Author: Scott Bowler

Committee Meeting: A focus on v1 roadblocks

Date/time: 7th September 2018, 5pm – 6.18pm UTC

Committee members present (alphabetical by surname)

  • Pieter Bos
  • Scott Bowler
  • Rui Guerreiro
  • Tim Kaye
  • James Nylen
  • Daniele Scasciafratte

Apologies from (alphabetical by surname)

  • Fredrik Forsmo
  • Fabian Wolf

Transcript

Available via Slack. Click to jump to meeting start point.

Focus of meeting

The agenda was proposed by Daniele Scasciafratte with the following points:

  1. What is missing to release the 1.0.0 (LTS version) package?
  2. What websites do we need to release? And who will be responsible for them?
  3. How many people are on slack and how many are missing to join (based on emails number)?
  4. Can we can have Slack for non-profit gratis?

Outcomes

Discussion was mainly focused on point 1 and many questions were raised, answers offered and decisions were made. It was agreed that

  • Tim Kaye will verify that we’re allowed to use WordPress endpoints (initial review seems positive), and if so, WordPress endpoints will be used for plugin checks and ClassicPress endpoints will be used for everything else
  • The decision to show WordPress events has been deferred as a Github issue
  • Zipped versions of ClassicPress will be hosted on Github
  • We will handle localisation using Glotpress and hosting/setup will be handled by Daniele Scasciafratte and Scott Bowler
    Related GitHub issue: Update projects in tools/i18n/makepot.php #45
  • James Nylen to create Github issues about API endpoints and Scott BowlerDaniele Scasciafratte to help James Nylen resolve
  • Rui Guerreiro to create Github issue needed for discussing testing of update mechanism including acceptance tests and Selenium web driver (or similar)
  • Scott Bowler to continue on the not-for-profit slack version
  • Scott Bowler to prepare the first newsletter mailshot to subscribers asking for help and to share updates
  • Scott Bowler to recruit volunteers to help with development
  • Scott Bowler and Rui Guerreiro to put together communications / marketing strategy
  • Launch dates tentatively confirmed: Thanksgiving for BETA and Christmas for v1.0.0 launch

WordPress Gutenberg  –  the $500 MILLION cost to business

There’s an elephant in the room. He’s big, he’s trumpeting, he’s staring right at you and he’s waving a gigantic sign.

He’s clearly trying to tell us something, yet most people in the room are completely oblivious to his presence. What does the sign say?

“Gutenberg is going to cost businesses over 500 MILLION DOLLARS”.

Now what on earth is the elephant talking about? Let’s put things into perspective. I run around 50 websites that are powered by WordPress. The majority of these websites have at least one person on the customer’s end that keeps it updated.

Over the years I’ve spent time with these clients to ensure they are comfortable with the WordPress editing experience. On average, the support / training time spent with each client is estimated to be one business day.

Let’s assume I make the switch from the current WordPress editing process to the Gutenberg way. At the very minimum I’m going to have to spend another business day with each customer retraining them. How did I get to this figure? At the very minimum, we will:

  • send out communications about the upcoming changes
  • make phone calls to arrange training sessions
  • perform the training session itself (which may or may not be at their offices — we won’t be including travel costs in the 500 million dollar estimate)
  • be on hand to answer follow up support questions
  • fix things that customers break

Our lower-end day rate is £450 (~$580). If we do a simple calculation, we’re looking at 50 x $580 = $29,000 in non-billable hours. I say non-billable because there’s no way we would be able to charge the end customer for forcing a new editing experience on them.

At this point I can hear the people in the room scream “You lunatic, just use the Classic Editor plugin”.

To those people I say: this is just kicking the can down the road. Gutenberg is going to be expanding to the rest of the WordPress back-end and front-end over the coming months and years. At some point the Classic Editor plugin is no longer going to be a solution.

As Morten Rand-Hendriksen so eloquently framed it: “Classic Editor is a bit like using a band-aid to plug a hole in a balloon as you are inflating it. It may work right now, but as the balloon continues to grow, the band-aid not only won’t do its job, it will actively harm the balloon itself. Gutenberg as an editor replacement is just the first step for the WordPress Next project. The next step for Gutenberg is to migrate to the Customizer, at which point blocks move out of the editor and into other interfaces and displayed spaces in WordPress. Which means the Classic Editor can’t do its job and another patch plugin needs to be introduced. It does not require a lot of imagination to see how this solution is not scaleable.”

WordPress powers 31.7% of websites that use a content management system. According to some estimates, this translates to around 27 million websites. Now, I’m going to be conservative here and assume that only 1% of these websites were created and managed by agencies similar to us. This leaves us with an estimated 270,000 websites worldwide that will need their users retrained.

Let’s also be conservative with the average day rate an agency charges, putting it at $250. Our simple arithmetic tells us that 270,000 x 250 = $67,500,000 in lost revenue. A cool $67.5 million? Not too bad I suppose for such a revolutionary change. Now let’s presume that in the next few years there is going to be just one more fundamental change to the WordPress editing experience — it’s fair to say this will happen with the WordPress Next project. As a result, this training cycle will need to happen a second time.

Our running total is $135,000,000. Now we’re getting somewhere!

Let’s now spare a moment for the people that have made WordPress the powerhouse it is today — those wonderful plugin and theme developers. These are the folks who are going to have to make sure that not only is their plugin or theme compatible with each iteration of Gutenberg, they’re going to need to make sure that their work is compatible with those who are using the Classic Editor as well as those running older versions of WordPress.

As of writing, there are 56,203 plugins in the WordPress plugin directory. Let’s make some more assumptions and say that of these only 40% will need to be updated to be compatible with Gutenberg. Let’s also assume that over the next 2 years they’re going to need to spend a very conservative 5 days of their time making sure their plugin/theme is bug free for those in the previous scenarios.

Let’s further assume that their day rate is $150. Our trusty calculator tells us this is a cost of 67,443 developer days with a total cost of $10,116,540. Peanuts I hear you cry!

Running total: $145,116,540

But hold on a minute, we’re missing a key demographic — EVERYBODY ELSE!

There are millions of WordPress powered websites that are managed in-house by marketing teams, communications teams and the “managing director’s son who knows how to build a website because they’re always on Instagram”. These people are going to be the biggest victims of the changes that Gutenberg will bring.

They will have to teach themselves how to use Gutenberg. They will have to spend time grappling with upcoming changes. Changes that will confuse them, scare them, and most importantly — take them away from other work which the business needs them to do. Opportunity cost anyone?

Let’s make some more assumptions (I bet you’re all loving this game by now!). Over the next 2 years each business running a self-managed WordPress website is going to need to spend at least 2 days learning how to use this new method of publishing content.

Let’s assume that the average employee who works on the website earns $25,000/year. Without including all the additional costs involved with employing a person (pensions, bonuses, hr etc), we can make the assumption that these 2 days will cost a business, on average, around $192. Let’s now assume that there are 2 million businesses worldwide in this position.

Fantastic! Another $384,000,000 has been added.

Our running total is now $529 million dollars in lost revenue due to Gutenberg

Now do you see why the elephant is so agitated? Why has nobody stopped to think about the cost of Gutenberg to the global community. Let’s take a step away from what Gutenberg actually does and look at how it will impact the world from a financial perspective.

Yes, my numbers might be way off (in either direction) but the fact still remains: Gutenberg is a major shift and it is going to cost businesses a LOT of money.

ClassicPress: a fork of Wordpress without Gutenberg

I love WordPress — it 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 project 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.