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Developer(s) Fog Creek Software
Stable release 2.0 / August 25, 2003 (2003-08-25)
Type Content Management System

CityDesk is a proprietary Content Management System created by Fog Creek Software, which was founded by Joel Spolsky.


CityDesk was developed by Fog Creek Software and first released in 1999.[1]

The last major release of CityDesk was version 2.0, on August 25, 2003, and it appears it is not in active development since CityDesk had only been used by organisations with two or three people.[2] Joel Spolsky has stated that CityDesk "flopped".[3] CityDesk is no longer advertised on the Fog Creek website, and an archived version must be accessed instead.[4]

In line with Joel Spolsky's policy[5] of not discussing new versions, Fog Creek has since made almost no statements on future upgrades.

Notably, Joel on Software, Joel Spolsky's personal blog was created using CityDesk.[4]


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

This architecture makes it suitable for smaller sites whose users reside on a single network in a Microsoft-centric environment. CityDesk's page editing interface creates XHTML-compliant code. A CityDesk plug-in, HTML DBScript,[6] allows CityDesk to access data and generate pages from any Windows ODBC-compliant database.


The architecture creates two issues. Data added to the system goes "live" only when a user makes a decision to publish it. And users outside the network cannot interact directly with the system without the use of an external database and a scripting language such as PHP, JSP or ColdFusion. However, the system can be used to hold and manipulate templates and pages written in these languages.

Used in this way, CityDesk becomes a higher-level page-management system[clarify]. It has attracted a small but enthusiastic group of users, who have used CityDesk to address a variety of site-creation challenges[citation needed].


  1. ^ Old CityDesk Website, Copyright date states 1999-2005
  2. ^ 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"
  3. ^ Figuring Out what your company is all about, Joel On Software
  4. ^ a b, Internet Archive
  5. ^ Mouth Wide Shut by Joel Spolsky, January 15, 2003, Joel on Software
  6. ^ Lou Franco - HTML DBScript For CityDesk

External links[edit]