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#1 2023-11-24 13:58:48

wet
Developer Emeritus
From: Schoerfling, Austria
Registered: 2005-06-06
Posts: 3,323
Website Mastodon

Is there still a need for a "small content management system"?

Dear all,

Long time no hear ;) I’m retired now, and more on the sidelines than actively involved, like one or two others from our community…

I would be interested in the state of web development from your point of view.

I’d be interested to know how Textpattern in its 18th year of life fits into this decade.

It seems to me that user segments such as SME’s or one-woman shows that previously relied on Textpattern or other products outside the mainstream are now switching to website builders such as Wix or having their nephew build websites in WordPress in their own basement.

This has made me curious about how the use of content management systems is evolving. So I would be interested to hear your perspective:

Have you seen any changes in CMS usage lately, especially in terms of a shift towards website builders or mainstream CMSs like WordPress?

How do you personally see Textpattern’s positioning in this changing environment?

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#2 2023-11-24 18:26:17

jakob
Admin
From: Germany
Registered: 2005-01-20
Posts: 4,595
Website

Re: Is there still a need for a "small content management system"?

I guess it depends on how small is small. I’d agree with you for websites that are essentially a handful of individually composed page layouts, perhaps with a relatively limited set of repeating showcase projects / items / whatever, online website builders or page builder block-oriented CMS templates can assemble these more quickly and more wysiwyg-style than Textpattern.

There comes a point, however, when creating repeating items using block-based page builders becomes repetitive. Some of those services handle overview vs. page view better than others, but many are not able to do more than the “project list / project page” combination so automatically interlinking content between pages or bringing in content from another part of the site is a problem because each page is a constructed page rather than a content item. I have ported sites away from wix and weekly because the owner got fed up with updating information in three places on a site when they just wanted to add a new event, or found that to highlight a new project and relegate an older one, they were editing multiple pages.

With Wordpress I get the impression it depends very much on the kind of template or setup you use. WP can certainly be made to handle quite complex content scenarios but the “nephews in their basements” that use the “500 layouts in one”-WP themes are, I suspect, not leveraging that possibility but assembling pages.

For anything that’s a bit more involved, or where a few different types of content come together, a CMS that manages content rather than web page layout is – I believe – still useful. Wordpress can handle this too, but it depends on the programmed capabilities of the theme or the widgets / blocks you use. If the required facility is present, it can be very comfortable to use, if not, the developer has to essentially program the missing piece or missing flexibility, or hunt through the thousands of plugins to find the one that can plug the hole. That said, there are some pretty impressive plugins for Wordpress – it’s just that in many cases, you only need a small subset of what they can do.

So, from a developer’s perspective, I still very much appreciate that in Textpattern I can work at a more granular level on the page without having to become a programmer, and can also provide users with functionality and options that are more tailored to their specific needs.

(these are some first thoughts, to be continued…)


TXP Builders – finely-crafted code, design and txp

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#3 2023-11-25 08:03:03

colak
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From: Cyprus
Registered: 2004-11-20
Posts: 9,011
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Re: Is there still a need for a "small content management system"?

wet wrote #335901:

Dear all,

I would be interested in the state of web development from your point of view.

I’d be interested to know how Textpattern in its 18th year of life fits into this decade.

It seems to me that user segments such as SME’s or one-woman shows that previously relied on Textpattern or other products outside the mainstream are now switching to website builders such as Wix or having their nephew build websites in WordPress in their own basement.

Hi Robert,

Good to see you!

Wix is terrible and WP is bloatware. Indeed we are losing the popularity war but that does not make the efforts of our devs irrelevant. There will always be a need for alternative, decentralised, CMSs that provide security features

This has made me curious about how the use of content management systems is evolving. So I would be interested to hear your perspective:

Have you seen any changes in CMS usage lately, especially in terms of a shift towards website builders or mainstream CMSs like WordPress?

How do you personally see Textpattern’s positioning in this changing environment?

Participating in 3 EU funded projects, I have managed to add two websites with the txp fingerprinting, designed by giz and Jakob respectively.

The co-editors of the sites had no idea about txp and they were impressed with their “fresh look” and “ease of use.”

There is no “changing environment” as both wix and wp has been around for many years and have always been competing with txp. Where we are weak is on the dissemination and the commercial ability of txp.

Both Wix and WP offer free services in return of the commodification of their users by addware. Maybe what we need is to come up with an alternative free, or very cheep ethical platform that can attract new txp users.


