Category: Featured Post

Introducing ClassicPress 1.0.0: Aurora

Since ClassicPress began in August of 2018, our all-volunteer team has worked hard to bring ClassicPress to you. Today, we are pleased to announce the first official, stable release of ClassicPress: version 1.0.0, codenamed Aurora, available immediately.

Starting with Aurora, the ClassicPress v1 series is a long-term support (LTS) version for businesses who want the power and stability of WordPress 4.9.x and are seeking an equally stable alternative solution. Since all existing plugins and themes that are supported on WP 4.9.x are supported in ClassicPress 1.0.0, Aurora is also ideal for those that find that WordPress 5.0+ is no longer a fit for them.

ClassicPress 1.0.0 is based on the codebase of the WordPress 4.9 branch (currently WordPress version 4.9.9) and contains all changes from this version of WordPress, including the latest security fixes.

Of course, we’ve also made the codebase our own. Read on for more details…

Major changes from WordPress

  • Versioning strategy. We use the industry standard semver specification for predictable, logical ClassicPress version numbers.
  • Development process. ClassicPress is developed on GitHub, which allows us to take full advantage of development tools such as Travis CI and Renovate.
  • Security Updates.
    • GPG signed releases. We publish our releases using signed git tags and zip files served from GitHub, so that you know what you’re getting. Much more to come in future versions, including release verification during automatic and manual updates!
    • Updates. ClassicPress serves new version notifications from our own API servers, again with a well-tested and clearly-defined versioning policy.
    • PHP versions. ClassicPress requires PHP 5.6 or higher, as the first step in a strategy for encouraging ClassicPress users to keep their sites up to date. ClassicPress 1.0.0 also adds PHP 7.3 compatibility for all unit-tested code in the core software.
  • Translations. ClassicPress serves core translations from our own API servers. ClassicPress core is currently translated into 10 languages, and more to come with help from our community.
  • Admin dashboard. WordPress-specific features like community events and featured plugins have been removed and/or replaced with ClassicPress equivalents. For example, we’ve added a “Featured Petitions” widget to encourage community participation in our development process.
  • Renaming. We’ve renamed all visual aspects and comments/docblocks from WordPress to ClassicPress. For compatibility, class/function and file names have been left alone.
  • Installation. For new sites, ClassicPress has a re-branded installation process, with fewer steps. We also support installation using composer natively.
  • Simplifications. We’ve removed the Akismet and Hello Dolly plugins, but they can still be installed from the plugin directory. We’ll be making the core software even leaner in version 2.
  • Community. ClassicPress is what it is today due to input and support from our welcoming and thriving community. Thank you for helping us make ClassicPress a reality!

For a list of new or changed functions and filters in ClassicPress 1.0.0, see this post.

There are a lot of other places where we’ve been able to make small improvements to ClassicPress so far, such as better design and typography in parts of the admin dashboard, and other developer experience improvements. For more information, including links to download the release, installation instructions, and a more complete list of changes, please see the release notes on our forums.

We are excited about what the future holds for ClassicPress and encourage you to participate in the ClassicPress Community. We want to be the content management system of choice for businesses worldwide, and we need your support to succeed! Connect with us on Slack and join our forums and petitions sites to add your voice and vote to our community. Your contributions help ClassicPress continue to grow and thrive!

A word from Scott…

Today ClassicPress reaches a major milestone, and again I find myself without words to properly express my gratitude for each person in the Community who has worked to make Aurora happen. The time, effort and passion that has been dedicated to ClassicPress over these last several months has been awe-inspiring, and I am grateful for every hour each of you has given to the project. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Truly, ClassicPress is Community-led, and I am thrilled to be a part of this journey with each of you.

I look forward to what comes next as we continue on toward creating a world-class content management system for businesses who want to have a powerful, versatile and predictable solution for their website needs.

– Scott Bowler

For more information, including links to download the release, installation instructions, and a more specific list of changes, please see the release announcement on our forums.

Where is ClassicPress headed?

