Gutenberg Is Coming

04/12/2018 UPDATE: WordPress CEO Matt Mullenweg has confirmed that WordPress 5.0 is now due to launch on Thursday 6th December 2018.

27/11/2018 UPDATE: The launch date of WordPress 5.0 has been rescheduled again, to an as-yet unnanounced date. We will of course keep our customers updated as soon as we know more.

At the next major WordPress update, from 4.9.x to version 5.0, there will be some significant and noticeable changes to the way WordPress looks and feels.

In this post Reedsmore’s senior consultant Rob Taylor explains what you need to know about the key changes, the reasons behind them and when you can expect them to arrive on your site.

When Will WordPress Update to 5.0?

The launch date of WordPress 5.0 is currently Tuesday November 27th 2018. For various reasons – including design issues and Black Friday – the release has been pushed back from the previous planned date of November 19th.

What’s Happening?

WordPress is upgrading its core editor. At the moment, when you add a new page or post to your WordPress website, the editor looks like a fairly simple and straightforward word processor: A big, white space below a toolbar of buttons for things like making text bold or italic, inserting images, justifying text and so on.

WordPress's classic visual editor.
WordPress’s classic visual editor.

In WordPress 5.0 onwards, this editor will be replaced by a block editor called Gutenberg, named after Johannes Gutenberg, inventor of the movable-type printing press.

Composing in the new block editor.
This post being composed in the new block editor.

If you’ve logged into your WordPress site recently, you may have already seen a prompt to install Gutenberg as a plugin, and also to install the Classic Editor plugin in case you don’t immediately get on with Gutenberg.

To ensure a smooth transition to the new WordPress editor, I strongly recommend you install and activate both of these plugins right away.

Why The Change?

As the needs and wants of WordPress users have grown from simple text-based blogging to media-rich column-and-row layouts, the current editor has remained limited in what it can achieve on its own.

Gutenberg’s block editor gives even casual users the power to make their posts and pages shine. For example, in the old editor, if you wanted to create a full-width image with text over the top, you could only do this by using a third-party plugin, or by adding your own code.

Gutenberg’s block editor now allows you to easily select a background image, make it fill the full width of the screen and type and position your text over it in whatever font and colour you choose. No extra plugins and no coding required.

What Does  This Mean For Me?

At the front end of your site, nothing will change. When the update is installed, all of your existing pages and posts should look and function exactly as they do now.

Getting started with creating new pages and posts in the new block editor is easy. All you need to do is start typing. However, getting used to the new editor will take some time so, as it’s more powerful than the classic editor, I recommend you spend some time creating draft posts, exploring the new functions available and the new ways of doing routine things. 

What Could Go Wrong?

It’s unlikely, but if anything on the front end of your site does appear to change or not function correctly, this will probably be due to third party plugins having not been sufficiently updated to be compatible with Gutenberg.

Throughout 2018, the WordPress team, along with authors of major plugins, have been testing the new editor to ensure that everything plays nicely together. At Reedsmore, we’ve also been testing the latest beta version of WordPress 5.0 with various common setups to learn what, if any, problems you may encounter.

As far as it’s possible to tell from the latest beta version of WordPress 5.0, all the plugins which Reedsmore installs as standard on the sites of our managed hosting clients are fully compatible with WordPress 5.0.

If I Don’t Like Gutenberg Can I Change Back?

It’s never a good idea to cling onto an outdated version of any software, which is why Reedsmore checks for and installs updates to all of our clients’ sites every single day.

However, learning new stuff does take time and you may not be able to immediately get to grips with the new setup. There may also be elements on your existing pages which look fine on the front end, but suddenly become difficult to change in the new editor.

To ensure that you can edit your existing pages in the way you know how, and continue to hammer out posts as rapidly as you do now, until you have a chance to get used to Gutenberg’s new block editor I highly recommend installing and activating the Classic Editor plugin, if you haven’t got it already.

With this installed, you will be able to choose between editing a page in the new default block editor and editing in the classic editor.

SiteOrigin Page Builder

Many of the sites we manage make use of the Page Builder plugin by SiteOrigin. To edit the content or layout of an existing page using Page Builder, you will need to choose the classic editor option.

Classic editor plugin.

To install the Classic Editor plugin:

  1. Log into your WordPress dashboard.
  2. Go to Plugins > Add New.
  3. If necessary, search for Classic Editor. It looks like the image above.
  4. Click the Install button in the top right hand corner.
  5. Wait for a moment while the plugin installs.
  6. When the install button changes to Activate, click it.

Can Reedsmore Help If Things Go Wrong?

Yes we can. Just get in touch.

However, please remember that Reedsmore has no control over changes to the software created and maintained by third party suppliers, or their associated terms and conditions. This includes WordPress, any plugins and any changes you may have made to WordPress yourself.

Reedsmore therefore cannot be held liable for any problems you may have with compatibility of any third-party plugins with WordPress.

While we’re always glad to assist, please also remember that “How do I…?” support is not included in any of Reedsmore’s managed hosting packages. Any tutorial assistance you require will be billable in half-hour increments at our standard hourly rate.

Where Can I Find Out More?

If you haven’t done so already, you can install the Gutenberg plugin to your site and get started right away. Even with this installed you can still opt to use the Classic editor, so installing Gutenberg is not a leap in the dark.

For a good overview and a chance to play with the block editor, visit https://wordpress.org/gutenberg/

For a more academic breakdown of the details and differences, see https://wordpress.org/gutenberg/handbook/

Reedsmore provides marketing solutions including managed hosting, site design and website refresh services.

To find out how we can help you sell bigger, sell faster and sell more, contact us today.