In this article, I will show you how to set up Textpattern, a lightweight web application meant to help website owners overcome typical hurdles of online publishing. It’s designed to streamline web pages and provide a flexible, user-friendly environment. It is a free and open-source content management system with several features, including:
- Use keywords to quickly search for old articles
- Logs visitors and referrers every minute
- Offers unlimited sections for the site
- Offers unlimited categories for images, files, links and articles
- Allows CSS editing
- Allows browser templates
- Organization for uploaded images and files
- Offers unlimited authors on the website
- Allows plugin installation
- Intuitive article, comment and link editing
- Design, editing and writing privileges hierarchy
- Import from an old content management system
- Search engine built in
- Subscribe to custom feeds
- Browse categories in a list
- Adjust the time and date printed on an article
- Schedule articles for the future
- Close comments after a period of time or on demand
- Accept comments on a per article basis
- Password protect articles or parts of the website
If you’re ready to set up Textpattern, you’ll need a domain name and a Web host so the website can “live” somewhere. If you haven’t yet done this, I would recommend doing through a tutorial to learn how to register a new domain that works best for your website and learn how to set up a Web host.
For the rest of the tutorial, I’ll assume you’ve taken care of this step and are ready to install the Textpattern software on your website. Depending on the Web host you have, there are automatic and manual options available. Some hosts offer a one-click installation option, but there is a way to manually install it all.
When selecting a host, you need one that offers the following minimum requirements for Textpattern, though later is better:
To get started, you’ll need to upload the files to your directory. Depending on how your domain looks, you’ll need to navigate to a URL similar to:
When you arrive at the installation screen, there will be a few pages that you must go through. First, pick the default language option; the option selected here will apply to the administrator panels and the front end of the website too. Naturally, I’ve picked English, but use whatever language is meant for yours.
On the following page, you’ll need to provide information about a database. If you haven’t already created one on your Web host, do it now; you’ll have to provide the username and password for the database as well as the name of the new database. On the installation page, the MySQL server option should stay as “localhost,” however. Click “Next” when you’re ready.
On the next page, Textpattern will determine whether the database login information is correct. If it is, then it will display a configuration file that you will need to hold onto for the rest of the installation. Copy the content that is displayed to you and create a new file on your server as described by the installation page; it will tell you where to insert the file. The file should be called config.php. When you’re done, click “I Did It.”
Finally, you can provide some administrative details to use when accessing the back end of the site. Fill out the form and click “Next” to complete this. The final page informs you that everything was successful, and you can click the link to access your administrative area.
Chances are you have a base version of Textpattern; it will need to be updated for security issues. The process is automatic and largely only requires that it overwrites some files with new ones in the latest release.
Be sure to back up your Textpattern website before making any changes. It will save your database and the files to restore to this point if anything goes bad. Next, be sure to download the newest Textpattern package from the website and extract it to your computer.
Upload these files in the folder where Textpattern is already installed, allowing it to overwrite the old files:
- Anything inside the Textpattern folder, except for config.php
- Anything inside the RPC folder
When you’ve replaced all the new files, access the administrative space. The update script automatically begins running when you first log in. When it’s complete, you can look in the Admin Tab for diagnostics, which should inform you if there was a problem or if you are now running the newest version of the Textpattern site.
Backing up Textpattern
There are two ways to back up your Textpattern website. First, be sure you know which database was used for installation; if you don’t remember down the line, you can find the information in config.php.
The first way you can back up a database is to log in to your Web host and use cPanel backup functionality if it’s a part of your account. If it is, you may be able to log in and select Backups, followed by Download a MySQL Database Backup or similar where appropriate. This lets you download the database as it already is in case something occurs while updating or making changes; it is preferred to use this method.
As an alternative method, you can also use the phpMyAdmin option of your Web host. I would recommend a more detailed tutorial on this, but it’s not really as reliable a method to use either way; it’s possible to experience problems when your database gets too large to use through phpMyAdmin.
Either way, your next step would be to download the files that are housed on the website. Before downloading the backup, it helps if you create an archive of your Textpattern files. While it is not absolutely required to do this, it can help make it easier to upload and download content as necessary. After all, it is always easier to download just the one archive file when you consider having to download every file individually otherwise.
If you wish to make an archive of the files of your Textpattern website, you will need to complete the following steps:
- Access your cPanel on your Web host
- Select the File Manager
- Navigate until you are in the folder where you installed Textpattern; remember that if you normally access the Textpattern website right from your domain name, then this is the first directory labeled public_html
- Select all files within the directory — if any of them are not specifically part of the installation and are there because of other scripts, it is fine to skip these
- Click Compress if your Web host has the option. This will give you the choice to save an archive to another part of your directory
When you’re ready, you can download the archive of the Textpattern site through the cPanel or through an FTP client. If you have it stored on your account, you can access it directly by pointing your Web browser to that archive file, but this is not as secure as using FTP.