As of December 06, 2018, WordPress 5.0 “Bebo” is here! If you ignored all the other updates this year, now’s the time to buckle down and take notice as this is the biggest update for 2018. WordPress is completely revamping how users and developers use the CMS with their new Gutenberg editor. It’s now all about blocks. We also have a fresh Twenty Nineteen theme which is the default on new installations.
Update: What’s New in WordPress 5.3
As with any new version of WordPress, we always recommend testing. This might sound like a broken record, but because this release impacts everything from the editor, to third-party plugins, and even your theme, testing is not optional! If you don’t test, things could easily break. This is one release where you don’t want to just click that update button.
That being said, let’s dive into everything that’s new with WordPress 5.0 release.
WordPress 5.0 Changes Everything (What’s New)
With WordPress 4.8 (Evans) we got a multitude of new widgets and improvements, along with a handy improvement to how links work in the visual editor.
With WordPress 4.9 (Tipton) we saw a significant step toward a more user-centric way to customize and manage websites, with great improvements to the Customizer, new exciting functionalities to widgets, a powerful text editor for editing code.
Most of the past updates have been relatively minor and for a lot of us, didn’t impact us that much. WordPress 5.0 is different. Rather than adding minor improvements here and there, this release is entirely focused on the following two things:
- The new Gutenberg WordPress Editor
- Twenty Nineteen WordPress theme
Other than that, minor changes and bug fixes are only being looked at on a case-by-case basis. In reality, it’s all about Gutenberg. 📇
While at first, this might sound like there isn’t that much changing, but that couldn’t be further from the truth! Gutenberg is an attempt to push WordPress as a CMS forward in website building space. In fact, the WordPress team is planning on moving away from the old release cycle where we only get small updates to one where we’ll see bigger changes happening at once. However, they have also said the plan is to have a minor WordPress release twice a month now that WordPress 5.0 is released. You can check out what they have planned for Gutenberg Phase 2.
So what exactly is Gutenberg? The Gutenberg handbook does a great job at summarizing it:
Gutenberg began as a transformation of the WordPress editor — a new interface for adding, editing, and manipulating content. It seeks to make it easy for anyone to create rich, flexible content layouts with a block-based UI. All types of page components are represented as modular blocks, which means they can be accessed from a unified block menu, dropped anywhere on a page, and directly edited to create the custom presentation the user wants.
It is a fundamental modernization and transformation of how the WordPress experience works, creating new opportunities for both users and developers. Gutenberg introduces new frameworks, interaction patterns, functionality, and user experiences for WordPress…
In other words, in WordPress 5.0, you will no longer have the same classic WordPress editor or WordPress text editor that you’ve been used to using over the past decade. 😱 It’s now going to look like this:
In fact, you might have already seen a callout about it in your WordPress dashboard. This was added in the WordPress 4.9.8 minor release as a way to give users a heads up that this is really happening.
Gutenberg is the default and only editor on fresh WordPress 5.0 installations. Don’t worry, you can install the Classic Editor plugin if you want. This will allow you to continue using it alongside the new Gutenberg editor.
However, fair warning, the WordPress team has said that the Classic Editor plugin will only be officially supported until December 31, 2021. So we highly recommend diving into Gutenberg and WordPress 5.0 sooner than later.
Why is this happening? There are a couple of reasons.
1. WordPress Has to Compete
The first is that even though the self-hosted version of WordPress is open source, Automattic, the team behind WordPress.com is still a business. It needs to compete with all of these other website building solutions such as Wix and Squarespace. If you take a look at the WordPress market share, from 2017 to 2018, year-on-year growth is at around 17.3%. While that seems great, take a look at some of the competitors. Squarespace grew by 180% and Wix grew by 233%.
And while the open source project and the business are technically separate, they go hand in hand with each other. In other words, WordPress needs to catch up! Why do you think all the fancy page builder plugins are growing at an unbelievable rate? It’s because people need easier ways to build their websites and write content. Even other publishing platforms such as Medium and Ghost frankly have a much better writing experience if you’re just wanting to blog.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. After all, competition is what drives the product and community forward faster.
2. Needed a Rewrite
Because of how it is structured, it opens up a whole new world for developers in terms of “block development.” Remember, everything in Gutenberg is about blocks. So you’ll probably be hearing that term a lot.
But it can also complicate things as typically developers would need to learn new languages. However, thankfully, the WordPress community has come to rescue and there are great open source projects such as create-guten-block. Essentially this is a zero-configuration dev-toolkit (#0CJS) to develop WordPress Gutenberg blocks in a matter of minutes without configuring React, webpack, ES6/7/8/Next, ESLint, Babel, etc.
You’ll probably also want to check out the following:
You would think that with all of this, the aim would be to improve performance? While we hope this is the case, a lot of reports so far are indicating slower performance.
Note: Some of these should be taken with a grain of salt as the Gutenberg team has been pushing out a lot of updates. And now that WordPress 5.0 is officially here, you can expect a lot more to come.
