After years of unpredictable development and support, it seemed the Edit Flow plugin had finally given up the ghost last week when an Automattic support representative confirmed that it is no longer being actively developed and recommended users switch to an alternative. Nick Gernert, head of WordPress.com VIP, has since commented on our post to clarify the company’s intentions. He said Automattic is “in no way dropping support for Edit Flow:”
I’ll start by saying we are in no way dropping support for Edit Flow.
We do see a difference between active feature development and maintenance updates to a plugin and this post tends to use these things interchangeably. It is correct that we are not currently pushing new features for Edit Flow. However, we are committed to maintaining this and other plugins so that those who depend on them are able to continue to do so.
We face the same challenge that many in software face when it comes to supporting existing work while looking to the future and where to invest energy. I hope folks can understand the delicate balance here. We accept that we have fallen short at times when it comes to maintaining our existing work and appreciate the community holding us accountable.
Gernert also said the company’s VIP service is “seeing demand for WordPress in the enterprise market like never before.” The team is doubling down on its commitment to product development for this market and Gernert said outlook for Edit Flow and other Automattic plugins should improve:
VIP is more committed than ever to product development for the unique needs of this space. We have recently brought on a new Head of Product and Engineering. With the addition of this role, there is a commitment to focused product development and that includes ensuring key plugins like Edit Flow are maintained. Presently, that maintenance includes security updates, critical bugs, ensuring compatibility with new versions of WordPress, and directly supporting VIP customer use. Going forward the VIP Product and Engineering teams are committed to allocating time to regularly review and address issues and provide regular updates to the plugins. As we stabilize on maintenance, new feature development will pick up in areas where we see unique opportunity.
Users and developers seemed wary of this response, given the plugin’s history and more recent experiences of trying to contribute to its upkeep. James Miller, a developer who was using Edit Flow on a client project, shared his experience trying to submit a PR for a bug fix.
“It doesn’t seem like it’s even being given a level of attention at the most basic level of what could be considered ‘maintained,’” Miller said. “This plugin was breaking functionality of other plugins on a client site.
“I forked the repo, fixed the issue, and submitted a PR on January 26. After several months of periodic commenting and asking if anybody was even maintaining the repo, it finally got merged just last month. This doesn’t seem to me like a commitment to maintaining the plugin.”
What Does this Mean for Edit Flow Users?
If you’re not currently experiencing any critical bugs and you don’t require additional features beyond what it offers, Edit Flow may be still be a good option if Automattic is able to improve its maintenance. As previously predicted, any new features coming to this plugin will be those that “directly support VIP customer use.”
Support for the plugin has not improved over the last week, so users may still be waiting for updates and fixes for awhile. The support forums indicate that multiple users continue to report issues with both the block editor and the classic editor, as well as conflicts with other plugins. This is likely why Automattic support representatives recommend users fork Edit Flow or switch to another solution.
In support of smaller WordPress-powered publications that have an immediate need for editorial tools, we have compiled a list of alternatives that offer more frequent maintenance and support. Edit Flow’s primary features include a calendar, custom statuses, editorial comments, editorial metadata, notifications, story budget, and user groups. One of the alternatives below may be a suitable replacement, depending on which features are most important to your editorial workflow.
PublishPress is the plugin that Automattic recommended as an alternative, and it is the closest one to matching Edit Flow’s features. It has 7,000 active installs and is used by companies, non-profits, educational institutions, magazines, newspapers, and blogs.
In the free plugin, PublishPress provides an editorial calendar, notifications, editorial comments, custom statuses, content overview, and the ability to create custom metadata for posts. Its creators also offer commercial add-ons for things like a content checklist, Slack notifications, multiple authors, WooCommerce checklist, and more.
Since PublishPress is actually a fork of the Edit Flow plugin, users can migrate seamlessly from Edit Flow without losing any data or settings using the plugin’s built-in migration utility.
The PublishPress team has also created several other publishing plugins that may also be useful for different editorial needs, including PublishPress Revisions, PressPermit, and Capability Manager Enhanced.
Oasis Workflow is a plugin that allows site admins to create custom workflows for content review. It includes three process/task templates for assignment, review, and publishing actions with role-based routing. Workflows can be configured using a drag-and-drop interface. The plugin supports custom statuses, process history, task reassignment, due dates, and email reminders.
Oasis Workflow is often used in healthcare, law and financial firms, universities, CPA firms, non-profits, news outlets, and other organizations that require a formal review process for publishing. A commercial version of the plugin includes features like multiple workflows, auto submit, revisions for published content, with add-ons for editorial contextual comments, teams, groups, and more.
Nelio Content is a plugin with 6,000 active installs that includes an editorial calendar, editorial comments, tasks, and a content assistant. It also helps users schedule and automatically promote content on social networks. The plugin integrates relevant metrics from Google Analytics and social media accounts to assist users in promoting content.
If the editorial calendar feature of Edit Flow is the only one you need, then the Editorial Calendar plugin might be a good alternative. It is used on more than 40,000 WordPress sites. The plugin provides an overview of when each post will be published, supports multiple authors, the ability to rearrange the schedule with drag-and-drop capabilities, and edit posts directly in the calendar.
WP Scheduled Posts
WP Scheduled Posts is another editorial calendar plugin that makes it easy to manage multiple authors from one place. It includes a visual calendar that can be manipulated via drag-and-drop, allowing users to easily add posts in the queue or create new posts inside the calendar. The plugin has a dashboard widget that displays post statuses for single or multiple authors.
The commercial version of WP Scheduled Posts is targeted at the scheduling aspects of publishing. It offers an auto-scheduler where users can create rules to publish content automatically, as well as a missed schedule handler for automatically publishing posts that didn’t go out on schedule.
I recently joined VIP as head of both Product and Engineering. The strategy for these plugins, including the ongoing support and maintenance, falls under my area of responsibility. As Nick Gernert mentioned, we have been working on a lot of great things related to our Enterprise WordPress Platform however with that focus, the Edit Flow plugin has not been receiving appropriate attention. I appreciate the challenges that this has created for users and we are working to rectify it. We expect to have a new release of Edit Flow out by the end of October and then updates on a regular quarterly cadence.