Perch is Ten! Find out what comes next

When we first launched Perch back in 2009, we never imagined we’d be here to announce its 10th birthday!

When we first launched Perch back in 2009, we never imagined we’d be here to announce its 10th birthday! Perch has only made it to this milestone as a result of you continuing to choose it for your projects, so thank you all for that.

Perch has been through a lot of changes in those ten years, and we’re really happy to be able to tell you about the next of those changes here today.


Perch 4

The next iteration of Perch is of course Perch 4. The changes reach from the back end technologies through to the front end user interface, and from the way you work with add-ons through to how Perch itself is licensed. Here’s a few hints of what to expect.

An updated user interface including a new dark mode option. We adapted the interface for Perch 3 to help deal with larger and more complex types of content, and that work continues with Perch 4 to refine and clarify the editing experience.

Revised first-party add-ons alongside some new ways to build your own add-ons and create custom functionality on top of Perch. We’re creating a centralised directory for all add-ons, that registered developers can add to with a pull request. As part of this, we’ll be deprecating and retiring some old first-party add-ons, leaving some interesting spaces for third party developers.

Cloud backup for everyone will be included. Previously only a Perch Runway feature, in-built backup will be included for all license types in Perch 4.

In response to suggestions from our developer community, we’re opening up the documentation to contributions from any Perch user. If you want to add an example, clarify an explanation or even fix a typo, we’ll be accepting (and carefully curating) pull requests on GitHub.

Your hosting will need to support PHP 7 or greater in order to run Perch 4. Hosting companies have widely updated to this version already, so this shouldn’t be a big problem for most customers. Crucially it enables Perch to lean on more modern third-party libraries in the ecosystem - from boring things like Markdown parsers to other boring things like connections to cloud storage APIs.

Importantly, a new licensing system will bring the first major change to how you manage your licenses and receive updates. More on that below.

Licensing changes

Right from the start, we offered Perch as a one-off license cost with free support and updates for the lifetime of that product. This worked well for managing your project costs, as the cost of the license could be rolled into the budget for producing the website. With a buoyant market with high demand for bespoke web design, that was fine. Happy customers come back for more licenses, which funds the ongoing development of the product.

What we’ve found over the ten years is that a CMS is actually more of a service than a product. You do of course buy a license for a copy of Perch, but with that is the expectation that improvements will be made and support will be given. If those didn’t happen, the initial purchase would feel like a bad deal.

As such, rather than viewing a CMS as part of the upfront costs of building a website, like you would for design work and template development, it’s actually more akin to the ongoing cost you have from web hosting.

Support and updates are an ongoing service. Customers of Perch 2.0 have been receiving updates to their licenses for seven years (including the free update to Perch 3) and while that represents exceptional value for money, it’s not a sustainable way to develop software.

Throw into the mix that a great many licenses are reused for a new project after an old one comes to an end, you can see that the model is overly generous and doesn’t enable us to reinvest in the product at the same rate as the product is rolled out on new sites.

To make sure we can dedicate developer time to supporting and updating the software, Perch 4 will be a charged upgrade and will include 12 months of support and updates. After those 12 months, if you wish to continue to receive updates and support, you’ll need to renew that contract at an additional cost, just as you’d renew your web hosting.

If you don’t wish to renew, you still keep the software you bought, but you just don’t get updates or support.

Coming this summer

We’re working on Perch 4 right now with a release targeted for this summer. Some parts are ready right away, such as the open documentation on GitHub.

We hope you’re as excited about the future of Perch as we are, and look forward to sending out some early builds to our Registered Developers in the coming weeks.

If you’d like to keep up to date, be sure to subscribe to the Perch Newsletter for all the latest developments.

Happy 10th birthday Perch!