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Gutenberg is here – what now?

If all went according to plan, WordPress version 5.0 was released yesterday. This version includes the new Gutenberg editor that I wrote about back in July. This completely redesigned editor has been the source of much controversy in the WordPress community. Those using it will need to learn an entirely new way of managing content on their sites, using a block oriented drag-and-drop system.

What to expect

If you go to your WordPress site as soon as 5.0 is released you’ll immediately notice…no change. Major releases are not installed automatically, so everything stays the same until you’re ready to upgrade.

My recommendation, and the path I will take for all of the WordPress sites that I manage, is to hold off on installing 5.0. I will wait until at least 5.0.1, which will fix any bugs that pop up early. These should be minor, as new WordPress versions go through an extensive testing process, using multiple beta versions and release candidates. Nevertheless, it’s best to see other people’s real world experiences before taking the plunge. I expect to upgrade within about 30 days.

How your site will change

A common misconception about Gutenberg is that it affects how your site’s theme is built. That may become true in the future but for now, the only change is to the way you edit pages and posts. Everything else, including widgets and the rest of the admin area, remains the same. A great collection of information and tutorials can be found at the Gutenberg Hub website.

What about all of your existing content? When you switch to Gutenberg, all of the existing content in pages and posts is imported into a special Gutenberg block called “Classic”. This block incorporates the classic WordPress editor, so it should look very familiar. You can continue working with your content within this block or use the “convert to blocks” option to have it split into multiple blocks.

A lot of effort has been put into making a smooth upgrade path, in which nothing breaks existing sites. However, I would still suggest doing a very thorough review of any site that has been upgraded.

If you don’t want to change

While everyone should be running the most current version of WordPress, not everyone wants to use Gutenberg. For this purpose, WordPress has created the “Classic Editor” plugin. When installed, this plugin retains the original TinyMCE editor that we’re all familiar with. It disables Gutenberg, leaving the editing experience completely unchanged. WordPress has committed to maintaining this plugin for “many years to come”.

Webdancers managed sites

All sites under management have had the Classic Editor installed and will continue to function exactly the same after v5 has been installed. We will phase in the change to Gutenberg for clients who want it, over the next several months. Services will include conversion of existing content to Gutenberg blocks, site review to ensure compatibility, and training. Please contact us if you have questions about the change to Gutenberg or any other site management issues.

Our philosophy: manage change, then embrace it.

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