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What on earth is a WordPress fork?

For those who do not know, a WordPress fork is not a piece of cutlery. Just like a fork in the road, it means the software platform has been split and a new version heads in a separate direction.

Is it legal? Most certainly. WordPress is what is called a free and open-source content management system (CMS) or FOSS for short. It is released under the GPL license system, which means anyone is allowed to make and distribute their own version.

WordPress itself is a fork of an earlier CMS called b2, CaféLog or simply b2/cafelog, which was released by Michel Valdrighi in 2001. WordPress was released on 27 May 2003, by its co-founders, Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little.

Why do forks exist?
Basically, someone creates a fork when they feel the current version of a CMS is either outdated or no longer provides the features or method of operation that it originally promoted.

WordPress is not the only CMS that forked b2/cafelog. François Planque forked b2evolution from version 0.6.1 of b2/cafelog, also in 2003.

Why has WordPress been forked?
WordPress has been an extremely successful CMS, powering over 60 million websites and almost 30% of all sites on the internet. Previous forks that tried to mimic WordPress never really gained traction, because the need wasn’t great enough.

So what changed? In a word – Gutenberg.

The heart of WordPress has always been its editor, a simple word processing type system using TinyMCE, which is very easy to use.

Gutenberg is designed to replace TinyMCE with a more modern editor that enables features not previously possible with the classic TinyMCE editor.

But the principle behind Gutenberg, of breaking everything into blocks instead of having a single continuous page of code, has not gone down well with users. There are plugins to do the same thing that already exist if people want to use them.

What has really upset users is, Gutenberg is not simply about offering a new editor, but making it the default one. This means it is part of the core files and not an optional plugin. Over time, the presence of Gutenberg is planned to become an even more integral part of the WordPress core, affecting a lot more than just the editor.

Despite howls of protest from users, WordPress has decided that’s what they’re going to do, whether you like it or not. While you can currently install a plugin called Classic Editor to stay with TinyMCE, it is only a short term stop gap. Eventually, users will have no choice but to use Gutenberg.

It has become plain that WordPress is no longer community driven, but run the way co-founder Matt Mullenweg thinks is best. This has split the community and led to forks such as calmPress and ClassicPress.

Review Process
Reviews on this site are done from an end user’s point of view. Until web hosting companies add these new forks to their one-click installers, users may need to be able to use FTP to upload files and be able to create their own database. This becomes necessary if there is no migration software offered or it fails to work.

Discussion about the finer technical details of how the CMS works is beyond the scope of this site, and needs to be taken up with the developers.

Bookmark this site
Please bookmark this site and come back to see what other content has been added.  The objective of the site is to increase awareness of these new forks and to make posts in the “News” section about how they are going.

While you cannot comment on this page, you will be able to on others and in News posts. It is important this site provides information that is objective, and not necessarily what either WordPress or the fork developers want to hear.

Consequently, I need to maintain my anonymity. This is not because I think I am any sort of expert, but purely because it would jeopardise my membership in places such as forums on WordPress or any of the forks.