Not to be an alarmist, but I have been wondering for a couple of years now what we'd use if Automattic pulled the plug on WordPress.org and only allowed WordPress to be used on their .com platform?
[Edit: I have been assured that this would never happen. So, alternative, a frustrated user is granted a wish and they wish that WordPress would vanish! What would you use?]
It turns out, I'm not the only one who has been wondering this. (Let's be honest, there are few unique thoughts in the world.)
It's one thing to predict the fall of an empire, but it's another to be prepared for it.
WordPress dominates the CMS market but it isn't the only solution out there.
If the next two popular CMSs were to battle it out, we'd likely see Joomla and Drupal going toe-to-toe in the ring. I could see WordPress developers moving to those two because at least they're still PHP-based.
I should probably also mention a fun CMS called Perch. Perch, by itself, is a great solution for smaller sites. Perch isn't a CMS system it's more like, hmm... a content management tool. It's a great solution for smaller sites that still run on PHP. I haven't checked out Perch Runway, yet, which seems to be intended for larger sites, and I hear there is a Perch Shop? I haven't used Perch for years but I felt I'd be remiss not mentioning it because I think it is a neat little system!
For myself? I'd be abandoning PHP-based CMSs entirely and hopping over to a static site solution.
Hosted Static Sites
Netlify.com and Forestry.io both offer static-generated hosting solutions.
Hugo is fast to generate static files. If I had an enormous news site with a deep archive, I'd rebuild it in Hugo with probably Netlify to handle deployments because I'm more of a Link than a Mario when it comes to pipelines.
I've used Forestry.io in the early days and liked what I saw. It's Hugo-based with a CMS. (At least, it was when I first tested it out. I should really revisit and see what's happened in the past year!) This would be a pretty good solution for Agencies and teams where developers aren't the ones populating content.
You could build your own CMS. I've worked with many clients who have been on custom CMS systems and as such I beg you not to build one. It's such a pain in the arse to try to migrate sites or get content from a custom CMS. I've even seen situations where a company decides to fold and there go all of their sites.
Instead, I'd use a headless CMS like Butter or Contentful. These CMS solutions let you build what you need in the Admin and you get to build out the front-end in anything you like.
There are so many solutions for ways to build websites than with WordPress right now, that I don't think I'd be too pressed if I suddenly couldn't use it anymore, but I know this isn't the case for everyone!
If WordPress.org were to suddenly vanish, what would YOU be using as an alternative for your clients?
Base header photo by Matt Botsford on Unsplash
Top comments (36)
The code behind WordPress.org is open source and GPL licensed, so if Automatic decided to shutter it, I'm sure it would be immediately forked and continue to receive maintenance (albeit perhaps not as thoroughly as before)
I mean this is all hypothetical but .org is a gateway to their larger paid ecosystem, a loss leader I suppose you could call it. A way to get you hooked pardon the WP pun. Not sure I see it going away since it's open source.
But the point of this article is what would you do if it did. How it happens isn't really a concern; just what would you do?
Would you support a forked version? Look at a different alternative? Where do you see the future of CMSs that aren't WordPress?
That scenario presents a fracture which could definitely put the project in jeopardy. The soundness of the Wordpress ecosystem is what is keeping it afloat more than the literal code.
I agree with that. There are a lot of businesses that depend on WordPress.
ClassicPress has already done this fork and their rapid growth has surprised me. I believe instead that Matt will merge org and com and that we will pay a monthly use fee for cloud-based WP services, while the dev theme community will fade, as will plug-in devs. Their investors want huge returns like all investors. It is the obvious path forward and a reason Matt makes decisions without regard to the ecosystem of devs, their schedules and more.
So is ClassicPress a fork of WP from before Gutenberg?
My assumption would be that there'd be a fight over the name?
I'm pretty sure it would be forked, too, but do you think you'd continue to use it for websites or would you look at a different solution?
Majority of users would continue to use most popular fork. Similar situation happen with Joomla predeccesor Mambo in 2005
Very good point! WordPress also has the advantage of being used in over 50% of websites today... that's a lot of pressure to keep it going.
How come you folks do not know of the fork, ClassicPress???
Was busy with frontend and graphql CMSs, thank you
Haha there are so many things out there, I'm not surprised I had never heard of ClassicPress!
The name is owned by the WordPress Foundation which honestly addresses the issues of the .com coming and going away. You might want to read up on that.
Thank you so much! I hadn't heard of the WordPress Foundation before, despite having worked with WP for years.
