ClassicPress Turns 3

It’s been an incredible 3 years at ClassicPress. It may sound like a small number, but reaching the 3-year mark and still going strong is a tremendous achievement for the community.

When Scott Bowler launched ClassicPress with a small group of founding members, a lot of people thought the fork of WordPress 4.9 would not last. WordPress, after all, is the #1 CMS in the world. How could a fork compete with it?

ClassicPress was forked to continue offering a simple, yet robust CMS for creators without a complicated, inaccessible, and poorly developed block system. As the block editor began to grow across many other areas of WordPress, so did the ClassicPress community, with more and more users switching to ClassicPress to escape what many saw as unwanted and unneeded complexity.

As ClassicPress enters its 4th year, let’s review what the community has accomplished over the past 3 years.

Peace of mind with better security

One key difference between WordPress and ClassicPress is our focus on security. We’ve introduced many security features across ClassicPress infrastructure and the core.

  • All API communication must happen over SSL
  • Signed releases on GitHub using GPG
  • Support for PHP lower than 5.6 has been dropped

In the core, we’ve added a Security Page feature to help discover and audit security settings across plugins. Plugins can integrate with the Security Page to help organize all security settings in one place.

ClassicPress also stays on top of all relevant security patches that WordPress releases. So you won’t be left exposed to security vulnerabilities that WordPress has fixed.

Improved developer experience

At ClassicPress we use modern technologies and concepts to ensure developers use their current knowledge and skills without having to deal with outdated legacy tech, which is still a core part of WordPress infrastructure.

  • We’ve introduced a modern industry-standard versioning scheme (SemVer), which is a guarantee to users and developers that ClassicPress will not surprise you with breaking changes
  • We’re constantly keeping all build dependencies up to date
  • You can natively install ClassicPress using composer, a standard way of managing most modern PHP projects
  • We’re using git instead of svn for version control for core, plugins, and themes

As a developer, you shouldn’t need to find a YouTube tutorial from 2010 about using Subversion to submit a plugin. Your time is valuable. We care about the developer experience and use modern tools to make your life easier.

ClassicPress lost some weight

WordPress is bloated. It has a lot of parts that are simply not necessary. We have removed a lot of these parts and are working on removing even more. ClassicPress is leaner than WordPress, and our community members report better performance than WordPress after the switch.

So far we have removed the Hello Dolly and Akismet plugins from ClassicPress. When you install a clean copy of ClassicPress, these plugins won’t be there to take up space.

We are working to remove more bloated features and allow users to disable and/or delete unnecessary core features based on user’s needs. Such features may include XML-RPC, comments, and the Customizer, among others. We plan to isolate these features into something we call “Core Plugins” to give you more control. This work is ongoing. If you’d like to help out then get in touch with us.

Many small improvements

We’ve also made a lot of small tweaks and changes in ClassicPress to help improve the overall user experience and to fix issues found in WordPress. These include:

  • Option to specify your own custom login image/logo on the login page 
  • Removal of unnecessary dashboard widgets
  • Removal of promoted WordPress plugins
  • Removal of “Howdy” greeting

Official and community plugins

Unlike WordPress, ClassicPress has 2 official plugins with extensive functionality to help users build common types of sites more easily. These are Classic Commerce (a fork of WooCommerce) and Classic SEO (a fork of RankMath).

The ClassicPress community has incredible developers that have forked and/or created over 80 plugins so far. This number is steadily increasing as more developers join our community.

Plus, ClassicPress version 1.x is our long-term support version fully compatible with the WordPress 4.9 branch. This means that the majority of plugins that support WordPress 4.9 will work with ClassicPress. We plan to continue to support and patch version 1.x for as long as the community needs it. Even as future ClassicPress versions continue to evolve, the ClassicPress version 1.x series will continue to be a great drop-in alternative to WordPress 4.9.

Easy migration from WordPress to ClassicPress

We are continually optimizing and refining our process for migrating sites from WordPress to ClassicPress in order to make this important task as easy and smooth as possible. Our latest release of the migration plugin now supports migrations for WordPress versions 4.9 through 5.8.

The migration plugin offers a lot of checks to help you make this migration smooth. We are working on additional features to help catch incompatible plugins and themes before starting the migration, but it’s important to note that there is still a chance of incompatibility if your plugins or themes use features that are only present in recent WordPress versions but do not perform the proper verification in their code first. For this reason, it is always important to make a backup of your site before attempting a migration.

