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The Economic Impact of the Timeline of the Gutenberg Rollout #3926
As a business-oriented marketer, my perception of Gutenberg is not about it's beauty or ease of use. Rather, I am very concerned (and have been since June 2017) about the timeline of Gutenberg, how quickly it is being iterated, and the economic impact it will have and, frankly, attrition.
I am the Marketing Team CoRep for Make.WordPress, I am a business owner, and have formerly worked for a very successful plugin development company and advertising agency who both rely upon WordPress for their business model. Though I will write about this on my own blog, I thought I would put my money where my mouth is and be an official voice instead of a behind-the-scenes voice.
I commented on #3902 but the economic concern is separate and deserves its own issue.
It is my understanding that WordPress, as a project and community, is committed to backward compatibility. To be fair, I've mostly heard this discussion when considering back-end compatibility with PHP. And I understand the frustrations with developers wanting to use PHP7+ functionality.
However, PHP developers are able to wrap the depreciated code. The new Gutenberg experience (editor) puts a large-scale burden on plugin and theme developers in a short, four-month period.
To assist in the marketing strategy both inward (Make Teams, WordPress Developers) and outward (clients, end users, agencies), a SWOT analysis should be made by us.
Here is an example:
Strengths: Ease of use, modern technology, possibilities with VR, etc.
Attrition is a real risk. I shared Morten's article from LinkedIn and an affiliate marketer began having a conversation with me that I think we should listen to. 29% of the internet uses WordPress. The rollout needs to manage expectations, educate, and give people time to learn.
We're not Apple. We don't dictate and expect people to adapt. We believe in democratizing publishing. This is key to our culture as a software.
Economic Impact of a Tight Timeline
Businesses run on fiscal year budgets, not timelines for software releases. It's easy for us on the inside to become excited about amazing features and great possibilities only to forget about the small business owners, the plugin and theme developers, and the bloggers.
Agencies who use WordPress often have year-long contracts. The site is built and then used to publish content on a regular basis for lead generation, SEO, and business development. The agency will have to ensure their clients' sites either remain on 4.9.x or are fully compatible to Gutenberg. Many agencies build custom themes on frameworks or with ACF. Those themes will need to be worked on (that translates into budget shift). Personally, I've recommended many of my agency clients and friends to prepare for this last October. Many have added to their budget to be prepared.
Small businesses often come to WordPress for the reasons we promote: technical SEO, ease of publishing, owning your own data. Convincing them to stay, when another option may be cheaper (WIX, Squarespace, even Dot Com), may become a challenge. Businesses don't make decisions based upon community loyalty; they make decisions based upon finances.
I would love to see the version that will be shipped with 5.0 set sooner than later. This will allow WordPress educators, agencies, businesses, the Make Team, and development shops to prepare the general public for the rollout with marketing materials, documentation, and, of course, compatible code.
Keep iterating. It should iterate. But the economy that relies upon WordPress needs time to learn and accept.
Thank you for your time.
Great post Bridget, thank you for writing this. It echoes my concerns.
I used to work for a company that, by the time I left, had over 400 WordPress sites with custom themes (built with an in-house framework) and were in a years-long process of migrating ~200 more from an older CMS in addition to new builds. While companies like this no doubt are monitoring Gutenberg closely and preparing, I imagine a good chunk of developers' time will be spent installing something to disable it, not trying to make 400+ sites work with Gutenberg.
I look after 30 sites myself and that's what I'll be doing, and then I'll look at each site at a later date and see which ones can easily be updated, and then try to work out what to do with the rest.
Depending on complexity of sites, devs simply cannot afford to spend a lot of time on this for existing sites, because we can't charge for it unless a client specifically asks for their theme to be upgraded to suit Gutenberg. We built our maintenance pricing structures around the backwards compatibility that has always been a strength of WordPress, whereas this reminds me of the lengthy Drupal 6 to 7 migrations I witnessed colleagues working on in a previous role - difference being that's the way Drupal has always been so contracts and pricing structures reflected that.
I do have a clause in my contracts that if a site ceases to be compatible with the latest version of WordPress or a plugin, it will continue to run on the last compatible version until a solution is found. I never thought I'd need to use that clause for WordPress itself.
