New Plugin Removes All Traces of the Customizer in WordPress

photo credit: #2 Pencils - (license)
photo credit: #2 Pencils(license)

Anti-customizer vitriol reached its zenith last week when the Menu Customizer plugin was officially approved for merge into WordPress 4.3. Opponents of the feature voiced concerns about the readiness of the UI for all screen sizes, particularly for the desktop where many find the experience of managing menus to be crammed into an unnecessarily narrow space.

Shortly after the feature plugin’s author attributed the broader community’s ongoing Customizer resistance to “more of an educational issue,” WordPress core contributors published a post reaffirming their commitment to advancing the customizer. It states that the purpose behind the live preview framework is to build user trust by providing a safe way to make non-destructive changes.

“We are committed to providing live preview for all aspects of site customization and making it usable on all devices from phones to large screens,” Boren said in the post.

The admin menus screen will continue to be supported for the time being, but the long-term plan is to eliminate them in future versions of WordPress in favor of the customizer interface.

A Plugin to Unhook the Customizer

The new Customizer Remove All Parts plugin, hosted on GitHub under the acronym “WP-CRAP,” was written in response to the decision to bring menus in the customizer. WordPress developers Jesse Petersen and Andy Wilkerson joined forces to create a plugin that would unhook the Customizer from every aspect of WordPress site management.

Once installed, it removes all customizer links from the Appearance menu, Themes screen, and the admin toolbar, essentially rolling your site back to the days prior to WordPress 3.4 when the Theme Customization API was introduced. I tested it and found that it works exactly as advertised.


“Anything that was having its link hijacked to go to the Customizer has had that filter removed,” Petersen said. “This is the nuclear option, as there are no settings whatsoever. Use it if you don’t want your clients or team to have any access to or knowledge of the Customizer.”

Petersen and Wilkerson contend that menus are handled as content in the WordPress database and therefore do not require the same treatment as other design aspects of the site.

“Menus aren’t design,” Petersen said. “They are content. Look in the database, menus are found in the posts tables. As such, they aren’t subject to the same design edits as other items in Customizer, such as the background or custom header image/logo. For those items, I 100% support a Customizer or similar interface to preview changes.”

This argument may not bear as much weight when WordPress finally gets frontend content editing capabilities in core – a feature which Boren’s post identified as possibly integrating with the customizer.

Ultimately, Petersen and Wilkerson want the option to turn the customizer off in the dashboard, but WordPress’ “Decisions, not Options” philosophy prevents that from being a viable possibility.

“We are currently in development of a fork that allows you to selectively remove everything based on user role and more detailed settings,” Petersen said. “This is how we feel Customizer should work in core. There should be some way to turn it off in the dashboard, no different than your ability to turn off the admin toolbar. Maybe this will get rolled into core in 4.5.”

WordPress, in its vanilla state, is not perfect for all scenarios, but this is why the plugin system exists. It allows anyone to make WordPress their own, offering alternatives for those who disagree with the direction of core development. The WP-CRAP plugin is a perfect example of utilizing the plugin system to have WordPress your way.

Based on the “Trust, Live Preview, and Menus in the Customizer” core manifesto, WordPress users can expect that future releases will further the customizer agenda into every aspect of site customization. If you feel that the customizer has over extended its reach and planted its hooks into too many areas of WordPress, the WP-CRAP plugin offers you the option to turn it all off. Download it from or via its home on GitHub.


42 responses to “New Plugin Removes All Traces of the Customizer in WordPress”

  1. It’s a testament to the Open Source Philosophy and the Plugin Review Team that this plugin was accepted in the Plugin Directory. Decisions not Options is a great philosophy that allows you to DECIDE to add more options, like adding a plugin like this. I can definitely see the value of adding role permissions settings for this plugin as I often told clients “Don’t Touch That!” with the “Customize” menu item even BEFORE the Menu Customizer came along.

    Nevertheless, the Customizer is a really powerful tool that “when used well” can be very effective. But — just like animated GIFS — it can be very abused very easily.

