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Focus on Textpattern 4.2.0

Expression Engine vs Textpattern

25 Jun 2008

Once people got wind that I’d been trying out Expression Engine, I’ve been badgered with the question “Which one should I use: Textpattern or Expression Engine?”. This post is to try and answer that, but be warned it’s going to be a long one!

When choosing a CMS for a site, I would say that there are 2 main factors in the choice:

The latter can’t be argued. It’s a tool, and what feels right to me, won’t necessarily feel right for someone else, and this a very important point. The former is a bit more tangible however.

Just as I like to try out every browser to make sure I’m not missing anything, I feel the need to dabble in as many CMS’s as I can. I’ve flirted with Wordpress (loved the theme system, hated the template tags use of raw PHP), Pivot, MovableType (used on the first version of Hicksdesign), Sympony (burnt my fingers on the paid pre 1.0 beta), Tumblr and EE. I feel I should mention Chyrp here too, as I recently tried and loved it – logical layout, nimble and simple without being too simple.

However, each time, I come back to Textpattern.

My last date with EE was 2 years ago. I spent a few days getting used to it, and got into the idea of template groups and found it a really flexible CMS. However it didn’t offer me enough over Textpattern to make it feel worth the effort of converting my site over. Without a real life project to use it on, that EE knowledge faded away. In the meantime, every other designer on the planet has raved about EE. So much so that it was a bit of a turn off ;o)

Recently, I decided I needed to try EE again, so instead of replicating my site, where I couldn’t see any advantages, I picked on my wife Leigh’s site Hicksmade. So, after a week of re-acquainting myself with it, I can now see why EE is raved about so much, and where it would be useful. I was helped along by Ryan Irelan’s excellent EE Screencasts (very highly recommended!) and EE buddies Simon Clayson and Brian Warren.

Excuse the bullet list, but here is where EE shines:

All good so far! But wait! Here come the rants!

The upshot is, that for a lot of client sites, EE is wonderful (if you can put up with the admin side) – especially sites that need members, forums and all that jazz. The thing is, if a site doesn’t need those things, it’s less pain and more pleasure to use TXP.

I keep coming back to TXP because:

So, in summary, I like both, and which one I use will depend on the job in hand. EE v2 will bring with it a redesigned admin panel, and seeing as that is my biggest complaint, I’m keen to see if it improves the situation. The wee preview that was given at SXSW looked a bit ‘created last minute’, but even that looked hopeful.

Move away from MovableType?

15 May 2004

To put it mildly, there has been a little brou ha ha over SixApart’s announcement to charge for MT 3.0 (for a more level headed opinion, go read Jason Santa Maria’s thoughts, which echo my own exactly).

However, I’ve been considering moving away from MT for a while, as it has always irked me having to rebuild so much. Now that my journal is starting to get a healthy amount of entries, I can easily fix myself an omelette sandwich while it chugs away. It makes MT feel quite clunky for me.

One of the options I’ve been fiddling with for a few months is Textpattern, and its impressed me with the speed at which it allows me to work. One of its many nifty features is a preference to automatically close comments on entries after a cetain length of time. This is the best way to defeat comment spam, and I’m not clever enough to know how to set up a cron job to do it for me.

There’s a lot to overcome with TP though – it has its own idiosyncratic names for things – e.g ‘forms’ are not actually ‘forms’ but ‘reusable chunks of content’. Another drawback is that you’ll have a hard time getting to run in ‘clean URL mode’ on certain servers. If you’re using server where you have access to the config files all well and good, but many may find it a bit torturous to get it working on their shared server hosting account. Nevertheless, its an attractive possibility.

The other option that I’m starting to consider is Wordpress, which has been Eric Meyers choice of CMS. I’m trying this out now, and I’ll let you know what I think. My initial run with it was very encouraging.

There are still many advantages for me to stay with MT. Its very flexible, and lends itself to content management outside the world of blogging. For instance, a single installation of MT can be used to power multiple blogs easily – thats how this site works, a blog for every section. With tools like Wordpress, you have to create a new installation every time, and if using the same database, create a new table prefix to avoid wiping over other data. MT also give you more options, other than the standard ‘Title, Body & Excerpt’ fields. This was vital when I created my portfolio site.

So no decisions yet. If MT 3.0 is the right tool, I will pay for it, but I’m feeling led away from the chugging…

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