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Textpattern Solutions: PHP-Based Content Management Made Easy [Paperback]

Nathan Smith , Cody Lindley , Kevin Potts , Robert Sable , Mary Fredborg
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

May 22 2007 1590598326 978-1590598320 1
Textpattern is a powerful, PHP-based content management system that allows you to build pretty much any kind of data-driven website quickly and easily. It is very popular among designers and developers alike, and has an active community of users. Sound good? Well, you're in luck—this book shows you how to use every aspect of Textpattern to a professional standard. Textpattern (and this book) appeals to two main groups of people: Firstly, the web designer who has mastered the fundamentals of XHTML and CSS and wants to create sites that have fresh and dynamically changing information, but is not familiar with server-side coding and databases. Never fear—Textpattern enables you to integrate your XHTML knowledge, inserting dynamic aspects into your already solid site design. Secondly, PHP developers who are looking for a content management system upon which to build additional functionality and want a hand with the design aspects of their site. Again, Textpattern fills in those holes. The book leaves no stone unturned. It starts by introducing you to Textpattern and guiding you through its very simple installation process. After the core features of the administrative interface are explored, the book dives into building sites with TXP, using CSS, articles, forms, pages, and more to create fully customized templates. Development follows next, looking at installing plugins and building your own custom plugins to further enhance your Textpattern-based site. The book concludes with several case studies to provide ideas and inspiration, including a weblog, an e-commerce site, and an online review directory.

In this book you will:

  • Learn to develop websites quickly using Textpattern's intuitive templating language.
  • Learn to use Textpattern to build e-commerce websites, including customer feedback and reviews.
  • Learn to use Textpattern and web standards to create blogs and community sites with dynamically driven content.
  • Learn how to integrate your own style of coding and design with a content management system that catalyses, rather than hinders, your creativity.
  • Learn how to use PHP to create Textpattern plugins, adding custom functionality and features to uniquely suit the needs of your website.

Summary of Contents

    • Chapter 1: Setting the Stage
    • Chapter 2: Installing Textpattern
    • Chapter 3: Site Administration
    • Chapter 4: Basic Content Manipulation
    • Chapter 5: Presentation
    • Chapter 6: The Textpattern Model
    • Chapter 7: Creating the Content: Categories and Articles
    • Chapter 8: Customizing the Presentation: Sections, Pages, Forms, and Style
    • Chapter 9: Tying Content and Structure Together
    • Chapter 10: Comments
    • Chapter 11: Beyond the Basics
    • Chapter 12: Custom Fields
    • Chapter 13: Using Plugins
    • Chapter 14: Writing Plugins
    • Chapter 15: Multiauthor Weblog
    • Chapter 16: Case Study: PopularWeddingFavors.com
    • Chapter 17: Case Study: BoiseCityEats.com
    • Appendix A: Tag Reference
    • Appendix B: Plugin Developer Resources

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About the Author

Nathan Smith is a goofy guy who enjoys practicing and preaching web standards. By day, he works as an Information Architect / Interface Designer at Geniant.com. By night, he is finishing up a Master of Divinity degree via online classes from Asbury Theological Seminary. In 2005, he started Godbit.com as a resource to help the Church better understand how to utilize web standards, and blogs about design semi-regularly at his site SonSpring.com. He has been described by family and friends as mildly amusing, but is really quite dull.

Cody is a web producer for a technology company located in Boise, Idaho. When he is not working with client side technologies, Flash or interaction design, he spends time with his wife and son, enjoying a simple lifestyle in the Northwest. Cody has a passion for Christian theology and takes great pleasure in learning and studying God\'s word. His work and ongoing ramblings can be found at codylindley.com

Kevin has been working on the web for almost ten years, having started his career designing his first employer\'s website with Netscape and Notepad. He has spent the bulk of his design career working in-house as both a graphic designer and internal web developer. Coupled with years of freelance and agency work, Kevin has created dozens of websites for businesses of all sizes in an array of industries.

Robert has over 10 years of experience designing and developing web-based applications for small businesses up to Fortune 50 companies. From its early gamma releases, Rob recognized the power and flexibility of Textpattern. He has published over 20 Textpattern plugins and numerous tutorials. He also provides custom software development services using Textpattern as a development framework.

He lives with his wife Joci in Copley, Ohio, which is located between Akron and Cleveland. Rob and Joci love to travel together and continue to find new and exciting places to visit. Rob was born and raised in the Cleveland area and continues to be a painfully dedicated Cleveland sports fan.

Mary Fredborg is a member of the Textpattern development team (team.textpattern.com). For more than ten years she\'s been involved in various aspects of web development and remains keenly interested in learning new methods and technologies, as well as refining her existing knowledge and skills. These days you can often find Mary working on Textpattern itself, creating new plugins for it and providing technical support for users of varying levels of experience. She lives in Alberta, Canada with her amusingly crazy dog, who also happens to think the same of Mary.

