Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board

New Look

What do you think about the new look of Joel on Software?

(If you're not seeing it yet, take a peek at ).

Joel Spolsky
Wednesday, November 7, 2001

I'm a huge proponent of clean, simple design, so I absolutely love the new look.  One properly placed image is really all a good website needs...

Monsur Hossain
Wednesday, November 7, 2001

Sorry! There was an error: The attribute "allowDirectoryListings" must be true.
The error was detected by Frontier 6.2.1 in mainResponder.respond. Webmaster: Time: Wed, 07 Nov 2001 07:55:03 GMT

Roman Eremin
Wednesday, November 7, 2001

I like the new look but think I may have spotted a incorrect link, or maybe not? On the 'Whats going on here page' there is a link the discussion group, but it goes to the CityDesk discussion group, not the Joel On Software board.

Wednesday, November 7, 2001

Great new look. Amazing what can be acheived by using just plain old HTML.

s k rao
Wednesday, November 7, 2001

Ben, you're right! Fixed.

Roman, that's an error message from Manila, which must be on the old server, but I'm not sure why you're seeing it. What URL causes that error?

Joel Spolsky
Wednesday, November 7, 2001

Whoops. If you're getting the "allow directory listings" error on "", that's my fault. It will go away and you'll get the new site as soon as DNS gets updated, within a day or two. (In the meantime will point to the old page).

Joel Spolsky
Wednesday, November 7, 2001

This isn't really related to the new look, but I guess to every CityDesk-generated site: what's up with those funky fogXXXXXXXXXX URL's? There's no way I can tell one of those to a friend over the phone, or from memory.

Petru Paler
Wednesday, November 7, 2001

Nice look.  The FOG URLs are tough to remember but I can barely remember the easy ones anyway.

Make sure to tell us how you do it in CityDesk: The HTML files, the articles, the scripts, the variables.

Terry Kearns
Wednesday, November 7, 2001

I put the two side-by-side.  I am ignoring the visual improvements, because you could for the most part have made the two sites look identical.  (But the new look is elegant.)

I think Userland was good for driving people to your site.  I actually learned about this site from Slashdot, but many people go to Userland as well.  So I think it's a marketing mistake while being a technically good thing to do.

I like the fact that we can actually look at old front pages easily now, following the link in Archives.  It was a pain, going through that calendar.  Of course, if there was another way, I didn't find it in the five minutes I spent looking.

That's pretty much it for the contentious issues.  I like the comfortable Unixy URLs of the old site, but I don't think that really means anything.

BTW, I remember that entertaining (as long as you don't follow his predictions) gossip columnist Bob Cringely mentioning that readership always increases strongly after a major site redesign.  I don't know if your changes constitute a major one, but it would be interesting to know if it jumps for you.  Especially since your site will no longer be tracked by Userland.

forgotten gentleman
Wednesday, November 7, 2001

"Porting Joel on Software to CityDesk involved a lot of manual copying-and-pasting -- something I never would have had the patience for if it wasn't for the opportunity to thoroughly test CityDesk."

You've probably already thought of this for somewhere down the road, but just in case: I wonder whether providing an easier migration path from Userland or Blogger (like a wizard that you could point at a Userland site to suck all the content into a new CityDesk installation) might help CityDesk sales.

Then again, trying to sell to people who are used to FREE might not be the best marketing plan.

Mike Gunderloy
Wednesday, November 7, 2001

I really like the new look.  When I stopped by this morning the teaser was still in place to look at the new site.  The look is clean and elegant.  The only thing I miss is the favorite articles that were listed in the left nagivation bar.  I went to the archives and the articles were there, but not in the favorites listing.  I have pointed many folk to those favorite articles and they have been helpful discussion starters. 

Regarding the importing from other site management tools, the folks at Movable Type have incorporated Blogger and Greymatter conversion tools that will scrape content into the new application.  I agree that an importing tool like this would be a helpful bit of functionality to help move a potential user into the fold.  Many of these other tools have set variables that make conversion rather straightforward.

Thomas Vander Wal
Wednesday, November 7, 2001

I have to say that the little running waiter in the top right corner of each article confused me for a minute.

Johannes Bjerregaard
Wednesday, November 7, 2001

I like the new look.

