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– Ponderings & code by Drew McLellan –

– Live from The Internets since 2003 –

About

The State of Textpattern

14 May 2007

This site is published using Textpattern, and has been for more than four years. In fact, save for a few of Dean Allen’s own sites, this is pretty much the longest standing Textpattern installation going. I jest not. A major reason for starting this site at all was to play around with this new toy Dean had given me to try out. Back then I was running PHP as a CGI, which exposed a number of compatibility issues and helped iron out a few problems long before Textpattern was released to the public.

It’s not been a perfectly smooth journey. From the get-go this was always something Dean was working on his is limited free time, and releases would come in fits and starts. Even once Textpattern was released to the public, updates would sometimes be months apart. All for good reason, and security fixes were never neglected, but you know, months.

Eventually, of course, the inevitable happened and Dean had to hold his hands up to really not having the time to work on Textpattern any more. By this time the code was already GPL’d, and so it was handed over to the care of the already active developer community. Even still, releases were months apart.

Never about features alone

Textpattern was always intended as a tool to enable the author to ‘just write’. (Hey, that would make a great slogan MyPublishingTool: Just Write.) It wasn’t about having the most features or templates or plugins, but simply about being a good, elegant tool for personal publishing, primarily for weblogs. It covered the basics of weblog publishing, and in a politely opinionated way. (For example, Textpattern never had a calendar feature for accessing archives, the reasoning being that it makes no sense to access posts that way. Very rarely do you care what someone wrote purely by date alone.)

As the months in between Textpattern maintenance releases went by, not only were other publishing tools making significant steps forward, but so was the entire concept of personal publishing. Weblogs were evolving, and still are evolving. With the exception of the plugins system, the Textpattern that I use today is fundamentally the same beast I was running back in the March of 2003.

As I said, Textpattern was never about being rich in features. However, there’s a certain baseline of features required for a tool to be useful, and for personal publishing software that baseline is ever rising. Today, I count features such as robust comment spam detection and tagging as essential features. OpenID will be on that list within 18 months. Whilst Textpattern’s plugin architecture is good, there’s a limit to what can be done without beginning to mess with the underlying database structure. You can only allow a single plugin to change your schema, because after that no other plugin knows what it’s going to find.

So what’s the state of Textpattern?

Textpattern, now in the hands of a small team of community members is not dead. It does, however, appear to be in something of a coma. The most recent release – a mere double-dot release – was 7 months ago. There’s an ‘experimental’ branch in SVN, but with no clear aim or goals. There is no roadmap, because the team aren’t in a position to commit to dates. Why they can’t commit to features without dates is unclear.

The team are, however, happy to use the official project blog to pimp their commercial plugins. Well, ok, you give a little you get a little – we all have bills to pay. Seems like they must have a lot of bills to pay, as the community are now being asked to sponsor further development. Of what, we’re not told. There’s no roadmap after all.

So apart from being a bit disillusioned with the state of things, where does that leave me? Well, I have a refreshed design that I want to roll out here. I’d like to be able to tag my posts in a meaningful way. I need some way of fighting comment spam, and, alongside that, I want to use OpenID for comments. There’s a few dozen other things I’d like to do, but those are the basics.

I’ve toyed with the idea of building my own system, but don’t have the time. I don’t really have much time to contribute to the Textpattern project, although I could if I knew what we were working towards. With the current state of that project, there’s no guarantee that any invested hours will be worthwhile.

So I’m thinking of switching to WordPress. As much as I love Textpattern, the long term prognosis isn’t good.

- Drew McLellan

Comments

  1. § since1968:

    If you do switch Drew, I hope you’ll consider posting your strategy for fighting link rot. That’s been the biggest bugaboo for me between homebrew -> MT -> TXP -> maybe back to homebrew?

  2. § Gareth Rushgrove:

    I’m afraid I hit the same issue a good few months ago, which was a shame. I really liked Textpatterns approach but the same list of bugbears caught up with me. I still think Textile is the best way of writing on the web – but a quick wordpress plugin sorted that out.

  3. § Nathan Pitman:

    All the kool kids play with Expression Engine. There’s a Textile plug-in for EE too (For the record). I guess the main hurle would be migrating TXP content to a new platform though… or are you planning to just archive off the old site and start fresh?

  4. § Jesse Rodgers:

    I have gone so far as to install WordPress on my MBP and see what it would take to move the site from textpattern. Then I got playing with the WP templates… and got bored. I looked at Expression Engine but got annoyed you have to pay $100 for the Metaweblog API Module.

    I wish the txp project would wake up…

  5. § Nathan Smith:

    While I like the open source aspect of the WordPress community, the admin interface has always been, and continues to be, pretty ugly. Part of the decision to learn Textpattern for me was something I could use myself, but also wanting to find something that I wouldn’t feel guilty giving to clients to manage sites. WP’s not client-ready in that aspect. I’ve always thought of WP as the Wal-Mart of CMS choices: Mass appeal vs. quality (ala MySpace).

