Continuing my grand tradition of volunteering for things I don't actually know how to do, I'm setting up a website for the International Development Design Summit and learning Textpattern (a lightweight and flexible CMS) as I go. I'm writing this documentation in the hopes that other Textpattern newbies will find it useful someday - or at the very least, so I can refer to it again later.

Disclaimer: As the title suggest, I'm using Dreamhost. YMMV on other web providers.

First, download and unzip Textpattern into the directory of your choice. Note: I'm using version 4.0.4, the latest as of this writing. Change the numbers to reflect the version you want to install.

  1. Download Textpattern. I typed wget into my shell prompt.
  2. Unzip Textpattern. Predictably, this is unzip in the shell prompt. (Yes, shell prompts are in bold italic here.)
  3. Move the files to the directory you want to install them in. The slash-asterisk (/*) means "[move] everything inside this folder." Since I wanted to move them to my current directory (denoted by a period) I typed a period at the end; replace the period with the name of your directory if you want. mv textpattern-4.0.4/* .
  4. Remove the empty directory and the zip file, just for cleanup. rm -r textpattern-4.0.4*

Create a database.

  1. In the Dreamhost control panel, go to Goodies > Manage MySql.
  2. Scroll to the bottom. Follow the instructions for creating a new MySql database. It doesn't really matter what names/hosts/passwords you use, as long as you remember them.

Install it.

  1. Go to and follow the prompts. ( is the folder that you moved the textpatterns into in the first section of this tutorial). You'll have to...
  2. Pick a language (I go with English-US, but you don't have to; it's just that I only read English fluently at the moment.)
  3. Remember the passwords, hosts, usernames, and stuff you created in the second section of this tutorial, and type them into appropriate forms.
  4. Copy-paste some PHP code the installer provides you with and use it to create config.php in your folder (I use vim in my shell; you can also ftp in a document you make in Notepad).
  5. Make an account. It doesn't matter what you use for your password and login, as long as you remember it.

Basic options

  1. Go to and log in. Congratulations, you have an install!
  2. There's a tiny drop-down menu in the upper right hand corner. Use it to go to admin > preferences.
  3. Change the fields as you will.
  4. View your site.

That's it. Next up: customizing the look and feel of your site.