law & Order fame)?  I'd buy anything from her...

Dunno Wair
Tuesday, August 20, 2002

I think the demo's really good. If I hadn't been sold on it already I would have been after seeing it.

Maybe a nice Scottish accent would have tipped the balance (e.g. Sean Connery or the guy who played Scottie from Star Trek, James Doohan I believe)...

John C
Tuesday, August 20, 2002

The demo was excellent. For a semi-complex product with many differentiators, this type of tutorial really helps. It lowers the anxiety a user might have about ease-of-use.

I thought you spoke a bit fast throughout the demo, but other than that it is excellent.

Dusty Bottoms
Tuesday, August 20, 2002

It is a very nice demo.  My big question is this:  Why doesn't it fit on my 800x600 display?  Do you assume people have 1024x768 now?  Is that the new standard?

I think the demo does a great job of selling the product and I would strongly recommend doing more of them in the future.  Using flash means little impact to user trying to see the demo.  No need for installs or complex downloads.

Matthew Klosky
Tuesday, August 20, 2002

Just something to remember: some companies block Flash at the firewall.  So I couldn't watch this at work.  I'll have to look at it at home ...

Mike S.
Tuesday, August 20, 2002

Alex said:'What's the matter -- was Fran Drescher unavailable to do the narration? Just kidding. Your voice is fine.'

Acutally saw Fran doing a Cancer PSA.  Her voice was deeper without the overwhelming nasally quality you're used to.

Greg Kellerman
Tuesday, August 20, 2002

I think the last scene in the demo shows that IE image thing for cut, crop, emailing pictures in IE.... (if you hover of an image in IE 5 or later I believe) when it is supposed to actually be a browser in the demo... not an image.

Also, it would be nice to be able to go backwards or seek through the demo to different "chapters" or whatever....  I was going to go back and make sure that what I saw was correct on the last page... but didn't feel like watching all over.

In addition,  I agree that the sound quality could have been a little better.... and perhaps lower.

Otherwise, good work and definitely useful.

Tom Davies
Tuesday, August 20, 2002


Excellent Demo. It made me download City Desk! You may also find this site here quite interesting:

I see more and more of these Viewlets out there on the web and they load very quickly + look very cool.

Patrick Ansari
Tuesday, August 20, 2002

I thought the demo was very good except for the audio.

Too many breathing noises and someone I showed it to said your accent is reminiscent of Butthead from Beavis and Butthead. His comment, not mine. Though once he said that, I started to agree with him.

Consider getting a professional voice actor. Probably worth the cost.

The actual spoken content was great though.

Luke Duff
Tuesday, August 20, 2002

Why not having a sync text scrolling somewhere ?

Tuesday, August 20, 2002

It would be good if the animation was broken down into steps, and the user could choose which steps to view.  This could be presented as a menu of choices:

What is CityDesk?
Why would I want to use it?
What features does it have?

This would make it easier to review and would break the content down into manageable chunks.  It would also be good for people who want quick answers to specific questions.


Tuesday, August 20, 2002

The voice and accent are fine. The only problem I have with it is that it takes too long to load. I'm on 256 kb/sec cable and it took quite long ;-(

Apart from that - top notch!

Patrick Ansari
Tuesday, August 20, 2002

I noticed the speed to download as well.  I took a couple of minutes for me.  I was tempted to give up and go elsewhere.

While its downloading, could you just throw up some text, give the view something to do.  A bit or blurb, a quote from a couple of reviews.  Anything to avoid watching that bar inch forward.

Ged Byrne
Tuesday, August 20, 2002


  : P

Dunno Wair
Tuesday, August 20, 2002

Hey Joel,

Looks great! I've actually spent the last five years doing flash content, it really is a great way to get the word out. A few little things that poped out to me (picky mode on):

You really should stream it. There is no need with flash to load the whole thing before starting - mp3 sound (esp of that quality ; ) can stream with a 10 sec buffer on a modem without much problem. If you want to get scientific, you can detect the actual download speed and buffer accordingly.

I think it would be better, and much smaller, if the file was organized into sections. That could even be transparent to the user, but having natural scenes helps the flow of a presentation like that, it kind of unifies things. It also allows for stop points in case of streaming problems. It doesn't have to be much different than it is now, even just something like: 'Next we'll look at publishing your page', and then maybe a quick title (or even skip the title if the next scene is buffered). You also have the option of putting a navigation thing on like on dvd's, or a review page at the end. People often use that when showing someone else a feature, or when they missed a bit for whatever reason. This also helps with production, because if you add/change a feature, you can easily update just one scene.

