Last year Matt Mullenweg announced that WordPress version 5.0 would ship with Gutenberg; Gutenberg is the new Visual Editor for WordPress that will replace the old TinyMCE interface. This radical new design will give WordPress a whole new look and feel when using the software to write content.
When people use terms like radical it often can cause worry, “how will this effect me and my clients?” being the number one question. There is no doubt the new editor is different and will take many people by surprise. It is however intuitive and a very positive step to providing a more visually appealing interface.
Across our hosting packages, we have 10s of thousands of WordPress installs, and when WordPress 5.0 hits we will be ramping up our efforts to support clients during the transition. This post is going to cover some of the things we will be doing on our Managed WordPress Hosting during the transition.
The next minor release for WordPress will have a callout within the dashboard, asking people to try the Gutenberg plugin on their sites. For all clients on our WordPress Hosting, you will see a slightly different message. Instead of suggesting you try it on your sites, it will prompt you to try it on your staging sites. If you haven’t created one we will guide you through the process of setting one up.
This will allow you to test Gutenberg safely without worrying about breaking your site or confusing your existing users. You can, of course, install it on your live site as well at any time and we already have clients using Gutenberg on our hosting already.
By default, the WordPress Hosting automatically updates sites to the latest version as they are released. People have the option to defer updates by up to 14 days but the hosting policy is always to stay as up to date as possible. With WordPress 5.0 we will continue to do this, so sites will automatically update to 5.0 on release. However, as WordPress 5.0 is not a normal release we are going to take some extra steps.
On the day before WordPress 5.0 is released, we will go through all sites on the hosting and check if the site has the Gutenberg plugin installed. If a site has the plugin installed we will do nothing.
If the site doesn’t have Gutenberg installed we will install the “Classic Editor plugin” and activate it. The classic editor plugin keeps the existing editor and suppresses Gutenberg editor. You can still use the Gutenberg interface, you will just see the Classic editor by default. Without this plugin, the normal editor is no more and not accessible.
We will then update as normal, so from our clients perspective the move to WordPress 5.0 should be the same as any other and little has changed other than an additional plugin. Following on a new notice will appear in the dashboard, encouraging turning off of the classic editor.
Gutenberg plugins and themes
The new editor will affect a lot of plugins, some will need an update as soon as it is released, others will encourage people to downgrade. Our advice is NEVER to downgrade WordPress. If a plugin suggests this is the only option, you should always seek alternative plugins. Keeping your WordPress installation up to date is critical in ensuring your site’s security.
Where possible test your site, plugins and themes on a staging site; because of the potential issues with plugins we are encouraging all clients who have production and staging site, to use the “defer” plugins option on staging and setting it to 24 hours and testing updates on staging first at least for a few weeks after WordPress 5.0.
For new sites on the WordPress Hosting, they will be installed without the classic editor, it will be up to the client if they wish to install it.
Other hosting platforms
Our Universal, Professional and Reseller packages will not automatically update to WordPress 5.0; unless of course you are using a 3rd party service that automatically updates your sites. When you do update to version 5.0 unless you have installed the Classic Editor plugin you will automatically have the new Gutenberg editor enabled at this time. If you haven’t already done so, now is a great time to try our WordPress Hosting and make use of the staging options to help prepare for the update.
We tend to fear change, and the new editor is probably one of the biggest changes to WordPress in the last few years but it is a positive one. WordPress 5.0 is looking to be a cracking release, and while there is no formal ETA for it, the 4.9.8 is due late July.