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Why is the starter edition free??

I'm curious to hear the reasoning behind this decision.

I'm not complaining mind you.

B Tag
Friday, December 7, 2001

You are obviously no angler...

I'ts the bait on the hook!!

Friday, December 7, 2001

To get more testers I suppose. Those that won't buy the product anyway ..

Goldin Evgeny
Friday, December 7, 2001

Yeah, but in this case the fish can nibble at the bait
and not have to swallow the hook. 

I've found that when companies do this the perception
among users is that their software is free.  How many people do you know who actually paid for Netscape?

I realize that in this case there are limitations to the
starter edition but are these limitations restrictive enough to make people want to upgrade. Fifty pages sounds like
enough for most home users to me.

B Tag
Friday, December 7, 2001

- They have no real marketing budget, at least in the conventional sense.

- Users are not willing to switch over for crippled products.  One real barrier Joel had to break down is how to get people interested in Citydesk amid competition.

- Users are not fish that you arrogantly play games with.  They will leave if they think they're being taken advantage of.  And they will be loyal if they think someone deserves it.

Why don't you look at the archive of Joel's writings?  What he's doing is obvious if you read them.

Friday, December 7, 2001

To quote from the information about the free version:
"You can use it to publish a site containing no more than 50 files (including articles, pictures, etc.). This edition is not multiuser enabled"

So it's not 50 pages (unless use use no images, etc) and without multiuser capabilities, it's worthless to sites that have more then one writer/editor.

Besides the people who will use it for small, personal websites it's also an easy/hassle free way to get it into the hands of people to evaluate.

Jeff Pleimling
Friday, December 7, 2001

>  They have no real marketing budget,
> at least in the conventional sense.

Fog Creek doesn't spend a lot in marketing but they achieve the same result as if they have an army of marketers.

Look, just being conservative, let’s say Joel spends 4 hours a day maintaining this site. Again, being conservative, this costs Fog Creek $200 an hour. So at the very least Fog Creek spends $200 * 4 * 20 = $16000 a month on this “marketing campaign”.

And they are very successful in this regard. Think about it, how many bright minds are hitting Joel's site everyday? And how many of these fellows spread the words among their peers? And what's more effective than to have your company's name appeared on Slashdot :-) ?

I'm not kidding. When were just in its infancy, the two founders kept doing interviews with magazines and online publications (wired, web techniques). They even wrote a brilliant war story explaining how they did it and the technical innovation behind. Of course they were also mentioned in Slashdot, and the rest is history (at least it’s relevant when it happened, whether their business is viable is a different story :-) )

Friday, December 7, 2001

BTW, maybe Joel will be kind enough to share with us some statistics from his Webtrends reports.
It must be interesting ;-)

Friday, December 7, 2001

Joel wrote (follow the link above):
Now, back to, my old search service. Lock-in? Well, I'm afraid not. It took me 20 minutes to switch over to Google. Kiss them goodbye.

When Joel wrote his rationale for writing city desk the way he did one of the most dubious was the reason for not writing XML.

He stated that XML was no good for data storage.

Of course, only Architecture Astronauts would think of using XML for storing data.  The obvious place to use XML would be for the templates.

Instead of using XML City desk uses its own curley brace notation.

If he had of used XML then they could have used XSL rather than writing their own Cityscript.

Sure, there XSL can be complex, but it can also be used just like Cityscript.

I think the real reason is to gain the stealth lockin that Atomz lacked.

If all the templates were in XML and XSL then users could switch over to a new content management package in 20 minutes.  Since everythings hidden away in one database file.  Stealth lock in achieved.

This is great for getting the SME using, and finally purchasing, Citydesk.  You need a small site under 50 files so you use Citydesk.  Then you need to add a few pages and you either have to start from scratch or upgrade.  With the price being so good, its easiest to upgrade.

What about the companies that already have a site?  Joel says that the easiest way to get these to switch is to make it easy to switch back.  Will there be an 'Enterprise' edition, priced for that market, that will support XML and XSL.

Ged Byrne
Friday, December 7, 2001

Or maybe it's because Joel and his folks just don't have the hots for XML, and decided that given the simple nature of what they needed, it was a good idea to reduce risk by not depending on someone else's XML library.

Johannes Bjerregaard
Friday, December 7, 2001

*Not* offering a free version of a software product or service is suicidal. The best way, by far, to determine if a product delights you is to actually *use* it. Especially with an "experiential" product like CityDesk that doesn't necessarily define a new category but does what it does really well. Since the marginal cost of a software product is zero, there is almost no down-side, as long as the free version is configured properly. It is simple to envision scores of folks trying out the starter edition, figuring out that it suits their needs and purchasing it. It is equally easy to envision there being no free edition customers!

Patrick Breitenbach
Friday, December 7, 2001

You might be right about the stealth lock-in; I think we shouldn't underestimate Joel's deviousness.  But I think that if XML and Cityscript are so isomorphic, then it shouldn't be hard to write a translator between them.  At least one that just accepts "reasonable" scripts.

XML was never intended to be human-readable.  With that in mind, it's important to have a scripting language that is.

More than anything else, I think it's a morale issue.  People don't want to be working with XML because it's such a flavor-of-the-month hype machine.  One that will last, but it's not that fun or creative going with the crowd, even if it were objectively the "right" way to go.

Richard Jenkins
Saturday, December 8, 2001

I think it's a morale issue. People don't want to be working with XML because it's such a flavor-of-the-month hype machine.

                    Richard Jenkins

Or maybe it's because Joel and his folks just don't have the hots for XML

                    Johannes Bjerregaard

Having read his articles, I doubt Joel would ever make a moral issue or personal taste interfere with good commercial sense.  I think that for the market Citydesk is initially aimed at Cityscript is a better choice than XML/XSLT.

- It assists stealth lock in.

- With the use of curley braces the city desk templates look just like Work mail merge templates.  This gives them a pleasant familiarity.

- XSLT has some inherent weaknesses, such as handling date and time.  There are workarounds, of course, but it always stumps the newcomer.

But I think that if XML and Cityscript are so isomorphic, then it shouldn't be hard to write a translator between them.

                    Richard Jenkins

Cityscript could be converted into XSLT automatically with ease, so no doors have been closed.  Ater all, Microsoft have adopted XML in a big way.

Ged Byrne
Saturday, December 8, 2001

Sorry, that should be 'Word mail merge' rather than 'Work.'

Ged Byrne
Saturday, December 8, 2001

It is kind of obvius why it is free. Main reasons were written above.

Saturday, December 8, 2001

On the topic of CityScript vs. XML/XSLT: it's incredibly simple.

I think CityDesk is going to see a huge market in home users and small businesses. I can't see the average user in either of those markets grappling with XML/XSLT, but my Grandma could write CityScript.

CityDesk was not written for programmers, it was written so the average computer user could maintain web pages.

Darren Collins
Sunday, December 9, 2001

Take a look at this thread:

Now everything just gets better.  Not only can a non technical person use Citydesk to build a site.  Not only is it relatively simple to convert between Cityscript and XSLT.  You can also manipulate the whole site through ADODB!

Lock in at one end and open doors at the other, brilliant!

Ged Byrne
Monday, December 10, 2001

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