A river is an interesting study of progress in life and business. It starts with a trickle and gathers momentum, winding its way around obstacles. It forges ahead, sometimes moving quickly and at other times it appears to not be moving at all. However, even during those times when the surface water is still, you can be sure that the water is still moving toward the goal.

Such is the pattern we see as ClassicPress winds its way toward v1. Each community member contributes in their area of expertise, and daily we draw closer to launch. Sometimes that progress is clearly evident; other times it is hidden below the surface, but it’s all good progress.

More Than Just Pretty Words

The promise of longevity for ClassicPress has been a point of discussion from time to time on the forums. People want to be assured that people at ClassicPress really mean what they say, and that they’ll really do what they said they would do. As a business owner these assurances would be welcome not just for my own business, but for all the businesses I serve. Even so, without action, promises of longevity are nothing but words.

It has been said that business owners are risk averse, but I disagree. Entrepreneurialism is not for the faint-hearted and it takes a unique combination of talent, skill, luck and drive to succeed as a business owner. Business ownership teaches you plenty, but one of the most important lessons is that words are important, but following up those words with action is what really matters in the end.

Vision + Action = Longevity

In the last six months, we’ve established ClassicPress, built a firm organizational foundation, created and launched our BETA, and formed a thriving community. We continue to drive forward in the final preparations for our v1 launch. We started with words, and each day as we move past a variety of obstacles, we prove ourselves by following up our words with action.

So what comes next? And what about longevity?

ClassicPress is a community-led open source project, and the success or failure of ClassicPress is 100% dependent on that community. Our community determines the direction we take in v2 and beyond, and the choices made by the community will need to be followed up with action by the community, or ClassicPress cannot succeed.

Realistically, longevity potential can only be demonstrated over time by consistently delivering on commitments made. However, we can look at commitments fulfilled over a short period and project how things might continue, given the right circumstances. Ultimately, the greatest variable in all of this is the commitment of the community to continue donating their time, energy, and funds to the project.

Our Longevity Depends on You

Our active and enthusiastic steering committee has committed to making ClassicPress a reality. We have accomplished quite a bit over the last several months and we have a clear long-term vision for the future. However, the committee cannot do it alone. Like a river requires momentum and persistence to carve a path to the sea, ClassicPress needs the combined effort and enthusiasm of each individual contributor to lead us to our ultimate goal: to be the content management system of choice for professionals and businesses worldwide.

If you’d like to help us, jump in — the water is fine! You can learn more about all the ways you can contribute here.

Photo by Nathan Anderson on Unsplash

ClassicPress chooses a path to serve business / professional organization websites

The initial impulse for ClassicPress was the upcoming release of Gutenberg, and the need for existing WordPress site owners to have a stable option for the foreseeable future. However, we quickly realized that the situation with Gutenberg highlights a distinction between two groups in the WordPress market: bloggers versus business and professional organization* site owners.

From the beginning, WordPress has been dedicated to democratizing publishing, making it easy for people who don’t have significant web development skills to publish personal content in the form of blog posts. In fairly short order, developers discovered the platform was flexible enough to be used as a lightweight CMS for business applications. That usage really took off with the introduction of custom post types, in combination with custom fields. For a few years it appeared that WordPress would fully embrace WordPress as a CMS and support both bloggers and CMS users. A robust ecosystem of plugins and hosting arose to support WordPress as a CMS, and a lot of developers earned a living making and supporting such websites.

With Gutenberg, however, WordPress emphatically reaffirmed its commitment to its original purpose of democratizing publishing. ClassicPress respects their decision, and has resolved that it will dedicate itself to improving and strengthening its features for business sites, which we feel are no longer well-served by WordPress.

*Professional organizations would include, for instance, higher education and government. For the sake of brevity, this post includes such entities when it refers to ‘business’.

What’s the difference between a blog site and a business website?

Let’s acknowledge that there are edge cases that fall outside of these generalizations, and that many sites exist in the blurred lines between (certainly a blog can be a business platform, and some small business sites may have more in common with what we’re describing as blog sites), but let’s make some general, simplified distinctions.

