Barring any last-minute changes, WordPress 5.0 will be released this Thursday, December 6, and at WP Engine, we couldn’t be more excited!
The news was just announced by WordPress Co-founder Matt Mullenweg, who wrote in a post about the Gutenberg release that WordPress version “5.0.1 will open for commits soon, and will be an area people can choose to focus on at the contributor day at WordCamp US in Nashville this Sunday.”
In the world of WordPress, there has never been a more anticipated launch in its 15-year history. Developers and designers have wondered what Gutenberg, the new default editor in 5.0, will mean for them, and how items such as accessibility and backwards-compatibility will be handled.
While there are certainly valid questions surrounding Gutenberg, there is also so much to be excited about. The Gutenberg editor includes new functionality that will enable developers and designers to create reusable blocks for design and content, and empower end-users to combine and customize those blocks for everything from the rapid launch of multiple landing pages to building the types of complex new digital experiences that resonate with today’s online audiences.
We’ve written extensively about Gutenberg over the past few months in an effort to educate WordPress users and help them get ready for the new editing experience. But, if you’re still unsure about 5.0 and how to put Gutenberg to use, have no fear—we’ve compiled a short list of the things you need to know now, so you won’t be caught off guard later this week, when the latest version of WordPress launches .
WP Engine Customers Will Update in January
First things first: while anyone can update to 5.0 as soon as it becomes available, WP Engine customers will be updated to the latest version of WordPress in January. We strive to support the latest technologies as quickly and safely as possible—meaning, after extensive testing and evaluation from our engineering teams as part of our promise to deliver the enterprise-grade digital experience platform for WordPress. Needless to say, we want to minimize any potential disruption to customer sites during the update.
Nonetheless, there’s no reason for individuals to avoid the 5.0 update, and if Gutenberg is the only thing holding you back, we’ll offer details below on some of the different ways you can incorporate Gutenberg into your site with crawl, walk, run, and sprint approaches.
The Classic Editor Plugin
If you’ve updated to 5.0 but you’re not ready to begin using Gutenberg, the first thing you can do is install the Classic Editor plugin, which will allow you to turn Gutenberg off and restore the classic editing experience to your WordPress site.
Because the classic editor will be supported for years to come, you have time to keep using it while you figure out a plan for adopting Gutenberg. That said, this shouldn’t be considered a long-term fix and you should instead have a plan in place for how you’re going to start taking advantage of the new editor.
There are different ways to ease into Gutenberg, and you should begin working with it as soon as possible so you can take advantage of all the new features it has to offer. As we approach the end of the year, you may be eyeing a site redesign or another, similar project on the horizon. Use that as an opportunity to adopt Gutenberg, make a deadline, and set yourself up for future success.
Experiment with Gutenberg in a Staging Environment
It’s always best practice to make significant changes to your site in a staging or development environment rather than on your live site. No brainer, right? Well, the same is true for Gutenberg, especially if you haven’t used the new editor before. Installing Gutenberg in a test environment before deploying it to your live production site is actually a great way to get to know the new editor without the pressure of using it for live changes.
With the Classic Editor plugin installed on your live site, simply install the Gutenberg plugin in a staging environment, which basically serves as a clone of your live website and gives you a safe “training ground” to test changes and new features that you plan to implement down the line.
Once it’s set up, start testing Gutenberg out by creating a post to see if your normal functionality is available. If nothing has changed, and you’re not missing any functionality, you’re probably ready to push Gutenberg live, but you can continue to use the staging site as a place to learn more about the new editor and try out different options without affecting your live site.
Another way to dip your toe in with Gutenberg is to adopt a hybrid approach that will let you use Gutenberg where it makes sense: the Gutenberg Ramp plugin, which is a great way to ease into full Gutenberg adoption.
This plugin will let you turn the new editor on selectively, for specific post types, so you can use Gutenberg on some things, while still keeping the classic editor in place where you need it. Ramp was created, quite literally, to help you “ramp up” to Gutenberg, and help you become familiar with it at your own pace.
Using Ramp, you can turn on Gutenberg for custom posts, pages, products, etc. and if you find an issue with on some post types but not all of them, you can use the new editor where it makes sense, and then enable the Ramp plugin where you still need time. After installing Ramp, you just need to adjust your settings for the posts you want to use Gutenberg on, and start working from there. It’s worth noting that the Classic Editor plugin will still be needed to take advantage of all the great features Ramp has to offer.
Dive In, the Water’s Fine
A final step you can—and at some point, should—take, is to dive in and start using Gutenberg immediately. If you have compatibility concerns, then certainly some of the above options might make the most sense while you figure out what, if any functionality changes have occured on your site.
But if you’re ready to embrace the future and begin using the new editing experience on a day-to-day basis, the best way to do so is to jump in, experiment, and see for yourself all of the great things Gutenberg will allow you to build.
At WP Engine, we’ll continue to serve as a beacon for Gutenberg, both with expert advice form some of the best WordPress developers in the world, as well as with new themes we’ll offer, that will be built specifically with Gutenberg in mind.
As we’ve said before, Gutenberg is the future of WordPress, and the new functionality it heralds will soon weave itself into the future of the web itself.