  2. Go ahead. Fork WordPress. I give it 2 months before it’s completely abandoned.

    I am embarrassed in behalf of these two developers. They obviously don’t understand the database structure around menus. Menus are taxonomy terms that tie taxonomies and menu items (post objects) together. So menus are therefore not content. No ones opinion on them can change what they actually are.

    An easy fix that core developers could take is to make a ‘Customizer_Remove_All’ class. Then this ‘plugin’ would never load.

    I will never install a plugin or do business with either of the developers involved. They could hardly do anything more to put down and belittle the countless hours put into the development done here.

  3. I’ll be breaking out of the customizer for some projects, but for simple ones, I can see the feature as useful. As someone who is dyslexic (it’s a miracle that I can get through reading, typing, and coding to a degree), I’m not up for everything all smooshed into one area. It’s daunting to me. I’m sure I’ll get use to this as I have other things.

    Merging the feature in, and having an option to break out of it is nice. I like that option. I use a similar concept with updating by having Update Control by Chip Bennett in place so I can backup things before upgrading.

  4. I don’t really see any problem with what this plugin does or how it does it, but calling it WP CRAP is pretty crappy. I’m not exactly known for my restraint or political correctness and even I think this is over the line.

    Whatever you think of the customizer, a ton of work has gone into making it. A lot of that work has been unpaid. If you want to disable it, criticize it, fork it, fine. No issue. You still need to respect the people who built it.

    • The name was not intended to be a criticism. I’m sorry it’s been interpreted that way. We were having fun. It took a few seconds to come up with.

      I don’t care what the name is. It’s not called that on the WP repo so if changing the name on GitHub will make a difference I’m happy to do that.

      • I think that’d be cool. I’ve definitely said and done plenty of things that were supposed to be funny but could be interpreted horribly.

        I just know that if I spent who knows how many hours of my life working on something only to have someone make something to disable it while calling it crap at the same time I’d feel pretty awful.

        Disagreeing about code stuff is normal and healthy, I just try to remember that there are real people on the other end of the keyboard. Sometimes it’s hard and I screw up. We all do.

    • Calling a feature etc crap does not mean you disrespect the people that made it. Things can suck but still be well coded and so forth. People making stuff you dont like can still be great people. Its a chock I know. It came as a surprise to me too.
      Honestly people need to stop putting WordPress on a pedestal. When your thoughts leaves your brain it its the worlds right to react as it please. Stop living your life by what other people think, stop being a puppet and cut those strings.

      • It is part of free speech to call something crap. We need to stop kissing rear ends in the community. If there is something you (or anyone) doesn’t like then say it. I remember a while ago, there was a theme that made your site look EXACTLY like twitter, and another like facebook. I called those themes complete garbage, e-mailed the author, e-mailed WordPress, they were gone 2 weeks later when I checked again for them.

  5. WordPress by its very nature democratizes web site development by freeing us from the tyranny of programming. In the same way Customizer by its very nature democratizes WordPress development by freeing us from the tyranny of programming. Customizer makes many themes and the work of many theme developers irrelevant; so anti-Customizer vitriol from these threatened developers should come as no surprise. I think these anti-Customizer developers did not fully understand its subversive nature when they decided to develop for WordPress. Customizer is just one more step in this same direction. Thus to fully realize anti-Customizer philosophy, WP-CRAP should also upon activation delete the WP database and replace the WP Admin screen with a command prompt. In other words, a developer who hates Customizer does not understand what WordPress is all about. Developers who were able to make a business of creating simple-minded themes need to step up their game if they want to continue developing for WordPress. Creating plugins to delete WP are a fruitless endeavor.

  6. In almost all sites ive developped for my clients customizer had no use and so i disabled It by preventing clients user role from accesing It. This plugin may be helpful for devs who give their clients access to administrator role although the name is a bad idea. Still, thank you for the plugin.

    As for the argument on whether the creation of the plugin was a good idea or not i think It was. It is a yet another option in making wordpress turn into a more useful and user friendly system for some specific projects and use cases. Not every project even requires menus or posts!

