Reading List: What the Fork (WTF)?

WordPress 5.0 – a major milestone, will have the new visual editor, code named Gutenberg, included as the default editor. The WordPress Core Team built fall backs into Gutenberg and also created the plugin called Classic Editor to help sites, that are not yet ready for Gutenberg for various reasons.  In addition, plugins like Gutenberg Ramp and others take the idea further and offer more in-depth and more granular migration paths. A warning, for small business site owner or a content creators, this  post will lead you astray into the weeds, and might be too much inside baseball.

Over the last couple of weeks, a few people came out with their ideas, how they want to cater to the people who don’t want Gutenberg in Core, beyond the already available Methods to avoid Gutenberg.  They oppose Gutenberg in principle. Others fear the Classic Editor might not be around long enough to make it the foundation of a multi-year migration strategy.

You’ll read about the normal WordPress version support, the confirmation by Matt Mullenweg, that the Classic Editor plugin will be around for many years. Then you learn more about software forking in the open-source space as this helps to understand the other two initiatives: ClassicPress and WordPress LTS.  Happy reading! ☮️ 🤗

WordPress Versions and security patches for older versions.

Graphic WordPress Versions (wordpress.org/stats)

Several times on twitter or in the support forums, I suggested to people unhappy with Gutenberg as well as the Classic Editor to stay on 4.9.x until they are ready to go Gutenberg.
Some laughed at me “Are you serious?”. Well, yeah. People are not all updating to the lasted WordPress version. Only 62% of active WordPress installs are on version 4.9, the other 38% are working with older versions.

All security updates issues via the Core Team are regularly also patched back to earlier version. The oldest is 3.7 released in October 2013.  It was the first version that made automatic updates available to WordPress sites. The Security Team issues the last Security updates in June 2018 and WordPress 3.7 is now available in version 3.7.24.

Matt Mullenweg on Classic Editor

matt mullenweg wordcamp europe 2018

I love that people are using the Classic Editor plugin! There is an infinite number of ways that WP can be used and not all will be ready for Gutenberg when 5.0 is released, Classic allows people to still be able to update core and stay current with releases, and with the click of a button try out Gutenberg again in the future if they want to. It’s also trivial to maintain because Gutenberg also uses TinyMCE, so Classic Editor users will still get improvements and updates to TinyMCE — I won’t say “forever” but I don’t see any reason why we can’t maintain classic for the edit screen for many years to come.

Matt Mullenweg in a comment on WPTavern on August 24, 2018

What is Software Forking?

“Forking is a Feature” is the title of Anil Dash’ post from 2010 ruminating about the open-source community and marking the point in time when forking went from being the ‘nuclear’ option to a ‘feature’ of creating new things for a projects. He also explains how Git and GitHub facilitated ‘mass-forking’ by design.

In answer to the announced forking of WordPress without Gutenberg – ClassicPress, (more below) Gary Pendergast, composed his version of “Forking is a Feature” for 2018

Both articles highlight that forking is a very healthy way to pursue different paths in software development. Technologists have come to an insight “some problems are better solved with lots of different efforts instead of one committee-built compromise” (Anil Dash)

There a various reasons for the need to postpone or completely forgo a WordPress 5.0 upgrade.

  • Some projects don’t have the budget nor the resources to keep up with the technology.
  • Some are working in very large organizations that have a multi-year technology plans.
  • Some are find Gutenberg is detrimental to their text-heavy content production and will never want to use it.
  • Some sites have too much custom-built components, that would need refactoring, which might be cost prohibitive.

WordPress Sans Gutenberg: ClassicPress

ClassisPress starts out as a ‘protest movement’ with a petition and all and the promise contributors will keep their fork in sync with WordPress, yet without Gutenberg, and add features.

ClassicPress will announce the final launch date on October 31, 2018

WordPress LTS – A promise

Morten Rand-Hendrickson, WordPress trainer at LinkedIn Learning, and project lead for WPRig, published a post to advocate for WordPress 4.9.8 to be renamed as LTS (Long-Term Support) version. It would be a public commitment by the WordPress Core Contributors to support previous versions of WordPress. Morten reasons that no-one knows that, in fact, earlier versions of WordPress are maintained and receive security updates back to 3.7. WordPress LTS would give site and network owners time and ‘peace of mind’ to make the upgrade at their own time and alleviate the fear to soon run on obsolete WordPress. It might also raise expectations that WordPress LTS is updated with bug fixes and non-Gutenberg feature enhancements, and practically increase considerably the workload for the Core Team.

The corresponding TracTicket, where the discussion continued among WordPress contributors is now closed.

At the moment, there’s no intention to make WordPress 4.9 an “LTS” branch. The Classic Editor plugin is the way for folks to continue using the classic editor after upgrading to WordPress 5.0.

The WordPress 4.9 branch will continue to receive security updates as long as we’re able, historically we’ve been able to backport security updates back to 3.7. The official policy is unchanged, however: security updates are only guaranteed on the latest major release.

Gary Pendergast, Shepherd of the Merge and commit manager for WordPress 5.0,

What followed Morten’s tweet was an interesting conversation that brought a few more perspectives together, that go unnoticed in the noise around Gutenberg.  Read the full thread here. Once we catch-up on all the other interesting Gutenberg updates (3.7 just came out). We’ll create a better readable version of the thread.

Not so fast – Use CalmPress

End of September, Mark Kaplun announce a new WordPress fork called CalmPress, a safe heaven for site owners and developers who got scared by the ambitious schedule for WordPress 5.0 release.

It stays interesting. Gutenberg 4.0 released

In  the meantime, Gutenberg is out in 4.0 has been released – with the introduction of a new data structure for RichText that will allow building sophisticated interfaces for inline content and major improvement on default Gutenberg blocks. The changelog list 141 line items. Phew!  Head on over to Matias Ventura’s release notes

Updated October 17:

  • added Gary Pendergast’s comment that closed the LTS trac ticket
  • added second WordPress fork:  CalmPress
  • Removed paragraph referencing earlier Update Post.
  • replaced link to Gutenberg 3.7 with link to Gutenberg 4.0 Release post

Updated September 1:

  • Added Morten’s title and links
  • Added links to ClassicPress and its petition
  • added anchors and links for sections
  • Corrected grammar and spelling.

3 thoughts on “Reading List: What the Fork (WTF)?

  1. It’s like when they took way the audio jack plug option on the iPhone – everyone was crying and hating and now 1-2 years later nobody even remember that there was every an jack plug on it.
    Let’s move on with times, things will improve with Gutenberg and it will open new doors to the next level of WP.

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