I have decided to include Dotclear, even though it is not a WordPress fork as such. Created in 2003 by Frenchman Olivier Meunier, it is quite a remarkable alternative to WP. While it doesn’t have access to thousands of themes and plugins, it does offer everything you need for a basic blog or website.
I have set up an installation at PC Rights to see what it can do. Out of the box, it does come with a responsive theme and uses a classic style editor. However, you do need to install some plugins to get all the features you need for a typical website.
Dotclear comes with some extra built-in features though, that WP needs plugins for. You can even add extra blogs from the one admin panel, making it a multisite CMS.
Unlike WP, it doesn’t get constant updates to the core or plugins. Some plugins haven’t been updated for 3 or 4 years, but work just fine. The last core update was in September 2018. It is a very stable and fast CMS, that generates very little HTML code, meaning pages load super fast.
Caching is built-in and my .htaccess file is empty, apart from code I added for my benefit. At Gtmetrix and Pingdom, I got page scores around 97% without having to touch anything. Sucuri was unable to determine what CMS I was using or plugins I had installed.
It takes a couple of hours to get used to the admin back end, but it is nowhere near as complicated as Drupal, Joomla or other platforms I’ve used. Once you’ve set everything up, you only need to work with your content, and rarely need to access the configuration settings again.
Clearing the cache and optimizing the database can be done from the admin panel. You can even download backups from there. Adding plugins or themes is done manually by uploading a zip file.
Who is it suitable for?
Dotclear will appeal to webmasters that are comfortable using FTP and maybe tweaking some code here and there. It only comes in English and French, but of course your content can be in your language. You will just need to understand the English tabs etc.
It should be offered as a one-click install by your web host, but I would suggest you install it the traditional way, by downloading the zip file from here. That way you have better control over your configuration options.
Why I have included it is, it really gets back to the basics of website building. You don’t have the bloat and useless features of WP and the editor is perfect. The media library can be arranged by folders and you have plenty of widgets to play with. The overall impression I get is one of simplicity, but power.
For someone who wants to run a simple blog or paged website, without all the bells and whistles of WP, then it is ideal.
It took me some trial and error testing different plugins and customizing the theme as a child theme, but if you want the setup that I have, then just use the contact form to let me know and I’ll send them as a packaged zip file. I wanted it to look much the same as the WP Twenty Seventeen theme.