Of course, this post IS about speculation and not necessarily rooted in fact so in the spirit of that, what would you use if you couldn't use WordPress anymore?
Despite its popularity, I can hardly imagine that WP will preserve the current market share in the near future.
I have migrated all my WP blogs to Ghost and Gatsby.
Both are fast (95+ lighthouse score), secure and easy to use.
Yes I'm surprised Ghost wasn't mentioned, given the cover image. That's what I came here expecting to see.
Ironic! I was just too lazy to draw people and figured ghosts would do. XD
In addition, python based CMS solutions are continuing to gain traction. Django is the most notable, but building a CMS from flask plugins is pretty easy too.
My experience with Django is limited to it having been what we used prior to WordPress at my one position. Is it as accessible as WP is to new developers?
Well... yes and no... It's python, so the landscape for learning is vast and well established at this point. However, there are certain parts that you're going to have to do a bit of work on the server for. But really, that's true with WP as well, so it's just the learning curve to get past. My current focus isn't on the web front-end, but it looks like Wagtail would likely fulfill the typical needs of WP blogs.
Given the current amount of dev attention that python is getting, which is causing the same up-tick in related frameworks (Django, Flask, etc), I'd say it's a good time to kick the tires again!
I'm not really into the static site thing very much ATM, but you might be interested in django-distill and this list of python static site generators over at fullstackpython.
I managed to write a Python class that uses AWS to queue up SMS messages without much trouble (aside from the 2/3 divide lol) but I'm also a senior dev with experience in a few languages. Servers, on the other hand, I've never been a fan of doing server work. Digital Ocean was a bit of a nightmare for me. (Trufax I only passed my server admin exams by cramming the textbook into my head the night before my final exam.)
I'm going to take a look at Wagtail! And you are correct, I am totally interested in Python static site generators! Thank you so much for the links! :D
Thank you for weighing in! I hadn't heard of Ghost before and now I'm off to explore!
I appreciate what WordPress has brought to the internet at the right time but at this point in the current climate I would say good riddens. WordPress really needs to do some more innovating or I see it's further demise. It's slow, very prone to hacking, themes are messy, and the dashboard is still set in a way where it's considering the site just a blog. Headless CMS is probably the future.
My thoughts align with yours, Omar. I've used WordPress for the better part of a decade because it has a robust admin but now that we're seeing alternatives for CMS admins... headless is probably more the direction I'd be going.
Perch Runway is my go-to CMS for clients.
I'm not sure about labelling standard Perch as a content management tool instead of a CMS though. I think it is a mature system. Besides traditional pages it has editable content regions, multiple-item content regions to allow you to build dynamic pages, centralised categories, built-in field types, repeater fields and an API to extend a lot of its features and build your own add-ons such as apps, field types, form validators, template filters and template handlers.
Runway has a different approach for handling pages, front controller, URL routing, Collections (content repositories), structured content, and a headless mode. The workflow is better suited for developers in comparison to standard Perch, so even for smaller sites Runway is also a good option if it suits the way you work.
I'd keep using Perch Runway! Statmaic and Craft CMS are great PHP-based options too.
Oh ho! I haven't run into many people who have used Perch Runway! Thank you for the details on your experience using it!
I’m already using my own CMS, Publ. Previously I was using Movable Type, which is a static publishing system and is what everyone switched to WordPress from when the entire blogosphere suddenly got paranoid about Movable Type.
My hope for the web is that if WP were to go away we’d see a return to static publishing being the norm. There are so many really good static CMSes out there that it’s not even worth trying to list them at this point.
OH! I remember Movable Type! I agree regarding static CMSes. I've been doing a lot of performance optimization and WordPress is not easy to optimize once a site has been going for a bit!
I'd personally wouldn't mind because I don't like CMS (though I see the interest, it's just not my thing. At all.) and especially PHP (which I dislike too) based ones.
That being said, WordPress is open-source isn't it? Open-source + huge user base == hard to kill in general, so I don't see it disappear in the near future.
If I had my way, I wouldn't need a CMS but clients like to be able to do their own content, and frankly, I'd rather spend my time coding than content populating. ¯_(ツ)_/¯
WordPress is open-source but, and maybe I'm being cynical, I wonder how secure that really is should a company really want to take control of it? I really should do some research into legal cases where open-source was challenged.
scary at the thought of no more wordpress but the article was so insightful. now i know about some Wordpress alternatives.
Thank you! I agree it's a scary thought but I do like to be prepared!
WordPress just raised $300 million in funding.
Thank you for the tip! I'm SO curious about what is going to happen with Salesforce being involved, now!