Hope for the Future

To new Textpattern community members

Destry Wion 28 May 2013

Textpattern wants you. Textpattern needs you. In return, you can become a star! All it takes is some time on your hands, a team spirit, and a passion to create great things. Reading this article will help too.

While floating around the community’s social channels these last months, I’ve bore witness to new Textpattern users with fresh perspective and talent. Consider Dave Maxwell-Wood; he’s just recently been using Textpattern and already threw together this functional dashboard…


(Ghost aint got nothing on this.)

I’m addressing you new members. I hope we can get you folks involved with any one of several plans that have been hatched or half-baked in the last months/years to move them forward in a much needed way.

In this article you’ll find many areas of activity that need attention. Some things will have a plan, others maybe not, but there are contacts to inform you of status and how to proceed. They’re just waiting to hear from you.

All of these activities are connected to the grand scheme of the Textpattern project—the publishing system and the community combined. The more that comes together, the better the global situation will be. Maybe you have some fresh ideas and time to help spur these initiatives on.


Besides completely rewriting the front-end code-base of Textpattern CMS (including admin-side markup, which will offer a lot of new possibilities with theming and custom layouts), Phil Wareham has been working on a new design for textpattern.com. The design will set the stage for Textpattern’s global brand, taking into account the new logo, typography, and so forth. The new brand direction, and the resulting HTML/CSS style guide, will lead how the other sites in the Textpattern family will be redesigned too. The idea being a harmonious form and function across all of them.

Although the visual brand identity of these sites is now determined, there is still opportunity on a site-by-site basis to help in other ways.

Main site (textpattern.com)

Phil might be reluctant to admit it, but he’d no doubt appreciate some help in these areas, if for no other reason than being spread too thin:

Content auditing: Helping to finish the content audit, which in turn will help make clear what content needs revised, relocated, or removed altogether.

Information architecture: Lending additional insight to the new IA and resulting navigational scheme. Consideration here is both vertical within textpattern.com and lateral across the other family of sites. The content audit will be an essential tool here to help think about appropriate content distribution (i.e., the right content in the right place).

Marketing copy: Helping to write non-cheesy and jargon-free teasers, lead-ins, calls-to-action, and so forth. Current main site content is pretty backwoods and could use some editing input from someone with modern-day content marketing know-how.

If you’re interested in helping here, get in touch with Phil Wareham who can provide additional insight and direction.


Besides adopting the new brand and IA work that Phil is spearheading, new content and functionality are being discussed for the themes site as well; it won’t just be a rework of what’s there.

Content audit: As usual, a content audit is necessary to look for what’s good and what isn’t. An obvious consideration is the relevancy of old themes. Will they work in Textpattern v 4.6? (Or even now?) If not, their creators need to update them, or they need removed. Themes that don’t work don’t reflect well for the project.

Theme competitions: As talked about before, the themes site should be the new platform for Textpattern theme competitions. It’s feasible to start organising competitions once Textpattern 4.6 rolls out. There are two paths of opportunity in this respect:

  1. Planning/running themes competitions (e.g., the establishment of a competitions committee).
  2. Creation of competition content (i.e., what will be new in the themes site).

Exhibit: The themes site might also become the new home for the Exhibit (display of exceptional sites built with Textpattern), which is currently architected in the magazine but on ice until more human hands are available to keep it active. This still needs explored. The Exhibit could remain a part of the magazine, and especially since Site Watch articles are an integral part of that effort. Either way, people are needed to help keep the Exhibit maintained. If you have interest in this area, contact me.


One of the gripes we hear again and again is how poorly Textpattern plugins are managed for the community. And it’s true. The forum threads, archaic at best, are simply a workaround for a better solution that has yet to materialize after ten long years.

Fortunately, there’s a plan, kind of—textpattern.org will become a new repository for plugins, and only plugins. Stef Dawson is your contact here.

Areas that need attention are:

Content audit: No surprise. This site was one of the first complementary sites created for the project back in 2004. It served a need by bringing various content types together in one place (thus “Resources”). Other sites eventually came around and catered to specific resource types (docs, themes, tips …), but the various resources in .org never migrated to more contextual locations. The time has come to change that. An audit would assess what content is there and where it should ideally go. Hint: If it’s not plugin content, it belongs somewhere else (and likely revised) or scrapped altogether.

Information architecture: With the audit, presentation direction from Phil, and insights from Stef about functionality, the IA will need a good think. If there’s direction on this already, Stef will let you know.

Presentation: Again, the presentation will be lead by the work kicking off on textpattern.com, but a skilled front-end person could help to convert the code-base and implement the design when the guidelines and brand identity are available.

Development: Stef is leading the development of functionalities. But he’s a busy guy and would appreciate help to get the plugin repo guts stitched together. He has work to do on the CMS, after all. If there are no functional specifications somewhere, that’s probably the first step.


Unlike the other sites, which are powered with Textpattern, the documentation site is MediaWiki. Phil is the new back-end designer there and will focus on the visual brand of the wiki skin. Because of the unique nature of MediaWiki, that may be all there is to do on that side of things.

However, we need editorial people on the documentation side. People familiar with MediaWiki and who fuss over clear communication should contact me.

Brand and style guide resources

Several resources concerning the consistency and message of Textpattern’s brand have been initiated but are not visible or complete. Things to do here include…

  • Establishing an official project guidelines repo. This may mean a new site for these resources specifically, or indexing them in a sub-directory of textpattern.com, the documentation wiki, or the magazine itself (not unlike the detail expressed here).
  • Completing (and owning) any of the guidelines (editorial, presentational, visual brand …). Guidelines are only as good as they are useful, and to be useful they need to exist and be kept up to date. If you take on the effort of helping to complete brand or editorial resources, consider taking on the role of maintaining them over time. You will likely rub elbows on this with Phil, Philipp Schilling, and myself.

All of these initiatives mentioned so far are big items for the community. People working on them to move Textpattern forward will not only be helping this open source project, but will get a lot of visibility too. As editor of this magazine, I will make sure of it.

Your own ideas and inspiration

While everything pointed out above is important, your own ideas and creative/functional contributions are equally desired. Fresh perspective!

After nine years, I still throw things out there for the community to consider. Not always to everyone’s liking, but I make the effort.

And let’s not forget the once-upon-a-time contributors from people like Jon Hicks, David DeSandro, and Sam Brown. Look where they ended up—Opera, Twitter, and Foursquare, respectively.

So there you are, new members of the community. On behalf of the one-eyed veterans and salty dogs sleeping in the shadows of the support forum, I welcome you to Textpattern, and encourage you to step up and make your mark. Textpattern is only going one way. Forward! You can get us there faster.

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