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Favorite CMS. Favorite Book. April 17 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I've worked with Drupal, Joomla, CMS Made Simple, Elgg, Textpattern, and Wordpress and this is by far the best book I've found for any of them. I don't know if I like Textpattern the best because it is the best CMS or because this book is so well written and fun. Great job!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Why didn't I buy this earlier? April 30 2009
I should have bought this book a long time ago... There is lots to find online, but this is the definitive resource! Can't believe I've been able to get by without it. If you work with Textpattern, or are thinking about giving it a try, you definitely need this book!
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Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  16 reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent CMS; Excellent Book May 27 2007
By M. Montgomery - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I've been waiting a long time for this book.

Textpattern is a free, open-source content management system that is lean, flexible and powerful. Until now, the only resources for learning to use it were the various web pages: FAQs, reference wiki, the forum, etc. They are all valuable and responsive (the forum is very active, and I've seen a new answer to my question posted on the FAQ page the next day), but we "book learners" needed, well, a book.

That book is here, and it is excellent. At almost 400 pages plus a 100-page tag reference, there is plenty of material. It's very well-written and easy to read (if you're interested in using, learning or trying Textpattern).

Sections 3 and 5, with the conceptual understanding and the three website examples, are probably my favorites. Since I'm not a programmer, the chapter on writing plugins seems a bit over my head.

The only change I'd suggest would have been to move chapter 6, "The Textpattern Model," up front as the second chapter. This conceptual overview would help to understand "what" and "why," and some of the software's capabilities, before diving into the installation and setup process.

I wholeheartedly endorse this book as an essential introduction, manual and deskside reference for Textpattern in particular, and building dynamic database-driven websites in general.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A cohesive primer to the Textpattern CMS July 23 2007
By Nate Klaiber - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Textpattern Solutions: PHP-Based Content Management Made Easy by Kevin Potts, Robert Sable, and Nathan Smith (with Mary Fredborg and Cody Lindley, foreword by Jon Hicks) is a cohesive primer to getting started, working in, and managing the Textpattern CMS. If you are a PHP beginner and are looking for a CMS solution, then this is a great start. If you are an advanced PHP developer, then this is an excellent choice for a CMS. No matter what the skill level, Textpattern allows you to take full control of your website, whether it is a simple blog or an e-commerce application. Getting started with a CMS is never easy. You have to learn the CMS interface and it's nuances including such things as templating and plugins. This book will walk you through all the steps necessary to effectively manage your site with the Textpattern CMS.

This book is broken down into 6 parts and 17 chapters. Let's take a look at each part.

Part 1 sets the foundation in getting started with Textpattern. This section will give you the basics and walk you through installing a local server using the popular XAMPP setup. They run through the process on both Microsoft Windows and Macintosh OSX platforms. After XAMPP is installed, you are walked through connecting the pieces to get Textpattern up and running. This includes downloading and installing the CMS and connecting it to your MySQL database.

Part 2 continues with setting the foundation and introduces you to the Textpattern interface. Each chapter walks you through the administration panels and breaks down all of your options. These chapters are extremely thorough and leave no gaps in the administration panel and your available options. From site administration, basic content creation, and altering the look and feel--this chapter covers all of the bases necessary to work within the CMS.

Now that a strong foundation has been set, it is time to dive in deeper and customize our installation of Textpattern to our needs. No two websites are the same, and each website has different needs and goals. Textpattern has a flexible setup that allows you to define the content areas, what they include, and where they should be included. A simple templating system that gives you the necessary defaults, but also allows you to extend beyond those defaults when necessary. These chapters also introduce you to the Textpattern Model which adds a content layer to the already known structural, presentational, and behavioural layers.

Here is where we dive in and start getting our hands dirty. We start by creating the content needed for the site. This includes such things as categories, articles, and then comments. We step back and look at the big picture, then break each of these things into their own forms. This give us the freedom to re-use chunks of code throughout the rest of our site. We start putting the pieces of the puzzle together and connecting the content to our site structure. It is important to mention that each step of the process is covered extensively and the template tags are broken down to let you know all of your options.

Moving to part four we get to take an in-depth look at the Textpattern plugin architecture. Sometimes we need to achieve custom tasks but don't want to manipulate the core code. Plugins allow you to extend the Textpattern CMS and build in your own tags and functionality. We are first introduced to custom fields and how we can utilize them in our site. This extends the flexibility even further, as you are allowed to define the context through the use of these custom fields. For instance, if I were doing a website that focused on books I could create custom fields for author, price, publisher, and anything else related to the book. With just a few clicks you can utilize an array of plugins already available to the community or you can build your own. This section walks you through the process of doing both tasks. We get to see an in-depth tutorial on creating your own plugins from Rob Sable who is very experienced at creating plugins. Now that we have seen how to add custom fields, how to implement already existing plugins, and how to write our own plugins, it is time to put this all into practice.

