The end of CityDesk
Dec 8th, 2016 by Ken Hagler

RIP City­Desk – Joel on Soft­ware. In those days all the cool kids wrote their own blog­ging plat­forms. I wrote City­Desk. In what turned out to be a mon­u­men­tal­ly wrong bet, I thought that peo­ple would want to blog on Win­dows, with all the slick WYSIWYG edit­ing good­ness that wasn’t yet avail­able in ear­ly ver­sions of HTML. City­Desk kept your entire web­site in a SQL data­base (Microsoft Jet, the back­end of Access) and had a fron­tend like a word proces­sor. Every time you need­ed to pub­lish, it gen­er­at­ed the entire site as a set of html pages, which it then uploaded to an ftp serv­er for you.


Over the years the City­Desk code base (VB 6.0, anoth­er bad bet) stopped run­ning on the lat­est ver­sions of Win­dows. Nobody else cared but by that time I was using a cus­tom ver­sion of City­Desk which only ran on Win­dows XP. So until recent­ly, I had a vir­tu­al machine set up with Win­dows XP run­ning in there, and a copy of City­Desk.


Matt Mul­len­weg over at Word­Press has been try­ing to get me to move Joel on Soft­ware over to Word­Press for so long it’s not even fun­ny. I final­ly gave in. [Joel on Soft­ware]

I used City­Desk myself to man­age my main web­site for a num­ber of years after the sad demise of User­Land Fron­tier, before final­ly replac­ing it with nanoc around the time I moved to Austin in late 2012. It was an unusu­al prod­uct in that it was actu­al­ly bet­ter than any Mac alter­na­tive at the time (some­thing that’s usu­al­ly true only of games).

New website publishing software
Nov 30th, 2012 by Ken Hagler

For about eight years now I've been using a Windows program called CityDesk to manage the Orange Road website (except for the blog). Although it works well enough, it was abandoned by its developer long ago, and also requires the inconvenience of firing up a Windows virtual machine whenever I want to edit my site. Since I needed to make various changes due to my recent move, I decided it would be a good idea to look for a modern replacement.

After a bit of searching around I settled on nanoc, a static publishing system written in Ruby. It's a little harder to use than CityDesk due to being a command-line tool, but it's much more powerful as you can extend it with Ruby. It also has the advantage of using individual files instead of CityDesk's monolithic database, which means that everything can be put under version control. I've put the source for the Orange Road website up on GitHub.

I considered the need to write some Ruby code to be a plus, as I've been wanting to learn the language. I read a book a while back, but to really learn a language you have to actually use it for something.

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