    WP doesn’t appeal to me for two main reasons:

    1. The admin interface presupposes that the person using it actually cares about all the latest WP news. I like that Textpattern presupposes nothing, other than that you want to write something.

    2. WP isn’t really designed to be a full-fledged CMS (but of course handles blogs just fine). When it comes to blogs, WP only does that one thing, but does it well.

    Regarding Alex Sheilds (zem) creating a “pro” plugin for TXP, at least people are getting something good for their money – I paid for it, and have found it useful on a few sites already. It’s not like Matt Mullenweg is altogether altruistic, having sold some 168,000 hidden paid links on WordPress.org. Anyway, say what you will about the TXP developers, but I think they lean slightly more towards morality than Matt.

    That being said – I would second Nathan Pitman’s vote for ExpressionEngine. EE and TXP are currently my two favorite systems.

  6. § Alex:

    Drew,

    There have been 29 checkins to the stable 4.0 Textpattern branch in the past two weeks. For those 29 checkins, the Textpattern developers earned exactly $0.

    You’re not willing to commit to anything without a guarantee of a return, yet that’s precisely what you expect the Textpattern developers to do?

    If there’s a feature you’d like to see included in Textpattern, please submit a patch. They don’t write themselves.

  7. § Jason Calleiro:

    I am facing the same issue and will be trying out expression engine. i love the templating system in textpattern because it was so easy to build a site using textpattern as a cms not just a blogging tool. I hope things do get back on track, but as for now i am forced to switch.

  8. § Chris Casciano:

    I started to type a reply… and well… since we’ve both been thinking about this for some time my reply turned into a post of its own – My State of Textpattern. The short of it, and no surprise to you, is that I agree and share your frustrations with the state of the project.

  9. § Robert Wetzlmayr:

    I cannot see how and where the poll for preferences of potential membership benefits is a “call to sponsor further development”. It’s just the attempt to gauge public interest in a model mimicking EE’s “Personal License”, I think.

    Textpattern’s development is funded by either individuals donating their own spare time and resources, or features where the core project benefits from solutions which were originally built for paying clients. How to overcome these economical restrictions is an ongoing source of discussions and basically spirals into the core point: “How is an OS developer expected to make a living? How can you reach the tipping point which makes you receive the 100 kUSD check from Google’s SOC?”

    Re: the functionals deficits you mention in your post and the feasibility of making your own contributions worthwhile: See, I wanted to have articles with expiry dates in Textpattern. I wrote a patch, I sent it along, and it got committed to the repository. If it hadn’t been committed, it would have lived forever in my own local fork – I’d lost nothing.

    So the only additional burden for me was to build a patch and write three e-mails: One for the patch and two follow-ups to explain details.

    Having OpenID auth for comments and login would be great, yes.

  10. § George Ornbo:

    I can vouch for ExpressionEngine. I’ve used Wordpress too and it beats it hands down in my book. There’s no support for OpenID out of the box just yet but there is an active developer community and I suspect it won’t be long before someone writes a plugin.

  11. § Jon Hicks:

    I was all ready to jump ship to EE a year or so ago, but there was no way I could convert everything easily. Not just the data, but matching the URL patterns too. Someone more familiar with PHP and MySQL probably wouldn’t have a problem, but its beyond my limits. To that extent I feel that I’m locked in to what I’m using – not that that’s a big problem, as I still think TXP is wonderful and very flexible. However, as you say, there is no clear direction at the moment.

    I wouldn’t mind paying for Textpattern and plugins, but I think it’s got to be one or the other. Either it follows the WP model, or goes EE on us.

  12. § Drew McLellan:

    Mr Pitman – I hear good things about EE. WP may not be elegant (as Jesse hints) but the fact that it’s so mainstream means I’m less likely to end up in the same position again.

    Nathan Smith – I agree, WP is a bit of a brute, but it has a lot going for it, too. For the record, I have no objection to commercial plugins, only the abuse of the official project blog to promote them.

  13. § Brad Wright:

    Alex,

    I don’t think Drew is saying he won’t commit to TxP with no guarantee of return—he wants to contribute:

    I don’t really have much time to contribute to the Textpattern project, although I could if I knew what we were working towards

    but won’t, due to the afore-mentioned Roadmap issues. Just saying:

    If there’s a feature you’d like to see included in Textpattern, please submit a patch.

    isn’t really enough, when there’s no guarantee of said patch being accepted, on a number of grounds:

    * The patch isn’t good enough, although no-one would begrudge you rejecting that; and

    * The patch isn’t appropriate for the road map, or vision, that the core developers have internally.

    With that in mind, it makes it hard to really feel like you’re contributing if there’s no common goal, especially if you’re already pressed for time. I constantly have the same conflict issues with contributing to open source projects. It’s a different issue for the core developers, because even though they contribute significantly more than the rest of us do, they also know where the project is going.

  14. § Drew McLellan:

    Alex – more careful observers would note that I’m already a contributor to the project, both in terms of patches and plugins.

    You state that I’m expecting to get something in return, but that’s not what I’ve said, nor the sentiment I’m trying to convey. What is necessary is for contributors to know that the contribution they are making is worthwhile. Not that they get anything in return, but know that their time isn’t being wasted. That’s a non-trivial difference.

