This is a fair question. Hasn’t ClassicPress merely made a copy of WordPress and rebranded it as their own? It’s true that CP 1.0 is functionally the same as WP 4.9.8 as far as end users are concerned. Apart from new graphics and wording, you don’t notice any difference. But they had to start somewhere and things will change from WP 5.0 and in CP 2.0
When you fork a piece of software, you first make an exact copy. You then replace any references to the previous owner with your own. This is a starting point, you have a working copy which you can then expand on.
When you install CP 1.0 the first thing you notice is, the prompt to try Gutenberg is not there. You don’t have to choose between it and the Classic Editor plugin. There are other changes to the core files, but as an end user you will not notice any effect.
The benefit of ClassicPress will not become apparent until WordPress 5.0 is released. That is when there will be a major difference in the core files of the two CMS’s. WP will be going in one direction and CP another.
What most people don’t realize and what Scott Bowler calls “The Elephant in the Room” is, if you stay with WP, then you will need to redesign your website and retrain your clients on how to work with Gutenberg. For large businesses or institutions, that is going to be a time consuming and expensive process.
You might think, “Well I’ll just install the Classic Editor plugin and I’ll be fine”. No. As each new release of WP comes out, more and more of the core functions of the CMS will be tied to Gutenberg – whether you’ve installed the editor or not. At some point, the system will break – the plugin won’t work anymore.
Gutenberg is a moving target and no one knows where it’s going or what damage it will cause. If you’ve watched all of Morten’s video in the previous post, then you will realize even the Gutenberg development team don’t have an end game in view, yet alone third party plugin developers. Website owners are going to have to learn a lot of new things and pass them on to their users. They will also need to be prepared for things to break, as conflicts no one had foreseen, raise their ugly heads.
By choosing to go down the ClassicPress road, nothing will change and there is no elephant. The gulf between CP and WP will grow ever wider, and CP will not remain simply a clone.
Scott has a vision for CP, with it catering more and more for businesses as the target market. The focus will shift from a blog trying to be a CMS, to a “powerful, versatile and predictable” CMS that can also be used for blogging. Even if you are simply a blogger, you will not lose out. But if your site is primarily pages or an ecommerce store for example, then it will work a lot better.
Come 2019 and the release of CP 2.0 the CMS will start to come into its own. The project team will need to liaise with plugin developers to ensure their software will work with CP and new ways to provide plugin searches and security updates will become necessary.
Maintaining a WP fork is not a simple task or one for the faint hearted. It takes commitment, technical expertise, marketing skills and a dedicated team to provide them. It also costs money, which they will need to find. Can they do all that? I guess only time will tell. But I am pretty sure they will find a way. The team has some very experienced members who have been hand picked by Scott, who is himself a programmer with over 15 years experience.
So to answer the original question, yes CP started out as a clone of WP, but it won’t stay that way for very long.