Bidding WordPress adieu

I have used WordPress for well over a decade now, for both personal and professional projects. WordPress was how I learned to be a programmer, starting with small modifications to themes and progressing to writing my own from scratch. The CMS seemed to find a delicate balance between being easy to use for those who weren't particularly technically proficient (allowing for plugins that could add nearly anything imaginable), while also allowing the more developer-minded to get in and mess with whatever they wanted.

I would go as far as to call myself a proselytizer, for a time. I fought strenuously to use it at work, constantly having to overcome the "but it's open-source and therefore insecure!" argument that every enterprise IT person has tried for the past two decades. But I fought for it because a) I knew it, so I could get things done more quickly using it, and b) it did everything we wanted it to at no cost. Who could argue against that?

The problems first started around the WordPress API. Despite an upswell of support among developers, there was active pushback by Matt Mullenweg, in particular, about including it in Core and making it more widely available - especially confusing since it wouldn't affect any users except those that wanted to use it.

We got past it (and got the API into core, where it has been [ab]used by Automattic), but it left a sour taste in my mouth. WordPress development was supposed to be community-driven, and indeed though it likely would not exist in its current state without Automattic's help, neither would Automattic have been able to do it all on its own. But the community was shut out of the decision-making process, a feeling we would get increasingly familiar with. Completely blowing the up the text editor in favor Gutenberg, ignoring accessibility concerns until an outside third-party paid for a review ... these are not actions of product that is being inculcated by its community. It's indicative of a decision-making process that has a specific strategy behind it (chasing new users at the expense of existing users and developers).

Gutenberg marked the beginning of the end for me, but I felt the final break somewhere in the 5.x.x release cycle when I had to fix yet another breaking change that was adding a new feature that I absolutely did not need or want. I realized I was not only installing plugins were actively trying to keep changes at bay, I was now spending additional development time just to make sure that existing features kept working. It crystallized my biggest problem I'd been feeling: WordPress is no longer a stable platform. I don't need new; I can build new. I need things to keep working once they're built. WordPress no longer provides that.

And that's fine! I am not making the argument that Automattic should do anything other than pursue their product strategy. I am not, however, in their target market, so I'm going to stop trying to force it.