On another note, there are users who have DIYed their own website using free or commercially-made themes reliant on metaboxes and shortcodes whose sites will suddenly break at some point if Gutenberg isn't clearly optional. Surely that will be terrible for retention.
Exactly my thoughts.
I have had a look at the Classic Editor plugin, with which the user still needs to tick a box to remove Gutenberg completely. So I'd either fork that and install it on the sites of my clients or simply set the version to 499.x right before 5.0 drops.
And then I can in my own time migrate my clients to Grav, Kirby or anything else that I fancy, because we all know that most clients really don't care on what CMS their sites are running!
And something else to consider:
If you are landing a medium sized project now which you will definitely build with ACF if you were to choose WP, would you then actually choose WP?
I know I wouldn't. I'd rather have the learning curve, than to tell the client in 4 months that the site I developed cannot be edited anymore or cannot be updated anymore.
This is what I'm afraid of -- at scale. I appreciate your honesty and don't blame you at all. It's a marketing issue for certain.…
On Mon, Dec 11, 2017 at 2:41 PM, Piet Bos ***@***.***> wrote: @gidgey <https://github.com/gidgey> Bridget, I am seriously looking at other CMSs and have already put together a couple of sites with Grav CMS. So, yes, you can indeed say that there is a more than 50% chance that I will drop WP when Gutenberg drops in WP 5.0. — You are receiving this because you were mentioned. Reply to this email directly, view it on GitHub <#3926 (comment)>, or mute the thread <https://github.com/notifications/unsubscribe-auth/AV3JZs__wiuV2FslRNQMRkxvCoRKWnEJks5s_a-kgaJpZM4Q93ul> .
This is precisely what I've been talking to my friends and clients about. Sigh. Thanks for your feedback, Piet.…
On Mon, Dec 11, 2017 at 3:01 PM, Piet Bos ***@***.***> wrote: And something else to consider: If you are landing a medium sized project now which you will definitely built with ACF if you were to choose WP, would you then actually choose WP? I know I wouldn't. I'd rather have the learning curve, than to tell the client in 4 months that the site I developed cannot be edited anymore or cannot be updated anymore. — You are receiving this because you were mentioned. Reply to this email directly, view it on GitHub <#3926 (comment)>, or mute the thread <https://github.com/notifications/unsubscribe-auth/AV3JZrxdz6HgF-9vGrhvZPC5Bi7prd2Nks5s_bQ7gaJpZM4Q93ul> .
Some backstory: I started my career as a junior Drupal dev and learnt WP on the side for my own clients. My next job was 100% WordPress, so while I wanted to stay in both ecosystems, long story short in reality it made more sense to mostly stick with WP.
The first thing that drew me to ACF was basically that it brought something I loved about Drupal - the ability to specify fields for content types easily in the backend - into WP. There are just so many uses for this. It's easy for clients to fill in a form with their content without having to worry about formatting and layout, and then I control the display with the template. This is the foundation of how I build sites.
So if I can't build like this anymore and Gutenberg doesn't work for my clients (I can already think of some who would hate it because they don't want to think about formatting or layout, that's my job) then no, I would not choose WP in some cases. I would probably go back to Drupal. Not for everyone, and probably not even for most - I will still be working with WP - but definitely for some.
Thanks for filling us in, Leesa. My presumption (and hope) is that the ACF plugin will convert. But it's on them to make their blocks, not on WordPress Core. I imagine that they are also waiting for the "ship" version of Gutenberg before investing too many resources (time and money). That's what I would do.…
On Mon, Dec 11, 2017 at 3:10 PM, Leesa Ward ***@***.***> wrote: If you are landing a medium sized project now which you will definitely built with ACF if you were to choose WP, would you then actually choose WP? Some backstory: I started my career as a junior Drupal dev and learnt WP on the side for my own clients. My next job was 100% WordPress, so while I wanted to stay in both ecosystems, long story short in reality it made more sense to mostly stick with WP. The first thing that drew me to ACF was basically that it brought something I loved about Drupal - the ability to specify fields for content types easily in the backend - into WP. There are just so many uses for this. It's easy for clients to fill in a form with their content without having to worry about formatting and layout, and then I control the display with the template. This is the foundation of how I build sites. So if I can't build like this anymore and Gutenberg doesn't work for my clients (I can already think of some who would hate it because they don't want to think about formatting or layout, that's my job) then no, I would not choose WP in some cases. I would probably go back to Drupal. Not for everyone, and probably not even for most - I will still be working with WP - but definitely for some. — You are receiving this because you were mentioned. Reply to this email directly, view it on GitHub <#3926 (comment)>, or mute the thread <https://github.com/notifications/unsubscribe-auth/AV3JZmN-TRB-9rQgHSqACUhcz9CqdOl-ks5s_bZtgaJpZM4Q93ul> .
