Nathan Smith 2

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Nathan is well-known for the Geniant Blog and for his many useful tips at SonSpring. Highly respected, many web designers have testified to his technical, design and people skills. We've had an insight into his life and work in Part 1 of this interview. Now we can read more about web design and his views on Textpattern and Textpattern Solutions, the book he co-authored.

Textpattern Questions

TXPQ How much do you use Textpattern?

NS I guess this question could mean how often do I use it on a daily basis, or how often do I use it in web projects. Well, on a daily basis I use Textpattern every time I find an interesting link to share. Rather than use something like, I've always found it easier to just pop into the TXP admin area and jot down a quick link there instead. I guess that's because I've been using Textpattern longer than many of these social bookmarking sites have existed. And, of course I use Textpattern when I write a new blog post.

As for when I use it in web projects, it depends on the situation I suppose. A lot of my freelance work ends up being front-end code for mega-churches. However, if I am working on a small to medium project, I will usually choose TXP as the CMS. For instance, before Geniant was acquired by EMC we wanted to put together a UXD blog. We took the dummy domain that had been created to build client sites (via sub-domains), and used it for the new Geniant Sandbox blog. Now that we're officially EMC, we'll be re-branding this as the 404UXD blog.

TXPQ How does Textpattern compare with other CMSs you have used?

NS This question ties in well with the 404UXD topic. One of the things we have planned for the new blog is that it will run on ExpressionEngine. While we all have used Textpattern in personal and professional projects before, we felt that for the type of blog we want to build this time around, EE would be a better fit. In addition to having full length articles, we will also be using it as a sort of a free form tumble-log. The ability to upload a file directly from the Write interface will be a big plus. Also, EE has built-in importing and handling of external XML feeds, which we will use to aggregate from 3rd party sources: bookmarks, upcoming events, Flickr, Twitter, etc.

I think the best thing about TXP is that it's so easy to find your way around. The interface is unassuming, not pushing extra stuff in your face That being said, I think the best thing about TXP is that it's so easy to find your way around. The interface is unassuming, not pushing extra stuff in your face. You just log-in, and you're ready to write, good to go. I built my wife's blog using Textpattern, and she loves it. Even though she'd be the first to say she's not super tech-savvy, she loves using TXP. She can upload photos, jot down posts, add links to her favorite sites, and is even comfortable writing up content using Textile. If I had to describe TXP in just one or two words, it'd be: "Elegant simplicity." It is intuitive and the learning curve is not too steep. Plus, you cannot beat the price!

Textpattern Solutions

TXPQ You co-wrote Textpattern Solutions with Kevin Potts, Robert Sable, Cody Lindley and Mary Fredborg?

NS I got the book project off the ground, quickly enlisting the help of Cody Lindley who was then a co-worker. He had previous book writing experience with Friends of ED, having written some stuff for them on Flash. I wrote most of the introductory chapters and the one about multi-author blogs. Cody worked on the City Eats restaurant guide case study and came up with a format for the tag reference. Rob wrote the chapters on developing plugins and using TXP for e-commerce. Kevin wrote the chapters on semantics and tying it all together with the Buzz-Bomb site. Mary did all of our technical editing, ensuring we got everything right. She also wrote the majority of the tag reference. This was a pretty big undertaking, with TXP making the jump from 4.0.4 to 4.0.5 while we were writing! All in all, I am quite pleased with how it turned out, and could not have done it without the other amazing people involved in making it happen.

TXPQ I've seen nothing but positive comments about the book. Has that translated into good sales?

Textpattern Solutions cover" title="Textpattern Solutions coverNS Unfortunately, no. The PDF version of the book is being pirated quite a bit. The last file sharing site I saw, which I came across a few months ago, said that the book had been downloaded 14,000 times. Or, that was the amount of thumbs-up it had been given by people who had read it. So, I guess you could say the book has been a success because many people are reading it. However, the sales don't reflect that because they're not paying for it. Overall though, I am glad that we wrote the book, as it really helps strengthen the case for any open source product when there is some solid documentation to go with it.

TXPQ Any thoughts about the TXP plugin system?

NS I love it. It's much easier to cut and paste rather than upload some installation file(s) via FTP. It is easily the most elegant handling of plugins that I have encountered. I would love it if other systems like EE had this feature.

TXPQ Anything else you'd like to say about Textpattern or the community?

NS I think Textpattern is awesome, and the community is great. It was a pleasure working with the other authors of the book, and I think it's a testament to how powerful open source can be, encouraging collaboration and sharing of ideas and information. I am happy to see sites like TXPQ and flourishing.

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