  7. Thanks for this plugin. The idea to push the menu in a sidebar is just crazy.

    Many of my company websites use WordPress as CMS with 2-4 menus with upto 50 entries each, multilingual via WPML, editing such menu in a sidebar is no-go!

  8. Pardon my southern + US Navy + more southern verbiage, but I thought the name was an abbreviation of Customizer Remove All Parts. Consequently =>C.R.A.P

    Hell, I’d leave the name, turn off the innerwebs and go mow the yard if I were in your shoes!

  9. i personally just don’t think the customizer is user friendly enough to start putting multiple layered menus in. Having to click, then slide then click then slide Etc etc is really annoying. It’s easier to just have one screen that shows everything.

    I don’t mind having things like Jesse said, background image, etc, but one you start adding extra windows and extra clicks to do something simple, it starts to become too cumbersome.

    If it was a full front end solution then awesome, but it’s still back end with a big preview window and a small pane with everything squeezed in. Moral: just keep it simple, not everything has to be in the Customizer

    • Totally agree!
      I have used Customizer only because i had to. not because I wanted to.. and it’s annoying when it loads .. Glad that this new plugin will turn it off for good!

      How many times are people managing the site edit Site name? Header image? once it’s done.. it’s usually done.

      I am surprised, there is no built in option to turn it off though.. and that it needs plugin.. :(

      I agree what is said above.
      Wordpress DOES need a full front end solution – not what is currently offered in Customizer

      why wordpress does not buy and improve one of the cool front end plugin? Just like “menus’ feature was bought and integrated?

  10. The problem isn’t the existence of the Customizer. I think it’s a slick idea for people with little to no CSS knowledge to make tweaks to their site layouts on their own, saving them time, and perhaps even some money because they can make the changes themselves instead of hiring a dev or designer for a few quick changes.

    The problem is WP setting things up and eventually forcing the Customizer to the be default admin interface for everything, which if you read the various updates and discussions and commentary is pretty much what they’ve stated they intend to eventually do, years down the road.

    Forcing the Customizer to be the admin interface by default for everything without giving people who are more savvy admins the ability to choose otherwise is the big issue, and I don’t see the Customizer becoming advanced enough to be that streamlined and efficient.

    This has nothing to do with the diversionary excuse “oh, this is just an educational issue, they’ll get over it”, which is incorrect, dismissive, and blatantly disrespectful of the people trying to point out the misguided all-or-nothing attitude of “The Customizer Is Mother, The Customizer is Father” that the people making decisions seem to have adopted, needs some fine-tuning before going forward.

    It’s that dismissive and seemingly intentional deafness towards what the Customizer complaints really are about that has me confused. It’s not that difficult to see, and the fact that so many of us who have been pointing out the shortcomings are called out as being luddites or afraid of change and other childish names borders on arrogance. The folks pointing out the shortcomings aren’t the ones sticking fingers in ears and yelling LALALALALALA while ignoring the concerns of a lot of smart people.

    The Customizer has its uses and functions, but as a complete replacement for the admin interface for everything is IMO definitely not the way to go. But that’s where we seem to be getting pushed towards, for no clear reason why other than “gotta compete with Squarespace”.

    If that’s the vision, then make Customizer the default for and let the millions of people with self-installed sites who have legitimate concerns about how Customizer will affect the administrative functionality of their sites have an option to go a different way.

    At this point, it may be moot. 3-5 years from now, all backend admin functions will have been shoehorned into the Customizer, there will be a few dozen plugins that will switch the admin interface back to something more usable for those of us who prefer functionality over “drag & drop & make pretty only” content management, and the Customizer arguments will continue until the end of time, while many of the media management issues that have gone unremarked upon for years will still exist.

  11. Love this, I use it on just about every site.

    I noticed without the customizer you can’t get to any settings for the site icon – which is used by 4.4 for the icon in the embed feature, amongst other things.

    I customized the old Jetpack Site Icon Module into a standalone plugin that moves the site icon option to the general settings page.

    Hopefully this helps others locate their site icon after disabling the customizer


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