Gutenberg: Why The Huge Pushback?

If you’re a WordPress developer, you probably already have an opinion on Gutenberg. If you don’t yet, now might be a good time to form one.

In case you don’t know what Gutenberg is, it’s the new editor/page builder that’s currently a plugin but will soon become integrated into WordPress core as the default editor.

Here is an excellent and hilarious interview of the brilliant Morten Rand-Hendriksen where he talks about Gutenberg and its impact on the WordPress community. In this interview he lays out in exquisite detail the technical tsunami that Gutenberg will be to existing WordPress sites. If you haven’t seen it yet you really should.


It might seem a little bonkers that so many intelligent WordPress developers are up in arms about something so trivial as an editor plugin, and if that was indeed the case the reaction would be truly unreasonable.

But, as Morten lays out in the above video, that’s not what Gutenberg represents. In future releases, not only will Gutenberg be rolled into core, but much of WordPress will broken reworked in order to accommodate it.

The plans, based on what I have seen, includes the eventual elimination of essential WordPress components such as Widgets, Shortcodes, the Customizer, Custom Fields, and even Custom Post Types. It’s hard to say whether or not this is all accurate, since much of the insider information that is available on Gutenberg is unofficial/word-of-mouth, but I have yet to see anyone contradicting these claims.

Not all this breakage will take place with the release of 5.0, but according to the Gutenberg dev team, the Gutenberg integration into core will take place in three phases, and the 5.0 editor rollout is only phase one. Apparently the later phases are where the elimination of the above mentioned components will take place. It’s hard to say because the plans for stages two and three are quite nebulous.

It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to understand why this has made the developer community (and later probably the userbase) quite concerned. If even part of these planned changes become a reality, it will monkey-wrench the majority of WordPress websites, plugins, themes.


Before I was a WordPress zealot I used Joomla. At the time, I wasn’t yet in the practice of extending the CMS to suit my needs, and limited to the options available in the admin screens, I usually found that I could get the results I wanted with Joomla more easily.

But as I began to extend content management systems I quickly realized that WordPress was where I wanted to be. The hook/filter/action mechanisms are so elegant, the CMS itself was obviously designed as a red-carpet invitation to developers, and I was hooked (pun intended, obligatory groan requested). The only work that I’ve done with Joomla since then has been helping people migrate away from it to WordPress.

I LOVE developing with WordPress (as it is now). I became a true believer in “The WordPress Way”, and endeavored to do keep all my work very close to that philosophy. I’ve never been disappointed or let down by WordPress yet. When its behavior doesn’t suit my needs there is probably already a plugin to change it and if there isn’t one I can probably make one in a hurry.


As I learned of the plans to change the core of WordPress to accommodate this, I started to feel discouraged and began regretting my decision years ago to adopt WordPress as my preferred CMS.

I didn’t invent The WordPress Way.
I discovered it, loved it, adopted it, endorsed it, promoted it.

I’ve invested much time in it.
My clients have invested money in it.

Recent surveys have found that as much as 31% of all internet sites are currently running WordPress.

Now it’s all going to be abandoned for… what?

I hate to admit it but I feel betrayed and jilted, after having become such an acolyte of all things WordPress, to be told by its creators that I need to abandon it all and begin using a new thing.

These planned changes are going to be rolled out with WordPress version 5,

I’m seriously dreading telling my clients that WordPress, the CMS that I> encouraged them to use, and assured them was the solid right choice, is soon going to trash their site unless they re-hire me to fix it.

Honestly, I’m starting to feel like I love WordPress more than its leadership. I can’t imagine why it’s domination of the CMS field wasn’t good enough, and why they have chosen to potentially obliterate this huge success.

The WordPress developer community has begged and pleaded with the WordPress team to not proceed with the integration of Gutenberg into core, but it seems that the leadership is not about to change their course. It’s their project, their prerogative, their choice to make. They don’t have to listen to us.


Maybe I won’t have to call my clients and tell them the bad news.

Maybe I won’t have to throw away all my plugins and themes and start over using something I don’t want or like.

How could this happen while the WordPress core team remains undeterred on their Gutenberg plans?

ClassicPress is a new fork of WordPress, its mission is to create a Gutenberg-free path for WordPress.

Currently ClassicPress on GitHub is a stock copy of WordPress 4.9.8, with just the name changed. The fact that it’s an exact copy is a good thing today, because a WordPress user can take their filesysem/database blob and plop it right into ClassicPress with a highly reasonable expectation that things will just run correctly.

Eventually WordPress and ClassicPress


I’m honestly sorry that it seems to be working out this way.

I’ve always liked the WordPress team and they have been nothing but civilized and decent to me, I thank them for their work and I want to stay friends in the future. One of my biggest concerns going forward with supporting ClassicPress is how it will affect them, and how they feel about this new project, and here is my message to them.

ClassicPress wasn’t created because WordPress is hated or broken.
ClassicPress was created because WordPress is LOVED and it WORKS and those of us who love it are not ready to let it go.

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