    Let’s take the example of something chunky like OpenID support. If I decided I wanted to develop support for OpenID in Textpattern, at the moment I would need to sink a bunch of hours into coding up a solution. This would almost certainly involve schema changes and some modifications to some fairly core parts of the comments system. It would probably necessitate finally getting the last bits of markup out of the source and into templates. I’d put that together as a patch, as I have in the past (example), and any one of a number of things might happen.

    Firstly, it seems likely that the core developers would say that this is just too big a change for the main branch as the schema changes and moving of markup into templates would have a significant impact on existing installations. So the patch would get assigned to (some might say ‘shelved on’) the experimental branch. This is the branch with no particular goals or schedule, lest we forget.

    Another thing that might happen is the core team could respond saying that they don’t want this feature at all, or perhaps that they’d want it but not implemented in that particular way. As I would have just developed it to my own agenda, I may be unaware of work others are doing that may conflict, or I may be unaware of edge-case conditions that TXP has to deal with that I’ve not taken into account in my design.

    Basically, there’s no way as a developer that I can be at all confident that my work will be welcomed, appropriate, suitable, compatible, or ever likely to make it into a release.

    So how could that be turned around? I think fairly easily, by just deciding on a roadmap. By deciding that, for instance, the next release will be 4.1 and will include all trunk patches since 4.0.4 plus, say, article tagging as a new feature, we suddenly have something to work towards.

    This would enable us to hash out the main requirements of that feature on the mailing list, put together an informal spec for all the things that need to be considered, and then that chunk of work is ready for someone to pick up and spend time on. In spending those hours, a contributor can be confident that the work is worthwhile – it’s going into the next release as an interesting new feature.

    So saying “if you want a feature, submit a patch” is horrendously naive and betrays a fairly fundamental lack of understanding of the task with which you’re dealing. It’s a lazy excuse that we see wheeled out time and time again. Sometimes it helps to stop making excuses and face up to the reality.

  15. § Drew McLellan:

    Brad – exactly.

  16. § Eric:

    I honestly feel it’s time that Textpattern moves beyond, “Textpattern,” and branches off. The current developers tend to not like to be asked to do anything, and if called on in the TxP forum, would rather lock/move/close your thread, and then note that they don’t get paid for their development work.

    The TXP core is superb. Why not unlock it from the current state, and allow a new group to advance beyond where it’s been stuck.

  17. § Maleika:

    Hi Drew,

    I share your sentiments 1:1, unfortunately I must say.

    I used to be an energetic Textpattern enthusiast, built a few client projects with TXP. I even promoted the platform on forums like Sitepoint and other places because the system and its ideology suited me well for quite some time. This, however, was yesteryears. Slowly but gradually, I got increasingly frustrated with the slow development process of TXP. I cannot fault the TXP developers for that but I also have to see whether TXP’s development pace would somewhat adhere to my working pace. And, alas, the gap became bigger and bigger. On top of these technicalities, I am a very sensitive person. Many (for my taste too many) of the developers had a tone in their responses that drove me away, every time a little more. No one needs to be friendly, but for me it is important that there is at least a minimum of friendliness when communicating and I do not want to have the feeling that I’m a bug each and every time I pose a polite question. And that is the feeling I had until, well, until I stopped posting alltogether and eventually moving on and leaving TXP behind me.
    However, it led me to a very positive resort. ExpressionEngine. This platform is not only the greatest I’ve discovered in my rather long journey of exploring CMS/Blogging platforms, but, aside from its excellence, the support is beyond wonderful. Great community and a CMS I’ve been addicted to for quite some time now.
    I’m very happy with it and I think it’s worth to try out. :)

    Best,

    Maleika

  18. § Robert Wetzlmayr:

    Why not unlock it from the current state, and allow a new group to advance beyond where it’s been stuck.
    Eric

    There is no lock, Textpattern carries a GPL license. Anyone is allowed to take the current code base (both 4.0 and crockery) and use it as s/he wants to.

  19. § Matthew Pennell:

    I’ll be moving from TxP to EE sometime soon, and will probably be writing up the data transfer process when that happens.

  20. § Eric:

    @Robert. Yes, that is true. Perhaps I should’ve been clearer. What I meant to say, is why hasn’t there been a group effort to remake Textpattern? Why hasn’t it been forked? ...like B2 and its morph into Wordpress.

    @Matthew – I like EE’s features, but the UI just doesn’t do it for me. That, plus the cost kind of turns me off.

  21. § Robert Wetzlmayr:

    why hasn’t there been a group effort…
    Eric

    Which group are you thinking of? It takes more than two developers plus a syntax highlighting editor to excel at a forked Open Source project.

    And all you gain is work, plus reputation and/or anger.

  22. § Nathan Pitman:

    Mr Pitman – I hear good things about EE. WP may not be elegant (as Jesse hints) but the fact that it’s so mainstream means I’m less likely to end up in the same position again.

