First off, a retraction: Simply put, I owe Matt Mullenweg an apology for what I wrote here. Matt, you're a decent guy. I applaud the hard work you've put into WordPress and Akismet. Ironically, what I said was to defend Alex.


Last month, Drew Mclellan wrote a post entitled The State of Textpattern, questioning the direction that the CMS will head in the future. Shall it continue along open source lines, or become more commercialized? Talented designer and TXP user Jon Hicks chimed in to share his thoughts thusly:

"I wouldn't mind paying for Textpattern and plugins, but I think it's got to be one or the other. Either it follows the WP model, or goes EE on us."


Drew brought up the fact that Alex Shiels (better known in the TXP community as Zem) had written about a semi-commercial plugin on the TXP's official project blog. Being that Alex was lead developer of Textpattern, some saw this as being against the notion of free, open source software. Others expressed their concern that TXP lacks a technology roadmap.

For what it's worth, I do not necessarily think that a roadmap automatically makes for a better product. Rick Ellis, creator of the popular CMS ExpressionEngine, said he never actually used a roadmap for EE…

"Maybe it's my particular temperament, but I just don't like to look very far ahead, and I never bother to look at roadmaps in other products. I could care less, really. I much prefer to deal with the reality of the application as it is now, and make my decision as a user based on that. I acknowledge that a roadmap might be deal breaker for some people, but in six years of developing three major applications we've never used them."


Small World

Due to the criticisms being brought against Alex and other TXP developers, and having become friends with them through the process of book writing, I felt the need to stick up for them. In so doing, I could have just said my piece and let that be that. However, regrettably so, I took a cheap shot at Matt for something that happened over two years ago. It was uncalled for.

Now, here's where the plot twists a bit more. As of this past Monday, June 11th 2007 - Alex Shiels, former lead developer and architect of Textpattern, has started a new job working for Matt Mullenweg's company Automattic. I find it supremely ironic that in an effort to stick up for Alex, I was actually insulting his future boss! Oh, how the 'Net is interwoven.

¿ Water Bridge ?

My friend Nate Logan said it best in his post Open Browser, Insert Foot

"The problem with 'sticking your foot in your mouth' online is that it seems harder to take it back, since it's saved in a backed-up, triple-redundant database and permanently archived and indexed by multiple seach engines and archiving services. Shouldn't comment forms have Edit → Undo functionality?"

— Nathan Logan

Since I cannot undo what's been done, let me just say once again to Matt that I'm sorry. I also have to say I'm a bit jealous, because you've snagged yourself a great PHP developer. I am excited to see what y'all cook up in the WP camp. I think I speak for most of the Textpattern community when I say that Alex and his many contributions will be missed.

On the Horizon

Still, the future of TXP looks bright, under Mary's leadership. There is a new initiative being discussed, around professional designers who use Textpattern for their clients (sign-up here). Also, the second annual Textplates competition is taking entries, with some pretty big prizes, including a Mac Mini.

I am also glad that as of version 4.0.5 and upward, Textpattern will now ship with jQuery as the official, built-in JavaScript library (read more). You could think of it like how Rails comes bundled with Prototype. While you needn't make use of jQuery, it's there if you need it. For what it's worth, both WordPress and Drupal have also standardized around jQuery.

Whichever system you happen to use, some exciting times lie ahead.