Hicks

Textpattern 2 months on

Two months after migrating to Textpattern, I thought I’d go over some of my thoughts since then. In particular, I’ve heard some people mention that they might migrate too, because it was ‘good enough for me’. So that no one blames for me for a move that they then regret, I’ll be honest about my Textpattern experience.

First of all, the things I’ve loved about using TXP so far:

  • Setting up new sections, links, RSS feeds and editing templates and entries are quick and easy.
  • I still love the XML style tags that it uses. I find these intuitive and pleasant to use (with a couple of exceptions – see below).
  • The Textpattern community are great at coming forward with useful plug-ins. They make it worthwhile.
  • The admin interface is just great. Simple and clean and delightful to use.
  • For some reason, I’ve posted far more regularly with TXP than I ever did with MT. I used to spend ages writing and re-writing posts, some would take months before I made them live. Whether this means more posts but with less quality, is for you to judge!

Its not all sunshine and tweety birds though, and there are few things that niggle me.

  • My main beef is that some (though not all) of the tags output the XHTML for you. E.g with MT, the permalink tag outputted only the link path, but Textpattern does the whole tag. So if you want control over it, you have to hack the textpattern php files. In particular, there were various unnesessary classes and small pieces of inline css that TXP generated. I’ve hacked a lot of these out, so I dread the next upgrade! As I understand it, Wordpress suffers from similar problems, and only MovableType really offers that flexibility.
  • It doesn’t have XML-RPC support (yet) so you can’t use something like Ecto to post entries. Especially as the next version of Ecto will include Textile previewing, my desire for this has grown. The admin interface is well designed, but drafts can get easily lost in the list of articles. With a weblog editor, Drafts are separated from the list of live articles, and previews are created live to save switching between ‘text’ and ‘preview’. Generally, a desktop client will always have the edge. In fact, I’ve missed this feature so much, that I’ve considered using Wordpress or reverting to MT for just the blog section. As I said previously, my reason for not going with Wordpress, was that it didn’t handle mutliple sections. Its excellent at what it does though – running a blog. The problems with php5 and Wordpress have prevented me testing this as a solution though. MT 3.1 also looks promising, with its support for dynamic pages solving my main MT bugbear – long rebuilds when fiddling with templates.
  • Navigating links in the admin interface can be painful if you have a lot. I use ‘links’ for my sidenotes, browser news and destinations links, and you don’t get the easy search facility that you get with articles.
  • I’d also like to see a way of getting clean url’s on categories built in.

Please don’t take this as a ‘woe is Textpattern’ statement, its far from it. – more of a report of my experience so far. Whether features like XML-RPC support will be added in the future or not is hard to say. Dean is a busy man who needs to earn a living (which doesn’t come from TXP!), and communications from him on where Textpattern is going is scant.

Update 20.9.04: Metaweblog support is going to be added in the near future, and a clearer vision of Textpattern’s future is emerging. I had a brief dalliance with Wordpress again – and confirmed my belief that it so isn’t the right tool for me. MT 3.1 looked improved, but Textpattern is most definitely where its still at for me.