    Drew. Expression Engine is about as mainstream as you can get. It’s a commercial product which is making money for those that develop it. EE 2 is in active development and in the mean time the team are still pushing out point releases that address issues and add features to EE 1.5.

    Much like WP, EE has a fanatical following and great support. The ‘Core’ license would be ideally suited to your blog and the ‘Personal’ license is only $99. That’s £50, which is nothing when you consider how much time and effort you would have to put in to authoring something yourself.

    I choose EE for my clients because I feel that a product that is supported by a commercial entity will more than likely ensure continued and active development.

    :)

  23. § Andrea Arbogast:

    I have been using TXP since the early days, and share many of your sentiments. I still love it as a platform for certain types of sites, and would love to have the sense that it is moving forward.

    I also use EE, and have successfully migrated from TXP to EE using this script. Everything transfers, including comments. You may have to run EE’s find & replace to remove extra dashes at the end of imported posts, but that’s it.

    But TXP does have some features, mainly its straightforwardness, that make it better than EE for some clients.

  24. § Dougal Campbell:

    Disclosure: I’m a WordPress developer, so I don’t claim to be completely unbiased.

    I just thought I’d rebuff a couple of minor things said about WP previously. While it may be true that WP is primarily intended for blogs, and not originally designed as a general-purpose CMS, there are plenty of people using it for sites that are not blog-like.

    Also, while there is not regular commercial support available for the self-hosted version of WP, the wordpress.com service is available with commercial support. And even for self-hosted, there are plenty of consultants available for hire.

    That said, I always advocate that people use the tool that they are most comfortable with. That comfort might derive from the look-and-feel of the tool, the community built around the tool, the availability of commercial support, the underlying platform (php vs perl vs python vs java, for instance), or other factors. While I’m always happy to hear about somebody using WordPress, I’m perfectly willing to point someone at a different system if I think it will work better for them.

  25. § ramanan:

    Drew, why not just run a forked version of Textpattern? That’s what I did for a very long time while waiting for TxP to catch up to what I wanted in the system (clean URLs in my case).

  26. § Nathan Pitman:

    @Andrea: That’s awesome that there’s a script about to migrate from TXP to EE. That’s been the one thing holding me back from transitioning my personal site myself. Thanks!

  27. § Leslie:

    Well, I’m certainly biased as I’m the VP over at EllisLab (we make EE). However, I’ve always been rather fond of the TXP community and its my sincere hope that the developers and community continue to grow and flourish. We are not believers in a “one app to rule them all” mentality and whenever there is a comparison discussion between CMS/blog solutions our response is usually to evaluate based on a project’s specific needs.

    A couple comments on the comments here. The full version of EE isn’t free for exactly the reasons being complained about here. We like to eat, but we don’t need to drive fancy sports cars. We think the cost of EE strikes a nice balance between traditional open source, our need to take care of our families, and what people can afford. So though EE is not free, we think it offers one of the best values around.

    OpenID is a bit of a can of worms. Its under serious consideration for future versions but our dev team has some serious concerns about the security implications. We’d like to see it mature a bit before doing anything official. I don’t want to spark a debate about OpenID here. I’m just being, well, open about our current thinking on it. Its a great idea that we hope succeeds. And who knows, perhaps a developer in our community will beat us to it.

    The other point I want to make is that EE is not going anywhere. We’ve been a profitable company for 6 years, had a great showing at SXSW this past year and have seen significant growth since we launched. Nobody is perfect, we’ve got our flaws, etc… but we’re stable, developer friendly, open source friendly (we use part of our profits to fund the development of an open source php-framework), and we’re generally nice people!

    I’d be happy to give a free EE personal license to the first 3 people who email me and mention this thread. Preference will be given to someone who actually posted a thoughtful comment and is not a current EE user (this means you Nathan!).

    Drew, if you’d like a license, just drop me an email as well. I’d be happy to give you one.

  28. § Alex:

    Brad: if you’re considering writing a patch, and aren’t sure if we’d accept it, please contact the dev team or post about it on the development forum. We’ll do our best to answer your questions.

    There is no roadmap for Textpattern because it consists entirely of patches contributed by community members (yes, the developers are community members too). We can’t predict in advance what those patches will be.

    Here is the nearest thing we have to a Textpattern roadmap. It is not complete, but should give a general idea of the types of patches we’re looking for in the stable and experimental branches.

    If someone would like to send us an outline of a new feature they’re working on, I’d be more than happy to discuss it with them and put it on a road map if it’s appropriate.

  29. § Jeff Hartman:

    I’d love a personal license, but don’t know how to email you since no address was provided (and I didn’t see one on the ellis lab web site). :)

    I’ve been monkeying around with TextPattern and EE for the last couple months. TextPattern was simple (so is EE), but I had some hesitation when I saw the last update to the source was months old.

  30. § Papuass:

    Jeff, there are some chekins every day: http://dev.textpattern.com/timeline

  31. § Nathan Pitman:

    @Leslie: Are you implying that my comments weren’t thoughtful? ;)

  32. § Kev Mears:

    Fascinating thread.

    I’ve used TextPattern for a while now, and like the fact that it’s simple and I don’t have to spend too much time on setting it up.

