First Impressions of Textpattern 4.0.4

18 October 2006

After an afternoon and evening of updating sites to Textpattern 4.0.4, there’s much to be pleased about. Four websites updated without any tweaking at all. Those happened in a matter of minutes. Exploring the new feature set and improvements took a bit longer.

The developers, testers and all the contributors have done a fantastic job of improving the product while protecting sites built with prior versions.

Built into the new version is Textile 2.0. It fixes the problems associated with multi-paragraph blockquotes and a host of other difficulties.

There isn’t a tutorial for Textpattern. There’s a wiki for documentation and there are some new help screens for the fields that make up the heart of the system. Unfortunately, some of those help screens contain typos and spelling errors which can be distracting.

There are still some challenges for a rookie who wants to take the software from download to a styled site with minimal frustration. I suspect there will be a renewed effort to help those of us who are not site designers and software developers now that 4.0.4 is out.

With so many content management systems available, these notes about documentation, tutorials and help screens are the only things that prevent Textpattern from competing with and surpassing Blogger or LiveJournal or TypePad or other “starter” systems. Before raising anyone’s ire, let me add that Textpattern isn’t really a competitor to those entry-level blogging tools.

Textpattern clearly goes well beyond basic blogging software in capabilities and power. It’s the initial start that can be a little tough for those of us not steeped in deep site design and software development knowledge. A tutorial that takes you from software download through installation to theme and template implementation for both a basic weblog and a basic web site would open the product up to a new realm of users.

Unfortunately, any mention of these kinds of things is often met with a write-it-yourself comment in Textpattern’s support forum. However, it is that very forum which is the ultimate documentation and resource for virtually any challenge one faces with Textpattern. The folks there are a savvy bunch and helpful.

To undertake the list of small improvements planned for this website, two approaches are available. One involves taking each individual improvement into the forum, asking a question and implementing the change. A second approach involves finding a Textpattern designer/developer who can optimize the installation of Textpattern, rid it of unnecessary plugins and ready the site for its next 4500 articles.

One’s knowledge is enriched with the first way. The results come quicker with the second approach. Either way, Textpattern is clearly capable of taking any type of web site from back-of-the-napkin to thousands of pages of content. It’s all a matter of just how deeply involved with the workings of your site you want to be.

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  1. Steve    18 October 2006, 11:14    #

  2. Steve    22 October 2006, 17:15    #