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Textpattern on YouTube
I stumbled quite by chance – via Simon Collison (who many may know*) and Maggie Appleton (who is new to me but an absolute joy to read) – across this website tour by Joel Dueck. Maggie has a website tour of her own (here, also interesting in its structure) and on visiting that Joel’s popped up via YouTube.
Longtime Textpattern forum members may remember jdueck as one of the very first Textpattern users. The website tour is long, and I confess to having fast-forwarded here and there, but in it he describes the iterations and progression of his site through the early days of Textpattern and custom adaptations and from there to a new means of publishing his articles in a more book-oriented form.
The txp guru’s here will no doubt raise their hands and say “but Textpattern can (now) do Markdown…” or “Textile overcomes many of the shortcomings of Markdown…” or “you can also use textile as the source for pandoc conversions…” and maybe more … Stef I know has looked at ways of getting Textpattern articles into book-like form with his epub plugins.
Joel describes it very much as a process of iteration, learning, hacking, cobbling together solutions etc. which is something that I can relate to. And I was also reminded of Textpattern’s origins as a text publishing system and its beginnings in Dean’s Textism site. Some of the ideas and text/writing experiments he mentions remind me of other forum members’ sites, in particular Destry’s.
*Colly’s article also links to several other interesting articles by other well-known web-writers, all of which make worthwhile reading.
TXP Builders – finely-crafted code, design and txp
Re: Textpattern on YouTube
Wow, wondered what happened to Joel. Great to see this, thanks for sharing. And I love Hilary’s pragmatic approach to not only web design but content management too, which echoes my own journey.
For me, it’s not enough to make the site and walk away. I need to have people own the content and make the site work for its keep, which is why I’ve done a U-turn and now offer a content writing service that just happens to also include website creation, should it be needed (I’d say “web design” but everyone knows it’s not my core competence).
Building Textpattern sites on the back of content and talking people through how to manage content and build a strategy that maximises a website’s strengths alongside the now now now of social media is where it’s at for me; the whole evolution of content and how it’s presented, not just on launch day but every day after that.
When people tire of battling back-end themes on their existing website because they can’t fathom how to add a page, or want to make a change to the overall layout and find they have to do it page by page, or if they install a new theme and find their site borks, or site visitors won’t wait nine, ten, fifteen, … seconds for the first contentful paint (and renting a blade in a Cray to run the website isn’t a viable option) that’s where I feel we add real value.
Sure, we don’t have a plug n play e-commerce plugin (yet). Sure we don’t have a plug n play customer login plugin (yet). But it’s all doable to some degree or another with a combination of tags or plugins and some thought. And if it’s not the right tool for the job, that’s fine. Shopify is fabulous for e-commerce and, as things stand right now, I’d recommend it in a heartbeat over Textpattern for anyone who wants to sell stuff online. That might change when I eventually get the e-commerce plugin system working.
As far as using Txp to make books, I can confirm that smd_ebook works. I’ve used it twice in anger and both books are available to buy on e-devices. Textpattern houses the content. smd_ebook threads it together and spits out the ePub document (it used to spit out Kindle too but Amazon discontinued the Linux builder so now I need an extra manual step to use Calibre to convert the ePub to Kindle AZW format, which is a bind).
I haven’t gone so far as to actually publish the content chapter by chapter on a website (because the goal is for people to buy the book, not read it all for free) but it’s possible if that is how you want people to consume your content. No need for the plugin of course.
Having each chapter as an article and using the Posted date to thread them into a book feels natural to me. You can even tease and pimp upcoming content using future-dated articles. Want to navigate between next, previous chapter: link_to_next/prev. Want the table of contents: that’s the section landing page. Want to make it look pretty: CSS. It’s what Textpattern does.
When using the plugin, I set up a pageless section to house the chapter content (no prying eyes) and instruct the plugin to build the book from these articles and associated metadata and a stylesheet. It’s beautiful. And if I want to make a second edition, just edit the content and spit out a new ePub.
Yes, Amazon now have their Kindle Create monstrosity, which is fabulous if you have Mac or PC and want to drag/drop Word files into it. Linux, well, sorry. Customisability, well, that’ll take some doing too.