The big big big one: sound. You really should spend all the time and effort you can to get sound right. I would highly recommend a professional voice (they tend to be pretty cheap and pretty good). Even a local dj is fine, costs can get pretty high for the superstars. A natural voice almost never sounds natural in that kind of enviroment. If you do go with a non professional voice (but I wouldn't!), at very least record it at a professional studio with very good mics and a sound booth. It is really important to get quality input sound with flash, otherwise the compression enhances the artifacts and it sounds like a sick cow. The sound does more than anything to give the aura of 'professional', and its the easiest one to get right.

That all being said, the sound is still worse than it reasonably should be given the size of the file. I suspect you are streaming sound in a movieclip. There is nothing in the flash docs that says you can't, but because of the way swf stores sounds inside each frame, and movieclips run on thier own timeline, sound REALLY suffers when streamed from movieclips. Normally we break up sounds into 10-15 second chunks and make them event sounds - but because this project requires no lip syncing you could get away with longer (though there are plenty of natural breaks anyway). This also allows you not to stream sound when there isn't any, and compress it harder, which together would make a file like this a lot smaller (like half).

After that, you of course want to record at highest quality (44000/16bit/mono), and reduce that only once, from flash, or with a good external program if you are sure flash won't be re-exporting it. Like bitmaps, sound suffers from generational loss after the first round (much like what has been happening in my family over the years).

Last thing about sound, it always helps to have some background in spots. Maybe at the beginning or end or transitions etc, and sprinkled in a few choice places. Nothing obtrusive (music, sfx, background sounds...), mostly stuff you don't notice. This really can make something feel professional, but better none at all than poor quality. Imagine a transition to the school page, some kind of title and way in the background a recess buzzer and the sounds of kids in the playground as your document comes up. Ok, maybe not that, but that kind of thing... Before you think that I'm pitching my sound services with all this, I am no sound guy. We always got the good stuff from the outside : ).

The opening start arrow seems really out of place (graphically) with the rest of the movie. The desktop theme looks great, you might even want to go with some kind of  dialog, for the start text, button...?

A few screens seemed a little long, but no biggie. The speed typing was good, but could have come in even sooner, and happened quicker. A lot of times you get a good effect like that, and the temptation is to show it off a bit, but they are alwyas more effective if they aren't noticed. It just breaks your heart to spends two hours getting something just right, and then showing it for two seconds, but that is how they usually look best... Those are little things though.

Another thing to consider, it can work quite well to get a mailout with a nice brouchure and cd. If you have a clear idea of your target audience, or even specific organizations it could work out. Say mailing samples to news rooms/schools, free 50 page version included, good backup site, custom userID/pw on the mailout etc.

It also might benefit from more 'anchor' - maybe a few separation screens of the same look, or desktop wallpaper with the CityDesk logo, or an outer frame w/logo... Just something to kind of unify it. It is a bit long to just one off like that without beats.

You can also add a playback type bar really easily in flash, pause, stop, ff scrub, time etc. This also helps tie it all together because it is something that is constant through the file. This can be outside the main screen area, something like a TV/monitor looking branded viewport. The dimensions are also a bit large, though when typing text you don't want to get it too small either. Pretty much all our specs still require 800X600 support though. That would also bring the file size down a bit too (though not as much as cleaning the sound would). It is pretty large if you are planning to deliver via the web - for what it is there is no reason it shouldn't stream after a few seconds.

Well, please take this as a critique, not a critism! It does look great, its well written, and it gets the message across. Flash is a great tool for that type of thing, in spite of having a reputation for fluff. As for those machines that can't view flash, it is a pretty sure thing that they block all other types of media too, so they have to settle for html in any case.  Great stuff!


Robin Debreuil
Tuesday, August 20, 2002

The demo itself was adequate.  But I'm going to have to second the suggestion that you do a better voice recording.  The sound quality was just not there.

Tuesday, August 20, 2002

Mental note to self:  Hire Robin if/when you need someone to do Flash animation.

Tuesday, August 20, 2002

(Also making mental note to keep Robin in mind on Flash projects).

