There’s a great Richard Branson quote. “If you want to be a millionaire, start with a billion dollars and launch a new airline.” It’s a funny way of saying that you can lose a lot of money by starting an airline. With WordPress, where do you go when you’re already the leader of Content Management Systems? With the recent launch of version 5.0, WordPress seems to have hit some pretty bad turbulence. It’s as if they’re trying to start their own airline.
WordPress powers roughly a third of websites in the world. Here’s a line from Wikipedia…
Used by more than 60 million websites, including 30.6% of the top 10 million websites as of April 2018, WordPress is the most popular website management system in use.
Even the official WordPress.org website says, “32% of the web uses WordPress” and “Over 60 million people” chose WordPress.
That’s a lot of websites. Drupal, for comparison, is running on approximately one million websites. You can visit https://www.drupal.org/project/usage/ for more accurate numbers. The latest number from 11/25/2018 puts Drupal at 1,087,800.
That’s why I don’t understand why WordPress 5.0 would ship with such a controversial feature. A new block-based editor is now the default setting. A lot of people don’t like it. You only need to read the replies to the WordPress 5.0 announcement on Twitter.
But, Twitter is often filled with contentious commentary. Are there any numbers to truly quantify the dislike of the new “Gutenberg” editor? That’s how this is related to the funny airline quote. To disable the new block based editor, there is a “Classic Editor” plugin. It was at 600,000+ installs on the day WordPress 5.0 launched. One day later, it was at 700,000+ installs. A module that reverts a WordPress feature is almost as popular as Drupal — one of the biggest alternatives to WordPress. At this rate, the WordPress Classic Editor plugin should easily pass Drupal.
It’s just like the airline joke. How do you make a WordPress plugin with a million installs? Remove a feature used by 60 million people.
Personally, I’ve been using the Classic Editor plugin. I tried to give Gutenberg a chance, but it was just not a good experience for me. The whole reason I use WordPress is because it’s simple. It puts writing first. It makes it pleasurable to add content to my site. The block-based editor kept getting in my way. This wasn’t just a case of relearning, as that’s just a part of being a Web Developer / Web Designer. No, this just felt wrong to me. Apparently, I’m not alone.
So now what?! That’s scary part! The Classic Editor might not be around forever. Here’s a quote from the WordPress 5.0 “Bebo” launch annoucement.
Prefer to stick with the familiar Classic Editor? No problem! Support for the Classic Editor plugin will remain in WordPress through 2021.
The Classic Editor plugin description uses a different number.
Classic Editor is an official WordPress plugin, and will be maintained until at least 2022.
That’s disappointing. I prefer the Classic Editor, but I can’t rely on that being available much into the future. 2021 might sound far away, like a Sci-Fi movie or novel, but that’s basically two short years away. We’re less than a month away from 2019. 2-4 years from now, what will happen to the Classic Editor plugin?
Yet, my disappointment goes beyond support for the Classic Editor. It’s how this drastic of a change was forced on the community. Lots of people voiced their concerns. I was one of those people. And yet, WordPress 5.0 is here and the reception is as expected. WordPress was easy, fun and reliable. With one rough update, that has me thinking — do I really need WordPress?
Suddenly, Drupal is looking a lot better.
I’m not making any changes to my CMS just yet. WordPress is still working. I still have my preferred editor. I wrote this article with it. But now, I’m alert. I’m considering my options. Will those lofty WordPress numbers continue to grow or is this the inflection point — the moment in time where the dominance of WordPress wanes?