Yiannis
——————————
NeMe | hblack.art | EMAP | A Sea change | Toolkit of Care
I do my best editing after I click on the submit button.

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#4 2023-11-28 21:19:51

bici
Member
From: vancouver
Registered: 2004-02-24
Posts: 2,075
Website Mastodon

Re: Is there still a need for a "small content management system"?

by the way anyone know about this little web enterprise


…. texted postive

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#5 2023-11-30 13:35:54

Destry
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From: Haut-Rhin
Registered: 2004-08-04
Posts: 4,909
Website

Re: Is there still a need for a "small content management system"?

I guess there are professional and individual sides to this. I’m largely speaking to the individual side.

While I’m not quite retired, I am retired from caring much about web tech anymore, except to say in these troubled times that less is more and less should be done with less.

Nevertheless, this is an intriguing question for our beloved Txp.

I think it’s safe to say, Textpattern will never be more than it is today. By more I mean the whole enchilada; project size, user base, and what have you. Txp has reached the apex of its existence parabola.

The fact Txp still floats after all the weathered storms is testament to its value and to you meaningful bunch of heroes that keep tying the lines and stitching the canvases. But anyone who still speaks of growing the user base, increasing the market share, or whatever should stay out of the stock market. If it was going to happen, it would have. The ship has sailed.

This is where people might want to bring up features. So I will. I look forward to UCFs more than anything else Txp has ever produced. But I don’t see UCFs turning Txp’s popularity around, no more than themes management did. But unlike the latter, which was genius engineering in its own right (if many years too late), UCFs will be a boon for those already using Txp. UCFs won’t do much for attracting new users, however. Just my speculation.

I speak there of Bloke’s handiwork, of course; he who I have the utmost respect for. What he has done for this project is untouchable. I have no idea how he still does it. Wet, you once asked me many years ago when I was grumbling about shit: ‘What’s your exit strategy?’ Time has shown my exit strategy to be burn out and fade away. That’s not very polite of me, I know, but then my contributions have never been as important as a developer’s. I often wonder and worry about what Bloke’s exit strategy is, and that of everyone else at the helm. And yet, Txp’s persistence through change of guard has always been somewhat miraculous.

I guess all that begs another question, then: If Txp really is at the apex of its parabola, will it remain there steady-like, or is the rest of this ‘decade’ the final countdown? (Queue Europe)

I don’t know. But I have a hard time imagining what other major features or functionality need developed beyond UCFs, and I know there’s no money in it for developers anyway, which means nothing will happen quickly.

In the last several years out in the wild I have witnessed many discussions in favour of flat-file systems, and a lot of discouraging remarks about CMSes in general. More recently I’ve seen a growing disinterest expressed for PHP specifically. Clearly it doesn’t have anything to worry about, yet, but it’s dominance on the web, and being an old code, is part of the growing unease in today’s changing climate. (Pretty much how many here feel about WordPress.)

Txp as it exists is certainly enough for me. I don’t think Txp needs to be more than it is today. There is nothing I would need beyond UCFs, and I will continue to use Txp for as long as it’s safe to, unless I abandon the web first.

But in case anyone is looking for complicated ideas, one that might be worth considering is ActivityPub integration, because interaction with the fediverse has only become more appealing to the masses in recent years and it probably wouldn’t be smart for a content publishing system to dismiss it for too long. Indeed it could be the real opportunity for more exposure because not many smallish projects have got on board yet. None, in fact. But I think that’s going to change.

Regardless of what anyone here thinks of the fediverse or decentralization at this point, it has become significant enough for many old centralized players to take action. WordPress now supports ActivityPub, which means WP and WP.com sites can (or will soon) communicate in the fediverse. Mullenweb has also said Tumblr will as well. Likewise, Flickr is weighing the benefits. BlueSky, the ex-Twitter spin-off, is slated to be federating early next year. Meta has launched it’s federated platform, Threads. And I’m sure others are weighing and watching too.

While I don’t care about any of them, it does show that the interoperability offered by ActivityPub has become important enough that even the web’s biggest shareholders are trying to stay in the evolution of things, and for once they are not controlling it. That’s kind of exciting.

For those who still haven’t got their head around the fediverse, it is the manifest network of individually-owned/operated servers, on which various kinds of software, supporting the ActivityPup protocol, are used to communicate with each other. So instead of one company owning the servers and thus dictating what users swallow (which has been the big tech model of surveillance capitalism), no single entity owns the network of federated servers, thus the decentralized (and powerful) nature of it.