    Any switch would move me a little beyond my comfort zone, but the main thing for me is whatever CMS I choose should make as much of my pretty simple tasks as easy as possible – and that included learning it.

    I tried EE a little while back and managed to get the data in easily, but couldn’t really put in the time to learn how to do stuff. The main attraction at the moment is the active and helpful forums that I hear people talk about.

    Textpattern help has improved over time and I appreciate the time and effort people put in – perhaps EE has just reached a critical mass where there are more people to help?

    For some reason I can’t get my comments working and am pretty stuck – Textpattern for dummies might be too hard for me!

  33. § Adam Messinger:

    The wishlist/roadmap that Alex linked to has some fairly solid goals stated for the “crockery” (experimental / 4.1.x) branch. Those who’ve said that they would contribute if a roadmap existed should considering contributing there. Some of the changes in crockery—unlimited categories, nested sections, etc.—are those the community has long clamored for. The more people contribute to that branch of the system, the faster we’ll see it released.

    @Kev: I launched a Txp weblog earlier this month, and getting my head around comments was the hardest part. For me, the difficulty was the way that comment output and markup is split between the preferences under the “Admin” tab and the template tags and forms. My understanding is that this division maintains backward compatibility, and won’t change until 4.1 is released.

    My advice for getting comments running would be to read this tutorial, look for help in TextBook, and check out templates on TextGarden for inspiration. Good luck!

  34. § Chris Casciano:

    Alex… I understand where you’re coming from in terms of receiving code and patches, but there has to be some criteria for evaluating what is and what isn’t acceptable either in the stable branch or in future versions of TXP. On one hand we have the “give me a patch” attitude, but the project also has a long standing—and appropriate—don’t try and be the tool that does everything approach. Those two approaches clearly clash and leave potential contributors with an uneasy feeling about code acceptance. The “roadmap” I’m looking for [and I suspect Drew as well] isn’t a timeline of certain dates, or even a locked down feature list for a given version number. Instead we’re looking for the core development team to articulate their goals for the project. Where they want to see the project in 6 months or a year or two. I can’t imagine you and other don’t have them or don’t already have these discussions in your downtime.

    If I wrote a patch this week updating the stock templates to follow the hAtom spec would it be accepted? If I wrote one including tag support to replace keywords in the core code would it be accepted? Could you articulate the criteria for making those calls? Whose call is it to make? Maintenance patches are one thing and I’ve offered a few of those in the past, but I’m not going to take the time to work on features without some confidence that they’re wanted.

    Having this type of information available would also HELP get you more patch submissions. Code doesn’t only come from those who have an immediate need, but also those who simply want to lend a helping hand. If there was a task—such as the admin side redesign—that was articulated as something that wanted to be slated in the next major release you might get more participation from the community resulting in some committable code instead of just jumping from one 20 page thread to the next on the forums.

    That all said, my concern is not just about core code and what patches are acceptable. For me over tie my frustrations with this lack of information or direction is more about being able to manage and plan code and projects that rely on the core code, not altering the core code itself. Its why the wishy washy response to my earlier inquires about things like jQuery in Crockery irk me so. As I look at different ways to update my admin side plugin to make authoring easier and more straight forward I have to consider how much custom DOM code I should write now or whether I should wait and tackle some other thing now. Same things goes for the admin redesign, should my plans include the old UI, code helpers and DOM, or wait for the new stuff. Perhaps some of this code would trickle back into the core code, perhaps it doesn’t belong because its not universally useful. And the responses I’ve gotten to these types of inquires about direction in the past have been so dismissive to the point of me not feeling like it would be appropriate for me to say, as a plugin developer, “hey, I’d like to do XYZ but it would require some more movement on expected feature ABC”, to aid in prioritization of both discussion and coding of new features.

    I can articulate where I’d like to take almost any project I work on one two or three steps down the line. And I use those goals to guide what development decisions I make. I don’t always know if I’ll hit that next step this month or in a year, but I always know what I’m working towards.

  35. § Leslie:

    Quick note, all the EE licenses have been spoken for.

    To the TXP team, best wishes on striking a balance between community input, real world development, private lives, and roadmaps! I know from personal experience how tricky that can be!

    @nathan – I’m implying that you’re already an EE user!

  36. § Alex:

    Chris:

    Regading hAtom: I think that’s a great idea.

    Regarding keywords: there have already been some recent improvements to the way keywords are implemented in the 4.0 branch. You might like to take a look at those first, and see what you can add.

    In both cases, and in general, if you can send us code for a new feature that doesn’t add or change much code, is well designed, and can be easily tested for compatibility and quality, then there’s a good chance we’ll accept it.

    The best way to be more certain is to contact the dev team or post on the development forum. Outline what you think needs to be done, what code might need to change, and we’ll do what we can to give you answers or suggestions.

    If I’d written a hypothetical feature roadmap yesterday, it probably wouldn’t have included hAtom or keywords. But if you can submit a patch that’s clean and simple and testable, the next release might well include those things.