Accessibility at the top of our minds

Accessibility is an important part of the user experience. Unfortunately, WordPress lags in accessibility ever since it introduced the block editor. A lot of ClassicPress users switched away from WordPress to continue using the classic editor for its accessibility. 

But we don’t stop there. Our upcoming version 1.3.0 focuses on accessibility improvements. We’ve backported accessibility fixes from WordPress and introduced several more accessibility fixes of our own. 

We will continue to improve accessibility with each new version.

Non-profit organization

There were other forks of WordPress, but they did not build enough momentum to become their own CMS separate from WordPress. ClassicPress is different. It’s not an unofficial version of WordPress, as some might think.

It has grown to be its own CMS, rooted in the ease of use and simplicity of WordPress prior to the block editor. Our very own non-profit organization, The ClassicPress Initiative, was formed to support the ClassicPress project and advance it forward as a viable competitor and alternative to WordPress.

The ClassicPress Initiative is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization formed in the US. All donations are tax-deductible. The non-profit has 3 volunteer directors that manage day-to-day activities and is completely independent of any other organization, so the only motivation for this organization is to support and grow the ClassicPress project.

The road ahead

We’ve been BUSY in the last 3 years, and it’s only going to get busier. We have a lot planned.

While we will continue to support version 1.x, we are gearing up to work on and release version 2.x of ClassicPress. This version will make ClassicPress a stand-alone CMS, rooted in WordPress but very different from the current block editor WordPress.

One of our main goals for version 2 is adding our own Directory for ClassicPress-compatible plugins and themes, so you will be able to install ClassicPress plugins and themes right in the admin. The WordPress plugin and theme repositories will remain available as they are now, but we expect these options to fade into the background as the ClassicPress ecosystem continues to grow.

The Directory is operational, but currently in the beta stage. You can create your developer profile and even submit GitHub-hosted plugins. It will be open-sourced once it leaves the beta stage and integrated with ClassicPress version 2.

In addition to the Directory integration, version 2 (or a future major version of ClassicPress, depending on release timing) will also introduce the concept of “core plugins” as defined in our roadmap. These plugins will isolate core features to give you full control to disable or delete them, improving user experience and giving you better performance. So far, we plan to release the following core plugins:

  • XML-RPC
  • Gravatars
  • Emojis

More core features will be moved to core plugins in the future.

Lastly, we plan to drop support for PHP 5.x in version 2. We will require PHP 7.x. This will improve the overall security of the ClassicPress and increase the performance of your websites.

You can read more about our roadmap here.

Support ClassicPress

Are you an active participant in the ClassicPress community already? THANK YOU. Your support, voice, and contributions are highly appreciated. Without you, ClassicPress wouldn’t be where it is today.

If you’re new to ClassicPress, welcome! Please, give ClassicPress a try, whether that’s a fresh install to play with or a migration of an existing website to ClassicPress. You’ll love it!

ClassicPress is a volunteer effort, so we welcome all the help we can get. It doesn’t matter what your skills are, it doesn’t matter if you’re not a PHP programmer, there’s work to be done for everyone.

Here are a few ways you can help support ClassicPress:

  • Make a donation to help us pay infrastructure costs. They are tax-deductible in the US.
  • If you’re a PHP programmer, please consider contributing to core development. The more core contributors we have, the faster we can reach our roadmap goals.
  • If you have WordPress plugins, make them compatible with ClassicPress and mention ClassicPress in your readme.txt file. We have some popular plugins officially supporting ClassicPress, such as Beaver Builder and Shield Security. You should also submit your plugin to our Directory to reach ClassicPress users.
  • If you can translate English text to your native language, help us with translations.
  • If you can write, you can help us with blog posts for our ClassicPress blog and/or write documentation guides to help others learn ClassicPress.
  • Help promote ClassicPress by writing a blog post on your own blog, or mentioning ClassicPress in your podcast or YouTube channel, or sharing a blog post from our blog to your social media channels.

If you’re unsure how you can help, join our forum or Slack channel. Share your skills and experience, and we’ll be happy to help you find a place in the ClassicPress community.

Three years down, many more years to go! 

Avatar for Viktor Nagornyy
About Viktor Nagornyy

Marketing consultant and CEO at ProjectArmy. ClassicPress and WordPress expert. Navy vet.

Start the discussion at forums.classicpress.net