On December 6, 2018, WordPress released version 5.0 (named “Bebo” in honor of pioneering Cuban jazz musician Bebo Valdés), bringing big changes to the WordPress editing experience.
Probably the biggest and possibly the most anticipated WordPress release ever, version 5.0 introduces a brand new post editor, called Gutenberg, which radically changes the way that WordPress users create content.
The Gutenberg Block Editor
With the new editor, named “Gutenberg” after Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of the movable printing press, version 5.0 introduces rich content creation to match competitor platforms such as SquareSpace and Wix, which offer effortless editing techniques.
Focused on content first, version 5.0 creates an enhanced content editing experience in a less cluttered environment. The new Gutenberg editor replaces the old WordPress TinyMCE editor, completely altering the post/page writing and editing experience. With changes to every aspect of the editor, including the look and behavior of the user interface, all of the features that you know and love are still there, but how you use them is rather different.
Gutenberg simplifies the editing process with the introduction of rich content building “blocks” that enable users at all levels to more easily build their pages and posts. These blocks can be used to quickly add and define page elements such as paragraphs, lists, quotes, headings, images, galleries, buttons and widgets – with each piece of content is added as its own movable and editable block.
With the release of version 5.0, Gutenberg is now the default editor, but the Classic Editor will be supported through 2021. If you prefer to continue working with WordPress the “old-fashioned” way, then you can install the Classic Editor plugin and switch back to classic mode.
The introduction of blocks allows users to simply drag and drop a block for the element that they want to add to the page or post that they are creating. If you want to add images, you just have to drag and drop them into an image block. Adding tables and editing columns will also be much easier using their respective block formats. Many types of blocks are available by default (including paragraph, heading, quote, image, and gallery blocks), with more being added every day. There are also various plugins available that can provide additional block options.
Twenty Nineteen: A new default theme built for Gutenberg
With version 5.0 also comes the release of Twenty Nineteen, a new theme designed to highlight the powerful features of the Gutenberg editor. Featuring custom styles for the new editing blocks, what you create in the editor is what you will see on the front-end of your site. An clean and uncluttered theme with lots of white space, modern sans-serif headlines and classic serif body text, Twenty Nineteen is versatile enough to work for a wide range of websites serving various audiences. Through the use of system fonts Twenty Nineteen also increases loading speeds. Moving forward, you will likely see changes in your other themes to match version 5.0 and make them compatible with Gutenberg.
With such a major release, it’s hard to say exactly how the upgrade to version 5.0 will affect every WordPress website. Plugins and themes are introducing changes to become more compatible with Gutenberg, and some may not even be compatible yet. Changes are still coming down the pipes for various plugins and themes, and it is important for website owners to be aware of the coming changes, and to prepare for them wherever possible. Be sure to test your plugins and themes to make sure that they work with Gutenberg, and if you find that any don’t, you should roll back the version until a more compatible release is made.
Should I upgrade now, or do I wait?
While some users will be anxious to install and experience version 5.0 right away, it really depends on your situation if you should apply the upgrade now, or wait until the new year. With this initial release, there will likely be bugs that show up, so there will be some patch releases coming that will make things more stable.
With the holidays coming up, and no certainty as to how the upgrade will affect your site, you may want to hold off until January 2019. Even if you don’t upgrade to version 5.0 right now, be assured that security updates will be available for older versions for some time to come, so your website will still be protected.
As with any upgrade, and especially a major one like 5.0, be sure to fully backup your website and database before you apply the new version. Once the upgrade is complete, go through your site methodically, reviewing all pages and testing all functions to make sure that everything is still working as expected.
Need help or have a question?
If you need help or have a question about upgrading your website to WordPress 5.0, we would love to hear from you. Please contact us anytime.