Textpattern Solutions: PHP-Based Content Management Made Easy Paperback – May 22 2007
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About the Author
Cody Lindley 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.
Inside This Book(Learn More)
Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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.
"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.
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.
If i was to pick one fault (and its difficult because this is a very good book) it would be the chapter on using TXP as an e-commerce site. Whilst the author explains how he built the site and what plugins he used he then has this to say "I adapted the cart class to work within textpattern and implemented some special rules" etc etc but doesnt explain how! This chapter pretty much assumes that the reader would know how to do this (I'm sure its second nature to the author) though as this is a 'start to finish' book this is possibly not a good assumption to make. I personally would have no idea how to hack the PHP of a shopping cart to work with Textpattern.
That said, its only one chapter and although possible, given the number of dedicated e-commerce systems already available such as Shopify, I doubt its worth messing with TXP for this purpose and as such this is definitely not a reason to skip this book hence I've not let it reduce my 5 star rating.
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