I'm A "Slow" Study

4 June 2004

After about ten months of use, I made a switch from Radio Userland to Movable Type (MT) to write this weblog. Why? Radio was doing some strange things in my installation, and I wasn’t a coder who could prowl in the bowels of the product. I also wanted a style/design that I thought (at the time) was only available with MT.

By October of 2002, I began writing a new (Sekimori-designed) Rodent Regatta. With the May 2004 change in direction at Six Apart and the ”pay-by-the-weblog” approach to licensing, I began a search for other tools.

I thought it might be WordPress (WP). WP may yet win. Then, I began to look intently at Textpattern (Txp) and the hosting service provided by TextDrive. I like Dean Allen’s sense of style, and I like both WP and Txp for their open source PHP and MySQL approach. Why? In the weblog world, those technologies have lots of participants and avenues for enhancements, plugins, hacks, etc.

There’s another piece of this search as well. It’s important. I want a product with enough popular support to cause lots of talented designers (as well as developers) to use it, create templates for it, provide stylesheets for it and to generate a lively set of sites that converse about the product.

What I’m now realizing is that MT, WP and Txp are all at very different stages in their life cycles. WP is moving extremely fast and lots of developers are hacking the (open) source code to create their own content management systems (CMS). By the time these talented people finish with their version of WP, they have a unique tool suited to the way they write and what they want a CMS to do for them.

Work is needed on unifying the documentation and tips for WP. MT wins in that area. Textpattern is still in gamma mode. It appears the ”community” is much smaller, but that’s a completely subjective assessment. I like the direction that I believe it’s headed. The only conflict I have is trying to keep a couple of sites (this one) up and running while learning a new tool. I don’t want RR to be my test platform. I’m beginning to understand that there is some way to have a completely functional test platform/weblog with all of these tools, without making that ”lab” publicly visible. [Note:I’m anxious to accomplish this step!]

I’m also learning that designer assistance – for tags, templates, markup, css and migration help – is somewhat sparce in the Txp world – for now. However, I’m told that as the product moves toward ”release candidate 1.0” status, that will change. Good designers and developers are (likely) to create the equivalent of Blogstyles for Txp, a plugin directory, as well as other tools, hacks and tips.

All of this may have been completely obvious to others, but the stages of these various products along the maturity curve weren’t obvious to me until recently. Getting all of these resources to truly unified and easy-to-use sites for each product (as compared to MT) will take some time. I’m convinced it will happen and WP and Txp will have large enough user communities to insure that the products are functionally equal or superior to MT for the weblog writer.

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  1. Reid    4 June 2004, 13:33    #