Yes, absolutely, I believe it will, which is why I'm not immediately, hastily jumping ship back to Drupal for everything ;) Not unlike WooCommerce really, it's become such a backbone of the ecosystem.
But, it is still a worry, because the developer needs time to make ACF compatible. Which means those who heavily use the plugin can't convert existing sites until they do. Which could make the already short timeline even shorter.
I agree completely with the suggestion that Gutenberg be optional for at least a year. This gives plugin developers an opportunity to do a thorough job of making their plugins compatible, as well as giving developers time to integrate those changes and educate clients.
In addition, there should be an option (e.g. through the Classic Editor plugin) to keep Gutenberg turned off and keep the classic editor for even more time after that, for sites that just won't be converted at all due to cost/time constraints. The shelf life of a small to medium website means that in a few years that client may want a redesign anyway and then they would get Gutenberg when that time comes.
@doubleedesign Leesa makes a great point here:
And that is also one of the things that makes me angry/disappointed! That there are page builders is one thing. Obviously there is a market for that, but it's not my market nor that of my clients.
When I build site for clients, then they're highly customised and they do exactly as per the client's wishes. My clients do not make mistakes when it comes to editing content, because (with ACF) I create a backend experience that leaves no room for mistakes.
I was watching the presentation by @mor10 where he mentioned that theme developers can lead the users through the content.
I am already doing that for the past years!!! Without Gutenberg!
I rolled into WP in 2005 and have been using it very happily since. I have developed a number of plugins, some more popular than others, and have developed a specialty which has kept me off the street so to speak.
As I often tell my clients, the website world is constantly in motion and I guess that the time I spent intensely with WP is reaching its end and new frontiers to discover are on the horizon for me.
I just don't like the way it is ending, but then again, sometimes a breakup is easier with a push than letting it die slowly...
@senlin, it's like you're reading my mind! ;)
Gutenberg surely is an interesting and ambitiously project, but not of any use for 99% of my clients.
I wanted to pop in to give a little perspective about the timeline as is currently planned. I say planned because as we move towards 5.0 the community, 5.0 lead and core team will work together to figure out the path to merge. Note it has not been merged and at least 11 versions are expected - 1 has just been released.
It's worth noting that all releases have a release candidate phase, 5.0 will be no exception. Also worth saying is something several people have, there will be for a long time the option of the classic editor plugin and even network activating it. That plugin isn't going anywhere on 5.0's release and will likely stay around for a good while, the classic editor itself is still being maintained.
Custom fields isn't been missed out, there is an awesome plugin being worked on and a post here: https://riad.blog/2017/12/11/with-gutenberg-what-happens-to-my-custom-fields/.
Metaboxes have a few potential paths to upgrade, right now it's working out the best of those. How the system will default and what the user experience will be regarding that. Nothing is set in stone, everything is being worked on for the best user experience. Users are all types of people - those actually writing, theme creators, plugin makers and a whole lot more.
I know change is hard and scary, we all feel it. I do, you do and it's even worse when we can't quite understand the change. I would point people to wordpress.org/gutenberg as a starting point to understand the project. I say starting point as from there you can go to the handbook: wordpress.org/gutenberg/handbook. Here for example is the compatibility section that I feel is important to share:
I would encourage you all to consider in what I have said which is the right path for your particular set up. Each person may want or need to take a different approach with Gutenberg. The key is that nobody on day 1 is expecting you to have made blocks. It would be amazing if people have, but the reality is there will be options for you to slowly upgrade. A whole lot of documentation, education and discussion needs to happen. That's great because the entire community is involved in this and can do that.
