Textpattern CMS and the Textile markup language


Textpattern CMS includes a parser for the Textile markup syntax. If that sentence didn’t make a single jot of sense, I’ll break it down: Textpattern, a content management system, has some code included in it that provides a way to use Textile to generate valid (X)HTML code with fewer keystrokes. It’s perfect for keyboard warriors, lazy people, lazy keyboard warriors and a bunch of other demographics, too. I’ve talked about Textile on the Arvixe blog and I promised I’d come back to it in more detail, especially since my articles generated some really interesting questions.

Before I launch into some Textile how-to, there are some things you should understand. Textpattern and Textile go way back, and are a classic one-two of content management system and markup language. Neither Textpattern or Textile are market leaders in their field, and short of a huge, global buy-in from half the Internet that’s not likely to happen any time soon. Textpattern is a good fit for me because it’s lightweight, nimble and flexible. Textile is an extension to this in some respects. I learned Textile quite late into my Textpattern tenure, and shortly before I figured out Markdown. Each has their pros and cons, and I use both on a regular basis. Broadly, I roll out Markdown in GitHub and use Textile in Textpattern.

If GitHub knew about Textile, I’d use Textile there because I know more of it, but I get by with GitHub-flavoured Markdown. Textpattern doesn’t yet know about Markdown, but there are plans to include a Markdown parser in the upcoming 4.6 release of Textpattern, the release date of which is yet to be confirmed. There’s a lot going on with the development of Textpattern 4.6, and Markdown support is one of many things on the cards for. Textile won’t be removed from Textpattern 4.6 when Markdown support is provided, and knowing some Textile can make your life as an editor or author much easier.

If you don’t already have a Textpattern instance set up on your Arvixe hosting, it’s trivial to get going, especially if you want to have a subdomain dedicated to learning Textpattern and/or Textile. For the upcoming set of tutorials, I recommend having access to a Textpattern installation so you can play along, either on your own hosting at Arvixe or by using the Textpattern demo (http://www.textpattern.co/demo) website. If you are inclined to throw up a new Textpattern and use that as your base, it’s very straightforward if you use the Softaculous installer on the Arvixe control panel.

When you’re up and running with a Textpattern instance, or have the Textpattern demo loaded in your browser, you’re ready to go. Note that Textpattern enables Textile by default, so you won’t need to do anything to turn the functionality on. The upcoming articles will cover a variety of Textile features:

  • block modifiers (e.g., paragraphs, headings, block code, pre-formatted text, HTML and blockquotes)
  • lists and notes (e.g., bulleted lists, numbered lists, definition lists, footnotes and auto-numbered notes)
  • links, images and tables
  • phrase modifiers (e.g., strong, bold, italic, superscript, subscript, insertions, deletions, citations and inline code)
  • attributes (e.g., alignment, indentation, spans and also CSS styles, classes and IDs)

There’s a lot to cover, and questions are always welcome. Leave a comment on this or any other of my Textpattern articles and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

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Author Spotlight

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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