Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board

Is Joel missing a market ?

I was just thinking today .. Who is going to buy the CityDesk ?
Companies willing to create their sites.
From scratch because I doubt that someone will port. Now - is there any big company out there starting to build it's web-presentation today ?
I just don't know - correct me if I'm wrong.
As fas as I know making money on the Web became quite difficult for many people, so "Web-portal" or "Web-journal" sounds like a non-profit
organization today. For me, at least.
It may be possible to make some money in the Web for huge portals with thousands of hits - but they already have their sites built (= no need in CityDesk) and no newcomers are expected, I'm afraid (= no need in CityDesk).

Wasn't CityDesk supposed to born .. say 3-5 years before ? I want to hear that I'm stupid moron who doesn't understand what's going on and that Joel knows what he's doing. Please, explain me.

Joel, nothing personal, but when you say how stupid it was to run after the Internet hype - wasn't it you who did the same ?
FogBUGZ has a Web-oriented interface, CityDesk is planned to create a Web-sites ..
I think Internet had us all.

Evgeny Goldin
Sunday, December 9, 2001

I'm curious what "told" Fog Creek that writing such a thing was a sensible thing.  I can't imagine Joel, ét al having an epiphany -- "People need something.. which lets them create WEB PAGES!!!"

So Let's See:

1)  Everything for letting nonspecialists create webpages is difficult and buggy.  I've heard many the lamentation about Fontpage, and others.  The other tools just don't hide enough underlying complexity.

Keep in mind that Joel has been bouncing around in places like Userland, trying to find software that allows him to manage webpages and discussion boards.  Therefore we can assume he really knows the landscape.

2)  Like FogBugz, maybe many of Fog Creek's clients wanted it and perhaps even committed to buying licenses.  Especially if many of Joel's clients were companies craving quick ways of inexpensively creating web pages (without ongoing costs) or perhaps even have better internal communication sites.

I do not believe there is any very good method for such corporate internal communications right now, that uses the "pull" buzzword method.

3)  Fog Creek may not have a marketing budget.  But they do have programmers.  If you don't have marketers, but a lot of programmers, how do you use them?  Hmm...

"Come to if you want to download the software...  Stay at the discussion boards while you are here..!  Yes, message boards are addictive, are they not?  And tell your CTO friends about how Joel Understands you and your kind...."

Sunday, December 9, 2001

Joel is missing the market described in the first post, but I don't think that's the market he is going after.

One market where Joel has an opportunity is the workgroup website on a coporate intranet.  CityDesk is the perfect tool for this use.

Nona Myous
Sunday, December 9, 2001

I would personally target Universities.

Hey, Joel I could pitch for you guys at Rutgers, what do you say? :-)

Prakash S
Sunday, December 9, 2001

For every big-time corporate site there are thousands of little sites for schools, churches, non-profits, tiny businesses.  Someone built these sites 3 years ago, he's the only one who really knows how to update it and he's burned out, got a job in another city, or is having a baby.  I'm "re-designing" one of these right now.

Now, I can use FrontPage (becase I know it) but I will be stuck as webslave forever.  I can use a web based content manager that has been offered to us nearly free, but I'll have learn it, frequently contact the host service, and I'll still be stuck as webslave.  Or, I can use CityDesk:  It gives me a small chance of teaching someone else how to use it when I burn out.

Even if I remain the webslave (a very high probability) I will be able to update the site with almost no effort compared to the alternatives.

What really impressed me was showing my "client" how the new site might work in CityDesk.  Now, all my client knows is email and MS Word on a Mac.  I'd built this tiny little site.  As she watched, I added an article, pasted in some text from one of her emails, spell checked it, and published it.  She said, "Is that all you have to do?"

Terry Kearns
Sunday, December 9, 2001

I can see a great purpose for City  Desk.

I am often asked by people I come across (friends, family, people I meet etc) about how they should do their website with little or no HTML experience.

They have small businesses, local community groups etc

I get asked because my job is web related, and most people don't know the difference between HTML and a data driven web application.

Some of these people I am inclined to help, I am happy to throw together a few HTML pages for them, but what scares me is ongoing maintainence of the sites.

The other thing (and I am sure a lot of you know this) is people want a site, so they will get everything together for you "any day now". You have said OK to helping someone out, and they string you along for months waiting for some content to put in there.

If I were to set it up as a CityDesk site, I can do a template, set up the FTP and hand it over. They can play and update to their hearts content. As soon as they hit the 50 file limit, they can go buy the next version.

I think it is a perfect solution, these people don't care about browser based publishing, XML, ASP.Net or any other damn thing, they just want to be able to put their company / group news up on their website.

They also don't want to pay for Database hosting or dynamic sites.

