Each new WordPress version comes with a lot of exciting changes. However, few releases are as game-changing as WordPress 5.0. If you don’t know about this update yet, you have a lot of catching up to do.
The biggest upcoming change is the official addition of the Gutenberg editor. That’s the name of the new editing interface that’s at the core of WordPress 5.0, and it’s going to completely alter the way you use the Content Management System (CMS).
At the time of this writing, WordPress 5.0 is just around the corner. That’s why in this article, we’re going to talk about the changes this update is going to bring, and help you prepare for the release. Let’s get to it!
WHAT’S NEW IN WORDPRESS 5.0?
Gutenberg might get the most attention when people talk about WordPress 5.0, but it’s far from the only change this release brings to the table. First of all, this update marks a shift in the way the platform tackles releases.
It used to be that you would expect a couple of significant WordPress updates per year. Now, the team behind WordPress plans on reducing the quantity of updates, and making each one count for more. In other words, you can expect future versions of WordPress to be less frequent, but to bring more significant changes.
On top of that, WordPress is adapting the way users tackle content creation, in order to make the entire process easier for people with no experience. To do that, it’s moving in the same direction as website builders like Wix and Squarespace. Don’t worry, however – the platform will still offer a lot more features and flexibility than those competitors.
Finally, the WordPress 5.0 release will also bring some changes to the Rest API. This means that if you’re a developer, you’ll have an easier time building apps on top of the platform, which means we’ll probably see some exciting new projects soon.
WHAT IS GUTENBERG?
Now, we come to the core of WordPress 5.0. As we mentioned earlier, Gutenberg is the name of the new WordPress editor that will ship with this update. The core of the Gutenberg experience relies on ‘blocks’, which are pre-built elements you can place on a page or post via a drag-and-drop system.
The idea is that by giving you full control over which blocks you want to use and where to place them, you’ll be able to build content more intuitively. By making this change, the WordPress core team is hoping to keep the CMS competitive, and make it more appealing to new users.
Page-building tools are getting better and better every day, and lots of WordPress users already rely on them (via plugins). For some people, this shift provides a more user-friendly and flexible editing experience.
On the other hand, there’s been a lot of controversy around this radical change, and other people prefer the old editor. Fortunately, you can avoid using Gutenberg if you want, by installing the Classic Editor plugin.
WORDPRESS 5.0 RELEASE DATE
The WordPress 5.0 release date has kept everyone on their toes during 2018, as it’s been moved back multiple times. The hope was that it would be released during November 2018, but the update will likely not go live until December 2018 or January 2019.
Since there’s no knowing exactly when WordPress 5.0 will release, it’s best to stay on top of the latest news. You can do this by periodically checking the WordPress 5.0 Development Cycle page on the Make WordPress website.
HOW TO PREPARE FOR WORDPRESS 5.0
Although WordPress 5.0 isn’t out yet, you can still get acquainted with the new editor and prepare for the changes to your website. Let’s talk about how to get started!
STEP 1: BACK UP YOUR WORDPRESS SITE
Before you start playing around with the new editor, you’ll want to back up your website. If you’re a WP Engine user, you can do this by logging into your hosting dashboard, and following these steps:
- Select the account you want to back up from the Installs menu.
- Pick the Backup points option, and then choose Backup Now.
- Set a description for your backup (so you remember why you made it!) and click on Create production backup.
That’s it! Now you’ll be able to restore your site from the Backup Now screen, just in case anything goes wrong. If you’re not a WP Engine user, there are several other methods you can use to back up your website, both manually and by using plugins.
STEP 2: DOWNLOAD GUTENBERG
Next, you can head to the WordPress Plugin Directory and download the official Gutenberg plugin:
The plugin itself is still in beta, but at this point it includes most of the functionality that will be present in the final WordPress 5.0 release candidate. Therefore, you can expect the experience to be very similar. With that in mind, go ahead and install the plugin on your website.
STEP 3: CHECK YOUR PLUGINS & THEMES
Once Gutenberg is active, you’ll want to make sure it plays nicely with your active theme and plugins. As a rule of thumb, you may run into problems if you’re using any third-party tool that affects how the editor works.
Fortunately, a lot of popular WordPress plugins have already been updated with Gutenberg compatibility in mind. However, it still doesn’t hurt to make sure your website is working normally after activating the new editor. If some of your plugins and themes aren’t compatible, you might need to look for replacements.
STEP 4: UPDATE YOUR CURRENT CONTENT TO THE GUTENBERG MODEL (IF NEEDED)
As you might expect, there may be some issues with old posts and pages you built using the previous editor. After enabling Gutenberg, if you try to edit any of your previous content, it should open using the classic version of the editing interface.
In theory, therefore, all your content should still look the same. However, you can also convert those old posts and pages to the block system, so you can edit them using Gutenberg:
Keep in mind that you don’t have to do this for all your old content. If you have a large library, we recommend that you focus only on the posts you want to update, and leave the rest of your content as-is.
WORDPRESS 5.0 & THE DIGITAL EXPERIENCE
WordPress 5.0 will significantly change the way a lot of users interact with the CMS. However, if you take a peek below the hood of this update, you’ll find the core functionality that makes WordPress such a fantastic platform is all still there.