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ClassicPress - a Wordpress fork without Gutenberg

Scott Bowler
Founder of Holly Social & ClassicPress. Coding for 20 years.
・3 min read


TLDR; Visit ClassicPress to learn about this fork

I love WordPress - it has made my life better.

I’ve been building websites for the past 18 years and my first experience of WordPress was of sheer delight. Over the years I’ve built hundreds of websites using WordPress and I have nothing but admiration for the people who contributed their time, energy and passion to such a wonderful open source project.

However, the winds of change are here and as the saying goes, ‘all good things come to an end’. I fear that we’re on the cusp of a disaster that will forever fragment the WordPress community and start the slow decline of WordPress as the content management system of choice.

What is the disaster I fear? In a word: Gutenberg.

Gutenberg is a drag and drop page builder with the admirable goal of making it easier for non-technical users of Wordpress to quickly create engaging pages. In principal this is a fantastic idea, and it is an idea that has been successfully deployed in a wide variety of hugely popular plugins.

My concern is that Gutenberg is not ready for prime time. It’s full of bugs, the user interface is inefficient, requiring endless mouse clicks and it doesn’t play nicely with the majority of themes already on the market. The team at WordPress have decided to force Gutenberg into v5 of WordPress despite massive push back by the WordPress community.

I’m in the “push back” camp. After my feedback on Gutenberg fell on deaf ears I realised that WordPress is no longer a community led project - major decisions are being made by an elite few.

Sadly, I decided it was time to move to a fork that doesn’t have Gutenberg as part of the core code. A quick search revealed nobody had taken the initiative so I decided to stop complaining and take action.

Enter ClassicPress

It was at this point that ClassicPress was born - a maintained fork of WordPress 4.9.8 without Gutenberg, focused on community led development. I’m fully aware that ClassicPress could cause the fracture in the community that I previously mentioned and it is my hope that this petition will stop ClassicPress from being needed, at least for the time being.

At this juncture I want to make clear that the the team behind the Gutenberg project is dedicated and are working hard to deliver their vision. They are keeping their heads up and forging forward despite the negative feedback, and for that they should be commended - I appreciate that this must be a very difficult situation for them. The petition and ClassicPress is in no way aiming to discredit their contribution to WordPress.

Having said that, if the petition fails I believe myself and hundreds of thousands of other long-time WordPress advocates will have no choice but to switch to ClassicPress to stop their old sites from breaking (and to keep their work flows in place for future sites). If this is the outcome, my goals for the ClassicPress project are simple:

  • Maintain compatibility with the WordPress ecosystem by keeping ClassicPress up to date with security patches, bug fixes and non-Gutenberg features from WordPress core.
  • To let the community lead the decisions of the direction ClassicPress takes.

I hope this article will raise awareness of ClassicPress so that we can at least have an open dialogue with the WordPress team. Matt - will you listen? Your most vocal advocates are becoming your most vocal critics.

Discussion (11)

themainframech profile image
The Mainframe

Eventually the dislike of Gutenberg is going to fade - I disagree with the change, but with the introduction of we all knew the change was going to come at some point. This is what happens when developers get too comfortable and get scared of change...

scottybo profile image
Scott Bowler Author

Your reply prompted me to respond with an article, please see:

themainframech profile image
The Mainframe

Thanks for sharing - I do agree with the article somewhat; I myself am a bit divided. Still makes me laugh when I see articles like this on the internet haha

tux0r profile image

Or just install the Classic Editor plug-in.

scottybo profile image
Scott Bowler Author

This is fine for the short term, but long term Gutenberg is going to be spreading to the rest of Wordpress.

As quoted from the Gutenberg plugin page "Gutenberg is more than an editor. While the editor is the focus right now, the project will ultimately impact the entire publishing experience including customization (the next focus area)."

There is more to come...

tux0r profile image
tux0r • Edited

I have no reason to believe that ClassicPress will survive longer than numerous attempts to make WordPress tolerable with plug-ins. The community is huge.

Thread Thread
scottybo profile image
Scott Bowler Author • Edited

And you're very welcome to your opinion :)

This is going to cause controversy, no doubt about it.

jasonplant13 profile image
Jason Plant

Good luck, I am totally behind you with this.

I also hope that this will not be necessary, but they seemed determined to proceed with Gutenberg.

Signed the petition and will continue to follow news on this

polyakovkakatya profile image

I'm now starting to work with this editor and I liked it very much! What popular plugins do you use? I found big list here maybe you can recommend some more?

searchboysudo profile image

This article seems totally ridiculous now

daxdax89 profile image

It's an amazing idea but you are going to have a hard time maintaining everything.