Lastly, please don't be scared. WordPress is a community and whilst threads like this can seem scary, Gutenberg is not and the last thing anyone involved in the project wants is for you to feel scared. Those making Gutenberg care, those in the community care. WordPress is an awesome project that really respects the awesome things people are making. I'd encourage you to work out the path that will be the best for you and then explore, have fun and get excited about blocks. Have your plan and then look to how you can build up from there.
If you have any questions about Gutenberg at all, in any context the #core-editor channel on chat.wordpress.org is always there for you. You can also watch in that channel the work that is going on and see the weekly meetings at 18:00 UTC on Wednesday's and generally hangout. Let's all work together on the way forward.
Thing is before GB my metaboxes are fine and dandy. They may be active on sites I no longer manage. How about the clients of those websites I developed a few years ago? All of a sudden their site content becomes not editable anymore.
These type of remarks are unnecessary as they come across as really condescending and patronising! Pointing people to reading heaps of documentation that hasn't even been finished and is still a work in progress is ridiculous in my opinion.
Regarding the list of what needs to be done regarding shortcodes, metaboxes and CPTs, shows that it is even worse than I thought.
CPTs will not work anymore without declaring
That, Tammie, is exactly the economic impact @gidgey (Bridget) brought up with this post! That you seem to fail to understand this is scary at best, especially since you are part of and evangelist for GB!
@karmatosed Thank you for your thorough response.
For sites that will use the classic editor for the forseeable future, does this need to be installed prior to 5.0 rolling out? The ideal for me in these cases is that Gutenberg is never turned on, so to speak - not that I hurriedly log in to all my sites to turn it off.
This thread isn't so much a Stewie Griffin voice "Something's wrong with the house! I don't like change!" thing. It's about the speed of it. You say that you don't expect anyone to have built blocks when 5.0 ships...yet without intervention, site backends will have that interface, new sites in development will need to be changed or an upgrade planned; new sites being planned/scoped will have a bunch of question marks over their plans.
In addition, clients with existing sites but without maintenance plans or active developers may be confused, and if their site breaks, angry. IT departments will be receiving support requests for something they know nothing about, and developers will be fielding calls from irate past clients.
All of this is going to take up significant amounts of everybody's time. I know Gutenberg has been in beta for a while, but it's just not the same as being able to use it on real sites with real clients to confirm what the real trouble points are for our sites and for our clients.
A slow transition needs to be the default and the expectation. This has probably already been suggested but surely there could be a "Please choose your editor" prompt upon upgrade to 5.0. This would be particularly helpful for clients without an active developer/maintainer who are worried about changes.
The default response to developer concerns seems to be "But Gutenberg is awesome!!!" Right now, I don't care how awesome it is, I'll find that out in due course through proper use of it after release. Right now I care about what's going to happen to, and what I need to do about, the 30+ sites I currently maintain, and the handful I currently have in development.
@karmatosed This is also a bit condescending and isn't helping how alienated some developers are currently feeling. We know we aren't the only users. In fact there's been comments in this very thread expressing our concerns about the impact on some of those users actually writing, because they are our clients. We're not just making it about how we want to code (though that is an element of it, but not relevant to this topic).
@senlin let's move on from accusations of intent, we all care what happens here and respect is important.
I shared what I did with the intent of informing, not intending to patronise. It's important to note I see the value in this discussion, I engaged and I am engaging here. I also do see the point of the thread. What I felt was that sharing the resources we have right now was important in working out a path.
Let's move on from this point and dive into a reply to your comment:
This is why I added the documentation quotes, to show the potential fallbacks being worked on. It will depend on the metabox but that fallback potentially is what happens.
One thing worth noting for those working on this to learn, sharing the examples you are thinking of is important. That helps the two way conversation.
@doubleedesign, thank you for your reply also.
The classic editor plugin does need today to be turned on. This would mean having it live on the day of 5.0.
I totally would encourage where possible people to try Gutenberg today on sites. By trying, bugs, issues and feedback can be sent to those working on it. That's crucial to get this two way discussion.
