TextDrive. Last week from a lonely hotel room in beautiful Pleasanton, California — I was in the Bay Area for Documentum training — I (without much planning) jumped on a stellar webhosting offer from Dean Allen, maker of Textpattern, and thus became one of the lucky VC200, first “venture capitalists” of many customers to come in Dean’s (and business partner Jason’s) new webhost service TextDrive.
As the Textpattern CMS is TextDrive’s emphasis (but not requirement of course) perhaps I should devote more time to mastering it.
Why an alternative? Not because I’m all a-dither about the Movable Type 3.0 pricing brouhaha — I like MT, understand it reasonably well, and appreciate its Perlishness relative to PHP. And I trust Ben, Mena, Anil, et al. to get the pricing/licensing kinks worked out.
Freedom. I’m interested in an alternative because I’ve been a Free Software enthusiast and advocate since my immersion into Linux in early 1998, and I want to use truly free weblogging software. (Shelley and Mark provide informative takes on freedom, blogging, and software licensing.)
WordPress. WordPress is another truly free contender (GPL license) and perhaps has the most post-MT mo’ right now. Shelley’s extensive writing about it at Burningbird (just search her blog for “wordpress”) persuaded me to look closely at WordPress, and it is indeed wonderful.
But Dean’s style just radiates from Textpattern (
BSD license ) in a way that intrigues me and captures my imagination. And my <ahem> skim-only, read-only “participation” in the Textpattern community over the past several months tells me these are people I’ll enjoy knowing better.
Objects. Textpattern employs software engineering concepts that rang familiar as I studied Documentum last week. For example, instead of uploaded graphics files being scattered in the filesystem of a served directory where they’re hard to track, each graphic file uploaded to Textpattern becomes an object with category, alt text, and caption metadata accompanying it. The uploaded graphic filename itself is of no consequence — it’s actually saved with a numeric filename — because Textpattern keeps the physical file associated with its image metadata. This easy-to-grasp object approach (where behind the scenes the object == filesystem file + database metadata) is generally how Documentum does things.
Object-oriented thinking in this context is still somewhat new to me, so I may be making too much of this. But I was struck by — and impressed by — the conceptual resemblance between Textpattern and Documentum on this.
Sizzle. Even though I advocate Free Software, I nevertheless use Mac OS X on my PowerBook most of the time instead of the completely free Gentoo- or Debian Linux distributions, each of which is as extraordinary on PowerPC hardware as it is on ix86 PC hardware. My use of Mac OS X is a conscious decision to forego a bit of freedom in exchange for enjoying The Most Empowering OS I’ve Ever Experienced. But even within the half-free, half-not-free world of Mac OS X, I use much Free Software, thanks primarily to the Fink project.
Here I am two and a half years into blogging, and I’ve cycled back ‘round to thinking I don’t have much to say. The unholy alliance between church and state in the U.S. is now unraveling on its own, thank God. The malign incompetence of our Executive Branch is becoming common knowledge. In my railing against these in this blog I’m hardly the lone voice I felt like last year; I’m now one among many. And of these many political- and faith-
obsessed oriented bloggers, most write far more effectively than I do. So maybe now is a good time for me to be quiet and learn free blogging software.
I hope to return to writing about odds and ends I find interesting, useful, beautiful, lifegiving, instead of being constantly consumed by political/religious anger and despair. After all, blogs that showcase the multifaceted interests of people I’m delighted to meet are the blogs I most like to read.