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Are WordPress Plugins and Themes Compatible with ClassicPress?

Is it safe to use WordPress plugins and themes with ClassicPress? The answer is yes! Here’s a discussion on why and information that will help you prepare for the future.

Are WordPress plugins and themes compatible with ClassicPress? It’s a question I’ve seen many times over the last couple of months. With ClassicPress only about 6 months old (as of this writing,) it’s not easy to find plugin and theme developers explicitly declaring support for it. Most likely, they want to be sure there is an actual need before devoting resources to it. Fair enough. So, what does this mean for those who want to try or switch to ClassicPress? Let’s dig in.

About ClassicPress as a Fork

It’s important to understand that ClassicPress 1.0.0 is a fork of WordPress 4.9.x. At this point, it’s not a radically different piece of software. Plugins and themes that work with WordPress 4.9.x should work on ClassicPress just as though they were running on WordPress.

Now, that is not to say that ClassicPress is merely a renamed copy of WordPress – quite the opposite – more than a few changes have already been implemented. The thing is: the changes are only those that do not break compatibility with WordPress 4.9.x. The ClassicPress V1 Roadmap puts it nicely where it states, in part:

The first version of ClassicPress will be a long-term support (LTS) version. If you choose to, you can stay on this version for years to come. We won’t introduce any changes that could break compatibility with themes or plugins that support WordPress 4.9.x.

How long will developers support WordPress 4.9?

As long as plugin and theme developers continue to have considerable users on WordPress 4.9.x, they’ll be supporting that version. Considering that many users are not upgrading to WordPress 5.0 for accessibility, ease of use, or other reasons, there is a high likelihood that it will be at least 2 years that developers continue to support their work for WordPress 4.9.x and, by extension, ClassicPress 1.x.x. This overlap will afford end users more time to make – or even to undo – their decision to use ClassicPress.

By the time developers start dropping support for WordPress 4.9.x, ClassicPress will have proved itself a viable platform – or not. If ClassicPress thrives as many of us believe it will, it seems likely that the plugin and theme developer space will become a bustling ecosystem where you will be able to find ClassicPress-specific plugins to meet all your needs. If you’re not confident about upgrading to ClassicPress 2.0.0 when that time comes, you can simply stay on ClassicPress 1.x.x, or even migrate back over to WordPress.

When will things start to break?

If you decide to stay with ClassicPress 1.x.x, then things shouldn’t break until developers stop supporting that version. As previously mentioned, that will probably be at least two years. Now, on the other hand, if you decide you want to use ClassicPress 2.0.0 when it comes out, there is the possibility that some things might break if you upgrade from version 1.x.x to version 2.0.0. However, the ClassicPress Committee recognizes that big changes can cause unintended results for some site owners, so they have committed to handling breaking changes with utmost prudence. This means that there is even a good chance that version 2.0.0 may not break anything at all – we will have to wait and see what 2.0.0 brings.

Are any plugins and themes incompatible with ClassicPress 1.x.x?

Because ClassicPress 1.x.x maintains compatibility with WordPress 4.9.x, all plugins and themes that work with WordPress 4.9.x should logically work with ClassicPress 1.x.x, right? In theory, yes. However, there are a few notable exceptions.

For example, the WordFence plugin works great with ClassicPress, but it raises a warning regarding the core files being changed. In fact, the WordFence plugin already had a setting to disable this particular scan, so, it seems likely that this issue would be present with any plugin or theme that modified core files in any way. This would be expected.

Another type of plugin that seems to be routinely problematic with ClassicPress are those that interact with or intervene in the upgrade or downgrade process. Presumably, these plugins would be querying for WordPress upgrade/downgrade files, so they probably wouldn’t have a use on a ClassicPress website. That said, they should be disabled before using the migration plugin. Please see the exceptionally short list of plugin conflicts for more information.

Is it safe to use ClassicPress as a beta release?

The ClassicPress team has called the initial release a beta release because it’s not yet the final product they want to release for version 1.0.0. While it’s true that beta software is not typically used in production, the fact of the matter is that the ClassicPress package is as stable as WordPress 4.9.x. Better yet, it’s a tad faster. Indeed, if you feel confident using WordPress 4.9.x on a production website, you can feel the same confidence in using the current release of ClassicPress.

Wrapping Up

While there aren’t yet a huge number of developers explicitly stating that they will support ClassicPress, their plugins and themes should continue to work on ClassicPress for at least a couple more years to come. Because ClassicPress has committed to WordPress 4.9.x compatibility with its first version – which will be supported indefinitely, if need be – you can take your time in deciding whether to embrace the new platform. The current beta version of ClassicPress is at least as stable as WordPress 4.9.x, so, I feel confident in saying that it can be used on a production website. And, those aren’t just random words: this site is running the beta right now.

With that, I’d like to leave off with one final thought in hopes that it may inspire other plugin and theme developers to do the same:

Code Potent is openly committing to supporting the ClassicPress platform. Going forward, the plugins ad resources found here will not merely be compatible with ClassicPress, they will be written for it.

What do you think?

Do you think it’s awesome that WordPress plugins and themes can work on ClassicPress? Or, not so much? And, what about the beta status – am I crazy to launch this site on a beta version of ClassicPress? Have you seen any other plugin or theme developers saying they’ll support ClassicPress? I’m curious to know your thoughts – let me know in the comments!