Joel, your voice is fine. Others have covered the needs for separate chapters in the Flash demo (which IMO is excellent and made me want to go play with CD) but not much about the recording (unless I missed it).

You don't need a professional voice actor for this; your voice, accent, delivery, and enthusiasm were excellent. What you need is a microphone. Don't try to use the little PC mics, walk to a music store and purchase one of these: . Every music store on the planet will have them; they're the best thing going for general work that doesn't cost over $1000. They usually sell for $80 - $140 or so, or about $50 used. They last forever and you can run over them with a steam roller. Make sure to find a cable/converter set that will let you attach it to your sound card. A cheap pre-amp may also be in order, but not absolutely necessary. Ask the clerk for the minimum setup you need to use that mic with a PC.

When you speak, keep the microphone the same distance from your mouth. Do not get too close, or there will be pops. The SM-58 is a cardoid mic, which means the pickup range is heart-shaped (that's really what it means) so you do have some flexibility with the angle, but you should absolutely lock your arm when talking into it. The SM-58 is also excellent for environments with background noise (like a noisy PC in the office) because it has a short pickup range. It's the same mic used by practically every professional public speaker you've ever heard.

Use a recording program that will let your monitor levels. Your sound card probably came with one. If not, there are some excellent shareware audio packages for under $100 around; e-mail me for suggestions, or just search Google.l The reason you get the dropouts on the recording isn't the quality of the stream, it's that you're pushing the mic to its maximum level of flex. When that happens, you get analog clipping -- any sound over that level sounds the same. That's when you get the "whump" or "pillow-voice" in the recording. With a good mic, speak in a clear normal tone, and make sure the level is high enough in the software you're recording with. Change the pickup by finding the right spot for the mic and the right input level in the software, not by trying to talk louder.

I could go on about recording tips for a few pages, but I'll stop here. There are plenty of tutorials and tips on the web. Don't blow the money on a pro -- you're not doing a TV commercial here. I'd rather hear your enthusiasm on the demo than the polish of a voice actor. It's not difficult to experiment with the mic and the levels to hear what works.

Troy King
Tuesday, August 20, 2002

Speak slowly and use better quality recording. Remember you wanna sell this thing overseas too.

Tuesday, August 20, 2002

or hire me, the guy who did it (and will soon fix robin's bugs) ;-D

christian stadler
Tuesday, August 20, 2002

Very worthwhile.  Do some more of them.  I like the author as narrator.

I think it could help you sell as-is, right now.  I want my affiliate link clickers to be able to see the flash real soon.

Takes me a very long time to load on my modem though.  Better warn folks about it.

Tuesday, August 20, 2002

A great idea.  Dell sends videotapes to cut down on simple customer support calls.  And everytime you see a new OS reviewed, everyone links to screenshots, even when it's absurd. 

This demo needs basic VCR controls, or whatever is technically feasible.

Too much text in the intro.  Why have that much text if the point is that people don't want to read much?

I love people who speak fast (slow talkers bore me) but someone else who listened to this told me it sounded bad.  I believe the problem is that Joel did not have a newbie sitting in front of him.  Speaking into a mike is initially unnatural.  You should imagine people listening to you.  Watch a video of Steve Jobs speaking; he's not the most charismatic speaker I've seen, but he makes it seem he's letting you in on information rather than selling something.

It's too easy to suggest getting a professional speaker, since you lose something not having the company figurehead standing behind his product.  At the very least, Joel can say /something/ somewhere, and then leave it to the voice actor.

Oh yeah, instead of raising pitch when you want to show you believe something, increasing the stress would be better.

Tuesday, August 20, 2002

Certainly ads can work when the CEO makes the pitch, especially when they liked the product so much they bought the company ; ). You really have to look at the requirements I guess, and see what fits. For this I would say that a typical 'use case' would be joe users finds the web site, reads a blurb about the product... hmm, maybe, reads another blurb and skims the feature page. Hmm... then finds the demo and takes a look. So now you probably have a potential customer who is hesitating (at least that is the one you really care to satisfy!). So if reduced to one word, the whole presentation should be *convincing*.

So it is a sales job, short, snappy, authoritative, and in the end it incites the user to get off their butt and order the product (no easy task, but just suggesting it them goes a long way). Also talking yourself/company up helps, but that is very hard to do for yourself. It sounds egotistical if its impressive, or pathetic if it isn't. "I made this great program", vs (deeper voice) "He made this great program".