This offers much in the way of privacy, online security, and so on because the administrator of each server/instance can control how much or little their node interacts with the big-bang fediverse. If you don’t want to interact with Meta’s Thread users, for example (and why would you?), then simply block all those instances.

Federating software can be blogs (Plume, WriteFreely, Write.as, …), microblogs (Mastodon, Pleroma, …), photo management (PixelFed), video management (PeerTube), group management (Friendica, Mobilizon, …), music streaming (Funkwhale), and more. Up until recently (the last couple of years), these open source projects were the only players, but since Musk destroyed Twitter and masses flocked to Mastodon, corporate big tech has been trying to get into the federation game. While I’m no fan of corporate big tech or their motives, their interest in the fediverse means more development in that direction, and things should get more interesting for existing and new open source projects.

So what does this mean for someone using Txp? I don’t have all the technical answers at this point, and may never, but two theoretical scenarios come to mind: group and individual.

Say you are a magazine (a group scenario) and your rag is powered by Txp. With integration into the fediverse, your Txp instance can function like a microblog, too, having a voice in the fediverse (e.g. @editor@mag.town@ ) without need for a bullshit X account, or whatever. Likewise, each of your writers could have their own mag-branded accounts by which they can interact in the fediverse (e.g. @DonSwain@mag.town ). And the interactions can take the place of native comments by being appended to the ends of a writer’s respective articles. (Btw, the latter ability is already provided by code on GitHub somewhere if you already have an account in the fediverse and want to link it to your non-federating site.)

The magazine example is actually a good one because writing/publishing is a pretty well accepted form of commerce in the fediverse, whereas other types of business entities have not yet been able to penetrate as well, but that will probably change with time, and especially if those companies learn not to be content marketing assholes at every opportunity. People not only block accounts, but they have the power to block entire instances. That’s a game-changer.

As for an individual’s example, that’s pretty straightforward. You have a Txp website. You also want to interact in the fediverse. Now you can have both via your own domain and using software that is far simpler to install and administer than the immensely bloated Mastodon, or whatever.

Nobody in the fediverse currently knows about Txp, and they never will if Txp treats it like an abandoned Twitter account. But a lot of people there know about WP, favorably or not, and that might be one reason these big companies are getting in on the ActivityPub thing, because they sense a slow but steady bleed-out ahead if they don’t embrace the future.

All speculation, but informed by near 7 years of floating around in the fediverse, watching and listening to the vibes and trends.

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#6 2023-11-30 14:21:25

Destry
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From: Haut-Rhin
Registered: 2004-08-04
Posts: 4,909
Website

Re: Is there still a need for a "small content management system"?

Having said all that, does anyone here actually use a WP site that is integrated to the fediverse? I’d be curious how that works and what the limitations are at this point.

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#7 2023-11-30 17:13:33

bici
Member
From: vancouver
Registered: 2004-02-24
Posts: 2,075
Website Mastodon

Re: Is there still a need for a "small content management system"?

@Destry – A very enjoyable and thoughtful post.
One question that comes to mind, as I am now retired, and I have noticed a few others announcing that same upcoming event, what the demographics of the current TxP user base might look like?

+A1 on UCFs


…. texted postive

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#8 2023-11-30 20:34:35

Destry
Member
From: Haut-Rhin
Registered: 2004-08-04
Posts: 4,909
Website

Re: Is there still a need for a "small content management system"?

Hi bici. If you enjoyed it, then I am happy. I’m sure Robert just thinks Wall of text! tl;dr. :)

Yes, I was just looking at Red Fox’s post and was surprised by the age revelations there. Hat off to you, sir. Keep on bikin’!

I too am curious now what the age spread is. One of those range polls would be interesting…

[ ] Under 20
[ ] 20 – 35
[ ] 36 – 50
[ ] 51 – 65
[ ] 66+

…or whatever, but it would need to be anonymous and easier to respond to, and not on spyware.

I wouldn’t be surprised to find Txp has a more gentile base, which might also factor into this thread.

Last edited by Destry (2023-12-01 10:41:24)

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#9 2023-11-30 21:08:33

bici
Member
From: vancouver
Registered: 2004-02-24
Posts: 2,075
Website Mastodon

Re: Is there still a need for a "small content management system"?

I would suggest this:

[ ] Under 20
[ ] 20 – 35
[ ] 36 – 50
[ ] 51 – 65
[ ] 66 – 75
[x] 76 – 81


…. texted postive

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#10 2023-12-01 07:07:31

wet
Developer Emeritus
From: Schoerfling, Austria
Registered: 2005-06-06
Posts: 3,323
Website Mastodon

Re: Is there still a need for a "small content management system"?

