The invisible CMS
On the move from Textpattern to Statamic
This has been a re-design in stages. First, an iteration on my old Byekick design, making it responsive and addressing the many minor irritations I had with it. Second, a re-naming: from Byekick (my old freelance company identity) to Travers+co (or, as close, as Twitter and domain name registries could get me. Vwls r pplr.). And lastly, shifting from Textpattern to Statamic. And it’s this last bit that this post is about, for anyone considering doing the same.
Textpattern has been my content management system of choice for some time, and Statamic shares many of the same characteristics: a small footprint, stability, a lack of fuss or unnecessary features, and above all, an emphasis on writing. My favourite design decision in Textpattern was that it opened at a blank new post, ready for you to immediately start writing. It assumed you were there to write not manage. Statamic is, in a way, the next logical step, effectively removing the content management itself from the equation at all (it’s there via a browser-based Control Panel if you need it too).
- You write (Markdown-formatted posts) in IA Writer
- You save to a folder of your choosing - I’m using Dropbox so I can add content wherever I am, and whatever device I have to hand
- You sync it with your web server (I’m using Mac OSX’s Automator, or Transmit’s DropSend to magically do this bit for me).
- Your content is published
- No sign in, no publish button, no management, just words and ⌘ Save. Two turntables and a microphone.
Moving from Textpattern wasn’t without its trials. Textpattern doesn’t offer a export facility - something I really hope gets addressed, if only for politeness - so I had three options:
- Write a script to turn my Textpattern database-stored posts into Markdown flat files (far beyond my PHP skills these days)
- Hack exporting the content (using a WordPress install to import then export the Textpattern content)
- Use (somewhat poignantly) Aaron Swartz’s html2text to automatically turn my existing site’s pages into Markdown.
The last of these was the safest, if unquestionably laborious, way of doing it.
For anyone who has built a site in Textpattern, Statamic is a very easy shift - the mental model is very, very similar: for Textile, Pages and Forms; read Markdown, Layout, Templates and Partials. For Textpattern tags, read Statamic content markup. My Textpattern forms are, one for one, my Statamic Partials.
The biggest compliment I can pay Statamic is that, having set this site up in its current MVP-ish form, I haven’t given it a moment’s thought. It’s there and it’s not there, a near-invisible layer of management, unobtrusive, lean and out of my way. It’s how content management should be.