All the sales tricks too, like testimonials, or an 'oder now' button, a sense of being in a rush as the deal might not last, the sense of a reputable business etc. It feels like fraud when you do it, but really its just recognising the user's doubts/needs/obstacles and dealing with them one by one. We want to be confident we are making the right choice, and need a gentle push to reach for the credit card. You are half way there with this because the viewer is already tempted (they clicked), so you just have to close the sale. Add to that there is only voice (no face), I think the tone and 'covincingness' of the voice is 95%.

It can work with a non-pro voice, just like a developer can make sales, but that isn't the beaten path. If there were a Joel test for ads, I think you would at least lose a point : ). Personally I would prefer the existing one - just I'm not sure it would convice me to buy as much as a more calculating one. Tech is wierd though, a lot of regular rules don't seem to hold, so it mostly depends on who you are planning to sell to I guess.

Troy's advice on mic's/recording is spot on, and certainly that will help a lot. Also, there is a certain 'name awareness', so you definatly want to feature that. Sammy's idea of only 'featuring' the voice might be a great fit. I guess you could run it by the sales dept and see what they say - they would have a good grasp on what works for this situation.

Certainly one thing we found though, a well done presentation like that can work well. The user is pre-motivated, and the bar they judge you by is an animated gif. Compare that to tv, where ads have to take into account that you are probably having a piss in the other room or has their head in a magazine. Software/media works well because you can get it instantly, or preview it instantly, unlike ordering books etc.

Robin Debreuil
Tuesday, August 20, 2002

I liked the demo very much!  It made me want to try City Desk because it presented it very simply (no bells and whistles to clutter the experience), it was easy to follow, and it really communicated the power of (a) having  a desktop application handle changes and (b) the application itself.

I like the touch of the time on the demo actually reflecting the system time on my computer!

The recording was poor, but I liked your reading and enthusiasm, even though you sounded a little breathy.  If you put this on a CD you might consider improving sound quality (if download was the issue with the poppy sound).  I thought you read at a good pace - neither too fast nor too slow.

Tuesday, August 20, 2002

Hmm, I've been thinking about the demo not using Joel's voice.  I instinctively like the roughness of a non-salesperson's delivery.  But frankly, I'm a former debater who doesn't trust most deliveries. ;-)  My personal tastes here are suspect.

If you can find an actor/actress who speaks like Joel writes, that would be sweet.

Tuesday, August 20, 2002

It doesn't work for me.

What I see: The first screen comes up, but nothing follows the text saying 'Percentage Downloaded:'. Clicking on the screen causes no response.

Expected: That it should download all the content, or somehow respond.

Also noticed that the Recycle Bin has a label that looks like an HTML fragment: <p align="L

I'm running IE 6.0.2600 on Win2K with version 5 (not 6) of Macromedia's Flash.

Someone slow to upgrade
Tuesday, August 20, 2002

It  was not at all good demo. Folks here have not seen good demos.

Demo Tester
Wednesday, August 21, 2002

So Demo Tester... I've seen quite a few flash demos, and they've all had gratuitous elements.  (Like lens flares in 1st person shooters.)  Does anyone have examples of tasteful demos that don't scream out THIS WAS DONE IN FLASH?

Anyway, it would be useful to know a baseline to compare this demo to.  As you can tell, many of us have stodgy views on the subject. ;-)  And it was pretty good for costing only a used Aeron chair.

Greg Neumann
Wednesday, August 21, 2002

I watched the demo at work - and don't have any speakers, so the demo was pretty boring!  If I was at home, I would probably be listening to the radio, so wouldn't hear the speech.
I can read far faster that anyone can speak (unless you get a rapper to do it!), so would prefer click-though text.

I'm confused over the purpose of the demo.
If it's to sell the product (it is) then why isn't it showing the sexy bits, and leaving out the dull bits?  Is it doing anything that web pages can't?
If it's to make me more familiar with the product, then create some wizards in the application instead.

Overall, I wasn't really tempted to download CityDesk after viewing the demo.

Wednesday, August 21, 2002

I disagree, it is quite well done, it just needs the polish. Sometimes getting that last 10% is 90% of the work, like most things in life. So if you guys have 9 more chairs, you are in business ; ).

Here's one that is very well made (by Odopod), though also proves that no amount money and talent can prevent some executives from looking like weenies. Ok, sausages. If you can manage to ignore the content, there is a lot to be learned in that one about what is possible to do.