Destry wrote:

I’m sure Robert just thinks Wall of text! tl;dr. :)

Your mind reading skills are amazing.

The other thing I immediately thought was: How many people are left who Just write?

As an anecdotal evidence, I might quote a young acquaintance of mine. He is just starting a business taking photographs (NSFW?).

To build his website he took three steps:

  1. Install WordPress and fiddle with the theme.
  2. Let WordRoomba write a few keyword-rich texts.
  3. Let DeepL transform this content into an even more legible text.

He cannot be bothered to put any additional efforts into the web because he thinks that the Small Indie Federated Web is covered under a swamp of TikInstaBookXitter.

…but it would need to be anonymous and easier to respond to, and not on spyware.

Perhaps this poll fulfils those requirements: dud-poll.inf.tu-dresden.de/txp-maturity/ ← Vote now, please!

It is hosted on a German university site, so I assume there is little connection with the surveillance capitalists. They say “Polls are automatically deleted if not accessed for more than 2 months.”

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#11 2023-12-01 12:14:03

Destry
Member
From: Haut-Rhin
Registered: 2004-08-04
Posts: 4,909
Website

Re: Is there still a need for a "small content management system"?

Your acquaintance would fit well in the fediverse, along with the rest of us artists, craftsfolk (weavers, joiners, blacksmiths, leatherworkers, potters, jewelers, …), propeller heads, renegades, anarchists, ecolos, writers, DIYers, hackers, activists, gardeners, solarpunks, etc.

Although that doesn’t tell the full story anymore. After several waves of immigrants, it now includes forward-looking journos, politicians, scientists, researchers, naturalists, curators, thespians, musicians… and an increasing number of universities, European offices, etc.

Still very few businesses bigger than the solo creator, though, because nobody wants to hear them. Unless companies start their own instance and learn how to listen, they’ve had to stay in X and Facebook because nobody in the fedi gives them a chance to pollute an existing node. The anti-cap force is strong there.

That, along with the space-port like vibe of decentralization, is why I love the fediverse; it is easy to hide in the fedi (when you want to), and there is little tolerance for blatant capitalism.

Independent artists, though, are embraced in the fedi. There are many photographers, for example, circulating there. There are NSFW instances. Whether or not they’re making transactions, IDK, but that’s doubtfully the only motivation. More often it’s just nice being in good company.

Thanks for putting up the poll. Since we’ve taken that step, team Txp should make a proper announcement to get more community eyes on it. I would emphasize that responders can be more anonymous, though. We’ll get better results.

Also, it took me a minute to figure out how to add a record. But it’s not great looking on the phone.

Last edited by Destry (2023-12-01 12:18:18)

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#12 2023-12-01 17:33:58

Destry
Member
From: Haut-Rhin
Registered: 2004-08-04
Posts: 4,909
Website

Re: Is there still a need for a "small content management system"?

Destry wrote #335948:

I look forward to UCFs more than anything else Txp has ever produced. But I don’t see UCFs turning Txp’s popularity around, no more than themes management did. But unlike the latter, which was genius engineering in its own right (if many years too late), UCFs will be a boon for those already using Txp.

I just came across something from Bloke that both reminds me and corrects my erroneous thinking on the point about themes management.

Bloke wrote #335499:

I can’t live without live/dev lanes in Textpattern now.

It’s just amazing to be able to split off one or more sections, work on them in comparative safety while the rest of userland are oblivious. Test, tweak, tinker until the changes make the client happy, with all live content still in place, and then flick one switch to push it all live.

It’s just beyond awesome to have no need for a staging server. It saves hours and hours of faffing.

I haven’t been a Txp power user for a long time, and it’s been a while since drafting the themes doc. The fact themes management is so useful in live dev escaped my memory.

I would revise myself to this:

‘… I don’t see UCFs turning Txp’s popularity around, no more than themes management did, But unlike the latter, which was genius engineering in its own right (if many years too late). UCFs, like themes management, will be a boon for those already using Txp, but…’ (we will still be a small community of aging diehards)

The themes functionality is conceptually two major functionalities in one (theming and live dev), and calling it ‘themes management’ both undermines the other function and puts emphasis on the wrong one. The live-dev aspect warrants more fanfare, and theming is the side benefit.

Anyway, that doesn’t change my outlook on the decade, but it’s more fair to the immediate and Stef’s wonderful work.

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