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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.


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