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January 10, 2006

TypePad has no pagination features (next and previous buttons at the bottom of the page) AND no way of implementing them!!

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Under the category of more absolutely ridiculous things that current blogging platforms are missing the boat on, I just found out that not only does TypePad not have pagination built in, but there is NO WAY of implementing it even through advanced templates.

By pagination, I mean the <next> and <previous> buttons that many bloggers and blog readers are accustomed to seeing at the bottom of a blog page (a feature that is built into WordPress, for example).  TypePad gives you the option of customizing how many posts appear on a page, but no way to easily navigate to posts beyond those appearing on the front page.  For example, How To Blog is set to display 10 posts on the front page.  But when users visit the old typepad version of the site at http://blogging.typepad.com/how_to_blog/ and read through those posts, and want to see the rest of what I’ve written, they have only 2 options, neither of which is optimal:

  1. View each category one at a time
  2. Go through the monthly archives

I had put it on my personal ‘to do’ list to figure out how to add Next and Previous links to the buttom of my TypePad pages, and when I finally decided to tackle the project and couldn’t figure it out on my own, I submitted a support ticket to Six Apart asking for help with it.  I wrote:

WordPress has built in previous / next page links at the bottom of every page. This makes their blogs much more easy to navigate, especially for beginners. As each page only contains a certain number of posts, without having next and previous buttons it's hard for people to easily navigate the blog.

In addition to making this a feature request, I'd also like to know what code I should use in my advanced templates in order to implement this on my blog on How to Blog.

Your prompt attention to this matter is greatly appreciated.

Thank you!
Emily Robbins

The response I got back from TypePad Customer Support was astounding (bold added by me): 

Hi Emily,

Currently TypePad doesn't offer pagination (Next Page and Previous Page links), so there isn't any code that I can offer you to do this.

Thanks for the suggestion, though. We are always looking for ways to enhance TypePad for our users, so we will keep this in mind as a possible future feature for the system.

Please let us know if there is anything else we can do for you.

Thanks,
Kymberlie

Excuse me for the double-take, but NO CODE AVAILABLE TO DO THIS?  How can this be when SixApart themselves acknowledged the importance of pagination features in their own article on Six Apart Pronet entitled “Building on Movable Type Part 3: Creating Pagination Controls”, wherein they say (again, bolding is from me):

Pagination controls are sufficiently ubiquitous that our own developers saw the value in creating a reusable mechanism for creating the links developers should all be too familiar with: “next page," “previous page," “last page," “first page" and “you are viewing results X to Y out of Z." This reusable framework is not only accessible within Movable Type, but by plugins as well.

So apparently Six Apart thinks that pagination controls are so ‘ubiquitous’ that we’d be ‘all to familiar’ with them, and they are not only built into the functionality of Movable Type but also accessible by MT plugins.  GREAT.  For Movable Type users.

So how come when SixApart created (and updated and updated) TypePad, this “ubiquitous” functionality was somehow forgotten?

January 10, 2006 in MovableType, Reviews, TypePad, Weblogs | Permalink | Email This Post

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Comments

Be careful what you use as back up.

* TypePad is not Movable Type.
* The ProNet articleyou linked--which, if you check the title, is about MT--regards a pagination control for use within the Movable Type /application/, not the output templates you're concerned with. That piece is about developing plugins, not sites.
* Not that it entirely matters, because MT does /not/ provide template pagination, either. Check the manual. There /is/ the Paginate plugin, which requires PHP, but I challenge you to find a decent host that doesn't offer it. Beyond plugins, there is another way to do it with Smarty(also PHP), and ultimately with any other templating engine you may want to use.
* My guess would be that 6A simply didn't want to get into it. There are a lot of potential reasons for this, starting with the fact they have no idea what your server environment is going to be, much less what you choose to develop on the server with. If they released a plugin for say, PHP, everybody will start whining about bringing enough for the rest of the class, and complain for them to develop versions for whatever their favorite scripting language or templating system is. This would be a colossal waste of time, so they let the third-party developers deal with it for plugins, or individual users to come up with their own solutions. (I had links in here, but HTML is completely disallowed?)

On to TypePad, it has never been sold as a full-featured "control everything" product(that's MT). Quite the opposite, and I'm guessing Comet is going to be even further removed from the system, to be more like MSN Spaces, for example. While I'm not suggesting it's okay that the feature isn't there(I agree it probably should), I've never seen even a suggestion that it was. If you can point out a page where they said TypePad offered pagination, then you have an argument.
But again, it's supposed to be easy. Have you looked at the documentation for the Paginate plugin? It's still one of the largest and most involved in existence. You're probably going to come back and say that they could offer a stripped-down set of options, but let's be realistic. The moment they do that, someone is going to ask for a new little facet to be added, and it will easily balloon out to that level of complexity, possibly breaking the templates of people already making use of it in the process, since their users are sharing a system to some degree.

