Today, I completely removed my TextPattern blog. I really wasn’t using the blog for anything special, and since I am so rusty with TextPattern, I figured it was time.
I love using Paparazzi though. I made complete web screenshots of all the pages, then backed up the database and files. Someday I might like to try TextPattern again, but I am just really loving WordPress.
I am used to upgrading the WordPress software. Since I have three WordPress blogs, I get lots of practice!
Friends of Ed has recently released a new book on the CMS (Content Management Systems) Textpattern.
I have always been fond of Textpattern, but I just couldn’t get my brain around their template system. I like editing my template code offline in my own text editor. It can be difficult to do this using Textpattern. I wonder if this book will make it easier to understand. Hmm, something to check out I think.
Check out the official Textpattern Solutions book web site.
I had full intentions of using Textpattern as the CMS software choice for a site I am redesigning. I tried over and over to get motivated to learn the Textpattern template and forms system, but I kept falling short. I was procrastinating more than I usually do, and I felt guilty. The web site should have been up weeks ago, but I just wasn’t feeling the spark to learn Textpattern. It was beginning to feel like too much work to mold it to fit my needs.
I wanted easy to edit templates that I could maintain off site with my own code editor. I figured that maybe using php includes would be the answer, but it just seemed like too much work, and I was still researching and finding myself no closer to finishing.
I admitted my doubts to a friend the other day, and I came to the realization that I like to learn new things, but sometimes, I just want to relax and enjoy what I already know. I think I am starting to show my age. LOL
I really hate giving up, but I just don’t think Textpattern is going to work out for this particular website, even though I had such high hopes.
So, I have now begun my trek into learning more about WordPress. It’s an easy journey, since I am already comfortable with the admin area, and I love that the template tags are php based.
The reason for not initially considering WP for this project was because I felt it it didn’t offer the customization I needed. I now realize that I can have one template for my main page, and a second template for single article pages. In fact, templates can be created for various sections of a site, if needed.
I also came to the conclusion that Pages (not posts) are the answer I was needed for a custom Table of Contents. Links to Pages can be sorted by the numerical value you assign. I am also intrigued with sub-pages.
The only drawback is that every time a Page is created, the .htaccess file must be edited. I have two choices, I can change the permissions to my .htaccess file to allow WP to write changes, or I can edit the .htaccess file myself each time. But other than that, I feel like WP will be a great choice for my redesign.
Similar to how I feel about Mac OS X, working in WordPress just feels natural. Big thanks to my friend Lisa from Cafe Lisa for all her advice and help.
Found some helpful links for moving textpattern to a new location
For the past few weeks, I have been collecting several helpful links for learning more about Textpattern:
* The first place to start after a new install: Now What?
* Kusor.com – Textpattern tags
* Wion Design – Understanding Textpattern Building Blocks – Excellent article on dynamic vs static web site content.
* danboe.net – Sections & Page Templates and Textpattern Form Templates
* How do I use Custom Fields
* Common How To Questions
* Textpattern Semantics at JDueck.net
* Show a list of related articles
* Make an archive page
* More control over article markup – turning off textile
* Reuse html (snippets)
* Creating static pages
* Show excerpt in article link and full text on individual page
* Different layout for individual article page
* Archive lists tag examples
* Using PHP with Textpattern
* Replicating an existing site
* How to parse txp tags in php includes
I am still in the experimental stage of Textpattern, but I have decided to try to use PHP includes instead of Textpattern form snippets. I like using my favorite code editor on my own hard drive, instead of coding online in Textpattern’s editor. This way I can upload any edits quickly with FTP instead of coping and pasting into the online editor.
Keep in mind, any php code must be enclosed in the
<txp:php> ... </txp:php> tag set. No
<?php> tags are needed to parse PHP. The special txp tag will parse the code for you.
I was having a little problem with PHP variables, and found an article over on the Textpattern FAQ
This translates to yes, you can use PHP variables, but you also have to also use the global keyword along with the variable, both where the variable is declared, along with any time it is called.
For example, to define a variable for your favorite color:
<txp:php> global $color; $color = "pink"; </txp:php>
To call this variable:
<txp:php> global $color; echo "Today, my favorite color is $color";</txp:php>
This will parse:
Today, my favorite color is pink.
I have my fingers crossed that I will be able to continue to use PHP includes instead of Textpattern forms.
I have a love/hate relationship with learning new software. I love the challenge, but there is also frustration and a sense of overwhelming as well. I feel like I want to just give up. That is how I am feeling today about Textpattern.
