Roles and Permissions in Textpattern


Content management systems often include functionality for multiple user logins, management of those users and also the content they create. Textpattern CMS is one of these systems that offers a multi-user environment straight out of the box. In this article I’ll be introducing you to how Textpattern handles users and their content, primarily from a management point of view.

At the time of writing, Textpattern CMS has six user types. Each of these user types, or roles, has a description that is well-suited to a publishing house or agency:

  • Publisher
  • Managing Editor
  • Copy Editor
  • Staff Writer
  • Freelancer
  • Designer

The roles above are, with the exception of Designer, in descending sort order of rights. Put another way, a Publisher has the rights to do everything in the Textpattern CMS interface, while the Freelancer has far less freedom. The Designer role is the exception because they deal more with the presentational and technical aspects of the site, rather than the article and copy creation aspect.

Each user role has a different view of the Textpattern administration interface. Essentially, where a user role cannot perform a task or action, they will not see the option. Excuse the double negative, there – it may help you to think of the list above from the bottom-up point of view instead. From a Freelancer upwards in the list, each user has more rights than before and, therefore, more ways to improve/break aspects of your site. Bear this in mind if you’re planning a multi-user approach to a CMS, whether it’s Textpattern or something else – with great power comes great responsibility.

From a rights and roles perspective, the sole difference between a Publisher and Managing Editor is that a Publisher can edit user rights, but a Managing Editor cannot. This is intentional and as designed – if a Managing Editor were able to edit user rights, they could elevate themselves to Publisher, lock out the other Publisher(s) and take control. The psychology of user rights, roles and responsibilities is outside the remit of this introductory article, but if you can avoid your contributors going rogue while using Textpattern, your role as a Publisher will be much easier.

A user has one role, and a role can have zero, one or more users assigned to it. You want 3x Publishers, 1x Managing Editor, 2x Freelancers and 8x Designers? No problem. You want 1x Publisher and 637x Staff Writers? No problem. Sure, you’ll need a lot of coffee to keep the Publisher pepped up, but Textpattern won’t let you down on the technical side of things. Does your organisation have one email address shared between more than one user? No problem – you can have multiple users sharing the same email address. If a user sharing this email address needs to reset their password, should they forget it, they can reset it by entering their username on the login screen. A user is added with a role, and that role can change. Should you decide to rescind all access for that user, a role of None can be applied, denying all access to the Textpattern administration panel.

I recommend you map out the contributors in your organisation before you start creating users. In my next article, I’ll show you an at-a-glance quick reference for what each role can do to help you decide who should fit where and how many people you need in each role. I hope you can join me.

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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 - - 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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