I can see a real market here, people like myself set up the basic HTML template, and hand it over. I can then not worry about the thing again.

Sunday, December 9, 2001

I think it is NOT missing ANY market.

People was waiting for a sotware like CityDesk to built intranets, personal web pages (don't expect to get any money from they, but it helps to spread software), etc.

Sunday, December 9, 2001

You're a stupid moron. :-)

There are thousands and thousands of new, smaller sites been created right now. Even by big companies either for their public web sites, or more likely their intra and extranets (pardon the terminology).

When Joel remarks on internet hype, he's definitely not suggesting that the internet is unuseful. If you read Joel's articles and see FogCreek's *actions* you see that they make development decisions based on what they determine to be best for their product, not based on hyped technologies or VC mandates. This, in no way, precludes them from developing a web interface for a bug tracking system.

Patrick Breitenbach
Monday, December 10, 2001

Ok, people/corporates will buy CityDesk and I wish they buy a lot.

My second part's meaning was that Internet is a new media many of us work for now. And somehow .. it seemed to me that Joel thinks of himself as being smart enough to not jump into "pure Web interfaces", but then a word "Web"
appeared in both company's products, FogBUGZ
doesn't have a usual GUI (ok, it's not a main product but "what we already had"), so I thought
"what difference does it make ?"
For me Joel is working for Web as everybody else,
whether it's Visual Basic GUI or Web-interface ..

Evgeny Goldin
Monday, December 10, 2001

Say exaggerations, make compromises.  You can't take what anyone says as The Truth, but rather as a pointer.

The context of his remarks was in refuting the commonly held belief that something MUST have a pure webXMLjava interface.  In the past, the conventional wisdom was that you should be harvesting eyeballs, and before then people thought that Barnes & Noble and the local pet store were on their last legs.

Bret Harbinson
Monday, December 10, 2001

He's using the interface that best suits the product! For example, since it's highly likely for a QA department to be running a bunch of different machine types (they *test* after all!) then it makes sense for the front-end to work on more platforms. For content management, they made the (good) decision to sacrifice 100% of the target audience (they only support about 90%!) in order to reap the usability/productivity/efficiency benefits of a pure Windows interface.

Much to many people's chagrin, Joel's not a platform or technology bigot. He just uses what he thinks is right for his product.

Patrick Breitenbach
Monday, December 10, 2001

Right now the web is full of sites that were produced by over eager companies who paid a consultant a too much to build and publish the site.

Now the sites are all hopelessly out of date, but the consultants charge a fortune for updates.

What these companies want to do is keep their sites content - perhaps special offers, menus, price lists, simple stuff - up to date.  They don't want to have to spend a lot of money doing this.

With Citydesk their administration staff, who are already maintaining all the content in Word, can maintain the site at little extra cost.

Just copy and paste the data into Citydesk, tidy up and publish to the web.  Easy.

Ged Byrne
Tuesday, December 11, 2001

I used to manage our corporate web site.  We did a "look and feel update" about 1 time a year.  The site was 200 static HTML pages.  We didn't have the budget to redo it as a database driven application, and even if we did, we didn't control our server.

Frontpage templates won't do what CityDesk does.  Once you put the "content" into the template, it's just another web page that needs to be rebuilt the next time you change your look.

CityDesk is perfect for what we were doing.  If I were still in charge, I'd buy a copy of CityDesk and start porting.  The first time would be a bear, but updates after that would be a breeze.


Bob Crosley
Wednesday, December 19, 2001

The market for CityDesk is potentially huge. Witness the success of products like HotDog. What Joel appears to have delivered is a no-nonense, easy-to-use tool for creating HTML sites. Pages, yes - but, more importantly, sites - or collections of pages. Anyone can slap together some pages. But keeping them in a coherent structure that can be easily updated isn't has easy as it might seem - and the tools that do exist are either expensive or complicated or suck. Products like FrontPage are attractive, but extremely complicated. Dreamweaver is powerful and flexible. But cost and a steep learning curve confront any new user. Free tools, especially web-based ones, are poor at managing "sites" and definitely not designed for building private or commercial sites.

I wrote a program named "WEB Wizard: The Duke of URL" (the name was clever in '95 <g>) that tens of thousands of people downloaded and started using. Even when more sophisticated tools were created, there was still a huge audience for simple-to-use tools. I see that need even greater today. And remember, Joel doesn't have to reach everyone to be successful - just a very tiny market. And 100,000 or so users is consider VERY tiny. Imagine selling $79 licenses to half that number! Not bad.

CityDesk has a bright future if Joel et al. can aggressively promote its existence.

David Geller
Wednesday, December 26, 2001

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home