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Developer(s) Fog Creek Software
Initial release November 29, 2001; 15 years ago (2001-11-29)
Last release
2.0 / August 25, 2003; 14 years ago (2003-08-25)
Written in Visual Basic
Operating system Microsoft Windows
Type Content Management System
License Proprietary commercial software

CityDesk was a proprietary Content Management System created by Fog Creek Software. CityDesk is no longer available for purchase.


CityDesk was developed by Fog Creek Software. It was beta released on October 15, 2001 and the first version was released on November 29, 2001.[1][2]

The last major release of CityDesk was version 2.0, on August 25, 2003. In 2004 Fog Creek Software co-founder Joel Spolsky was quoted saying that it had not sold to organizations larger than two or three people.[3] In 2009 Spolsky further described CityDesk as "flopped"[4] and in 2016, wrote in an entry entitled "RIP CityDesk" that the CityDesk codebase did not run on current versions of Microsoft Windows.[5]

Joel on Software, Joel Spolsky's widely read software management and business blog, was published using CityDesk software between 2001 and 2016, after which it was hosted on the competing WordPress software.[6][5]


CityDesk differed from most Content Management Systems in that it resided as a client-side application, instead of a server-side application. It used templates and a simple database structure to generate static web pages that were uploaded to a web server by its built-in FTP client. CityDesk ran on Microsoft Windows, and used the Microsoft Jet Database Engine.

In 2016, Spolsky described developing a client-side WYSIWYG Windows blogging application as having turned out to be a "monumentally wrong bet", and also cited CityDesk's performance on websites of around 1000 pages as poor even on 2016-era hardware.[5]


  1. ^ What Does CityDesk Do? by Joel Spolsky, Joel on Software, October 12, 2001. "CityDesk will be in beta from Oct 15 – Nov 30, 2001, after which it will be shipping."
  2. ^ 2001/11/29 by Joel Spolsky, Joel on Software. "A few last-minute details, then — CityDesk is shipping! People can buy it!"
  3. ^ Simplicity and ubiquity matter (or, How reality mugged Joel Spolsky) by David Walker, Sydney Morning Herald, The Age. (July 23, 2004), Joel Spolsky: "[CityDesk] never really succeeded in selling to organisations with more than two or three people"
  4. ^ Figuring Out what your company is all about, Joel On Software, "Our focus on helping developers explains why one of our early products, CityDesk, flopped: it had nothing to do with software developers."
  5. ^ a b c RIP CityDesk, Joel Spolsky, Joel on Software, December 9, 2016
  6. ^, Internet Archive

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