WordPress version 5.0 is due out in November. With this update comes one of the biggest changes to the WordPress core for many years — a brand new editor — named, Gutenberg.
Update: the release of WordPress 5.0 has been postponed to Tuesday, November 27th.
To say that the discussion around Gutenberg has been controversial, would be a huge understatement. The debate has been intense, with some vehemently opposed to it’s mere existence. The WordPress.org Gutenberg review ratings, say it all:
To be fair, many of those 1-star ratings are from the early days of Gutenberg development — it has come along way since then and many that were against it have since come around. However, there are still many opponents, and many more nervous developers — expecting the worst — like some kind of WordPress-meets-Y2K.
Much of the remaining concern is around the fact that Gutenberg is being forced upon WordPress users. There’s no option — when you install WordPress 5.0 — you get Gutenberg. If you want to stick with the Classic Editor, you need to install a plugin (more on that later). Also, the fact remains — when upgrading to WordPress 5.0 — many sites, particularly those with page builders and custom metaboxes may suffer some loss of functionality, or completely break.
Why So Quiet?
WP NET has intentionally stayed quiet about Gutenberg. We thought much of the commotion was premature, and a lot of the early objections and panicked reactions have now been resolved or addressed. Now, here we are in late October and Gutenberg (currently available as a plugin) is nearly here. WordPress 5.0 is currently due for release on November 27.
Our Thoughts On Gutenberg
Here’s a few points from WP NET, on Gutenberg:
- The current WordPress editor is desperately overdue for an update. To compete with site builders such as Wix and Squarespace, WordPress must evolve.
- The current editor is really, really old and not very intuitive. Ever tried explaining shortcodes to a client?
- If we can put the compatibility and other issues aside for a moment — the Gutenberg editor is fantastic. It’s fast, easy to use and makes the WordPress editing experience feel “modern”.
- While Gutenberg is not a page builder — such as Composer, Beaver Builder, Divi or Elementor — many are still confused as to how the two will co-exist on a WordPress site (and rightly so).
- When WordPress 5.0 is released, many sites will break, or experience problems of some sort. Website managers and developers will have a headache for some time.
At WP NET, we look after hundreds of WordPress sites and our top priority is keeping our customer’s sites secure and operational. While we do support the Gutenberg initiative and think that it will be good for WordPress, we do have our reservations about the release strategy.
We think that when upgrading to WordPress 5.0, switching to Gutenberg should be optional. For fresh installs, Gutenberg could be enabled by default, with a simple option to switch back to the Classic Editor. Why not just keep Gutenberg and the Classic Editor in core, and let users decide which one to use? Once the user community, plugin and theme authors have gotten used to Gutenberg, then look at retiring the Classic Editor. Obviously, the WordPress creators don’t share this view (and they have some pretty good reasons), so .. we must prepare.
WP NET WordPress 5.0 Release Strategy
Prior to the release of WordPress 5.0 we will install and activate the Classic Editor plugin on all WP NET Managed WordPress sites
- On WordPress versions earlier than 5.0, the Classic Editor will have no effect.
- The default setting for the Classic Editor is to replace Gutenberg with the Classic Editor
- On WordPress 4.9.x, if you have the Gutenberg plugin installed and activated, the Classic Editor plugin will render Gutenberg inactive.
- On WordPress 5.x, the Classic Editor plugin will render the Block editor (Gutenberg) inactive.
Upon release of WordPress 5.0, WP NET will not automatically upgrade customer’s websites
- Depending on the results of our internal testing, WP NET will most likely hold off updating customer’s websites until the release of version 5.0.1. This is our standard policy.
- Customers are welcome to update to WordPress 5.0 at any time. However, please take some time to read and learn about Gutenberg (see below) and check whether your theme and plugins support Gutenberg. If you do upgrade to WordPress 5.0, we recommend leaving the Classic Editor plugin installed and setting the option to “Use the Block editor by default…” (see below).
Once we are happy with the stability of WordPress 5.x, we will deploy it for all WP NET Managed WordPress sites
- This will likely be some time after the release of WordPress 5.0.1, but is dependent on testing and customer’s response to the Block editor.
The Classic Editor Plugin
The Classic Editor plugin simply let’s you use Gutenberg or the Classic Editor. You can switch between the two at any time, or disable Gutenberg completely. The default setting for the Classic Editor (since version 0.4) is “Replace the Block editor (Gutenberg) with the Classic editor”:
With the Classic Editor plugin set as per above, there is simply no trace of the Block editor. The editing experience should be identical to earlier versions of WordPress.
If you change the setting to “Use the Block editor by default and include optional links back to the Classic Editor”, you’ll see changes to the Posts / Pages lists, allowing you to choose which editor you use:
Read More About Gutenberg
Here’s a few comprehensive, well-balanced articles about Gutenberg, how it works and how to prepare:
- Diving Into the New Gutenberg WordPress Editor (Pros and Cons)
- What’s New in WordPress 5.0 (How to Prepare for Gutenberg)
- WHAT DOES THE WORDPRESS COMMUNITY THINK OF THE GUTENBERG EDITOR? – A REVIEW ROUNDUP
- A beginners guide to Gutenberg
Gutenberg-ready Themes and Plugins
Here’s a few themes and plugins that are blazing a trail and embracing Gutenberg. Check ’em out.
- Elementor Blocks for Gutenberg
- Introducing ACF Blocks for Gutenberg
- 8 Best Gutenberg Editor Blocks plugins
If you’re a WP NET customer and have any questions or concerns about WordPress 5.0 and Gutenberg, please get in touch by opening a support ticket.