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Opened 5 months ago

Closed 3 months ago

#44851 closed feature request (wontfix)

Offer LTS (Long Term Support) version of WordPress 4.9.x when 5.0 (Gutenberg) rolls out

Reported by: mor10 Owned by:
Milestone: Priority: normal
Severity: normal Version:
Component: Editor Keywords:
Focuses: Cc:

Description

On the release of 5.0, give site owners the option of "freezing" their install at 4.9.x by choosing to stay with a terminated LTS (Long Term Support) branch which only receives security and maintenance updates, and only for a specified number of years.

This option should be offered in place of the "Classic Editor" plugin.

Practical implementation

When 5.0 ships, site owners are presented with a panel similar to the mockup added below where they can choose to upgrade to 5.0 or stay with the TLS version. Information about each choice and what that entails is provided in links in the modal window.

https://cldup.com/s2t4tjRlhB.png

Users who choose the TLS version are given two options in the Updates panel: "Update WordPress TLS" (security updates only) or "Upgrade to 5.0".

Reasoning

When WordPress 5.0 and Gutenberg rolls out, many users will be faced with a complex dilemma: Get the latest version of WordPress and risk compatibility issues / retraining / redesign / and/or other problems, or choose not to upgrade and end up running an old and eventually insecure version of the content management system.

While the majority of WordPress users will weather the 5.0 upgrade without issues, a not insignificant group will run into issues which may end up requiring a significant investment in time or money or both which they are not able to take on at this time. Providing a clean off-ramp for them which allows them the time and space to prepare for the upgrade or otherwise resolve their unique challenges is essential to avoid a feature upgrade causing harm to the end-user.

Additionally, offering a LTS version provides a relatively uncomplicated solution to the problem of backwards compatibility faced by many plugin developers. The popularity of the Classic Editor plugin means plugin developers have to either ship two versions of their plugins (Gutenberg and Classic) or ship a larger plugin with both options built in. An LTS version of WordPress would mean these developers could offer a similar LTS version of their plugin as it was when 4.9.x was released, and continue development on their 5.x support plugin as normal.

Problem: This will split the community

A public LTS version of WordPress will split the community between those who upgrade to 5.0 and those who stay on LTS. This is neither new nor is it unusual. There are countless WordPress sites out there intentionally or unintentionally running older versions already, and within the community there is talk of launching an official fork of WordPress which would see a true split.

It is an unavoidable fact that some users will choose to not upgrade to 5.0. How this issue is addressed will impact the development of the application, its community, and its users long term. Offering a Long Term Service version, and making each user who considers it aware of what this means, keeps the user base informed and provides clean and responsible options for everyone.

LTS is how WordPress does it today

WordPress has a long shipped security updates for older versions for an extended period of time, so technically this is no different from what is already happening. My proposal is to make this an explicit feature of the WordPress 5.0 release by giving each site owner the ability to opt out of the 5.0 upgrade until they are ready by activating a "WordPress TLS" release.

Attachments (1)

TLS-alert.png (124.6 KB) - added by mor10 5 months ago.

Download all attachments as: .zip

Change History (13)

@mor10
5 months ago

#1 @jeremyescott
5 months ago

Question: Won't the ability to turn off Gutenberg make this action unnecessary?

Whether I like it or not, as a plugin developer, I'll be in for supporting two methods of WordPress editing for a long while. Even then, while I may discontinue support for, the "classic editor" in my plugin at some time, say 2+ years from 5.0, it won't stop a user from downloading it.

A case in point is that WordPress still supports blog links, with a simple plugin install, years after it was uninstalled. How do I know? A clients' site of mine still runs it, and the plugin that re-enabled it continues to work.

I am no regular around core dev, but I don't see a need for this given WP's track record with major changes; this won't be a breaking change to fear.

#2 @hlashbrooke
5 months ago

Isn't this already the case with older version of WordPress anyway? If you have a site on an older major release branch (e.g. 4.2.x) and have auto-updates switched on for minor, but not major, releases (which is the default in WordPress if I'm not mistaken), then you will continue to receive back-ported security and maintenance updates even if you don't upgrade to the next/latest major release.

I still get notifications about auto-updates for old client sites and one of them is currently in v4.2.21 as it has been steadily receiving security and maintenance updates for years, even though it hasn't moved beyond the 4.2.x branch.

If that's all true, then all that needs to happen for someone to be on a 4.9 LTS release is to just not run the update to 5.0. If we wanted to commit to that, then we could add an option to hide major update notifications I suppose, but in effect the work here is already done as it stands right now.

I'm not a core dev by any means, but that seems to be the case as far as I can tell.

Ugh - just read your last paragraph properly, so my comment is moot :p

I kind of agree with @jeremyescott on this one then - installing the Classic Editor plugin is effectively doing exactly what you're proposing, is it not?

