WordPress and TextPattern are two very popular blogging platforms. Both of them began as blogging platforms (and somehow insist on being blogging tools even to this day), yet have quickly evolved into full-fledged and extremely powerful CMS’s. Both of them have pros and cons, and each boasts of a very dedicated user base as well as communities and forums.
In this article, we shall attempt to compare TextPattern and WordPress and see which one emerges victorious.
Before proceeding further, a short disclaimer: the division of this comparative review under multiple headings does not essentially have a logical explanation – I’ve simply attempted to compare it using four basic, but very important, categories, functionality and usability, mode of operation, extensions and plugins and finally, community and support.
Furthermore, I guess many users of WP and TXP will either agree or disagree with my views. To be honest, using a particular CMS also requires a certain amount of personal choice, what might work for me, may not work for you, and vice-versa. Differences in opinion are always welcome!
So without further ado, let us begin with our comparison.
Functionality and Usability
When it comes to functionality and usability, WordPress seems to win easily. While this does not mean that TextPattern is, in any way, less functional than WordPress, WP simply beats TXP in terms of ease of use! With the advent of version 3.x and higher, WP now boasts of a super organized administrative panel that lets you manage your website with ease. Don’t believe me? Take a look at WP’s admin panel. ‘Dashboard’, ‘Posts’, ‘Pages’, ‘Settings’ – which of these sections are not self-explanatory? Customizing the blog becomes a matter of few clicks. Take a look at the ‘Settings’ page of both the CMSes.
On the other hand, TextPattern’s administrative panel, though equally capable and powerful, seems ‘outdated’ in comparison to that of WordPress. Of course, TXP is equally robust in its admin panel, but overall the interface is not as easy to use and may even be confusing for beginners.
Availability of Custom Plugins/Extensions and Themes
Apart from ease of use, the next thing that defines any piece of software is the availability of extensions for it. However, more often than not, there is a spiral between ‘ease of use’ on one hand and ‘extendability’ on the other. For instance, when it comes to mobile operating systems, Android is more popular than Samsung Bada. While this does not demerit Samsung Bada itself, Android’s popularity can be attributed to its ever-growing app market, which in turn is increasing because developers take an interest in it due to its easy extendability and wide usage, which ensures their efforts will not go unnoticed. Again, due to developers’ keen interest, the apps keep growing, and the users keep coming to Android.
Both WP and TXP support themes and templates as well as multiple plugins and extensions. However, WP has more themes and plugins then TXP. While this may or may not prove WP’s superiority, it surely plays its role in contributing to WP’s user base. Since many commercially viable tech blogs and websites are powered by WordPress (not to mention the millions of blogs at WordPress.com and Blog.com), it is but natural that WP has a large number of themes and plugins. Certain providers, such as WooThemes, offer themes for both WP and TXP. Yet, in this case too, WP dominates TXP in terms of the number of available themes.
If you have exemplary coding skills, fret not! You can easily tweak TXP and design your blog or website the way you wish to. But if you are an end user just looking to get a blog or website up and ready with as little technical expertise as possible, WP should be your safest bet!
Mode of Operation
Modus Operandi is by far the most debatable topic when it comes to comparing any two CMS’s, let alone WP and/or TXP.
To begin with, WordPress comes with a WYSIWYG Editor that makes editing posts and articles extremely simple.
TextPattern, on the other hand, has an equally awesome (though not so end-user friendly, as it takes some ‘getting used to’) editor, which can do almost anything you want it to, but will surely leave many beginners confused. In TXP, Textile and other related features can either be your best friends or your worst enemies.
In the admin back end as well, you will notice that mundane tasks such as updating the CMS, installing themes/plugins, or even navigating the back end – all seem easier on WP rather than TXP for a novice. However, the confusion vanishes once you get accustomed to the interface.
Community and Support
A CMS is only as good as its user base. Both TXP and WP have a good and fairly active community and many forums where you can seek support and advice.
In terms of documentation, TXP seems to win outright. WP is well documented, but it comes nowhere close to beating TXP – apart from the usual website, TXP also has its own User Documentation Website and another TXP Resources site.
Speaking of support, WP is updated on a more frequent basis as compared to TXP. However, this can be interpreted either way – supporters of WP will consider the frequent updates as higher level of activity at their developers’ end, while supporters of TXP can attribute the lesser updates to a sign of maturity of TXP in itself.
To sum it up
Before coming to a conclusion, let us recap each CMS’s pros and cons:
- Textile is a wonderful component, and if you get used to it, you will never, ever, miss WP.
- You can tweak your website as much as you want. There is negligible encapsulation done.
- Extensive documentation.
- Admin back end looks outdated.
- Interface confusing for beginners.
- Lesser number of themes/plugins (as compared to WP)
- Perhaps the easiest CMS ever
- Several themes/plugins
- Excellent update mechanism
- WP is intended to power only one blog at a time (unless you’re using WPMU)
- With plugins/extensions, it may becomes bloated
- Editing article meta data is difficult
- Notorious for frequent security bugs and issues
And the Winner is…
As I stated above, using (or not using) a particular CMS is a matter of personal preference too. More often than not, our choice for a CMS is governed by our needs (and, perhaps, bias towards a personal favorite).
WordPress and TextPattern are both great at what they do! If you need a CMS just to power a blog or a small website, look no further than WordPress. If, on the contrary, you wish to run multiple blogs, or prefer to tweak your articles before posting them (or simply like to do things the geeks’ way), TextPattern might be your ideal solution. In simple terms, TXP should be chosen if you wish to define the dynamics of your website just as if you were ‘programming’ software.
Have you used WP and/or TXP earlier? Do share your experiences with us in the comments!
Sufyan bin Uzayr writes for various magazine and blogs, and is the author of "Sufism: A Brief History". He blogs about technology, Linux and open source, mobile, web design and development, typography, and Content Management Systems at Code Carbon. You can learn more about him, follow him on Twitter or friend him on Facebook and Google+.