This post has been written in the new Gutenberg editor. Can you tell? I must say writing it was a little strange. The new editor felt like I was writing in the wrong spot. There’s a lot of white space compared to the old editor that felt more like you were writing in a Word document. See what I mean? Like with any change, there’s a learning curve and adjustment period. I just wish they didn’t go ahead and change my WordPress right around Christmas. Learning new editors at this time of year was not on my wish list!
So, what the hell is a Gutenberg?
Well, to put it simply, Gutenberg is the new editing environment in WordPress. A page builder if you will. Akin to your Divi builder or Site Origin Page Builder, it is WordPress’s inbuilt version. The difference is Gutenberg can also be used in blog posts where typical page builders did not venture. Gutenberg is WordPress’s way of staying number 1 and keeping up, or ahead, of the Jones’s. This new release, coming at the end of November (cue the panic), is the first of three stages being rolled out. I guess we can be grateful they didn’t hit us with all of it in one go, hey!
What does this mean for you?
For the average WordPress user it’s huge. Upon updating your WordPress core files, your interface will look different. A little like my screen shot above. Your pages will also look different, with a new editor attached. You can choose to use Gutenberg or leave your pages as is. My testing has shown exiting pages stay as designed, which was a bit of a relief I can tell you. The problem may be however, how will the page builders play with Gutenberg overall? After all, no one really likes to share their toys in the sandpit. The answer is, we don’t 100% know. But, you can test your own website prior to the release to see if your site will adjust to the new interface. I have installed it on mine and there are a few glitches. I am going to put it down to plugins and themes not being updated yet. I am using Primrose theme with SiteOrigin Page Builder. I did find that my SiteOrigin widgets did not work on new pages I was designing, but a blog from the developers says they are working on it. My Yoast was also locked and I couldn’t use it for this blog, but I’m sure there will be an update released to fix that. The other slightly annoying issue was the absence of the read more tag. I could not find it at all, hence my blog takes up my whole blog page. Sigh. Divi and some other theme users should not have this problem though.
What you need to do before the roll out?
There’s only about 1-2 weeks at best before the WordPress 5.0 is rolled out, so you’d best be quick. In your dashboard when you logon to your admin area, you may have seen a message asking if you would like to try Gutenberg Editor as a plugin. Clicking on this button will install the Gutenberg Editor as a plugin on your site. This is not how it will be in the live site, but it will allow you to test your site and find any conflicts. Conflicts could be between plugins or themes. Whilst I am sure most developers have been busy trying to get their codes up to scratch, there will be some that fall through the cracks. Then, of course there are the plugins where the developers have gone AWOL. It’s these plugins and themes that may cause an issue. Once you’re done testing Gutenberg, feel free to turn the plugin off and return to situation normal if all is well with you site. Give it a good test before hand though just to make sure.
What do I do when WordPress 5.0 is released?
Take a back up of your site! I can not stress this enough. Whenever you are making major changes to your website, you must have a back up. This covers you if something goes wrong. Of course, WordPress have tested their product, but we all know what assuming does. Once you are happy that your site is backed up, I suggest popping a maintenance page on your site, just while you do the updates. This is so anyone landing on your site doesn’t come across a site mid-update. WordPress does this, but a nice we’ll be back soon page doesn’t hurt. It also gives you a chance to check your site over and make sure everyone is where they should be. Some websites are set to automatically update files and plugins. I would suggest turning this off and doing it manually. Again, you can never be too careful. Manually update your database and then check your site. Check your plugins are ok and all is working. In most cases, everything should be fine, especially if you have popular themes and plugins on your site.
What if I don’t like Gutenberg?
And this will happen. Not everyone likes change and as I said before, it’s not really the best time of year to get open minds. A lot of people are busy, distracted, stressed and let’s be honest, there’s not a lot of space left in the old brain by now. If this is you, never fear. I have read that the classic editor will be available in a plugin. So you can install that and Utopia will be returned – well, that’s the theory. Fingers crossed hey. The potentially life saving plugin…
Do I have to do the update?
In short no, not immediately. And I am going to be a little contradictory and say it might be beneficial to leave it a few days to a week. As with everything new there will be bugs… let someone else find them 😉 I will be doing my site a few days to a week after the release and will most likely employ the classic editor plugin until the new year. My client sites will be updated after my site and either left in Gutenberg mode or reverted back, whichever they choose. As with any update though, I do not recommend leaving it for months as the updates accumulate and you could be inviting more trouble.
Ok, thanks for explaining, but it’s still too much for me…
No worries at all. I totally get it. As I said, brain space is for Christmas carols and parties, not Gutenbergs. Leave the stress up to me as I hold my breath with each update! Lol, only kidding, I have every confidence it will be fine and like the Y2K, there is nothing to worry about… so… I’ve just introduced a one-off WordPress Website Update deal, where you can have your site updated with no obligation to carry on month by month. Of course, if engaging someone to take your website off your hands long term was on your to-do-list, then happy to add it to my month x month website management schedule. There’s still a few spaces left. So, I hope that has explained it a little better. There are links to get a more detailed explanation if you’ve got time to delve into it. What Is Gutenberg by Yoast is a good read and of course there is WordPress itself. Feel free to contact me if you’ve got any questions.