The wonderful thing about Textpattern is that it is a writer’s toolset and it can be forged into so many different things with the ingenuity of core tags alone. Fewer plugins are required now than ever, and yet the base performance is as good or better than it ever was. That’s testament to our ethos (and, let’s not lie, Oleg’s sheer genius). The nucleus that Dean set out – to build a system that cares about typography, cares about the written word and how it is presented, that cares about content and puts it first – still beats at the heart of Textpattern.
And for that, and the fantastic community that swirl around it, I’ll be forever grateful.
Re: Textpattern on YouTube
I’ve been poking in at Dueck’s site off and on over the years, for precisely the reasons that Jacob shrewdly picked up on. I like his attention on little details and lack of aggrandizing, and the whole experimental writing on the web thing. Interesting that he’s going with Pollen, which I always keep forgetting about.
In truth, I don’t really need Txp for most of what I do, and with my keen interest to self-host under a solar panel, I sometimes wonder if an amp stack is the sensible way, even if it is possible. But Txp is so familiar and comfortable, like any fond possession… And there’s the history, this community. I’ve not become the skilled tag wizard or plugin hacker that many in the community become over time—I can’t even keep up with new-release features and don’t even try—so I’m constantly at mercy of others when I step outside of anything old fashioned. I sometimes think I should not be so dependent on so much unique specialization, and downgrade to something that doesn’t let me be so. But after what this community has survived, society will likely collapse before this project will, and that gives me some reassurance.
I’ve not been able to finish much long-form, as the Full Point was meant for, but I like to think I’ll get there one day. Many drafts have been researched and started, but finishing them is a challenge. The kind of in-depth writing I’m drawn to do is not compatible with family life, I’m afraid; simply not enough time in a day, and now my steam is running out, too.
I’ve taken up another pursuit that has more of my interest these days—traditional woodworking. It’s been slow to get going because of our years-long search for a home, so in the meantime I’ve been doing the theoretical self-learning of old hand tools, how to restore and maintain them, or make them in some cases, and what the frugal steps are to getting a home workshop setup. As part of that self-educational process, I decided to create a website around it. I’ve talked about that before, two years ago already, yipes! The ‘Almanossary’, I’m calling it, reflecting the almanac style of articles in a glossary site structure. It’s somewhat unique in the sea of many such sites in that it will be English content researched from French history (a practical interest, you see), and the glossary terms will be translated in English and French. This site is a perfect example of twisting Txp to do things I’d not be able to do otherwise, namely with how the glossary index will function (and the bibliography is getting complicated), and even now I’m not sure I can do it with Txp. I will need some architecture help. Maybe Txp core is up for the task now time has passed and new tricks have been added.
Web tech aside, the Almanossary is a major undertaking in the research and writing alone. Obsessing over the little details eats up a lot of time, too. The practical side of the project will be the woodworking itself, of course, and for that the site will have an editor’s blog, where I’ll behave in the first person and write about some basic accomplishments in the shop to justify it all. As well, I am constantly discovering and learning interesting things from the research that are outside the scope of the glossary articles. The blog will be perfect for that kind of stuff, too. It is the human aspect of the otherwise third-person evergreen material, if you see what I mean.
I predict a decent readership if I keep it humble and quality. It might even become the first project where I try sustaining the effort through humble donations, but that’s a different bridge to cross and not the main objective. The objective is to become a competent woodworker like it’s 1830 (power tools are easy), and I feel up to the challenge despite the headwind.
So yeah, writing experiments, little details, low-impact and ethical methods, learning, sharing, and Textpattern, still.
Re: Textpattern on YouTube
Btw, Livory, the typeface, that Dueck uses on his headings, is my absolute favorite serif font ever, not that anyone should give two cat turds. I used it back in the day, when I was dumb enough to throw money away on what was eventually consumed by Adobe Web fonts. Type-something? I forget what it was. But it’s not a free font and I don’t use third-party web font links any more. I’ve tried to find free license of something similar, but nothing has ever quite pleased me as much.
Speaking of typeface, this is a pretty cool sans serif, if you don’t have it, if only for the accessibility aspects. The Atkinson Hyperlegible font from the Braille Institute. I like the zeros. :) And the other distinctions are smart, too. I’ve not tested this yet as my sans serif replacer, but I mean to.