My project is a conversion of my authored instructional course content into an online Content Management system. I have finished the initial design (xhtml & CSS,) and now I am starting to customize the backend of the CMS. It has been so long since I worked with Textpattern, so it is like starting over.
Of course, I am frustrated, and ready to take the easy way out and just use WordPress or pay for a new commercial version of Expression Engine. But I think (in my heart) that Textpattern will be a good fit for this project; I just need to stay focused and read read read through all the documentation at Textbook, the forums, and FAQ pages.
I laugh because I go through the same overwhelming process each time I learn a complicated CMS, and then it finally clicks, and I feel proud and happy that I accomplished what I set out to do.
UPDATE: ugh, this is getting harder by the hour. Do I really want to spend all this time, to find out in the end that Textpattern might not be the right choice? Sigh. I am going to have to do some serious thinking.
I can’t tell if I am having doubts because I am overwhelmed, or because Textpattern might not be the right CMS.
Time to experiment with Textpattern! Here are my initial observations after new installation.
Installation of Textpattern 4.0.2 was very simple, especially if you have installed content management or blogging software before. If you have Apache installed locally, I suggest experimenting with Textpattern locally; I installed on Mac OS X Tiger and it was easy peasy.
* Choose language
* MySQL details: login, password, server (probably localhost), database name (create new database prior to install or use established database), optional table prefix (if you are utilizing an established database)
* Confirm the site path and site url
* Create your user name, password, and email.
### Diagnostics and Pre-flight Check
Before you start to dig into the site admin, take a look at the “diagnostics” sub-tab first. This page will display notable warnings (in red) that need attention. Most importantly, the “setup” directory should be removed.
I installed Textpattern twice before (for two separate blogs), but did not upgrade from the pre-release version until recently. I updated to version 4.0.2 and it appears that there are lots of changes.
### My Textpattern 4.0.2 Observations
* Separate text files are no longer needed for separate site ‘sections’ – when I upgraded, the diagnostics page informed me to delete the three sections files I had on the server. Originally, the .htaccess file would also need to be manually edited to reflect each section. I am assuming it will be much easier now to set up sections or areas of a web site.
* I panicked when I tried to view my web site, and the page was blank. Found out that the admin preferences was in ‘testing’ mode, so after changing it to ‘live’ my web site was back. Found the answer in the Textpattern FAQ
* Comment expiration has been added; this is something that I cannot seem to find in a WordPress plug-in. You can also update the comment expiration to prior articles. I love this option in Expression Engine. The only problem I see right now, is when comments are disabled for an entry, there is no text message stating comments are closed. This will be something I will research. It could just be because my original design coding is based on older install.
* There is an option to set the default (output) coding to Textile, line breaks, or none. This will not affect prior articles, and the setting can be changed for any new (or old) article on that page’s advanced settings. For WordPress, it appears to be all or nothing. I haven’t found a way to set different output coding for each article.
* On the Content>Articles tab, articles can be selected very easily and batch deleted. There is also an batch option to change section and status. This means it will be so simple to change a collection of articles to hidden. WordPress doesn’t offer this option.
* Comments can also be batch processed in the same manner as articles. This is very convenient for deleting spammer comments. But I have heard Textpattern includes very powerful anti-spam features.
* Textpattern offers tools to import articles from other blogging programs, like Movable Type, B2, Blogger, and WordPress. Hmm, I might be tempted to convert Splash of Style to Textpattern someday.
* Just like WordPress, Textpattern also offers link management. I miss this feature in Expression Engine. Textpattern also offers file and image management.
* A option I didn’t notice in the pre-release is sticky articles. I also like that you can hide articles. In WordPress, I believe there is a sticky plug in, and there are options to save an article as private.
* To discourage spammer comments, there is an option to use nofollow on comment posts. At this point, I don’t see a need to go that far, but in the future I like knowing it is available.
* In the pre-release version, I remember I was a little frustrated with code editability, or lack of it. That is something I will be working with over the next few days. Hopefully, the code is a little more accessible for easier editing.
### Textpattern Resources:
* Textpattern Home Page – http://textpattern.com
* Textpattern Resources – http://textpattern.org/
* Textbook Wiki – http://textpattern.net/wiki/index.php?title=Main_Page
* Textpattern Forum – http://forum.textpattern.com/
* TextDrive Weblog – http://weblog.textdrive.com/