Not a day goes by that we don't get asked about recipe plugins. This is something that's critical to food blogging and therefore, something we haven't been able to ignore for the past few years.
Our team was heavily involved in the creation of a particular plugin - during a period of time where bloggers were rightfully concerned about how their recipe data would be structured and cared for. So it made sense that when the plugin became available, we jumped at the chance to purchase it.
The Cookbook recipe plugin was developed when other standard recipe plugins were lacking updates and developers were neglecting support issues. The goal of Cookbook was to provide you with a better alternative, centered around simplicity. And it succeeded magnificently at that. It's still used by hundreds of food bloggers today with a flawless experience.
Great news: we'll be bundling a license for Cookbook with all theme purchases on FeastDesignCo.com for FREE, while continuing to operate it as a paid premium plugin for all other food bloggers.
Here's the kicker: Cookbook won't be re-developed for Gutenberg when it's released.
Technical requirements for WordPress plugins have shifted, and will do so again in a big way with Gutenberg. And after looking into our options, we've landed on a consensus that the costs to redevelop Cookbook for Gutenberg are too high and will distract us from our core business: food blog themes.
We're committing to maintaining updates and compliance with the most recent standards for a period of 12-months from the upcoming Gutenberg release (expected September 2018). At that point, we'll be retiring the plugin and shifting our attention to solving other needs that aren't being met.
[Update 2018/12/06 - Gutenberg was released today]
That also means that sales of Cookbook will cease as of Gutenberg's release, and yearly subscriptions will be cancelled. That leaves over a full year for your license to expire, and to transfer to a new solution.
The development of the Cookbook plugin spurred new activity in a stale environment where plugins hadn't been maintained or supported for quite a while. And out of that period emerged several new plugins with a different take on how recipe data could be handled.
One of those is a solution we already recommend to our own customers:
Next Steps: We recommend transitioning towards WP Recipe Maker (WPRM) whenever you're ready.
Yes, you read that right.
Given equal levels of ability and motivation, we understand that the people and companies with a singular focus will outperform those who simply dabble. Cookbook was a side project for WP Site Care – albeit a successful one – and would continue to be one for Feast. Just like most other recipe plugins out there are a side-project for larger companies.
We took a critical look at the options available, and thought about what our decision would be if we were in your shoes (or oven mitts). We realized that Cookbook is a great recipe plugin, but there's another plugin that stands out - and we're quite comfortable throwing our weight behind it.
Our Principles page outlines our values and beliefs – that we're the best at designing food blogs, and that we'll only partner with the best to deliver that to our customers.
Following that principle, the correct long-term decision for us to make is to actually recommend WPRM and support Bootstrapped Ventures' continued development of their recipe plugin.
The free version of WPRM is functionally equivalent to Cookbook (except for the nutrition label, which is part of the premium version), and the import process works well. The yearly fee for WPRM's premium version is also around 15% lower than Cookbook's, which means better overall value for all of you, and includes a bunch of handy features like letting visitors adjust the serving size automatically.
The decision to close Cookbook isn't easy, but it helps us to contribute to a more unified food blogging ecosystem. By reducing the number of confusing decisions you need to make, you can focus on cooking, writing and food photography.
Setting principles that we want Feast to live by is easy – following those principles can be difficult. This decision aligns with the principle that we should partner with the best in their respective areas to service our customers. Everyone involved in this will continue to serve bloggers with best-in-class service:
- WP Site Care for WordPress Support
- Feast Design Co. for themes + growth
- WP Recipe Maker (WPRM) for recipe plugins
- You: for delicious recipes, unique perspectives and mouth-watering food photography
WP Recipe Maker was developed by Bootstrapped Ventures - but who are they and do their long-term goals align with ours - and our customers'? We actually didn't know, and that's risky. There was only one way to find out - to meet in person.
Checking out the WPRM site shows that it's run by Brecht + Birthe. They're in Belgium. Belgium sounds cool.
So we set a lunch and I took a workcation, heading to Europe for a week. That didn't suck.
Lunch with Brecht + Birthe felt like a short two hours, but confirms my gut instincts. Based on the documentation on their site, their travel blog, and the responsiveness to customer support questions, they're the real deal. What you see actually is what you get.
I'd hire them if I could. But, like me, Brecht is self-directed and customer-obsessed. He's happier working for himself. With a get-shit-done attitude and technical ability, plus with a laser-sharp focus on recipe plugins, I'm confident WPRM will continue to be the best option for recipe plugins for the foreseeable future.
With that clear, the most responsible thing for Feast to do is throw our support behind WPRM.
We've confirmed that transferring recipes from Cookbook to WPRM works flawlessly. But if you have questions or need help with migrating from Cookbook to WPRM, please reach out to either Brecht or myself. We're happy to help.
Q: Is there anything wrong with Cookbook?
No. It's 100% up to date and compliant with the most recent recipe schema, including video. It's useful, well-coded, and by all measures it's a success and has fulfilled its purpose.
Putting our customers first means making hard decisions, like pulling out of a market where we're not the best, to keep our focus on our core products: the themes. It's a short-term sacrifice so that we can focus on the long-term success of bloggers.
Q: What other recipe plugins did you consider recommending?
The only other modern recipe plugin we saw that's comparable, is WP Tasty. We have customers happily using it as well, and it looks to be well-supported by Food Blogger Pro, but we don't currently have a close relationship with them so we couldn't vouch personally for it.
Q: How can you leave customers hanging?
We're not! This is a notice that we'll stop updating the plugin within 12-months of Gutenberg's release – that's an eternity in the digital world. It will continue to work after that point, but will fall further behind best practices, and some unforeseen update to WordPress or Genesis may break it at any point beyond that.
Bloggers can make the switch to WPRM at any time, even right now. The free version of WPRM is functionally equivalent to Cookbook (except for the nutrition label, which is part of the premium version), and the import process works well.
The yearly fee for WPRM's premium version is also around 15% lower than Cookbook's, which means better value.
Again: The plugin will continue to run unsupported after we shut it down, 12 months post-Gutenberg. But eventually, some technical update to WordPress will break it, and then it won't work. You want to transfer away before that happens.
[Update 2018/12/06 - the Cookbook plugin will officially become unsupported on 2019/12/06]