If you hadn’t noticed, December is usually a notorious time for WordPress folks. Apart from the excitement for WordCamp US, we have to contend with major WordPress updates (Gutenberg editor, anyone?) That’s right, just before the holiday season!
The Release Date
This year, however, was particularly controversial. On December 3rd, 2018, it was announced quite suddenly that the often delayed WordPress 5.0 rollout along with the infamous Gutenberg editor was due – in just 3 days. On 6th December 2018, WordPress 5.0 and Gutenberg editor was to be released. Apart from these PHP 7.3 was also going to be released on the same day.
The WordPress Community
In the ensuing panic, everyone in the tight-knit WordPress came together to voice their concerns. It was high-charged moment since many of the WordPress developers, agencies and even website owners were traveling to WordCamp Nashville at the exact same time. They were in for quite a shock just as their planes landed. Needless to say, you can imagine the frenzy that various WordPress website owners and creators were in. Some even questioned the future of WordPress!
On the day of the release, everyone sat close to their laptops, waiting with bated breath to see what would happen next. Some brave WordPress users soldiered on, most with backups and even staging their sites.
If you are still worrying about Gutenberg, or have no idea what’s happening, don’t worry! Buckle up, because we are going to take you through the bumpy rollercoaster ride that the last few days were, for all of us. You’ll be up to speed about everything in no time at all.
What’s going on?
Everyone has worked their blood, sweat, and tears into the creation and maintenance of their precious websites. It was understandable that many were worried about their websites breaking right around the time, they wouldn’t be available for their visitors and/or their clients. Even as the storms of denial, frustration, and fear raged on, the WordPress community held on together to tide over the situation. WordPress, after all, is an extremely popular CMS and hosts more than 25% of the internet.
December 6th dawned. Everyone was asking each other, and themselves the all-important question: Are you going to upgrade? Will you be disabling the WordPress update? On the day of the release, one could hear the collective sigh of relief from around a quarter of the web. As with any new product or upgrade, however, there was an air of wariness.
WordPress Core is regularly updated and that’s a good thing. What’s different this time?
In one word – Gutenberg.
It is true that there have been 9 major WordPress releases during the month of December previously. But this was the first time a major change was coming to the editing experience.
What is Gutenberg?
You might be wondering what a German-sounding word has got to do with WordPress. You are not wrong in thinking that you’ve heard the term somewhere. (Fun fact: WordPress Gutenberg is named after the inventor of the printing press, Johannes Gutenberg.) WordPress Gutenberg is the new block-based text editor available in the latest WordPress update. Here are some of the editor’s features which were touted as its biggest advantages, which puts it on par with the Medium, or Wix-like editing experience.
- Minimalist editing space
- Custom blocks
- Ease of Use
I don’t think Gutenberg / WordPress 5.0 should be delayed even more. There’ll be problems, like how everything has. But we can definitely fix them through updates. Nobody has launched a perfect product.
— Benjamin Intal (@bfintal) November 18, 2018
In fact, the Gutenberg plugin has been around for a long time, July 2017, to be exact. Try it out here. So, why was there such a huge outcry? Turns out, there were some issues with the editor. There were many bugs that still required fixing. This led to many accessibility problems. Backward compatibility with custom posts, meta boxes, fields, forms, etc. also suffered.
Gutenberg isn’t perfect—it has some serious problems with selecting content, especially across more than one block—but it’s miles better than the current WP editor experience and IMO that experience needs to be moved forward. — Ryan Markel (@ryanmarkel) August 12, 2018
How was the WordPress community reacting?
Here are a few examples of the various reactions that one of the most supportive and helpful communities on the internet was showing, in response to WordPress 5.0, specifically, the Gutenberg editor,
Unwilling to welcome change
— Bella 📸 Passport & Pixels (@PassportAndPix) December 9, 2018
Unhappy with the timing
Exact same issue I have. Purely a timing concern. Nothing to do with Gutenberg itself. We have zero control over when our users update WP and this is the worst time of the year from a support standpoint with holidays, vacation, etc. After the New Year this wouldn’t be an issue. — Carl Hancock 🚀 (@carlhancock) December 4, 2018
Unhappy with the short notice
The most jarring thing about the Gutenberg release on Thursday is that there was zero public discussion about it. Wasn’t mentioned in the official WordPress #core slack and a number of WP Core Devs were unaware. Any non-Automatticians involved? Opposite of an open source project.
— Brad Williams (@williamsba) December 4, 2018
But Matt Mullenweg refuted this claim.
Investors (presumably in Automattic) are not a factor in deciding a release date, and it’s hard for me to even imagine that conversation. Automattic would make more money if Gutenberg was just on .com and not in core. — Matt Mullenweg (@photomatt) December 4, 2018
Disappointed with the number of bugs still persisting
Played with the new #WordpressUpdate 5.0 and Gutenberg it delivered. Hated it so installed the Classic Editor Plugin to work with the tried and true until the bugs get worked out. https://t.co/B5QBVJ65aJ
— Leisure Freak (@LeisureFreak) December 7, 2018
However, many WordPress users were also looking forward to the release.
