The fallout shelter

Kevin Hale details his reasons for switching from Textpattern to MT. I don’t mean to criticize Kevin for making that choice — it’s important to choose the right tool for the job — but I do want to correct some misconceptions, lest readers get the impression Textpattern is lacking (or somehow getting worse!) where it is not.

I tried everything to get her moving faster – compression, caching, code optimization, includes, server manipulation, database manipulation, everything. But whenever the caches needed to be refreshed there would be times when it would take 10 seconds to render the page.

All I can say is that we’ve not received any reports of problems like this. Performance has always been a high priority for Textpattern. The results speak for themselves: out of the box, Textpattern is usually significantly faster than anything else in its class, as the car advertisements say. A page fetch time of 1 second is cause for alarm, let alone 10.

If anyone is experiencing performance issues, please let us know on the Troubleshooting forum. We can only fix the problems we hear about.

That said, the recent stable version still wraps comments in divs and prevents me from fully manipulating the comment form.

I’ll concede that the new comment forms are not well documented, but they are capable. The div tag for comments is merely a default. It can be overridden with the break attribute of the <txp:comments /> tag, which displays the list of comments. For example…

<txp:comments wraptag="" break="" />

…to turn off all wrapping, or…

<txp:comments wraptag="div" class="list" break="p" breakclass="comment" />

…to wrap the list in a <div class="list">, and each comment in <p class="comment">.

In the form section there is an option to create additional comment templates but there is no real way to implement them.

You can select a different form (template) for displaying comments like this:

<txp:comments form="mycommentsform" />

I also don’t like being forced to use Textile in comments (which is not intuitive for most web users), use their cookie system, hack to disable the comment preview and hack to blacklist certain words from comments.

The preview button can’t be disabled because it’s an integral part of the spam prevention mechanism. It’s not necessary to hack the source to implement things like keyword blacklists, they can be implemented as plugins.

We were getting constant complaints about our feeds being screwy all the time. There’s no easy way to change or manage them in Textpattern and so I always felt for the most part helpless in this regard. The feeds also, for some reason ,didn’t play well with Feedbuner (I was always having to resync them).

This sounds like a bug fixed recently that caused feed cache refresh issues in specific server environments. It wasn’t found until a few days ago because we received no reports of problems until a week earlier.

If that’s not the bug, then it’s one that hasn’t been reported to us.

Textpattern’s htaccess settings still handel 404 errors improperly and the settings prevent us from using password protected directories on our account. There are ways around these things, but it’s frustrating to have to dig through my regex knowledge everytime I need to experiment (that’s all we do around here).

Textpattern handles 404 errors correctly in clean URL modes as of 4.0.1. (they’ve worked all along in messy mode, of course). Error pages aren’t customizable yet, but they will be, just as soon as we have code that works as reliably as the rest of Textpattern. Remember, Textpattern is an open source project, not a proprietary application like MT.

.htaccess problems are not so much a limitation of Textpattern, as of .htaccess itself. Other clean URL apps that use mod_rewrite suffer similar problems. mod_rewrite will play nicely with password protection and other things, but the solution will always be slightly different for each server environment. If there was a way to fix that, we would.

We wanted tagging. Yes, you can recreate the effect with Textpattern. But it’s a lot easier to implement and much more elegant in MovableType thanks to a simple plugin.

There’s no reason this couldn’t be implemented as a plugin for Textpattern also.


  1. Alex, thanks a lot for responding. I had mentioned in the forums that I think our speed problems were probably pegged to our hardware situation. All of your solutions are great to know and I do hope that documentation improves dramatically for the project.

    We are very aware that Textpattern as an open source piece of software is a project built on generosity and contributions and a lot of love. We unfortunately are in a situation that prevents us from having the time to contribute to that dialogue ourselves and waiting for the development to match our ridiculously fickle needs.

  2. Txp is the best CMS!

  3. Yeah, TXP is the best.

  4. Textpattern is very good indeed. It still lack several key features that others FOSS CMS have (better frontend navigation, handling of parent/child categories, tags, backend “forum”) but they don’t have W3C standard compliance. And they don’t have cheese love ;)

  5. TXP is quite awesome but I do have to agree about the documentation. I would certainly appreciate a more thorough list of each tags attributes. The WiKi does not list all of them and some are just wrong. I love my TXP but I would also love to learn how to use it without hacking it.

  6. Hey Craig, if that is an offer to help out, I suggest you get in touch with Destry on the forums. There is indeed still plenty to do, be it the wiki or other places. ;)

  7. Textpattern looks like something I would love to use (my site needs an overhaul), and some of the sites I’ve seen made using it are excellent, but frankly I have found it a bit rough going (and I am not a web/software neophyte).

    I found a couple of tutorials that helped some but the documentation needs some serious work. Parts of the Wiki are helpful but there are these huge gaps that create a bit of a steep learning curve to a new user as they try and figure out how everything works and inter-relates.

  8. Part of the problem is trying to reconcile the way TXP compartmentalizes things in sections/categories/articles all of which seem very tightly defined. This added to a lack of proper documentation so that one can sit down with a printout or another open window while working and figure out how certaint tags work, what the interrelations are, which ones you need to do something and even on some occasions what the tags are.

    I know that seems harsh and complaining and it’s not really meant to be – just frustrated – but most of the conversations and first rate sites made with TXP seem to be people that have been following the project for a while. For a newcomer the biggest hurdle is the lack of proper documentation.

    It’s like being handed the job of operating the linotype machine without an instruction manual if you’ve never seen one before. I have read all the tutorials I could find and am lurking (mostly) on the forums here and on Textdrive. Just frustrated but hanging in there so far.

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