The other downside to this is that most (not all) WordPress theme and plugins have to be rewritten to work with Gutenberg. Mainly those that interact with the WordPress editor. Yoast SEO is a great example of a WordPress plugin developer that jumped on board really quick! They pushed out their first Gutenberg update back in July 2017, and have been releasing new ones ever since. Even though they were first worried about accessibility. The WordPress team has now issued a statement regarding accessibility in Gutenberg.
If you want to dive into all of the features of Gutenberg and really see how it works, check out our deep dive into the Gutenberg WordPress editor.
If you’re not ready yet you can delay this change by disabling the Gutenberg WordPress editor.
Twenty Nineteen Theme
WordPress 5.0 also includes the new minimal Twenty Nineteen theme. It is shipping with full Gutenberg support, both on the front and back-end. We’ll be covering this theme more in-depth in an upcoming post. 😉
What the Community Thinks of Gutenberg
With WordPress powering over 32% of all websites on the internet, any major change like this is bound to cause some controversy. After all, let’s be honest, the WordPress editor really hasn’t changed much at all in the past decade.
If you take a look at the Gutenberg WordPress plugin, with over 700,000 active installations, it has a rating of 2.3 out of 5-stars. With a whopping 900+ 1 -star ratings. While this doesn’t look good, it’s important to realize that people have been rating Gutenberg ever since it was in beta. Also, with such a huge change, there are bound to be some reviews from users who are simply resistant to change.
We took a poll on Twitter to see what users think of Gutenberg right now. With over 450 votes, 42% say they haven’t used it much and therefore don’t really have an opinion either way. With WordPress 5.0 and Gutenberg quickly approaching this is kind of scary in itself. Another 28% say they hate it, 19% say they love it, and 11% say it’s growing on them.
We want to know, what do you think about the new #Gutenberg WordPress editor? Read more: https://t.co/bkJvrMmfNE
— Kinsta (@kinsta) October 23, 2018
Ian from Declious Brains also has a very good post where he shares a lot of valid concerns for Gutenberg. No matter how you look it, due to the fact that WordPress is pushing all of these new languages and technologies, sites, when upgraded to WordPress 5.0, are simply going to break. There is no preventing it. Unless every single plugin and theme you’re using has been fully updated, which in most cases it hasn’t, you might be in for a world of hurt when it comes to troubleshooting.
And who does this impact the most? Agencies, freelancers, and developers. Which is why this big of an update might have you concerned.
If all that isn’t enough, ClassicPress has emerged. This is a hard fork of WordPress (without Gutenberg) that serves the CMS-based business website market. The concern here is are we going to start to fragment? Even their team doesn’t know yet how they will handle plugin and theme compatibility yet. Either way, this is definitely an interesting project to keep an eye on.
Official WordPress 5.0 Release Date
So now the question you probably all have, when is WordPress 5.0 coming out? The WordPress core team originally set a target release date of November 19, 2018. However, this was a tentative date.
As of December 6th, 2018, WordPress 5.0 is now officially here!
If you’re working with clients running on WordPress this is something to keep in mind. You can, of course, install the Classic Editor or simply put off updating until later.
Either way, you should have a game plan for the holidays. The last thing you want is your client calling you up complaining about their site being broken after they upgrade to WordPress 5.0.
How to Get Ready and Update to WordPress 5.0
We can’t stress enough how important testing WordPress 5.0 and Gutenberg is. You really need to make sure all of your plugins and theme are going to work properly. If you have a custom built solution, make sure to start reaching out to a WordPress developer to get it updated. This is not something your WordPress host will be able to fix for you.
It’s important to note, that unless you have specifically configured WordPress to auto-update major releases, you will have to manually update to WordPress 5.0. By default, WordPress only auto-dates minor releases in its own branch, like 4.9.7 to 4.9.8, not major releases like 4.9.8 to 5.0.
Kinsta also doesn’t force major updates.
WordPress 5.0 and WooCommerce
WooCommerce has released an official statement regarding the release of WordPress 5.0. If you’re running WooCommerce, make sure to update to WooCommerce 3.5.1+ before updating to WordPress 5.0 to avoid breaking changes.
WordPress 5.0 and Plugins
The team over at Yoast is consistently pushing out new features, bug fixes, and improvements for Yoast SEO and Gutenberg compatibility. We highly recommend updating to the latest version (version 9.2.0 was released on November 20th) before updating to WordPress 5.0.
1. Create a Staging Environment
WordPress 5.0 and Gutenberg is the biggest update to WordPress that we’ve had in a long time. It affects everyone, from how users interact with the editor and write content, to how developers code plugins and themes. Only time will tell how successful the Gutenberg project is. But no matter what, we encourage everyone to test WordPress 5.0 on a staging environment before upgrading.
Have any thoughts regarding WordPress 5.0 or Gutenberg? We’d love to hear what you think about it.
Another great article.
I’ve been using Gutenberg since 3.8 was realeased and I totally embraced it.
