Ben Furfie Profile picture
Dec 28, 2017 20 tweets 6 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
I think we will look back at 2017 and see it as the year the #WordPress project started to fracture. As much as the community desperately wants to see WordPress as an enterprise CMS, projects like #Gutenberg show it is anything but.
Gutenberg is a phenomenal piece of software and everyone involved in it should be proud of what they have achieved. But we also shouldn't be afraid to call it what it is. It's a move toward WordPress being a site builder.
It's a shift away from fellow PHP-based CMSs like @CraftCMS, #EE, @statamic, @getgrav, @grabaperch, @drupal and the countless other custom-field based CMSs out there. It's a move away from one of the key features of a real enterprise ready CMS. Native structured content.
It's a shift towards page builders like Squarespace, Wix, Google Sites and the multitude of DIY site builders out there that are easier for DIYers to manage – from content management to security and so on.
There are two massive forces pulling WordPress in different directions. Take the two biggest projects of 2017 (inc Dec 16 for the sake of clarity) – the REST API and Gutenberg.
The REST API was driven by the community (and for a long time, frustrated by Matt and Automattic). It was an answer to a real problem within the WordPress space – at least if it wanted to become an enterprise-ready CMS. A much smaller one than native custom fields, but still one.
Gutenberg on the other hand is driven by Automattic. It is a crucial feature if Automattic is going to be able to continue to enable to compete against Squarespace, Wix and co – many of whom have been eating into Automattic's marketshare for a long time.
However, it's a feature that those who are pushing WordPress to become an enterprise CMS don't need, and many are vehemently against (for completely legitimate reasons).
If Gutenberg doesn't arrive, Automattic faces a real threat to its commercial existence. As the open source project's primary funder, it gets a huge amount of influence over the project. And it's using it right now; riding roughshot over the community.
That's why we saw an unprecedented #wpdrama earlier this year, where major names in the WordPress community attacked Matt and Automattic over their handling of concerned related to Gutenberg and how the community sees and uses the CMS.
We've seen it before too with the introduction of the Customizer – Automattic's first attempt at helping compete with Squarespace/Wix. Gutenberg is simply that all over again. However, the customizer was simply a bolt on feature. Gutenberg isn't a bolt on.
If the WordPress project was serious about becoming an enterprise CMS, it would have spent the last year finally listening to what people have been telling it for years. Stop fucking around and implement native custom fields so that native structured content can become a reality.
We don't really care if you do it from scratch or buy an already existing solution like @elliotcondon's phenomenal ACF Pro and merge it into core. And no, the Fields API isn't enough.
Granted, native custom fields aren't the only thing missing. The templating system needs overhauling (implementing Twig would be a good start), plugin standards really need to be set and enforced, etc etc.
2018 is going to be a crucial year for WordPress. As easily as you can turn Gutenberg off, there will be a major backlash from the hundreds of thousands of devs who build using WordPress who aren't in the community and have never heard of Gutenberg. They won't know that.
They'll just see a new editor riding roughshot over their carefully built custom-field-powered control panel and wonder what the fuck WordPress' developers are playing at.
Some agencies will have to spend tens or hundreds of hours of billable time going through sites to make sure #WordPress 5.0 hasn't broken any part of the control panel – spoiler: it will, even if you turn off Gutenberg – and not be able to charge clients.
Why? Because this isn't the client's fault. The fault is a software issue and the responsibility of that lies with the person who integrated the CMS into the site. This move to save is going to cost agencies and freelancers a lot of money.
And that will cost WordPress a lot. It's already disliked (and even hated) by a lot of developers for many very legitimate reasons (from not bumping its min-PHP to a version that is not EOL'd through to the quality of a lot of the code).
However, the greatest cost will be to push many of those developers that haven't got an opinion on WordPress away. The silent majority of its developers who aren't in the community; don't 'love' it. Gutenberg will piss them off and it will push many away to other CMSs.

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