Blog sites

Blog sites are typically managed by a single person or small group of people. Their web development expertise is often limited or non-existent. Their content may be very personal to them, and they may want the ability to customize individual pages and posts beyond what their base theme templates and CSS allow. Most blogs are not run for profit, but when they are, their business model usually has to do with the value of their content. The blog site market primarily uses ready-made themes and often page builders, which enable them to over-ride the limitations of their selected theme.

Business websites

Business sites are typically managed by employees, although many small business owners shoulder the responsibility themselves. In either case, updating the website is only one of their many responsibilities, and fussing with pages or posts is not something they value or desire. They more often prefer to minimize the time spent on the website so they can move on to other tasks. Adherence to branding and style guides is usually more highly valued than original layout for a particular page or post. As a result, this market is usually best served by custom themes designed and developed specifically for their business needs by professional developers.

With these two fundamentally different use cases, it’s easy to see why WordPress has had a split development community: they involve fundamentally different markets with different needs and motivations. Inevitably, WP had to choose between them, and Gutenberg makes their choice apparent.

Where do Gutenberg’s costs to business occur?

Virtually every article that expresses concern about Gutenberg’s impact for business mentions cost. While it is impossible to quantify, there are a lot of well-founded arguments that business will suffer expenses when Gutenberg becomes part of WP core. We won’t attempt to quantify the cost here, but instead will focus on where those costs may be expected to occur.

Uncertainty

A large part of WordPress’ appeal to business has been its reliability, predictability, and uncomplicated maintenance. With adequate hosting, a security plugin or two, and minimal attention (keeping core and plugins updated), WordPress offers a virtually trouble-free experience for website owners.

That changes with Gutenberg. Even Gutenberg’s supporters acknowledge that it may break some sites. For many the issues will be forestalled by using the Classic Editor plugin, which will be fine (apparently) as long as TinyMCE remains in core, but many have little or no confidence it will be included forever.

Uncertainty bothers business owners and people charged with responsibility for the company website. They don’t know what to plan for, which means they don’t know what to budget for, which makes them uncomfortable. This discomfort often causes them to look around for other, more predictable options.

Preparation

Businesses with the resources to do so will likely be the best prepared. They will likely do audits and tests, and be in position to make necessary adjustments when Gutenberg arrives in WP core. But this preparation is not free. It requires time, which is the same as money, and actual money spent if an outside developer is involved.

Retraining

Gutenberg represents a very different approach to managing on-page content. It is unrealistic to expect content creators and editors to figure it out for themselves, particularly in the context of website updates being only part of their work responsibilities. Again, training requires time and money.

Fixes

Inevitably, Gutenberg will cause some plugins and themes to break. Maybe not completely, but badly enough that fixes are needed. This may be a short-term opportunity for developers with the skills to make the fixes, but spending money on fixes is not something website owners will be happy about.

Plugin compatibility and availability

Many plugins are made and maintained by single developers or small companies. Such plugins are often free, and often serve edge cases, but provide critical functionality to business websites that have come to depend on them. Developers of edge case plugins often do not have the time or resources to recode to support Gutenberg. WP website owners are left with the choice of searching for a Gutenberg-compliant alternative or altering site features or functionality and potentially impairing a site’s ability to provide a great user experience.

ClassicPress steps in

To the business website owner concerned about Gutenberg’s immediate impact, there is little difference between installing ClassicPress and installing Automattic’s temporarily supported Classic Editor plugin. But beyond Gutenberg, there are literally hundreds (thousands?) of improvements that can be made to better serve the business market, and WordPress won’t make them because they run counter to their goal of democratizing publishing.

ClassicPress picks up the challenge of making those improvements and dedicates itself to becoming the business website CMS. As a result, we place a high priority on security, accessibility/usability, stability, efficiency, simplicity, and above all, listening to our growing community and our market.

There’s a lot to be done, but we’re here for the long haul. We hope you’ll join us.

Clarification 11/1/2018: If you build ‘blog sites’ as described above, ClassicPress will absolutely support them. In fact, you’ll most likely find ClassicPress simpler to use than WordPress (from a blogging perspective, more like the ‘old’ pre-Gutenberg WordPress).