Admittedly I haven't been involved in a software project of this size myself so I don't know if this is normal, but I'm nervous about all the parts that still seem to be uncertain this close to release.
@doubleedesign just to be clear I wasn't dismissing developers here:
I was saying it's about the experience for everyone, developers, designers, users. I wanted to make sure on that point as feel it was misunderstood. I was saying all matter and not at all dismissing developer experience.
To summarise what I was saying:
I realize that mostly addresses a potential symptom, rather than an overarching concern you have. From a purely philosophical standpoint, I wonder if we are underestimating the resilience of the type of person this community attracts.
I can't predict the future (though it's top of my wishlist for super powers) but you are right that there will be a big economic impact. I think we have to go into this change with our eyes open, and thank you for verbalizing your concerns openly here for discussion. It's conversations like this that help us name our fears so we can address them as best we can.
Exactly, Josepha. My intention isn't fear-mongering but awareness. Thank you Piet and Tammie for your comments as well. This has been a great and much-needed discussion.…
On Tue, Dec 12, 2017 at 8:16 AM, josephahaden ***@***.***> wrote: @gidgey <https://github.com/gidgey> I think also a potential solution in the midterm is this crowdsourced site for getting and giving help transitioning products to Gutenberg: https://gettingreadyforgutenberg.com/ I realize that mostly addresses a potential symptom, rather than an overarching concern you have. From a purely philosophical standpoint, I wonder if we are underestimating the resilience of the type of person this community attracts. I can't predict the future (though it's top of my wishlist for super powers) but you are right that there will be a big economic impact. I think we have to go into this change with our eyes open, and thank you for verbalizing your concerns openly here for discussion. It's conversations like this that help us name our fears so we can address them as best we can.
My understanding is that it's the other way around; CPTs that do not explicitly declare
So, ~95% of CPTs will use the Classic editor by default, without any changes needed.
I completely agree here in that the problem for me is not change. If we didn’t change or move forward we would still be stuck with WordPress v1, which at the time was amazing but is far from as good as we have now.
The worry is the timing of the rollout. We are being told that Gutenberg will be rolled out sometime in early 2018 which is very worrying and in my opinion far too early.
Most projects in WordPress (thinking of the REST API) were plugins for months or even years before being introduced into core, and they we not even plugins that users would actually notice. This is the first big development that I can remember that will massively effect every user of WordPress. Whether you are a developer, design or content editor it is going to effect you in some way or another.
I am genuinely worried about what will happen to client sites when WordPress version 5 lands and I would expect a lot of unhappy clients. Granted we are not there yet and I hope that the path to WordPress version 5 with Gutenberg is smooth. I must admit though, not a lot I am hearing is convincing me that this will be the case, with mixed messages.
Never before has there been such a divisive issue in the community. We are told not to worry but with no solid evidence to back this up. I just hope it goes more smoothly than I anticipate.
Thinking outloud, but I wonder if people have various times in their head for when they think 5.0 is being released.
My back of the napkin thoughts are:
Gutenberg continues with regular weekly releases as a plugin (with a well deserved holiday break) until around early April.
Then, Gutenberg will be proposed for merge into Core. This will likely take at least a week of logistical work, maybe 2 weeks. We are then looking at mid April.
In past releases after feature project merge, there has been a week long window before Beta 1 is released. I'm going to say April 25 (again, this is my thoughts, not a firm schedule).
A Releases of this size is going to likely need at least 4 betas, but I think 5 might be safer here. So we'll say that it is the end of May before we hit RC1.
A 3 week RC period to iron out any edges puts the launch around the 19th of June which is just about 1 year after Gutenbergs world premier at WCEU 2017 (ignoring that work was ongoing before that and posts had been on make.wordcamp.org/core a few months earlier outlining some of the early work)
When I think about the fact that we are essentially at a point that the API is stable, this gives over 6 months to prepare. Obviously, there is a need for more documentation in the near term to help make it easier for people to build ontop of Gutenebrg, but that's essentially 2 quarters to prepare for the waterfally types, or 13 2 week sprints for the more agile folks.