At this point you have covered virtually every aspect of Textpattern. Now it is time to take a look at some case studies. The first example is one of a multi-author website, Godbit.com. This is a website run by Nathan Smith, and has contributions of many others. Nathan walks you through the structure of the Godbit website, and how it allows multiple authors to add content and achieve only the tasks necessary to their role.

Next we are presented with two different case studies: PopularWeddingFavors.com and Boise City Eats. The first is an e-commerce site and the second is a place to review local restaurants. It is important to note that each of these sites has a unique context and structure. These chapters show the true power of Textpattern: getting out of the way and giving you the control. You are not confined to specific types, nor do you have to shoehorn your content into something that it isn't. You are in full control of developing your application no matter what the need.

The last part of this book makes this a valuable desk reference: appendixes that walk you through a complete tag reference and plugin developer resource. This includes full coverage of all available tags and options, and some of the core code and functions that will allow you to effectively build your plugins. Both of these are invaluable as you work within the Textpattern CMS and should be an arms length away as you are developing.

If you are looking for a PHP-based CMS and don't know where to get started, then Textpattern is worth a serious look and this book will guide you in the process. I have played with several other CMS's that seemingly lock you into their context and options. Textpattern is more of a blend of a framework and CMS, allowing you to have full control as your website scales--no matter what the need.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good book on new and amazing technology called "Textpattern" June 5 2007
By Nils Valentin - Published on Amazon.com
<long review: 10-15 minutes>

"Textpattern" is the name of some amazing new technology code which is extendable by plugins and is so flexible that calling it a "CMS" is a pure understatement.

With 260 -300 KB of code Textpattern code is not only at least 3-4 times smaller than its "competitors" (Wordpress etc.), but also includes features which you wont find in any other "CMS".

I put "competitors" and "CMS" in brackets because Textpattern really is a complete different breed of software.

The Textpattern software package is what the Germans would call a "Eierlegende Wollmilchsau - a sheep that gives also milk, eggs and meat". It seems like you can make it do almost anything you can come up with. Calling it a CMS does NOT describe anymore adequately its capabilities.

Textpattern has its own little environment for developing and compiling plugins + pages (Variables, functions, macros, may I even dare to say language ?)

Textpattern is not only a blog focused CMS but rather a mixture of a web based IDE, compiler and web environment.

For potential system admins its not enough anymore to upload the core software package itself or a plugin for it. While that would work it wouldnt even explore 5% of the possibilities the textpattern system provides.

The book "Textpattern Solutions" is an attempt to cover the sheer wide range of possibilities you will have at your fingertips.

Not only is it the first book describing Textpattern in such detail it is also quite likely that it will stay this way during 2007 as I am not aware of other publishers that are preparing a book on Textpattern. So Friends of ED has a real edge here with a book written from the people that should know their stuff.

This makes your choice an easy one ;-)
In 2007 this is THE book for all things with Textpattern.

So in short: If you are into Textpattern, for now at least, this is your book to get !!

Got it ? - Good.


I would also like to point out that I would have LOVED to give the book 5 stars, but I did expect better presentation skills and not just f.e. (Chapters 3-5 ) listing up some 80 pages of GUI options with some screenshots and explaining those individually.
I assume a few more diagrams would have worked wonders.

Regardless, systemadmins, developers and designers will find this book to be a worthwile investment.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Get It June 14 2007
By sparkybarkalot - Published on Amazon.com
There are only three reasons not to get this book:

1) You are legally blind
2) You don't use Textpattern and never plan to
3) You wrote it

Otherwise, don't waste your time wondering if you should get it, just get it. I've had the book for about 30 minutes, and I've already gotten my money's worth even if I never pick it up again. But I will pick it up again, probably on a daily basis. Thanks to the authors and editors for doing an excellent job.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great resource Jan. 20 2008
By md - Published on Amazon.com
Textpattern solutions is a great resource for those looking to learn how to use this excellent Open Source CMS. The example site (Buzzbomb) is not quite as linear as I would have hoped and doesn't quite function like you would expect a tutorial to, but I was able to follow along with a little help from the TXP forums. Regardless, the book serves as a great launching pad to get into the nuts and bolts of the cms and begin creating your own sites using TXP. It is also the only book out there on the subject, so the choice is either to use this book, or to muddle through the online resources (which you will need anyway). The book certainly cuts down the learning curve (which isn't that steep, really) and gives you the tools you need to start using the cms with more confidence.
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