Sunday 18 October 2015 by Pete Cooper

What’s that coming over the hill; is it a r… r… r… roadmap?

When I made the speculative forum post about meeting up face-to-face with Textpattern users and developers earlier this year, I had no idea how it would turn out. Perhaps it would be similar to the legendary four men and a whiteboard event 4 years previously. Maybe Stef Dawson would attend and wear an even more attractive hat than 2011.

A volley of forum posts between Stef and Phil Wareham got the ball rolling, and before long a plan took shape. The 2011 Textpattern event went down in Bristol, so our 2015 gathering continued that tradition. The venue was finalized, hotels were booked, and when the day came three men (and zero whiteboards) gathered in Portishead, near Bristol, UK to talk Textpattern.

We found a table in a local wifi-enabled tavern and jabbered for hours, with lots of hand-waving, eye-rolling, and wiping froth from mouth. We made notes, formed plans, and scoped out a roadmap for upcoming Textpattern releases, including what features would make 4.6.0. It was an amazing, tiring, and inspiring day. The value of having a core Textpattern designer and developer in the same room was huge.

The 4.6.0 roadmap — yes, that ‘R’ word from which Textpattern has traditionally shied away — is being formalized into GitHub milestones to aid tracking and progress. The milestones have been fine-tuned against the 4.6 development process. So here are the remaining items, to build upon the immense amount of things that have already gone into 4.6.

The Textpattern 4.6.0 roadmap

  • Confirm PHP7 compliance and fix any low hanging fruit in the Issue queue
  • Merge parser optimizations and other outstanding pull requests
  • Finalize admin-side layout update
  • Presentation and layout updates for the Preferences panel
  • Remove the Import panel; it barely works and most of the systems no longer exist
  • Add new single-column front-side theme
  • Improvements to right-to-left (RTL) language support
  • Layout and presentation updates for Diagnostics panel
  • Improve authorisation workflow to prevent plaintext passwords sent via email
  • 91% language translation in Textpacks

Timescales are difficult to pin down and commit to, so I’ll sidestep the inevitable question of “When is Textpattern 4.6.0 coming out?”. I can say it’s nearing completion and a collective push towards achieving the outstanding items on the shopping list above will facilitate the process. The current focus is on getting the pieces in place to release 4.6.0 in early 2016. There will be one or more beta releases, one or more release candidates, and a full release of 4.6.0 with a bunch of new features and improvements.

Following the Textpattern 4.6.0 release, work will focus on migrating Textpattern website resources to textpattern.io, away from textpattern.com and other Textpattern domains owned and maintained by external entities and third parties. Textpattern documentation is already being revised and ported from textpattern.net to textpattern.io, with many considerable improvements.

The numerous conversations over the day also touched on features that are in-progress but won’t be ready for the upcoming 4.6.0 release, primarily to balance the need for copious testing and to prevent any more feature creep delays. The 3-digit numbering approach follows the semantic versioning scheme of major.minor.patch releases, and while it’s technically possible to squeeze more minor/patch changes into the 4.6.0 release, we agreed to work on additional features and improvements after 4.6.0 is available. Immediate focus is squarely aimed at getting 4.6.0 released, with interim releases afterwards at shorter intervals than we traditionally achieve.

To that end, some high-level plans were sketched.

The Textpattern 4.7.0 roadmap

Again, by the nature of software roadmaps, this will change.

  • Optional skin (theme) support
  • Add the option for a grid or list view in the Images panel
  • Multiple file upload and rename support in the Files panel
  • Add Files and Images support in the Write panel, and overhaul tag builders
  • Checkbox toggles for each column in Show Details
  • Include Textpacks in release
  • Investigate MarkItUp (or equivalent)
  • Layout improvements in Categories
  • Attribute uniformity across tags
  • 93% language translation in Textpacks

Looking further into the crystal ball, some additional intentions were noted for 4.8.0 and 4.9.0 — but you know crystal balls, they can be cloudy.

Textpattern 4.8.0 roadmap

  • Unlimited custom fields across all content types
  • Custom fields in sections, categories and users
  • Convert outstanding PHP functions to classes
  • 95% language translation in Textpacks

Textpattern 4.9.0 roadmap

  • MLP built into Textpattern core
  • 96% language translation in Textpacks

If you have skills that will benefit Textpattern development, for 4.6.0 and beyond, we’d love to hear from you. It doesn’t matter if you’re a coder, a tester, a writer, a translator, a hacker, a helper or any combination of the above — the more momentum we can muster, the better Textpattern will become!