    Regarding jQuery in Crockery: I think it’d be a good idea to include it, or something like it. But I’m not a js developer, and I know not everyone likes it. Crockery is the experimental branch, and jQuery is there as an experiment, to find out if it’s useful. If you can give us reasons (or better still, code) to show us that it belongs there, it’ll stay. If there’s a better option, we’ll go with that.

  37. § Peter Mount:

    I just noticed the discussion on this at the Textpattern Support Forum is marked “Topic closed”. Before I saw that I was thinking of using Textpattern for a short time while I look for something else but seeing that has me worried. It seems sad to me.

  38. § Drew McLellan:

    Interesting to note that the Textpattern forum thread specifically discussing this post has been summarily deleted.

    Very open.

  39. § ramanan:

    Well, since a new one about the same topic will be started shortly, I imagine it’s not the end of the world. These threads about the end of TXP come up every few weeks, and nothing of consequence ever comes from them.

    And really, if people want to discuss your post they can do so here, no?

  40. § Neko:

    Drew: it hasn’t been deleted, it has been moved and closed. Regardless, during the past few weeks there have been quite a few discussions on the TXP forums regarding TXP direction and future (and funding), so I guess this is now touchy issue for the devs.

    While I understand their reasons, it always sadden me reading their responses which are usually something like “submit a patch”, which only irritates people because, even if you know to code (and I don’t), you don’t know what to code.

    I guess what really TXP misses nowadays is someone like Dean, someone able to gather all the positive attitudes and forces and actually release stuff with a steady pace. That or a way that will allow Alex and Mary to make some money off the TXP core, so they’ll be able to spend even more time on it. Many options have been discussed regarding this matter, but ultimately they have to decide what to do and when. We’re still waiting to know if they came up with an idea regarding this. Meanwhile, it’s “submit patch” time.

  41. § Drew McLellan:

    Neko: you’re right. Seems like they’ve buried it by moving it to a members-only section. That URL has been broken so that it only now works for logged in users. As a former moderator of that forum, I can’t remember a single instance of feeling the need to prevent people discussing a topic I personally didn’t like. Times have changed.

    A number of people have pointed out that this conversation is raised on a regular basis – every few weeks, in fact. That in itself speaks volumes.

  42. § ramanan:

    Neko, I think your assessment of Dean is probably clouded with a bit of Nostalgia. Things weren’t coming out at a steady pace back then, and Dean would be silent in the forum for very long stretches of time. Mary in particular is much better and answering questions on the forum than Dean ever was.

    A number of people have pointed out that this conversation is raised on a regular basis – every few weeks, in fact. That in itself speaks volumes.

    It certainly shows people don’t search the forum to see what has been said already. That’s not too surprising though.

  43. § Eric:

    ramanan – Lot’s has been said, yet nothing resolved. That’s the problem. Searching through past discussions will not lead to the ultimate resolution, and that is why these threads continually reappear.

  44. § Maniquí:

    To everyone who is threatening to stop using TxP and move to other better software/community, I suggest you to read the following post by Sencer (posted before he joined to the dev team):

    Wordpress, Textpattern and security

    I think it’s insightful lesson about how can anyone get involved int the development process of an open source software.
    Also, it particularly speaks about Textpattern (development process and “spirit”, if there is such a thing) compared to other software (WP in this particular case).

    Of course, you have to read between the lines.

  45. § Nathan Pitman:

    For those of you still interested in migrating to Expression Engine from Textpattern Jon Hicks is looking at engineering a workable solution over on the Expression Engine Forum. :)

  46. § Peter Mount:

    I just got a copy of Expression Engine so I’ll be having a go with that soon (after I’ve done with my mountain of paperwork). They seem friendly on the EllisLab forums. I’m very interested to see what Drew decides on using.

  47. § Glen Richardson:

    I recommend Site Foundry, but I’ biased ;-)

  48. § Robin:

    I’ve recently had to use EE for a large site i’m building; while it has got many features I do really like I think I can live without them for most of my projects.

    It feels like I have more to keep track of when using EE (templates, options, permissions etc). It’s like the difference between Photoshop and Fireworks. Photoshop allows you incredible control over every little detail but in a lot of cases Fireworks can get the job done twice as quick with half the fuss.

    I think all these posts on the state of Textpattern are a lot of fuss about nothing. The timeline shows very active development, there is a great new book out about it and two new devs have been added to the team. Textpattern is doing better than ever before and will continue to do well I think.

  49. § Paul Cripps:

    EE for me too, I’ve only just started with it, but it seems a good way foward to me.

  50. § Joshua Brewer:

    I also started back with the very early versions of TXP and used it extensively on many projects up until about a year ago. As you mentioned, the lack of development was one thing, but I really decided to give WP a try. For blogging alone – it is outstanding. For other things… not so much. Expression Engine is amazing. A bit more of a learning curve and it costs (still think that’s a bummer…) BUT it’s extensibility is just superb.

    My 2 Cents…

  51. § Richard Marcus:

    Well unlike a lot of you I’m not a tech person, I’m an editor for an arts and culture magazine. When we were looking for something cheap and easy to use to set up our on line magazine the best we found was textpattern.