Of course they pulled out all stops there, because the product they are pushing is flash itself. More typically you have the 1-2 week turnaround simple promos, they can take any shape. To be honest I think they give the most bang for the buck, because they are so easy to create and distribute. You want to avoid demo'ing the presentation platform over your own product anyway.


Robin Debreuil
Wednesday, August 21, 2002

Scott, if you didn't have the sound on, you missed the real presentation, which was Joel explaining how CityDesk makes editing the site a lot easier than manual HTML changes. It's hard to visually see how CityDesk saves you three dozen edits with one click.

That does possibly indicate that the demo should be subtitled though.

Troy King
Wednesday, August 21, 2002

I have no sound on my PC at work (well, to be more precise, I have no speakers on my PC at work). So I watched the whole thing without the audio, and apart from a few rather long pauses, the whole thing works pretty well.

However, the option to turn on subtitles would be a nice touch.

Good job.


James Shields
Wednesday, August 21, 2002

The quality of the presentation was great with the exception of the sound quality and the guy who did the voice over.  I would suggest either taking some downers prior to recording or hire a pro.

Brad Siemens
Wednesday, August 21, 2002

Forgot to add <g>!

Brad Siemens
Wednesday, August 21, 2002

> But I want to get as many unbiased opinions as possible about the flash demo. Is it useful?

I haven't seen a need to instal Flash and therefore can't see the demo. If I were into Web content though (your target audience) then perhaps I would have Flash.

Christopher Wells
Wednesday, August 21, 2002

Loved it! Your voice somehow sounds just like I thought it would. The demo was fun and easy to follow. I try to look at things like this from the perspective of "your average user" but it's hard. I think though, for "your average user" this demo would be a breath of fresh air. Nothing hard. No vocabulary to learn. Also it's good that you stuck to "demo" and didn't do a technology review. You just showed the product working. Felt like I was at a tradeshow. In fact this would be perfect for a screen on endless loop at a tradeshow. Great job. Another home run for Fogcreek. Congrats to Christian for making it.

Phillip Harrington
Wednesday, August 21, 2002

Having read all of the comments now (I usually just plow ahead and post when there's lots...) I want to comment again on the voice over. I wouldn't change the content. It was very very relaxed and easy going. The tone of voice was soothing and had a "see how easy this is?" feel to it. I think a professional voice over and sound recording can only improve on the demo if you don't loose that "this is fun and simple" quality. It was remnicent of early Mac demos.

Phillip Harrington
Wednesday, August 21, 2002

Christian and Joel:

The script is good. The things you choose to show are good choices.

The Flash job is quite fine if it took you a day or two to produce it. It's perfectly worth the Aeron chair, of course.

You should be polishing it, however. I agree with most suggestions (the ones needing urgent attention being streaming and taking and producing the audio again, carefully.)

And, if you need to use paxlogica, frame it from the fogcreek domain. brand brand brand.

It's good that you've tested it here.

RE-TEST it again before getting it to the masses (by the way, HOW will do you actually plan to get people watching it?)

Thursday, August 22, 2002

If you're going to hire a professional voice-over artist, I'd suggest getting Ellen Feiss.  Apparently, she's spawned some sort of Internet cult (à la Mahir):

J. D. Trollinger
Thursday, August 22, 2002

Thought of something else.  I would recommend the EXACT same thing for some help topics.  This demo got me to download and experiment with the product.  I really wished for a JOEL guided help video/flash in a couple of places.  Just had to experiment, but the videos/flash would have helped.

Matthew Klosky
Thursday, August 22, 2002

J.D., I had not heard of Ellen Feiss before your links. After watching that ad over and over just now, I think that anything she's selling, I'm buying :)

Troy King
Friday, August 23, 2002

The voice is ok, but it's better like this :


Dody Gunawinata
Friday, August 23, 2002

The demo is very good, but after you publish, there is a button called "Preview in Explorer".

This confused me at first (it's one of those rough edges that add up, that you've talked about).  "Preview"?  But I just published it, didn't I?  Wouldn't I be "previewing" *before* I publish?  In that case, maybe I didn't just publish - although, it certainly looked like I published.  Etc.

I think "View in Explorer" would be much better.  "Preview" means, "look at it before you do something important with it", which is not how it's being used on that button.