Last edited 5 months ago by hlashbrooke (previous) (diff)

#3 @Mte90
5 months ago

I support this idea because install a plugin means that only add a switch but in the future there will be more integration of Gutenberg in the rest of wordpress system.

So in that cases what will happen? I will have to install more plugin to revert?

Maybe at that point is better to think about a LTS version that doesn't include at all, this also will require less action to maintain the websites.

#4 @mor10
5 months ago

@jeremyescott @hlashbrooke The Classic Editor plugin is a good stop-gap measure right now, but when Gutenberg migrates beyond the editor, it will either have to get a wider scope, or other plugins will need to be added to disable more features. Which will put a big hamper on the future development of Gutenberg. A terminated LTS version will allow Gutenberg and 5.0 to continue evolving while allowing individual users to press the "pause" button on their own sites until they are ready to make the switch. I explored this in more detail here: https://mor10.com/gutenberg-forks-and-the-need-for-an-lts-version-of-wordpress/

#5 @iamkingsleyf
5 months ago

This idea i support, not a fan of the new editor after i used the live test

#6 @ayeshrajans
5 months ago

I'm concerned a lot about the community being split into two.

Take Drupal 7 -> 8 as an example. Drupal 8 is a complete rewrite of the framework, and it actually split the community. There is even a fork, Backdrop that promises to keep the Drupal 7 as an LTS version, but it is quite a burden to maintain an LTS version and we don't have all the Drupal 7 developer community willing to move on to Drupal 8.

I really like the idea of Classic Editor. However, as the time goes by and new projects start to use Gutenberg, there will be a big pressure build-up from other plugins to use Gutenburg; the usage numbers of Classic Editor will hopefully go down. This is a natural process compared to a forced LTS version.

#7 @96derwin95
5 months ago

  • Focuses accessibility javascript docs template added

Fifteen years ago I was 44 years old, so I experienced the growth of WP. The sites that I still maintain remain 4.9 LTS.

Now I am 59 years old and I start again with WP 5.0 (Gutenberg). Obviously I worked with the plugin. It is more intuitive, Look and Feel is Ok. In addition, I think that NewBees at the base have a head start with Gutenberg. Maybe too positive for an old one? As long as I can write, I help WP lovers to Sippets :-)

#8 follow-up: @nacin
5 months ago

I don't wish the maintenance of this on anyone.

Replying to @mor10:

WordPress has a long shipped security updates for older versions for an extended period of time, so technically this is no different from what is already happening.

This has always been based only on my own personal belief that if we have the ability to auto-update older sites to patch them for security reasons, then we should do so.

The aim has always been that once effort is put into making major-release automatic updates a reality, we would just begin to update all 3.7 sites to 3.8, and eventually 3.8 sites to 3.9, etc., until there are only a few branches in play at any time.

#9 in reply to: ↑ 8 @mor10
5 months ago

Replying to nacin:

This has always been based only on my own personal belief that if we have the ability to auto-update older sites to patch them for security reasons, then we should do so.

The aim has always been that once effort is put into making major-release automatic updates a reality, we would just begin to update all 3.7 sites to 3.8, and eventually 3.8 sites to 3.9, etc., until there are only a few branches in play at any time.

This is pretty much literally what I'm proposing, only in a more formalized way: Give users who are not ready for the future an offramp to a holding position where they sit in 4.9.x (with security updates) until they update to 5.X. The alternative right now is to go with a fork, which is far worse.

I don't wish the maintenance of this on anyone.

Like I said, and you just said, maintenance here would be purely security updates with the aim of moving people to the new version. Work wise this seems a much less heavy investment option than having to maintain an ever changing Classic Editor plugin to conform to the ever changing Gutenberg outside the editor reality we are moving into.

#10 @audrasjb
4 months ago

  • Focuses ui accessibility javascript docs administration template removed

I removed accessibility (as well as others) focus since this sounds more like a general debate.

(we are doing some triage in accessibility focused tickets for 4.9.9)

Cheers,

Jb

#11 @afercia
4 months ago

  • Milestone changed from Awaiting Review to 5.0

Well, I guess this ticket should be discussed before 5.0 :) so I'm going to set the milestone accordingly, for better visibility. Leaving it in "Awaiting Review" doesn't make much sense.

#12 @pento
3 months ago

  • Milestone 5.0 deleted
  • Resolution set to wontfix
  • Status changed from new to closed
  • Version trunk deleted

At the moment, there's no intention to make WordPress 4.9 an "LTS" branch. The Classic Editor plugin is the way for folks to continue using the classic editor after upgrading to WordPress 5.0.

The WordPress 4.9 branch will continue to receive security updates as long as we're able, historically we've been able to backport security updates back to 3.7. The official policy is unchanged, however: security updates are only guaranteed on the latest major release.

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