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Getting Started with CityDesk

By Joel Spolsky; March 01, 2002
Note that this is one of the sample articles that comes with CityDesk; I do not claim copyright on this article [Simon Moore]

CityDesk is a powerful web content management system that you run on your own desktop. Using CityDesk, you can create a sophisticated web site that is easy to maintain and manage.

This is a single article. The CityDesk article is like a powerful, built-in word processor, with WYSIWYG formatting, a spell checker, search and replace, perpetual word-count, etc. Use the "Properties" and "Extras" tabs (above) to edit the other aspects of this article, like the author and headline.

In the main window, use the "New Article" icon to create more articles. Use the "Preview on This Computer" icon to see what your site will look like when it is published. Use the "Variables" icon to change the name and tagline of your site.

You can change anything you want about the appearance of your site. Edit the index article in the main window to change the front page. Use the Templates icon to modify the template that is used to format articles, or add your own templates. You'll see little bits of CityDesk scripting language code, a very simple language that defines how pages are assembled when you publish the site.

You can drop pictures, HTML files, or any other kind of file into the main window - they will be published as-is. You can even create directories and subdirectories, which will be copied to the web server.

Once the site appears the way you like it, use the "Publish Locations" icon to add a new location where you want your site to be published. This can be either a directory or an FTP server. This will create a new toolbar icon which you can use to publish to that location.

You've only scratched the surface of CityDesk's incredible power. You can also:

  • create a multilingual site, with split-screen translations
  • create new template families to create versions of your site for different devices or with different appearances (for example, a "printer-friendly" version, a Microsoft Word document, an XML version, or a concise version for PDAs)
  • define multiple audiences and fine-tune your message for each audience
  • create articles which only appear after and/or before a certain date
  • work with multiple authors simultaneously. Just put the CityDesk .cty file on a share and up to 255 authors, designers, and editors can open it at the same time!
  • use variables to create text throughout the site which can be changed in just one place
  • turn off "designer mode" so that you don't accidentally change the overall site appearance. With designer mode off, CityDesk is the easiest way for complete novices to add content to a site that you designed.

The tutorial (in the main window, choose Help >> Tutorial from the menu) will get you up and running in ten minutes.

Fog Creek Software takes your feedback seriously. Please email with suggestions for improvements and features you'd like to see.

We don't have room here to describe all the great features in CityDesk, but we do provide a great tutorial. In the main window, choose Help >> Tutorial.

Our online Help also includes details about every aspect of the product.

For support using CityDesk, we have an online discussion board.

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