Why Do I Use Classic Theme in Textpattern?

I’ve had some really valuable feedback on my Textpattern CMS posts on the Arvixe blog so far, a few of which have made me think about the way these articles are written. One question that has been raised by more than one person (thanks, Mantesh and Ricardo) is how I use the Classic administration theme in my screenshots rather than the more modern Hive theme. This is a great question, and one which I’ll cover in this post.

I’ve been using Textpattern since 2005. Back then, the development team comprised different individuals, most of whom have moved on to new pastures. The administration theme at that point defaulted to Classic, so that’s what I got used to. In some respects, it became a habit over the years and one I’ve stuck with. The developers were very focused on the technical aspects of the software, with design aesthetics and the user experience perhaps a little lower in their priority list. As such, the front- and back-end theming was a little more rudimentary than it is today.

The tab and sub-tab approach remains in Classic theme, but it has been made more visually appealing in recent times, largely due to the introduction of Phil Wareham as the core designer. Phil introduced the Hive theme in Textpattern version 4.5.0 and it has been available in the Textpattern installation theme since.

This is the crucial takeaway from this post: user-defined settings are, unless stated in the release notes, kept as-is when newer versions are released. That’s intentional, too; Textpattern is used on many high-profile sites, and regardless of the site magnitude, availability is a high priority. The settings for new installations may differ from upgrades; for example, from version 4.5.6 it’s likely that visitor logs will be turned off by default. The functionality is there, sure, but it’s switched off – if you have a Textpattern version 4.5.5 with logging turned on, upgrading to 4.5.6 will not change that setting because your existing configuration is respected. A caveat: version 4.5.6 has not yet been released, so my information comes from the code changes on the work-in-progress version.

Most of my Textpattern installations were setup before version 4.5.0, so have always used the Classic theme. There are two other themes included in the core Textpattern files: Hive, as I’ve mentioned already, and Remora. Hive is responsive, modern and regularly tweaked to improve its usability, whereas Remora changes far less often.

Hive looks like this:

Remora looks like this:

Now, compare the two to Classic:

Classic has tabs and sub-tabs, Remora and Hive have navigation menus. Regardless of what theme you choose, the core Textpattern functions and settings are available, and generally they are accessed in the same way. If you don’t like yellow, then help is at hand: there are additional admin-side themes at Textgarden.

Switching an admin-side theme is straightforward: go to Admin -> Preferences -> Advanced and find the theme selector drop down. In order to have a 3rd-party admin-side theme appear in the list, it should be installed. Each theme download from Textgarden has install instructions. Please note that installing themes is a manual process involving copying and pasting text, rather than just uploading a directory to a web server. In my next post, I’ll show you how to install a front-side theme which will change the appearance of your site.

Thank you for reading, and I hope you’ll join me next time as I cover the fundamentals of theming.

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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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