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Cwicly Is Done – Here's What The Community Has To Say About It

The unexpected closure of WordPress page builder plugin Cwicly has sent shockwaves through the community, sparking some heated Facebook debates about the risks of third-party dependencies and the future of the ecosystem
Updated April 8, 2024
A computer on fire, generated with Midjourney
A computer on fire, generated with Midjourney

The WordPress community is reeling from the recent announcement that the Cwicly page builder plugin will be shutting down by the end of 2024. The closure of this once-promising Gutenberg-based tool has ignited heated discussions about the risks of relying on third-party solutions, the health of the WordPress plugin ecosystem, and the ripple effects this could have on developers and those using websites built with it.

The news came as a devastating blow to agencies and freelancers who had bet big on Cwicly. Kevin Geary, a notable and respected figure in the industry, livestreamed his raw, honest thoughts on the situation. He emphasized that he didn't believe the stated reasons for the shutdown were the full story and expressed empathy for Cwicly's founder.

Geary also acknowledged the difficult position this leaves Cwicly's customers in and took responsibility for his role in recommending the product. Here's some of his takeaways:

  • The stated reasons for Cwicly's closure, like negative influencer commentary, are likely not the full story. Products usually don't get shut down for those reasons alone.
  • Cwicly's founder Louis likely needs space, time and empathy right now rather than people rushing to demand refunds or send angry emails.
  • However, Cwicly's customers are left in a difficult position, with less than a year to find an alternative before Cwicly is no longer safe to use. Agencies may need to rebuild client sites at their own expense.
  • Kevin feels some responsibility, as he had been recommending Cwicly as the #2 WordPress page builder for months. Many people likely purchased it on his recommendation.
  • As a goodwill gesture, Kevin is offering Cwicly customers who email in their receipt a voucher for the value of their Cwicly purchase to use on Automatic CSS or Frames from his company.
  • Beyond just providing an alternative tool, Kevin believes the real value is in the education, support community, and focus on process and workflow efficiency that his ecosystem provides.
  • Cwicly's closure shakes confidence in relying on tools from smaller developers. But most small dev teams would not suddenly shut down a successful product this way.
  • If WordPress core adopted an approach more like GeneratePress/GenerateBlocks with its clean, minimal block implementation, the community would be in a much better place.
  • Important missing features that contributed to Cwicly's challenges include lack of true component functionality, no SASS support, limited selector options, and over-complicated UI compared to cleaner alternatives.
  • The Cwicly situation serves as a wake-up call about the risks of third-party dependencies. Developers should reassess their tech stack, reduce fragile plugins, and aim for native WordPress solutions and widely-adopted, battle-tested tools where possible.

The Dynamic WP Facebook group has also been the topic of much discussion, leading to some pretty interesting opinions.

Many are now scrambling to find alternatives and communicate the situation to their clients. As Maria Arango-Kure shared, "My bigger build, the clients were very aware from the beginning that we were trying out a brand new tool, they had a chance to look at pros and cons but so badly we wanted to be out of Divi that it was a joint decision. On the positive side, the whole site is now built with ACF and clean code so moving it will be a little bit of a pain but not too crazy. I will eat the cost of this as well, and likely will slowly start replacing cwicly blocks with other blocks over time while cwicly is still supported."

Others are taking a more philosophical view, seeing this as a cautionary tale about the dangers of overreliance on specific tools and vendors. Ryan Shepherd argued that "this is why learning to code to make your own CMS is important," suggesting that true job security comes from having transferable skills rather than mastery of a particular system.

However, this sentiment sparked pushback from those who view building a custom CMS as overkill for most use cases. Hakira Shymuy retorted, "creating own cms? I dont know what you consider creating own cms but thats reinventing the well."

Amidst the uncertainty, some are finding solace in the stability of established players like Kadence and Beaver Builder. "Definitely think about new small teams," advised Darren Jaz Rodgers. "I'm looking at Droip going okay but how long will you be here? But then again Bricks team is probably small."

Michael Edwin noted that "At least Bricks has built a good track record over the years," while Jake Albion shared, "This is why it's hard for me to leave beaver builder. It's stable and I rarely have problems if ever."

The generous response from Kevin Geary and the Kadence team, who reached out to offer support to stranded Cwicly customers, was a bright spot. However, there is a noticeable sense of <understandable> caution in the air, with some like Ash Parker admitting, "yeah, i'm nervous about buying anything now."

Some, like Haroon Raja, characterized the Cwicly debacle as a "freak exception" not representative of how most small dev teams operate. "I wouldn't even call it a one-in-a-million case, but rather just a freak event that I have observed for the very first time for any notable product in my entire career," he argued.

But others worry incidents like this could become more common as the WordPress page builder space grows increasingly crowded and competitive. "So many builders now," observed Ray Moore. "I heard bricks is great and Gutenberg has had some issues of its own…how many builders does WordPress truly need to accomplish the same task?"

Faced with this new reality, Theme Ful articulated what many are feeling: "I'll hold off a little longer, just in case Cwicly makes a comeback or gets acquired. Meanwhile, I'll prepare to update the client about the situation and offer a free rebuild….this is a wake-up call for me. I'm planning to reassess my tech stack, reduce plugins usage, evaluate any vendor lock-in and assess the bus factor. I aim to return closer to a native WP solution and utilize only widely adopted, battle-tested plugins or open-source framework."

The sudden shutdown of Cwicly is a wake-up call for the WordPress community. It reminds us that relying too heavily on third-party tools can be risky. Some people think this will lead to a shift towards more stable and simple solutions. Others hope that innovative new companies will continue to push WordPress forward. Yes, the recent news makes me slightly concerned, but I do feel like this is some sort of "freak" incident and isn't truly reflective of the fear that many now feel about other plugins. I could be wrong, though.

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Written by Justin Gluska
Justin is the founder of Gold Penguin, a business technology blog that helps people start, grow, and scale their business using AI. The world is changing and he believes it's best to make use of the new technology that is starting to change the world. If it can help you make more money or save you time, he'll write about it!
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