Naturally, after complaining in detail on Friday, Textpattern 1.0rc3 came out on Saturday. And does it fix all of my problems? No, it’s broken in new ways. I’ll spare you the details.
Before the release I suggested, finally, that the developers should have been checking their work into the Subversion repository as they worked over the last few months. I was told—in these words, although not by any of the actual developers—that I and other “complainers” just didn’t understand the software development process. When another such complainer observed that none of the changes we were assured were being made safely out of all public sight could be tested, he was snapped at with “we’re all here testing the previous release—don’t you know what beta software is?” Furthermore, we were not so politely informed, there were virtually no other projects, closed or open source, with developers as communicative and releases as frequent, so what right did we have to complain anyway?
As you can probably tell, my septic tank had overflowed by this point. I knew there’d be little value in pointing out that, in fact, I am currently in a closed source beta test with much more frequent releases and communicative developers (for the Mac RSS reader NetNewsWire); that this is not unique even among commercial developers; that Textpattern’s approach in the last half of 2004 was fairly unique among open source projects, and not in a good way.
One of those other open source projects is WordPress, which released its most recent version less than a week ago. WP constantly updated its source code repository and produced fairly frequent “beta release” installation packages, and the developers somehow managed to both code and communicate during the same week. Textpattern’s loudest defenders would have you believe this feat is essentially impossible.
The really curious thing about WP 1.5, though, is that its new “theme” system is essentially a full template system, allowing the level of flexibility that it didn’t have compared to Textpattern back when I was first looking at systems to run Claw & Quill on. WP’s themes are, frankly, more obtuse than Textpattern’s, a PHP-HTML tag soup. But it works. In fact, “it works” is the main concept that kept cropping up all through my investigation of WP. Importing the export file from Movable Type? It just worked. (It was a minor nightmare in Textpattern.) Viewing the site after import with the default template? It just worked. Presto. In 45 minutes, I got farther with WP than I had in hours with Textpattern.
I still have a lot of “theming” to do on that site, and it may be a little ornery. And it doesn’t address some of the issues I could address by writing my own CMS, I know: WordPress, like Textpattern, is written in PHP, is dependent on MySQL, and is heavily tilted toward the needs of weblogs.
But it’d be a lot faster than rolling my own (or even than forking Textpattern).
And, hey, if I get lost in the templates, WP has pretty good documentation already.