Dropping in from the AWP Facebook Group
I agree on the need to educate. However - it won't take us a lot of time as developers/site creators to test Gutenberg on a couple of existing sites. If you have a staging/local site for a site you've already completed, just install Gutenberg on it and test. It took me maybe half an hour to test Gutenberg on 3 sites(I updated WordPress and all plugins as well on those sites). One that was using Beaver Builder was perfectly fine for the pages, as long as I used Beaver Builder(which is the perfectly reasonable thing to do) and the posts(no builder) worked fine out of the box.
I personally have trust in the core team and all of the contributors that are working really hard on Gutenberg, that when 5.0 comes out, it will work out of the box for a really high percentage of all sites. The goal as far as I see it is not to break most sites running on WordPress.
Also, I can't fully agree with the point of "it will cost a lot". What will? Installing the classic editor plugin? If you have a support agreement with your clients, then as part of the 5.0 update you'll be doing, also install the Classic Editor plugin. Boom! You're done :)
Boom! You're done. Yes, you might need to respond to a bunch of enquiries at that point, but that will only solidify your clients' satisfaction. They'll see that you care for them and the well-being of their site, even after you've completed it. If you don't want to give your clients a heads-up, then don't, for me it would be worth it.
Some thoughts I didn't post on Facebook:
Please, please, please - be kind to all of the contributors. I understand that big changes are frustrating, but put yourself for just a minute in the shoes of a contributor working on Gutenberg or standing behind it. How would you feel if thousands of fingers are pointing at you and saying "what you're doing is bad and you should feel bad. we don't want your innovation"? Work with, instead of against the contributors. Help them find all of the combinations of code/plugins/themes they could not possibly stumble across. Help make the transition easier and better for everyone. Give back to the community
So, you are willing to invest the time to learn another CMS, but not to install a plugin that just keeps the experience as is? You do understand, that anything that you are not the sole developer of, might at some point in the future make a choice you don't like/agree with and put you in the same situation? You're free to do as you will of course, to me it just seems like an illogicall decision, given the situation as I understand it(maybe we just understand it differently?).
As is right now, if you CPT doesn't declare
Have you had a chance to test Gutenberg with one of the sites you've built previously? If not, I'd highly recommend installing it on a dev site, so that you get a better picture of what does and doesn't work with your setup.
Keeps the experience for how long exactly?
Wow, thanks, I really needed your permission!
As a matter of fact I have it installed on a couple of sites
Thanks for assuming!
I guess in the end, the economic impact all depends on how you build sites (for clients). You mention Beaver Builder, I already mentioned before (scroll up) that page builders are not something I use or my clients want. So two different things you are comparing here really.
The economic impact that swapping over to Gutenberg will have for me is so large that I indeed rather switch to a different way of building websites altogether. Thanks for your understanding and respecting that!
I understand both sides. The chances and the concerns. I have no clue if Gutenberg will attract new WordPress users or offend the existing ones. But as a developer I have to say that all I have read about the way Gutenberg shall become part of the WordPress Core seems wrong.
I am missing @m in this conversation. Where is the backward compatibility talk from the past? If you want smooth transitions you must not force breaking changes. Do not provide a plugin to switch back to the classic editor. Make the classic editor the default for any existing WordPress updating to 5.0. Make Gutenberg an option for those who update. Have you ever thought about the thousand of WordPress installations doing an automatic update? You won't reach 90% of the users to tell them how they can 'solve' the Gutenberg issue. Simply don't activate it. Tell your story about it on the WordPress Update Screen. Tell people why it may be interesting. If Gutenberg is the future you can activate it with each new WordPress installation but never ever default to Gutenberg after an update.
WooCommerce moved to CRUD. A breaking change. And it was not as smooth as expected. However it did not break backward compatibility. Developers got time to adapt after CRUD has been introduced. Why not doing the same with Gutenberg?
You talk about better Gutenberg documentation. Fine. But developing plugins for and applications based on WordPress I have learned the best documentation it the source code. Therefore you simply have to wait until the final Gutenberg arrives as you don't know what will change during further Gutenberg development.
If I would be the project lead I would follow a simple plan:
Just my 2 cents
talking of economic impact: