Product Reviews

Web Publishing Made Easy

Make daily updates a no-brainer.

Fog Creek Software's CityDesk falls broadly into the category of Content Management Systems (CMS). But it's not a multi-thousand dollar high-end package like those sold by Microsoft and other big-name vendors. Rather, CityDesk is a CMS designed to help any reasonably savvy computer user maintain a Web site without extensive training.

The basic notion of CityDesk is that you write content for your Web site as "articles," which use a simple word- processor-like interface. You can work with the raw HTML if you like, but you don't have to. Then the articles are stitched together into a site by the use of templates, which have a simple substitution and macro language to allow them to show things like the date posted or the titles of all articles in a specified folder as hyperlinks. When you're done designing, it's a one-button click to publish to an FTP site or folder.

One of the nicest things about the program is that publishing actually synchronizes the Web site to what's in CityDesk now, which means even non-technical users can keep a Web site up to date. There's also built-in support for multiple versions, whether that means an on-screen version and a printer-ready version, French and German, or whatever. Everything I've tried in CityDesk works, works well, and works intuitively -- at least it's intuitive to me.

So why should a developer care? There are at least two places where CityDesk can fit into my own development life. First, I'll probably start using it to update some corner of my own web site that changes frequently but where I don't want to be bothered running FrontPage or some other behemoth program. Part of the name of the game in being an independent is to get your name out there; one way to do that is to frequently add new content to your web site, so that people have a reason to visit and so that you remain on their mind when they want to buy your skills. The easier it is to add new content, the more likely you are to do it, right? With CityDesk, it's a no-brainer to churn a client-oriented page every day.

Second, I'm going to be moving some of my own clients to CityDesk. Likely you have clients who have web sites but who can't quite seem to maintain them. Want to get away from that part of the work? Install CityDesk, teach someone which button to push, end of problem. There's no reason to spend your time on posting the latest round of company news and picnic plans.

You can get a copy to play with from http://www.fogcreek.com/. Prices range from Free for the Starter Edition (which is limited to 50 files on a single site) to $349 per user for the multi-user professional edition.

About the Author

Mike Gunderloy, MCSE, MCSD, MCDBA, is a former MCP columnist and the author of numerous development books.

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