I like it too much 🙂
Can all of this Gutenberg stuff be avoided if we just install the Classic editor plugin and continue as before?
Yes, it can, but don’t expect the WordPress core team to keep updating the Classic Editor forever. It’s only a temporary solution.
The Gutember editor sucks!
i think we all lost something with this update, is all but practical. Come on WordPress devs, every update should be to help users not to create more isssues.
Rather than adding minor improvements “here and there here and there”
, this release is entirely focused on the following two things:
Hey Mark! Hmmm seems like we need a new editor lol. This isn’t the first time Chrome and WordPress editor has copied/duplicated sentences. Appreciate the heads up. It’s been fixed.
I’m glad I helped.
I’ve read every single article in the last year. You are one of the best WP blogs.
And yes, I’m following your website, which is very fast ;))
Thanks Kinsta/Brian, and good luck.
I would probably not update to WordPress 5.0 then…my site is running perfectly with all the plugins etc… I would only update if there is a PROVED increase in performances which is not so.. WordPress 4.9 <3
I do agree 5.0.1 sucks
Why is Gutenberg saving the entire structure(even html) of its blocks in the field post_content defined as “longtext” ?
Could this have some long-term performance issues ?
Thank you for sharing the updated features included in wordpress 5. Really appreciate your efforts.
Keep up the good work.
I’ve asked this elsewhere but will say it again: Is anyone stopping to ask if there are any downsides to enabling every human being to build a website rock-cheap?
I’ve thought about what I’ve seen in online advertising, creative tools and the internet. We rail against the intrusive, boring ads without considering that that is the unintended consequence of enabling anyone with a free-to-get design program and first grade internet skills to create and publish ads. I have lived long enough to remember the days when ad creation was a science and art and the purview of those skilled in their field of psychology, group communication, graphic design, illustration.
As with the advent of the 24-7 news channel, the result has not been the anticipated increase in something excellent being delivered. The need for more revenue to feed a larger beast has led away from Morrow and Cronkite’s tablespoon of clear, even-toned news in the morning and again at night to a daily barrage that gets louder and louder and more annoying.
University degrees have lost their luster. With everyone going to college more than naught, the accessibility also has had a price tag of diluting the value of the bachelor’s degree. There are many reasons but let’s just say that no matter what the example, the choice to serve everyone no matter what the skill level, the choice to enable everyone to “do something” … that choice to be on all the time.. or on everywhere… these “totality” decisions do not have a record of good results.
So, I ask again: Is there a downside to yet another Wix that enables everyone to build a website for pennies.
Let’s see, major new WordPress release, radically different editor, EOL for php5 all at once, each with the potential to break plugins… I’ll be counting the unbillable hours :-(
I think I’ll turn off auto update for WordPress core then sit back and monitor all the forums once this all goes down.
ps. Cynthia, my answer to your question is an emphatic yes.
Based on my experience, I wouldn’t recommend Atomic Blocks if you’re a theme developer that will need to override or customize things.
They do a lot of things that are non-standard and seem use non-standard Gutenberg components to do it.
For instance, all block styles are applied directly to the element using the `style` attribute, which is a nightmare.
Their color picker doesn’t seem to follow along with colors set in the theme settings like the built-in Gutenberg color picker does.
There are a bunch of other issues that I ran into which finally made me decide to remove it completely.
Instead, I’d recommend Kadence Blocks.
This plugin seems to do a much better job of going along with the Gutenberg standards, as well as just generally following other web development best-practices.
Bad as in Battenburg. Trying to make wordpress for simpletons makes it absolutely useless for the vast majority of professional wordpress users.
Update to version 5 but make sure you install the classic editor plug in to continue using the old editor. 600,000 people have already installed this plugin.
Big big mistake by wordpress. And more so because of the effort they have invested to produce the Guttenburg editor.
Playing with WordPress 5 for the first time and looking over the Guttenburg editor. Has anyone noticed the huge pile of crap that gets loaded into the of the page now? Including stylesheets and other styles with !important declarations. What a mess. I’m not against Guttenburg per se, but it seems to have been fairly poorly implemented.
I tried the columns block and it breaks at certain screen sizes in the 2019 theme. Yuck.
I guess I am glad professional web designers and developers are still needed to make quality websites, but I am wondering how we strip this extra crap out (adding the classic editor does not actually keep your wordpress site from loading 5 piles of crap you don’t need), without forking the project.
You may think it’s probably time to bid adieu to the WordPress classic editor, after the new Gutenberg editor. However, the good ol’ classic editor will become a plugin that can be used by anyone who is interested.
Honestly … with Gutenberg, we returned in 24 June 1400.
There are very very much superior tools for technology and usability …
Almost step to ClassicPress.
thank you so much
Thank you to everyone who’s suggested the Classic Editor plugin. I much prefer that to the new Gutenberg Editor which is a right load of dog-poop!
In life, NEVER force anything on anyone. ALWAYS give an option!!!!