Just my two cents.

Larry Leonard
Friday, August 23, 2002

I agree with most of the comments above, improve the recording quality, add captions/click-thru play.  The thing that caught my eye was the title of one of the articles on your sample school site: "Kids make nutritious snacks" -- but are kids tasty as well?

Fred Wu
Friday, August 23, 2002

The background music in that clip distracts and wouldn't Joel have to pay royalties to Eminem?

Patrick Ansari
Friday, August 23, 2002

I think the quality of the recording is rather low, the voice is fine. It would help to record the audio track in a slightly more professional studio. Just my opinion.

Beka Pantone
Sunday, August 25, 2002

In my opinion the voice recording is poor and distracting; not only the quality but also the delivery.

Joel, if you are going to pitch it yourself get into a studio with a professional voice over coach.  Expect to spend a good day at getting it right.  If you cannot take a day to do it hire a pro.

A few of the problems I had with the delivery:
- Going down on the ends of sentences. If you want to engage interest the inflection should rise toward the end.

-You were gasping for breath at times and sounded a bit panty.

-Swallowing words

Monday, August 26, 2002

BTW, there's no need to preload the whole 1.5 demo at load time. You could probably preload less than 50% and get the thing underway sooner, then load the rest in the background during play.

Tuesday, August 27, 2002

I missed one main area (being a user and knowing what CityDesk can do): a list of intense sites created by CityDesk. Although the demo states that even high-intensity editor rooms could be run on this piece of software, there is no example on it. The demo shows a straightforward web piece, without extras (which is good and gets us to the point).
Adding this "list" would probably convince people looking for a workhorse tool, too.
A sentence on programming, stating that you can achieve a lot without it, but even more with it would also do (just like Word, btw).

Jozsef Toth
Tuesday, August 27, 2002

I'd love a pause button.

Cameron Shaw
Thursday, August 29, 2002

Good demo.

Just a little detail, perhaps you speak sometimes too quickly for an international audience.

The demo is good, but I'd like a button to "play-stop" the animation, and if possible a progress bar to hear again some passages that weren't clear at the first time.

Vincent Bénard
Monday, September 2, 2002

I'd like to add my voice to the calls for VCR controls.  I was a little way in to the demo when someone came in to my office talk to me about something important.  I quickly looked for a pause button, couldn't see one, so hit Ctrl-F4 to shut the window and shut it up.

I liked what I'd seen and quite fancied seeing the rest ... but good as the first few minutes were I can't face sitting through them again.  A fast-forward button would have helped me here.

It did seem to be a good demo and was just starting to get interesting ... and it's nice to hear what Joel sounds like.  I agree with the advice to get a good mic and improve the sound quality.  The actual voice was seemed fine to these British ears, and the speed of delivery was great.  So often narrated demos drag and drag and seem to assume I'm an idiot.

Monday, September 2, 2002

As a demo, not bad at all.  My only complaint is with using Flash.  I watch Quicktime movies in my browser from time to time, and it's really easy to change the volume, see how long it's going to be, pause, back up to see something again, etc.  With Flash, I have none of this.  And it SOUNDS REALLY LOUD here so I had to turn my system volume down to the minimum.  But the content of the demo is fine.

J. Random Hacker
Friday, September 6, 2002

Wow. Maybe I'm too stupd to understand Joel's original pitch but it wasn't until I saw this demo that I realised CityDesk is the Wrong Thing (TM). So in that sense the flash demo was good, because now I understand what CityDesk actually is. It also caused me to re-evaluate all UI design advice I've seen from Joel, second hand or not. That's a strange, ugly piece of software you have there.

People who mentioned pro voices are right. They can't see you, and they don't get to touch the product (during the demo) so their first impression is the voice. Also there are a lot of places where it sounds like Joel is fighting to keep himself from starting a long winded rant that the demo's target audience won't understand. The pro voice doesn't understand or care about what you've written. Their voice sounds interested but they are mentally detached and won't feel any urge to shout "Not everyone has WebDAV" or "... unlike web text editors which all suck".

Nick Lamb
Friday, September 20, 2002

Here in 2004 the demo looks great. It comes up immediately and gives a good overview of the product.  I think using your voice is a good idea because it gives me a sense of the person who wrote the product. I'd use this technique more often. After the demo, I downloaded the eval.

Eddie Dickey
Saturday, January 24, 2004

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