It should be no surprise that the WordPress landscape has gone through (and continues to go through) a seismic shift over the past couple of years. With the introduction WordPress 5 last December, the new block editor (aka Gutenberg) is the new norm. All changes to WordPress moving forward will continue broaden the scope of the new editor until it infiltrates all aspects of a website. This will allow WordPress to compete with services such as Squarespace and Wix. Enter ClassicPress.
What is ClassicPress?
ClassicPress is a fork of WordPress created back in August 2018. More specifically, it is the codebase of WordPress 4.9 before the new block editor was rolled into core. The developers behind the project fundamentally disagree with the direction in which WordPress is heading. Not only from a block editor standpoint, but also in regards to some of the political issues that were happening behind the scenes.
The goal is to have ClassicPress remain community driven and for decisions to be made democratically, which were hallmarks of the WordPress community in years past.
Can I Use ClassicPress Now?
The short is: Yes. Version 1 of ClassicPress was released in March 2019 and is 100% compatible with WordPress 4.9.x. Version 1 is also intended to be receive long term support. That means that when other versions are rolled out (which they will be), you won’t be forced to upgrade to new versions or have to worry that you will lose support.
You can even use a migration plugin to move an existing WordPress site over to ClassicPress if that’s the way you want to go.
What are the Pros and Cons of ClassicPress?
As with any content management system, there are pros and cons to ClassicPress. As the project develops, this list may change, but here’s some things to consider:
No Block Editor
Depending on who you ask, this could fall into either list, but since you’re reading this article, let’s go ahead and assume this is a pro. To be fair, the block editor has seen some marked improvements since it was officially rolled into core at the end of 2018. However, there are still some lingering and fairly glaring shortcomings when it comes to the interface, as well as ease of use for those who may not be familiar with the platform.
The block editor will continue to spread to other parts of WordPress sites as well, including sidebar, footer and headers until every part of the site can be edited using it. If that’s something you disagree with, or are not interested in using for your projects, then ClassicPress has you covered there.
Long Term Support
As WordPress continues to evolve and change, there may reach a point where websites will break as a result. The ClassicPress team has committed to long term support and backwards compatibility so those types of issues shouldn’t be a problem.
At least in Version 1, ClassicPress is WordPress, albeit tat 4.9. Those familiar with WordPress will feel right at home using it. Obviously, there will come a point where these two systems will diverge and become two separate and distinct entities, but you won’t have to start from scratch if you know WordPress.
Also, you won’t have to spend time teaching your clients how to use the new block editor because the ClassicPress will already be familiar to them as well.
While most plugins should continue to function with ClassicPress, there will come a time when popular plugins may not longer work as they adapt to work with the block editor. This is particularly glaring when it comes to big name plugins like WooCommerce. This may lead some to have to use older versions of plugins that are compatible with WordPress 4.9.
There are a number of high profile plugin developer who have committed to keeping their plugins ClassicPress compatible, but there’s no telling how long that list will grow.
It’s been just over a year since ClassicPress was conceptualized and only 9 months since the Version 1 rollout. The team behind ClassicPress are made up entirely of volunteers, so it’s going to have to come down to adoption. If the interest in ClassicPress doesn’t remain high, it’s possible that the project won’t survive.
However, given the backlash the new block editor has received, it seems unlikely that the demand for ClassicPress isn’t there. But, it’s prudent to keep in mind that there is still some uncertainty regarding its future.
The WordPress community is huge, the ClassicPress community isn’t (yet). It will take time for the ClassicPress community to grow and for an infrastructure to grow around it. Entire businesses have been built to tap into WordPress and extending its functionality. The same will need to take place with ClassicPress. It’s certainly possible, but we’ll have to be patient.
Is ClassicPress For You?
Depends. There are many things to consider before making the leap, but here’s how you may know if ClassicPress is for you:
- You have used the new block editor, but don’t get excited about using it.
- You are concerned about the direction WordPress is going. Both from a software standpoint as well as the community.
- You consider yourself a PHP developer and React and JS aren’t really your thing.
- You are concerned about your websites breaking as the block editor continues to expand.
- You don’t particularly care for page builders.
If any of the above apply to you, then it may be worth your time to at least investigate ClassicPress. It can be scary to switch platforms, especially if you’ve been using WordPress for a long time, but change can be a good thing.
Here are some reasons you may not want to make the switch:
- You don’t have a problem with the block editor and are excited by the possibilities.
- You like page builders.
- Your clients like page builders and are comfortable using them.
- You use plugins developed by Automattic (ie. WooCommerce).
If any of the above sound like you, then maybe sticking with WordPress is a good idea.
No matter what you decide to do, it’s important to remember that both platforms are tools. What makes sense for one website may not make sense for another. There are also other techniques in which both WordPress and ClassicPress can be used, especially as it pertains to the concept of the Headless CMS.