When it comes to content management systems, there are plenty to choose from. I’ve worked with Textpattern, Drupal, Mambo, Joomla, WordPress, and Textpattern. The reason I mention Textpattern twice, is because it has often been my first choice since early 2004, and often has been the second choice that got the job done when the first choice failed its mission. In that regard I look at Mambo and Joomla with evil, teary eyes. But Textpattern usually never let me down.
Do you still love me, Bundy?
But lately I’ve been unfaithful to Textpattern. I started looking around for alternatives, and ended up having several “aha” moments with WordPress. Only downer is the use of php in its template system. I also had a look at ExpressionEngine, but the world is still waiting for the revamped version 2.0, and I don’t feel comfortable stepping into a commercial CMS in these economically uncertain times. Clients may start demanding free open source to be used, and maybe EllisLab, the company behind ExpressionEngine will struggle in the coming years. According to my fave financial analytic dude, Peter Schiff, the US economy is going DOWN. I’ve had too many emails recently from companies shutting down some or all of their services. And were still in the early stages of the financial bubble! And the bailout will only make it worse in the end. Okay, back to the subject…
Grandma’s Fridge – Smell it?
I believe nobody is being “unfaithful” without some kind of good reason or at least valid motivational factors being present in the situation. My situation was simply that Textpattern is not born with core user self-registration features, which plays out in lack of proper e-commerce solutions, and little general use in these times of social networking fellowships being all the rage. Additionally, I felt Textpattern smelled more and more like an old, abandoned fridge. Why? It just plain simply lacks momentum. Momentum is a term also used in financial trading (= pet personal interest of mine lately) and indicates the direction and force of the direction, in either direction.
Textpattern vs. Wha’ever
For textpattern vs. WordPress, please look at Google Trends. Hmm, the momentum of WordPress is so ‘uge that Textpattern can’t be seen as anything else than a bottomline flatline. Let’s compare it to ModX and ExpressionEngine. If you put Drupal in the ring, it becomes clear that Drupal is a shooting star, no less.
When Crockery, the codename for Textpattern version 4.1 was announced, it was also stated the current version 4.0 series would be the stable branch. Between the lines I read that to mean something along the lines of; new features can be deferred to Crockery, and we’ll “maintain” the stable branch. Which has proven to be a correct assumption.
As a result, Textpattern has not gotten any notable facelifts since it’s inception, and new features are far in between.
Sub-sections, unlimited categories, native tagging, are long lost, highly wanted features, and maybe they will come, someday.
Instead, the upcoming version 4.0.7 will feature a new tag parser, whatever that is. I am sure it is a very welcome evolutionary step, but how about a UI overhaul to keep up with current standards? I’m not a bimbo, but I aint no geek either, and it is difficult to create buzz and momentum revolving around a new tag parser. Many users, like me, don’t care what is under the hood, as long as it’s good.
Textpattern releases are very stable, but I find them to far between eachother to keep up any momentum.
Matt Mullenweg founder of WordPress and Dries Buytaert founder of Drupal, are true visionaries and leaders. Textpattern was created by Dean Allen, a quiet bookcover designer / typographer, who has rarely been seen in real life, nor online. I once saw a couple images of him on Flickr, but that’s all. Hardly a leader. Maybe that was why he abandoned work on Textpattern, and let some other geeks work on it instead. And here the real trouble began, in my opinion… I will not name any names, but talk about asocial people being in control of Textpattern, for a few years, until lately some more open and friendly people got in charge (it seems – they’re still not quite people magnets). However, not much new can be seen from the outside. Work goes on inside the community, but a redesign of Textpattern.com, which has been long overdue since 2004, has not been implemented, even though community efforts to write copy, design and code was done with good energy. Why did it stall? Apparantly because of the leadership or lack thereof. Wauw huh? It’s almost like Dean never left. Like Scientology, who in every outlet worldwide has an office ready for L. Ron Hubbard, for when he returns!
The Long Tail of WordPress
I’m writing this on my iPhone via the WordPress iPhone app. Why does Textpattern not have such an app? Designers love both Textpattern and the iPhone. I know I know, I can blog via the iBlogger app. But it is not optimal, and not as functional as the WordPress app that just rocks, with its perfect support for tags, categories, drafts, multiple sites, offline-mode, photo integration – it rocks! And Matt Mullenweg has indicated later version of the iPhone app will also include stats and comment control. That – is – truly – WAUW.
But, you may say, Textpattern does not have as big a community as WordPress. And that my friend, is due to… Momentum. Who will blog about a tag-parser? Who will read it? Will a client understand it? No, a client will on the contrary, be amazed with the new, Ã¼ber functional design of the streamlined UI of the now ublic beta WordPress 2.7. Momentum my friend. Can you feel it?
Has anyone ever carved a Textpattern pumkin for Halloween? Now that’s what I call momentum!
And, for now, I promise not to talk more about momentum for the next few days;-)
PS: I’d like to note that the Textpattern community has long been the gold standard for me, when it comes to friendliness, so no hard feelings in that direction.