Posted by: Su | Jan 11, 2006 2:36:36 AM

@Su:

I did mention that the article pertains to Movable Type, which is of course made by the same folk as those who run TypePad. My only point in referencing the article was to point out that the Six Apart team acknoledges the huge importance (and widespread expectation) of pagination in a blogging tool.

I stand corrected in that it is not actually built into MT, but rather requires the Paginate plugin or similar.

However, you wrote, "they have no idea what your server environment is going to be, much less what you choose to develop on the server with. If they released a plugin for say, PHP, everybody will start whining about bringing enough for the rest of the class, and complain for them to develop versions for whatever their favorite scripting language or templating system is.", and I'm assuming that you're talking about why it isn't built into MT, but that provides no reasoning whatsoever as to why it isn't built into TypePad.

TypePad runs exclusively on 6A's servers, and as such they control the hosting environment in it's entirety. They can surely install PHP so that they can incorporate the pagination plugin (or some derivative of it) into the TypePad code base.

Since you mentioned that the pagination code has nothing to do with the templating system at all, but rather is part of the application and/or it's plugins, then it shouldn't matter what template folks are using if 6A implemented pagination in TypePad.

It's a very basic MUCH needed feature and certainly not too much to ask for in a blogging platform. I still find it ridiculous that there is currently no way to utilize pagination within TypePad.

Posted by: Emily from How to Blog | Jan 11, 2006 12:31:09 PM

The ultimate point here is that you seem to be getting riled up over not receiving something that was never offered. Again, please point to whatever makes or made you think pagination was available in TypePad. Otherwise, you are in effect blaming them for your own incomplete feature review when choosing to use the product, and are fully entitled to cancel your account if it's that important to you. Xanga and Wordpress.com offer paging. I'm pretty sure Blogger does not.
While you might reasonably make a post pointing out the missing feature and inquiring why, it does not call for multiple exclamation points. They didn't offer you a free pony, either. Might sound callous, but it's also the facts as I see them.
You're the customer, and you want a feature; I understand that. I'm approaching this from the standpoint of someone who's maintained a /very/ large Movable Type installation(13+ sites rapidly approaching 100k entries, etc.) and been at least partially accountable for what it did to the server it was installed on. And my situation doesn't even begin to approach what 6A have to deal with. You do NOT just add a feature because it's a good idea(which it is) or somebody wants it. In fact, you actively try to simplify things, so there are fewer pieces to potentially fail, and fewer to dig through when something inevitably does. I don't doubt that there was a meeting where the question came up as to whether to offer paging through TypePad. Maybe they decided it might not be that important to their target audience. Maybe that was wrong. And maybe you're now finding yourself on the outside edge of what they consider to be their target.

Do understand that I'm not disagreeing with you wanting this. I'm just not so sure your refusal to accept the absence is on a proper basis.

Re: your point in referencing, it's still incorrect. The article acknowledged the importance of pagination within the blogging *application.* It said precisely nothing about its importance as regards the output, which is what you're complaining about.

Yes, they do have full control of the TypePad servers. While that removes one problem, it's one of the smallest aspects of the matter. I've already given you one speculation above as to why they may not offer paging (yet?); there are loads of other possibilities, and the final answer probably involves several of them. One more is that dynamic content(ie: pagination via PHP) eats more server resources than static content. Those recent service problems they've been having? Probably would've happened much sooner and much more violently if they were offering dynamic functions. For the definitive reason, however, you'll have to ask their support department.

Posted by: Su | Jan 12, 2006 8:04:01 AM

Hey! Textpattern has that!

I have tried just about all the Blogging and CMS platforms in the past couple of years including MT, Wordpress, Nucleus, Serendipity, B2Evo, Drupal, Boastmachine, Blogger and Expression Engine.. I (think) I have settled on Textpattern. It is SOOO adaptable to whatever you NEED it to do. I still maintain a Nucleus Blog but only because it would be such a PITA to change it over to TXP.

I Love what you are doing and look forward to your future posts and opinion.

Posted by: Disreputable | Jan 15, 2006 6:13:24 PM

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UPDATE: How to Blog has MOVED! Please update your bookmarks and feeds! The new address is :
http://www.emilyrobbins.com/how-to-blog/
and all new posts and post updates will be made there! Comments and trackbacks at this location are now closed -- please visit the new How to Blog site in order to add a comment or a trackback and see updates to existing posts as well as all new posts from this point forward!