    And you know what, it’s great – we’ve been able to set up a magazine with multiple users where nobody has had any problems with figuring out how to post and updates to the templates are easy enough for me to manage with my basic skills.

    For somebody like me what more could you ask for. According to my tech person this was much easier to set up then MT or WP, both who would have wanted money for the type of multiple user system we wanted – The bandwidth alone on our site is plenty thankyou and we’re non-commercial with the publisher paying for it out of pocket so expence mattered.

    I’d say if you were looking for a site that is free to use and easy to set up then you cant’ go wrong with textpattern – Code junkies need to remember that the rest of us need a way to get online too.

  52. § nurceyiz:

    Drew, why not just run a forked version of Textpattern? That’s what I did for a very long time while waiting for TxP to catch up to what I wanted in the system (clean URLs in my case).

    http://www.nurceyizevtekstili.com
    http://www.tercumehizmeti.com

  53. § iain:

    I got into EE just over a year ago and I’m absolutley loving it. Still running wp on my blog, but deploying EE regularly for clients.

    I don’t see how the price of is an issue if you consider the lack of head scratching you have to do when a great community and fantastic documentation are at your fingertips.

    The rate at which the Ellislab crew roll out new features is astounding, with V2 round the corner and talk of a fully integrated ecommerce engine its def one to watch…

  54. § Corey:

    Thanks for the heads up everyone. I was planning on switching to TXP, and I was even planning on purchasing their book. From what I gather, the developers don’t really pay any attention or, at the very least, listen to what the community is asking for. Maybe if they did, they would have more contributers, donations, and followers.

    In short, I’m glad I didn’t waste my time or money. I think I’ll put that book money toward a personal EE license.

  55. § Dave:

    Add me to the list that includes Corey of people who had planned to switch to TextPattern but are now looking at other alternatives after learning about the lack of good leadership on the project.

  56. § steve lam:

    i think its hilarious that all of these people are claiming EE has some magical wonderful community. guess what, you PAY for it! if any of you have ever actually peaked at the forum area for people using the free EE core version, you’d see its pretty much void of any support, even from other users. I gave EE a run, tried helping people on the EE forums, but in the end i just couldn’t find any justifiable reason to plop down the EE licensing hoops you have to jump through.

    trust me, I was almost an EE convert due to all of these ridiculous EE fanboy comments but in the end, didn’t give in to this mob mentality.

    yes EE is powerful. it’s currently the cat’s pajamas. but when you have well documented performance issues (simple {embeds} causing whole servers to halt? come on) on top of a ridiculous pricing format, i really don’t know why people buy into it when there are so many other viable options available.

    basically, if you’re looking to offer EE to clients, for a commercial license thats a flat $250 right there. if you need the integrated forum on top of that, theres another $100. For upgrades, every year after the first “free” year is another $40 yearly subscription fee unless you don’t plan on keeping EE up to date for some reason. Now if you wanted to manage multiple sites, on top of all the aforementioned fees already, you have to pay another $200 for the multiple site manager, and that only gives you 3 ‘free’ sites (which all have to reside on the same server) until you have to pay ANOTHER $50 per site you want to manage.

    i also find it kind of odd that with everyone touting that EE 2.0 is around the corner (and this is from may 2007), nearly 6 months have passed and its nowhere to be found. yet i don’t see anyone complaining about this fact?

    where is the logic in all of these people saying “oh the fees are basically nothing! 99$ for the personal license is so little!” and yet think textpattern is trying to rip you off??? get a clue and think for yourselves already.

    as for lack of good leadership in the textpattern camp? although i do agree to some extent that there isn’t a single voice that allows an outside user to clearly follow textpatterns development, you do realize nearly every single one of the devs provide free support EVERY single day on the forums (trust me i am on there that much).

    and for those who still think textpattern has no roadmap, here you go.

    its unbelievable that theres actually a part of the tech/blogging/development community here that resembles nothing more than a whining herd of children who keep demanding more and more for less and less.

  57. § Steve Firth:

    TXP has always been great for me as was for personal use, never had comment spam etc (except for odd guy manually doing it) and I love the fact it doesnt come with any skin.

    But I was hoping that it would evolve a little more so that I could pass on my love of txp to clients.

    WP just isnt for me (I rarely use anything in vogue) but I’m needing a flexbile platform and the generality of it might mean thats what I go for, even if it doesn’t really mirror how I think things should be done … like TXP does.

  58. § çeviri:

    I am facing the same issue and will be trying out expression engine. i love the templating system in textpattern because it was so easy to build a site using textpattern as a cms not just a blogging tool…

  59. § Manfre:

    For those who are interested, a fork of Textpattern has started. xPattern aims to improve Textpattern and foster a healthier relationship between the core developers and the users of xPattern.

    We’re not paid, but you will not hear us use that as an excuse.

  60. § Steve Lam:

    Looks like its time for me to eat my own words.

    There is a Textpattern fork called xPattern which is currently being pursued by a large body of current TXP plugin developers who share the same frustrations as the majority of the commenters on this article.