If WordPress 5.0 is released tomorrow, it will be a great opportunity to participate in open source by helping out in the support forums 🙂 There’s not a concise user manual for Gutenberg yet so those in the know will need to share their knowledge. — Jeff (@jeffr0) December 5, 2018
— Kori Ashton (@KoriAshton) December 5, 2018
Another thought on Gutenberg. Take a peek at Jetpack’s Github activity for instance. They are going to have all kinds of blocks. They are already working on them. If you aren’t already hopping on the train you are going to get run over. — Carl Hancock 🚀 (@carlhancock) February 20, 2018
— David Bisset (@dimensionmedia) December 7, 2018
Always test on a staging site but don’t delay upgrading to 5.0. If Gutenberg is the only reason you’re hesitating, the Classic plugin is for you and will be supported for a few years at least. — Andrea Zoellner (@andreazoellner) December 3, 2018
Overall, everyone preferred to err on the side of caution.
Tips to be Ready for Gutenberg:
⚠️ Install the Gutenberg update on a test server or staging site first to see how your site responds before updating your live site.
⚠️ Install the Classic Editor plugin if you are not ready/do not want Gutenberg & Update your site.
— Kara Rajchel (@kararajchel) December 6, 2018
Looking forward to a relaxing xmas, check. Quickly rushing to make sure WP core updates are off, check. Starting to question the projects you’ve just started with WordPress and wondering whether you’re now working with a complete lemon, check #Gutenberg — James Bundey (@jamesbundey) December 5, 2018
— Allison Smith (@aesmithwriting) December 1, 2018
Think, before you press the “UPDATE NOW” button for #WordPress5 – Do you really want to use #Gutenberg? – Do you have a complete backup if anything breaks? OR, – Do you have a testing environment? Make a copy of live site, test, & then press update! 👇https://t.co/vNsCjQAQbP — Mustaasam Saleem (@MustaasamSaleem) December 6, 2018
Web Service Announcement: #WordPress 5.0 is here. Do not upgrade your site. You will want a full backup (files and database) and then attempt and update in a staging environment. This is a significant update with a major editor change. #wordpress #Gutenberg #dev
— Philip Joyner (@filljoyner) December 6, 2018
Anyone that manages a WordPress site (that includes internal SEO Leads and Managers) need to put the breaks on Gutenberg. No blind adoption. Everything needs to be put on a staging server and tested and tested and tested. — Larry Madill (@larrymadill) December 5, 2018
Even web hosting providers delayed their updates, just in case.
WordPress 5 is coming! @bluehost, @pagely, @pressable, @liquidweb managed, @wpengine, @greengeeks, @DreamHost and @flywheel have confirmed autoupdates will delay until January for most users unless they have opted-in. @siteground = brief delay until proven stability
— Dave Ryan (@0aveRyan) December 6, 2018
How did everyone handle the WordPress 5.0 release?
Given the short notice, everyone was surprised. Seasoned WordPress users immediately made sure to backup their site, and update their websites in a staging environment first. Only when everything was working according to their taste, did they actually go ahead with the testing and actual update. For a large majority, there were no immediate issues, websites were still intact even after upgrading; these people were more at ease. WordPress updates don’t work the same way for everyone, due to website customizations. Unfortunately, that was not the case for everyone. For quite a few, their websites broke. The accessibility options or lack thereof confused many. It was found out that Gutenberg still had many bugs which affected custom-made websites in various ways. This was the reason many refused to even update. Some others preferred to upgrade for the safety of their site but disabled Gutenberg by installing the Classic Editor plugin or migrating to the ClassicPress CMS. ClassicPress grew in prominence especially during this time, since it helped users retain their classic WordPress editor.
I was listening to my first talk of the morning at #WCUS when I got the first “your plugin breaks on WP 5.0” support forum post. So now, I’m no longer listening to a talk. I’m trying to make my #gutenberg block not make people’s sites crash. Sigh. pic.twitter.com/sGnKpcgpkX — Ben Meredith (@benUNC) December 7, 2018
WordPress Gutenberg… https://t.co/tpNCu5ayiE
I also wanted to give it s chance, but since breaks my website’s contents, I disabled it… maybe later…
— Arpad Szucs (@whitex3d) September 9, 2018
My “add new post” and “edit post” pages were half blank! I’ve updated to the latest version of WP but am now using the “Classic Editor” plugin so that I don’t have to use the Gutenberg one. — Flo @ Yogawinetravel (@yogawinetravel) August 13, 2018
Adding Blocks solves none of my problems, it literally just creates them. And now I have no idea how to do anything.
Thanks @photomatt for making my day harder.
