Textpattern Admin Tab: A Primer

The Textpattern CMS administration interface has a number of tabs, each with their own context sensitive sub-tabs. Today I’ll be showing you around the Admin tab and some of its features. This is not an exhaustive article, and I encourage you to install Textpattern to see if it’s right for you. I am mindful that, for some people, fine-tuned administration controls are more important than front-end features when selecting a CMS, so I’ll be as honest as I can be and I hope you’ll find this useful.

The Admin tab lives alongside the Content and Presentation tabs. Clicking the Admin tab will enable some sub-tabs specific to the administration of the site. In English, on the Classic theme, they are named as follows:

  • Diagnostics
  • Preferences
  • Users
  • Visitor logs
  • Plugins
  • Import

Remember that if you’re using a non-English language (Textpattern has support for 40+ languages), the tabs will be labelled in the respective language. If you’re using a theme other than Classic, you may also find the sub-tabs are displayed or arranged differently; regardless, you’ll have all the options available, but they might be filed nearby.

The first tab, Diagnostics, serves multiple purposes. It provides an at-a-glance pre-flight check report to ensure your Textpattern is healthy and working, along with a text box of diagnostic information about your server and website setup. In my case, it looks like this:

Textpattern version: 4.5.5 (r5575)
Last update: 2013-10-29 14:59:36/2013-10-04 18:55:16
Document root: /home/petecoop/public_html
$path_to_site: /home/petecoop/public_html
Textpattern path: /home/petecoop/public_html/textpattern
Permanent link mode: section_id_title
upload_tmp_dir: /tmp
Temporary directory path: /tmp
Site URL: textpattern-arxive.com
PHP version: 5.2.17
GD Graphics Library: bundled (2.0.34 compatible); supported formats: GIF, JPG, PNG.
Server TZ: America/Los_Angeles
Server local time: 2013-11-30 04:52:09
DST enabled?: 0
Automatically adjust DST setting?: 0
Time zone:  (+72000)
MySQL: 5.5.30-30.1
Locale: en_GB.UTF-8
Server: Apache/2.2.21 (Unix) mod_ssl/2.2.21 OpenSSL/0.9.8e-fips-rhel5 mod_hive/3.6 mod_jk/1.2.37 mod_bwlimited/1.4 mod_auth_passthrough/2.1
PHP server API: cgi
RFC 2616 headers: 0
Server OS: Linux 2.6.18-348.16.1.el5
Admin-side theme: classic 4.5.5

.htaccess file contents: 
------------------------
AddHandler application/x-httpd-php52 .php .php5 .php4 .php3
#DirectoryIndex index.php index.html

#Options +FollowSymLinks
#Options -Indexes
#ErrorDocument 403 default

<IfModule mod_rewrite.c>
	RewriteEngine On
	#RewriteBase /relative/web/path/

	RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} -f [OR]
	RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} -d
	RewriteRule ^(.+) - [PT,L]

	RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} !=/favicon.ico
	RewriteRule ^(.*) index.php

	RewriteCond %{HTTP:Authorization}  !^$
	RewriteRule .* - [E=REMOTE_USER:%{HTTP:Authorization}]
</IfModule>

#php_value register_globals 0

# SVG
AddType image/svg+xml  svg svgz
AddEncoding gzip       svgz

------------------------

The level of detail in this report is Low. There is a High detail level option available, but that’s only real used with extensive troubleshooting. If you report a problem with your Textpattern install, either in the Arvixe forums or the Textpattern support forums, be prepared to supply the diagnostic information from this box. Assuming your pre-flight check passes, you’re generally good to go.

The Preferences sub-tab is, as you might have guessed, where site preferences are stored. These preferences are stored in the database rather than a config file, so should be edited on this tab rather than a text editor. Preferences are split into three types: Basic, Advance and Language. You may find the Language preference tab is elsewhere in some themes. Related to this, I can also say that there’s a very good chance that from Textpattern 4.6 the language preferences will have their own tab. The most recent pre-release test build certainly has it that way, and assuming that continues it will have its own tab inside Admin.

Basic preferences cover publishing- and comment-related options, including your site name, time zone, daylight savings settings, URL formats and comment moderation. Advanced preferences provide more fine-tuning, dealing with more technical aspects of your site, more detailed comment control, syndication via feeds and extensive tweaking of articles. Each of the preferences has a native-language short description and a pop-up tooltip style help if you need it.

The Language preferences control what language strings are used in Textpattern, both in the front-of-house and administration side of operation. Note that the language selection will not translate the content of your articles, but Textpattern-provided text will. For example, the standard comment invite is a provided text string and if you request Textpattern output that string using a tag, it will do so in the appropriate language. We’ll go into tags in more detail next month, suffice to say they’re really cool.

The Users tab is where Textpattern users are managed. By default, users cannot self-register. They can be invited via email, however, by an existing administrator. Each user has a privilege within Textpattern. In English, these levels are:

  • Publisher
  • Managing Editor
  • Copy Editor
  • Staff Writer
  • Freelancer
  • Designer
  • None

A user’s privilege level determines what can tabs be accessed in the administration interface. A user with Publisher privileges has full rights, whereas someone with privilege level of None can do nothing. The list above shows rights in descending order.

The Visitor logs tab shows where your site visitors are located. These logs are stored in the database rather than a flat log file, and you should be aware that they expire after a pre-chosen time. In order for the logs to be trimmed as they expire, the Visitor logs tab needs to be clicked. The trimming operation takes place on that click. If you’re not using the visitor logs, you should switch them off in your Preferences sub-tab, purely because of database size. There’s no point in increasing the size of the database with useless information. I understand that from Textpatten 4.6, it’s very likely that logging will be turned off for new installations by default.

The Plugins tab is where Textpattern add-ons are installed. Plugins are installed via a pasted text string, although some may require additional files to be uploaded, too. There are many hundreds of plugins maintained by both core Textpattern developers and users. The rationale behind having a plugin architecture is that not everyone wants or needs functionality which may be considered bespoke to some, so it’s an opt-in thing. This has the benefit of keeping the core Textpattern code light and efficient, while providing a platform for people who want to extend it.

Finally, the Import tab is where content from other CMSs can be imported. Currently, this extends to Blogger, WordPress, b2, and Movable Type. Other import formats can be processed by way of a plugin.

In my next post I’ll be introducing you to Textpattern tags, and then after that we’ll be installing a plugin. I do hope you’ll be able to join me.

Looking for quality Textpattern Hosting? Look no further than Arvixe Web Hosting!

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Author Spotlight

Pete Cooper

Pete Cooper

Pete Cooper has been using Textpattern since 2005. Textpattern is his preferred CMS weapon of choice. Its logical and flexible approach to content management makes Pete happy, as does its lightweight core and helpful user community. Pete's website - petecooper.org - runs on top of Textpattern and chronicles his day-to-day experiences from his home near the Atlantic in north Cornwall, United Kingdom.

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