It was recently announced that WordPress 5, which includes the new Gutenberg editor is coming December 6, 2018….Already here now as it’s December 8! Even though many developers feel the release should be postponed until January, others are ready for it. One group in particular I feel are not aware of Gutenberg are the end-users. But more on this in a moment.
WordPress 5 is the start of a new phase for the future of WordPress because this will be the most significant change in years. The biggest change will of course be the inclusion of the Gutenberg editor, a very controversial project of Matt Mullenweg. To say it has caused a few ripples is an understatement as it has definitely become a big topic of discussion with lots of criticism within the WordPress community.
It’s really not so much that we are about to venture into WordPress 5, it’s more about the fact Gutenberg is about to become the default editor. The sentiment is that the release of Gutenberg is too soon and needs to be delayed until January. There are many who also feel it should not even be built into the core of WordPress and should be kept as a plugin option.
However, with WordPress 5, you will still get lots of improvements, including a new default theme called Twenty Nineteen. Most of the improvements are behind-the-scenes, so I will spare you the technical stuff, but this is a step into the next level of WordPress. Wait until you start hearing about phase 2 and what changes will come of that. I will give you a hint…it very well could be the end of “widgets”.
WordPress Sites Now Using Gutenberg
I’m sure the majority of the development community is aware of Gutenberg, it’s the typical end-user that is not. People are too busy running their blog and do not pay much attention to the ramblings from core development. With WordPress reporting more than 1.1 million sites have already updated their website to the Gutenberg editor. Apparently users have written more than 980,000 posts using the new editor. However, the plugin page states otherwise as it currently shows 700,000+ active installs on the plugin’s page. This means it’s less than the 1.1 million claimed. Considering the massive user-base of WordPress sites being in the 10’s of millions, this is only a fraction of it. I know that sounds pessimistic, but it’s a fact when you consider some of the stats. According to an article on the Codeinwp website, they listed the total number of sites using WordPress at 19.5 million, but I remember seeing 22.2 million on another site. Either way, that’s a lot! The big question though is how many of these website owners know about Gutenberg?
Gutenberg vs Classic – Be Prepared!
Matt Mullenweg addressed the question that many have “What if I want to upgrade but I’m not ready for Gutenberg?”. With WordPress 5 coming in just a couple of days, you have the choice of using the Classic Editor plugin instead. For a while now, you might have seen a message in your admin area that mentioned the new editor and gives you two buttons to click on. One was allows you to try out the Gutenberg editor and the other is to install the Classic editor.
The button for the Classic editor is to prepare yourself when WordPress 5 is released if you don’t want to use Gutenberg. Remember that your classic editor is NOT going to be around anymore. According to Matt, the Classic Editor is supported until the year 2022. You will also be able to switch between Classic and Gutenberg on a per-user or per-post level. In a nutshell, this gives you about 3 years to transition to Gutenberg. Although it’s unknown if “until 2022” means that it includes the year 2022 or up to 2022.
Get the Classic Editor Before Updating to WordPress 5
If you have decided you do not want to use the new Gutenberg editor, I recommend you install the Classic Editor plugin. Don’t depend on your current editor that you’ve been using to exist once you move into WordPress 5 because it won’t be there. You can download the Classic Editor and install it so that if you accept version 5 of WordPress, your familiar editor will be there waiting for you.
WordPress 5 is coming on December 6, 2018, which is just a couple days away! I can only hope that the millions of websites using WordPress will be OK when users log in to write or edit a post. I’m sure many will be shocked to discover their editor is not there. For plugin and theme developers, I would certainly hope they are aware of Gutenberg and prepared themselves.
I know for myself as a theme developer, I started prepping for this day a while back. With my new site Rough Pixels now open for business, I started with a new theme called Salal which is built with Gutenberg support. All themes at Rough Pixels will be build to accommodate both the Gutenberg and Classic editor; you get the choice.
The key to success with WordPress 5 and beyond is to adapt as developers. You may not like it, but this is the start of a new direction for WordPress—good or bad. I know for myself, my personal blog will stay on WordPress and will use the Classic editor.
ClassicPress – WordPress that isn’t WordPress
One quick final note about WordPress, where it’s going in the future, and how Gutenberg is going to play a big part, you have an option to move to a new concept that is called ClassicPress. This is a fork of WordPress, but without anything associated with Gutenberg. They have plans to take ClassicPress to a different direction, but it’s geared towards users who want to stay with WordPress, but not technically with WordPress.