A painting of me

Textpattern Drama

   17 May 2007, lunch time

Discussing the state of Textpattern is in vogue at the moment. Apparently Textpattern, which is the software I use to run this site, is in dire straights, and “the long term prognosis isn’t good.” It would seem that it lacks direction. The developers disagree on that point. This topic comes up on occasion in the Textpattern forum. People seem to want Textpattern to become Wordpress, but at the same time, don’t want to simply use Wordpress.

This isn’t a response to Drew’s post in particular, but just my take on this whole situation in general. I think Drew makes a lot of good points, but in my opinion the developers are doing a good enough job with things.

When I first started using Textpattern, many moons ago, it was a one man show, Dean Allen being the man in charge. And then he slowly disappeared from the scene. And it was a very slow and very quiet departure. He’d announce a new beta, and then disappear for weeks or months at a time. Then one day he was gone, just like that. Fair enough, he was doing all the work for free after all. The fact Textpattern didn’t implode on itself with Dean’s disappearance is an accomplishment in and of itself, and one rarely ever mentioned.

People who fear for the future of Textpattern as helmed by Alex and company have a very simple option open to them: they can fork the project and do a better job themselves. You may recall that the Textpattern install here at Funkaoshi was my own fork of the code, and I was running this fork for quite some time. If you are unhappy with the state of Textpattern, but don’t have the skills needed to improve it, another reasonable option would be to jump ship, switching to a CMS you do like. The forum posts complaining about things really don’t accomplish much; they aren’t proactive at all.

With open source projects people donate the time they have. You can’t expect anymore from them then that. There was a time when I was very active within the Textpattern community, writing plugins and answering questions in the forum. When I started working full time, I had to put Textpattern aside. This is the sort of thing that happens with all open source projects.

There seems to be a certain amount of nostalgia for the way Textpattern was when Dean was around. Having been around at the time, I have to say things strike me as far better today.



  1. Hrm, interesting. Good to hear about the state of TXP. I have been using it, blissfully unaware. I still love it, but I admit my decision to use it on my latest site (thanks for linking to it BTW!) had a lot to do with it being familiar to me. There are a few things it doesn’t do that I’d like it to do (better comment spam prevention, tags, more control over RSS), and I noticed that it hadn’t changed much since last time I checked it out a year ago. That said, I still love how graceful and well-thought-out it is compared to MT and WP. And I think you’re right about the misguidedness of nostalgia for the Dean days (deanstalgia?) Even then, TXP itself was missing a lot of core features, so you had to go to plugins for them, aka to non-Dean people.

    I’m more nostalgic for the days when he updated textism regularly.

  2. Are you getting a lot of comment spam on your site(s)? I haven’t really had much of an issue with it. My site might be sufficiently small to go unnoticed by spammers perhaps.

    I agree that being able to customize the RSS feeds would be a big plus, as would change the keywords system currently in place to something that works like tags do on the rest of the web. Still, every time I try and use MT or Wordpress again, I’m reminded of why I like TxP so much.

  3. Yeah, totally. I’ve been working on an MT site and it makes me love TXP all the more. It’s so simple to figure out, which is important for a non-coder like myself.

    I had comment spam problems on my old site for reals. I must admit that the auto-closing comments after six weeks feature was a big help, and since I think I have only one possible post for them to hit in that window I’m not seeing a lot. But when I was updating that site more, it was a problem. I still get a lot of contact form spam.

    I think spam in general is one of those neverending wars between spammers and spam-prevention tech, and all you can hope for is that your CMS will be updated with some frequency to deal with it. So if it looks like the CMS goes a while without updates, I get nervous there will be spam trouble down the line.

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