— J Minear (@minear_j) December 6, 2018
Ok, I know it’s only the first day of WordPress 5, but holy hell every site I’m working with that is on a premium theme is impossible to work with because of this Gutenberg editor. Where is everything? #WordPress5 @WordPress #Gutenberg — Tim (@tatkinsnh) December 6, 2018
Just updated to #Wordpress5 and now wishing I could turn back time. The #Gutenberg editor is a hot mess. Anyone have an over and under on how many classic editor plugins will be downloaded in the next 48 hours.
— E. Adam Porter (@FLraconteur) December 7, 2018
This is my current #Gutenberg hell, and the ticket was closed without resolution. The answer is “just deal with it.” Awesome. – Multiple scrollbars. · Issue #6094 · WordPress/gutenberg https://t.co/k6WAp0GkMc — Michael Fienen (@fienen) December 4, 2018
— Michael Fienen (@fienen) November 25, 2018
#Gutenberg is a disaster, WordPress. Blows out WP Bakery plugin, which is used by thousands of themes. What a nightmare, thank goodness someone made a rollback plugin. — Spectrum Audiobooks (@SpectrumABooks) December 6, 2018
It is a development site so no harm done but as always backup before upgrades. #WordPress
— we.are.lens (@LensDigitalUK) December 6, 2018
So I just updated a staging site to @WordPress 5. And suddenly dates in backend changed to this 🙃. Frontend seems fine. So… I’ll wait a couple months before I update any live site 😌 #wordpress #Gutenberg pic.twitter.com/Isp5luP9J0
— Jany (@Shambix) December 6, 2018
Thought I would try @GetClassicPress on a live site instead of just a local dev install. Honestly trust their beta more than WP RC 3 with #gutenberg. Thankful it will not pollute the post_content field with html comments. pic.twitter.com/cd3sKmaGk8 — Lee Robertson (@lgr) December 5, 2018
The Classic Editor in #WordPress is getting downloaded more than 100,000 times every single day since the release of #Gutenberg. Let that sink in, a 100,000 person realize every single day that #WP pushed a half-assed product.https://t.co/Nrl5i8lhui pic.twitter.com/bqnIznZLRy
— Mhamad Khodari (@MhamadKhodari) December 12, 2018
Even as the first casualties made their frustrations known, an overwhelming number of WordPressians heaved a huge sigh of relief because their websites didn’t break.
I really like Gutenberg. It won’t replace Elementor on my client sites, but seriously I’m happy it’s finally here. — Bowe Frankema (@BoweFrankema) December 10, 2018
My entire site broke and I’ve been using Gutenberg for 5 months so I freaked out, turns out it was a plugin conflict from a beta block plugin. Disabled that and everything worked flawlessly 👌
— SlimDusty (@dusty_slim) December 7, 2018
Welcome WordPress 5.0, I’m happy to be Gutenberg testing on 50+ sites 😅 — Profundo (@profundodesign) December 8, 2018
Gutenberg is a front-end developer’s dream. Perfect timing for me, as I’m building a new layout for my blog slowly at the moment.
— Amy Evans (@amymeganevans) August 3, 2018
Gutenberg is growing on me 🌱 It’s not perfect, a bit disorienting as I learn the new UI, but it’s better. Wouldn’t want to be the person who has to transition clients, though 😱 — Naomi C. Bush (@NaomiCBush) March 22, 2018
Gutenberg isn’t perfect, but I also have no doubt it’s going to be hugely successful.
In a year or two, we’ll look back and wonder what all the drama was about.
— Clifmas 🎄 (@clifgriffin) August 29, 2018
I’m a huge fan. It’s not 100% there yet, but it’s pretty darn close. I’ve been on a deep dive creating custom block types for the past week, which has been challenging due to a general lack of documentation. But the docs are getting better all the time. — Cory Webb (@corywebb) August 22, 2018
I’m a huge fan. It’s not 100% there yet, but it’s pretty darn close. I’ve been on a deep dive creating custom block types for the past week, which has been challenging due to a general lack of documentation. But the docs are getting better all the time.
— Cory Webb (@corywebb) August 22, 2018
Gutenberg can be intimidating at first, but once you adjust it’s hard to imagine a world without it. It’s not as hard as you think, if you can be open to learning a new way of doing things. — Chris Van Patten (@ChrisVanPatten) October 11, 2018
Questions you might have about WordPress 5.0
Is my website compatible with WordPress 5.0?
You will have to check with your themes and plugin developers if they are compatible with WordPress 5.0 before you update. Postpone updating depending on your web host suggestions and advice as well.
Are BlogVault and MalCare compatible with WordPress 5.0?
Should I update my website?
Keeping your entire website up-to-date is a very important aspect of its security. Core WordPress update is especially important for better website security.
Can I continue using WordPress Classic Editor and upgrade to WordPress 5.0?
Yes, you can install the Classic Editor plugin to revert your WordPress editor to the Classic Editor, after updating your website to WordPress 5.0.
How was your experience with Gutenberg? Are you waiting? Have you backed up and tested your site already? Let us know if we can help with the safety and security of your website.