The release date for WordPress 5.0 is quickly approaching although it has been delayed from 19th November to 27th November and there is a chance that it could be delayed until the new year.
What’s happening in WordPress Version 5
The biggest change that we will see is a complete revamp of the content editor into what is called the Gutenberg Editor.
What exactly is Gutenberg?
It is essentially a block based editor and the Gutenberg handbook does a great job at describing it:
Gutenberg began as a transformation of the WordPress editor — a new interface for adding, editing, and manipulating content. It seeks to make it easy for anyone to create rich, flexible content layouts with a block-based UI. All types of page components are represented as modular blocks, which means they can be accessed from a unified block menu, dropped anywhere on a page, and directly edited to create the custom presentation the user wants.
It is a fundamental modernization and transformation of how the WordPress experience works, creating new opportunities for both users and developers. Gutenberg introduces new frameworks, interaction patterns, functionality, and user experiences for WordPress. And similar to a new macOS version, we will talk about “Gutenberg”, and all the new possibilities it enables, until eventually the idea of Gutenberg as a separate entity will fade and it will simply be WordPress.
In other words, in WordPress 5.0, you will no longer have the classic editor that you’ve been used to using over the past decade. It’s now going to look like this:
Gutenberg is the default and only editor on fresh WordPress 5.0 installations.
How to Get Ready and Update to WordPress 5.0
The first thing to point out is that you can essentially deactivate Gutenberg by installing the Classic Editor Plugin . However, the WordPress team has said that the Classic Editor plugin will only be officially supported until December 31, 2021. So it is better to dive into Gutenberg and WordPress 5.0 sooner than later.
It is important to test WordPress 5.0 and Gutenberg. You need to make sure all of your plugins and theme are going to work properly. If you have a custom built solution, then you may need to reach out to a WordPress developer to get it updated. This is not something your WordPress host will be able to fix for you.
If you are on a website maintenance and support plan with a WordPress agency or developer then ask them what their plan is to get your website updated to version 5.
If you look after your WordPress site updates then you can download and install the Gutenberg Plugin ahead of time but it is best to do this on a staging site or if this is not possible then make sure you take a backup of your site first.
Let’s look at the steps you should take:
1. Take a Backup of Your WordPress site
It is important to take a backup of your entire site before updating to version 5 or installing the Gutenberg Editor. There are many backup options available or your hosting provider may provide one.
2. Download the Gutenberg Plugin
Even though WordPress 5.0 isn’t out yet, it’s essentially made up of the Gutenberg plugin which you can install right now and start testing. Or if you want to test everything you can grab the WordPress 5.0 Beta 3. Just don’t run this on production.
Install the plugin by from your WordPress dashboard under “Add New” plugins.
Once installed you can add new posts or pages and try out the editor. There is a demo page which demonstrates the different blocks. I have published it on this site so you see what a post created with Gutenberg looks like.
3. Check Plugins and Themes
As part of your testing with Gutenberg, you’ll want to make sure that all of your third-party plugins and theme work with Gutenberg. Anything that interacts with the WordPress editor will most likely be affected. Yoast SEO is a good example as it has custom meta boxes. Advance Custom Fields would be another one.
Check with the developers of your plugins and theme. Many have started announcing Gutenberg support or when they will have it.
What Happens to Current Content?
What happens to the content you created in the classic editor when opened in the new Gutenberg editor? Basically, the entire post will show up as one TinyMCE editor box. This to preserve the content format of all of your posts and pages.
To take advantage of the Gutenberg editor, you can select the option to “Convert to Blocks.”
4. Update to WordPress 5.0
Depending on your hosting provider, your website might automatically update to WordPress 5.0 after it’s released. Once released it will available via the WordPress admin dashboard.
How we have prepared for Gutenberg
At Purple Hippo we support a number of client’s websites. We will initially install the classic editor and update all sites to version 5 when released.
Then we will install and test Gutenberg in a staging area for each clients’ website. Once we have ensured that all plugins are compatible we will update the live sites and support our clients with using the new editor.
WordPress 5.0 and Gutenberg is the biggest update to WordPress that we’ve had in a long time. It affects everyone, from how users interact with the editor and write content, to how developers code plugins and themes.
I think it has a lot of positive points and will make it easier for clients to add content to default posts and pages. The challenge will be with how existing plugins such as Advanced Custom Fields and Beaver Builder (both of which we use) will work alongside Gutenberg. The developers of these plugins are committed to integrating with Gutenberg but only time will tell how successful the Gutenberg project is.