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.
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
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
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.
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.
At first, I had the various posts in this week’s update, then I had second thoughts. It warrants a separate post that can be updated when there is more to report. This topic also only matters to insiders. So I replaced the section with Clifton Griffin’s tweet 🙂
It stays interesting. In the meantime, Gutenberg is out in 3.7 – with a big emphasis on improving the power writing experience for WordPress content creators. Head on over to Matias Ventura’s release notes
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.