Just a friendly warning message from your neighbourhood web developer – about the upcoming release of WordPress 5.0.
WordPress will be releasing 5.0 sometime this spring or summer. It’s their first major release in a few years and there are some BIG changes.
The biggest change is that the basic editor – the one you use when you’re creating a new post or page, or editing an existing post or page – is changing. This new editor is called Gutenburg.
Gutenburg is based on visual blocks. It wants to break your content into special block areas that have custom formatting. That’s exciting because it will be easy to create stunning pages with a sleek, modern look, without having to know a lot of code.
But one problem is that many existing themes do not work with the Gutenburg editor.
The Gutenburg editor adds lots of fancy shortcodes and new, custom tags to your content, and if your theme doesn’t know what to do with them, it can get ugly!
Since 5.0 has not been officially released yet, it’s hard to know exactly what is going to happen when it comes out. It’s likely there will be a bit of a mad scramble among developers to fix themes and websites ASAP. But there will definitely be a transition time when your site might be affected, and look wonky.
So, what should you do?
If you usually run your own site software updates, watch for the release of WordPress 5.0 – and then wait. Wait to make sure the release is stable and doesn’t contain any critical bugs; if you can, check your theme to see if there are known problems or conflicts.
If you do decide to update to 5.0, check the whole site after the update. The good news is that WordPress is great with backwards compatibility, so anything existing on the site (pages and posts) should be fine – but it’s always a good idea to check everything, just to make sure. Be sure to check your forms (contact, mailing list subscription) and any special functionality, too.
If you do update to 5.0, chances are good your theme won’t be Gutenburg-ready yet – so try to avoid using the Gutenburg editor right away. Details are sketchy at this time, but developers are guessing that Gutenburg will be loaded by default when you open a new post/page, or edit an existing post/page. We hope that there will be an option to use the old editor (called TinyMCE) instead. We’re not sure what that will look like!, but hopefully it will be an obvious button or tab – so if you can use the old editor instead, do that until you’re sure your theme is up to date for Gutenburg.
After upgrading to 5.0, update your theme files as soon as you can – likely they contain updates and fixes for WordPress 5.0.
Since this is a major update to WordPress, it’s always best to just sit back and do nothing for a while – until the dust settles and we see what the consequences are.
If you do update to WordPress 5.0 though, be prepared to see a new editing experience – and if your site goes a little sideways, we can find a way to fix it.
Please feel free to get in touch with me if you have any questions or concerns.