What's missing is a convenient way for readers to browse blog postings. For instance, in order to view blog entries for October 2001, one must go to the archive, scroll to the bottom of this page (which is quite long - Joel is a prolific writer), then click on the link for October 2001.

This process of "casual" browsing might be made simpler by placing links for "prev" and "next" at the top and bottom of each page containing blog postings. Another solution is to incorporate a select (dropdown) box containing an index of every month in the archive. (an elegant example:

David Lu
Wednesday, November 7, 2001

I like the look, but am wondering if you will be creating an RSS or RSS-like feed for the new site.

Dave Liebreich
Thursday, November 8, 2001

What new look? It's basically the same! If you had switched to a black background with purple text, added a couple of animated skulls and a "Penis enlargement now!" banner I would have called it a new look! However, the new organization of the archive is great and even if the site still looks and feel like the "old" one, it's still a good, clean and simple design, which I think is what you stand for in the first place. Keep up the good work!!

Frank R
Thursday, November 8, 2001

Yeah, I can create an RSS feed pretty easily and it's on my list.

What are people using these for? If I knew who my "RSS" clients were it would be easier to figure out what to put in it.

Joel Spolsky
Thursday, November 8, 2001

So, what's the good way to print an article so that the text is wider than three inches (i know, killing trees and all that).  In the old days of the web, I would just print the frame that holds the article, and thus ignore all of the sidebar stuff.  But now the best way to get a "printable" article here is to view the source, remove the junk, save it off as a new HTML, then open that file up and print it.

Thursday, November 8, 2001

I'm not a programmer, I'm a hack: monkey see, monkey do. Do you paste each new article into the teaser or have you created a variable that accomplishes this in CityDesk?

Ray Lutz
Thursday, November 8, 2001

Nice!  Very clean design without being cluttered with text and an annoying variance of color.  I like the "What's Going On Here" link prominence, too. 

I do wish your name were a little larger / more noticible, though.  I like the way the "fog creek software" name is very noticible (while also being delightfully, if perplexingly, unobtrusive) on these Discussion pages.

I first heard of Joel by searching the web for programming/web Usability, and have been engrossed ever since.  I make my co-workers read it, too. 

Thursday, November 8, 2001

Any chance you could add the days of the week to the blog posting headers? It would make it easier to tell at a glance whether you've blogged anything recently. Picky? But of course. I'm a user.
Otherwise the new look is as clear and easy to read as the old one. 
The question is... Is it any easier to produce?

Anonymous Coward
Thursday, November 8, 2001

Nice. Clean and uncluttered with no 'arty' 3pt fonts.

One miniscule quibble (you asked!): I'm incredibly lazy, so your navigation list would be improved if the third item was either just 'Archive' (the complete being redundant), or had 'Complete' as part of the link. Then I wouldn't have to exert all that effort aligning my pointer off the natural vertical ;-)

Stuart H
Thursday, November 8, 2001


I use a RSS aggregator (Radio Userland, at this time) to read a number of sites.  Less work than going to each site in a separate browser window.  Easier for me than going through updates sent via email.

Dave Liebreich
Sunday, November 11, 2001

When I am asked "what do you think of the new look" I do "view source". Basically, the HTML looks nice and tidy but there are some flows and glitches. (It's not clear what was cut and pasted from the old site, only the text or the complete HTML code.) Creating an application that doesn't crash AND produces the pages the way you want them to look is hard enought, but good HTML and standards complience is the next step.

Exhibit A: Inconsistant tag case
            <table ...>
            <P ...>

Exhibit B: <a></a></A>

Good luck (and thanks for testing Hebrew)

Hanan Cohen
Tuesday, November 13, 2001

Found a broken link on
The link to download the whole HTML of your book is empty under the book graphic in the text...
"Download the whole dang book as a big HTML page
so that you can print it out and read it on the bus."

Dan Petitt
Tuesday, November 13, 2001

thanks! fixed.

Joel Spolsky
Wednesday, November 14, 2001

By the way, if you have a unix shell available, a simple way to check whether your HTML code is valid is the following:

$ curl -s | tidy -errors

curl can be had from and tidy is available at


Florian Unterkircher
Wednesday, November 14, 2001

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Saturday, January 31, 2004

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