    After near-volatile, pointless attempts at constantly defending TXP, I give away to hopefully greater things happening with the fork.

  61. § Papuass:

    There are some things moving (in another direction) http://forum.textpattern.com/viewtopic.php?id=25758

  62. § MA:

    I’ll say more plainly what others have hinted at here: the high-handed, defensive, dismissive attitude of one or two of the core (elite) devs has been too unpleasant to bear. This typifies it: http://forum.textpattern.com/viewtopic.php?pid=149028#p149028

    Also, the design elegance and ‘personality’ went missing along with Dean. The forum tinkering (aka re-design) being a good example.

    I find Wordpress a perfectly good alternative for some sites. Drupal I use for others.

    Hopefully xPattern delivers on its promises.

  63. § KiL:

    I have just gone through the pains of taking a perfectly working Expression Engine site and having to redo it in Textpattern. The reason? I’m about to start a web comic and thought it would be a neat idea to sell some t-shirts through Zazzle.com and put an iframe to the shop on my EE website. I was told if I’d want to do that, I’ll need a commercial license for Expression Engine (250 bucks). For crying out loud, I don’t think this t-shirt business will ever even pay the very, very low hosting cost I have for my server.

    So it was a total pain, because there is just so little documentation on how to make templates from scratch, or which tags actually use which default forms etc. (the tag documentation itself is good, though), but once I wrapped my head around it, I’m very happy with it. Honestly, I don’t see all that much that Expression Engine can do, that you couldn’t do on TXP (at least with a plugin or two). There are however many things that are a complete pain to achieve on EE, and are just a given on any other free and/or open source Blog or CMS.

    For the money involved, ExpressionEngine really doesn’t impress me. If it was free, I’d be floored, but even getting clean URLs involves getting one plugin for the clean URLs (the approaches of manually editing .htaccess described on EE’s site all have too many drawbacks, and you’ll have to permanently update them). Once you got the clean URLs then you’ll have to use yet another plugin that performs a search and replace on all the tags in EE that spit out URLs for your own site (like perm link tags etc.), so to make sure it won’t keep on spitting out URLs with index.php contained in them. For a paid piece of CMS that is just lame.

    I just hope Textpattern will gain developers and live long and prosper… I am very happy with it.

  64. § George T:

    I’m too liking the texpattern for its templating system, and the fact that out of the box it invites you to tweak the template. My philosophy has been that if i use any off the shelve CMS i will keep it in its “stock” state, and if advanced features are needed then this is the time to make my own using frameworks like CakePHP for example.

    I have installed core version of EE to compare and it creates much more tables, the default design is not minimal, and just seems illogical. Us designers want a blank canvas which we can then work on.

    Does anyone know of any other CMS which has a custom template tags like TXP and EE??

  65. § Giuseppe Caruso:

    It is almost 2 years and a half after this post. (16/09/2009)

    Drew I am curious to know if you are still in the same position. I can see you are still using Txp for your great website (I really like the minimal and elegant design, it is already years it is online and still fashionable) will you continue to use it?
    Getting the time, why don’t you just write a follow up of the article, it is one of the most viewed.

    I also had some doubts about which cms to choose for my next version website but after tested EE, WP and so on I felt Txp is the right choice.
    I like its versatility and freedom, most like EE, but not so bloated and, of course, not a commercial project, then I don’t like the template complexity of WP, Txp is just easy for a Designer like me.

    About the community, they always be very friendly and helped me in really no time when I had a problem with a client website.

    Lastly, if I need a specific need, I just search for a plugin and there it is. There are even too much plugin… :P (think that I wrote to a plugin dev to ask for a specific feature and he wrote me with the feature implemented in the plugin after few days… they are great people. :) )

    So development and the community are really active, could be they just do not make a great marketing battage, but someone have to answer my questions in the forum, don’t they? ;)

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About Drew McLellan

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Drew McLellan (@drewm) has been hacking on the web since around 1996 following an unfortunate incident with a margarine tub. Since then he’s spread himself between both front- and back-end development projects, and now is Director and Senior Web Developer at edgeofmyseat.com in Maidenhead, UK (GEO: 51.5217, -0.7177). Prior to this, Drew was a Web Developer for Yahoo!, and before that primarily worked as a technical lead within design and branding agencies for clients such as Nissan, Goodyear Dunlop, Siemens/Bosch, Cadburys, ICI Dulux and Virgin.net. Somewhere along the way, Drew managed to get himself embroiled with Dreamweaver and was made an early Macromedia Evangelist for that product. This lead to book deals, public appearances, fame, glory, and his eventual downfall.

Picking himself up again, Drew is now a strong advocate for best practises, and stood as Group Lead for The Web Standards Project 2006-08. He has had articles published by A List Apart, Adobe, and O’Reilly Media’s XML.com, mostly due to mistaken identity. Drew is a proponent of the lower-case semantic web, and is currently expending energies in the direction of the microformats movement, with particular interests in making parsers an off-the-shelf commodity and developing simple UI conventions. He writes here at all in the head and, with a little help from his friends, at 24 ways.