Big Changes Coming in WordPress 5


WordPress 5 is scheduled to be released this year.  It’s not a typical new release.  It contains one change that’s causing a huge amount of debate.  WordPress 5 will replace the editor with an entirely new system.

The existing WordPress editor is very user friendly.  It looks much like editors in email programs and Microsoft Word.

WordPress Editor

WordPress 5 has a new editor called Gutenberg.  It’s available as a plugin now.  As of this moment the plugin has 9,000 installs and a mediocre 2.5 out of 5 rating.

What are the advantages of Gutenberg?  It’s very hard to tell by the plugin description as it’s long in marketing lingo and short on facts.

Gutenberg looks at the editor as more than a content field, revisiting a layout that has been largely unchanged for almost a decade. This allows us to holistically design a modern editing experience and build a foundation for things to come.

If you’re like me, you care about ease of use more than a holistic design.

Since the plugin description wasn’t helpful, I installed it.  Here is what the post editor looks like with Gutenberg.

Gutenberg Editor

To add items (like text and images) to your post, click on the plus icon at the top left of the page.

Gutenberg blocks

Not very user friendly, right?  Many people in the WordPress community have recommended that Gutenberg continue as a plugin and not be made the default WordPress editor.  As of now, that recommendation is being ignored.

My opinion on the matter is that the folks promoting the Gutenberg editor don’t have much contact with people who aren’t in information technology.  To people in the technical arena it may seem that the reason WordPress powers 30% of the Internet is the underlying code and infrastructure.

I think they’re wrong.

Have you ever read a WordPress review that didn’t mention how user friendly it is?  I haven’t.  The reason that WordPress is so popular is because it’s easy to use.  The fact that it’s a reliable and robust content management system is also important.  However, I think that most of the people that use it are looking for an easy way to maintain their website.

Here are some things that website owners can do to deal with WordPress 5.

Talk to your website host and turn off automatic updating.  It is fine to update to any version of 4.9, but don’t update to WordPress 5.  While a lot of testing is going on right now, there’s a concern that Gutenberg will break existing plugins and themes.

I don’t plan to update to WordPress 5 for at least a month after it’s been released.

Once you migrate to WordPress 5 consider installing the classic editor plugin.   It’s still being developed, but a there is a plugin that will replicate the look and feel of the editor we’re using now.

Try to keep an open mind.  I’m a big fan of the Weaver Xtreme theme.  Last December the theme author wrote this in the theme’s forum:

Mark my words, if Gutenberg becomes the default editor, it will create total chaos in the WP world and break tens of thousands of sites the instant the site is edited.

Imagine my surprise to see this comment by Weaver in the forum last month:

Frankly, I’ve just spent the past couple of weeks INTENSIVELY using Gutenberg, and it is nothing less than totally fantastic, in my opinion.

There is a small learning curve, and so far I haven’t seen any good tutorials (I HATE viedeos, so I can’t be objective about any of them).

In fact, I like Gutenberg so much that I have delayed releasing Weaver Xtreme 4.0 to provide complete support for it by the theme – and assume that the final version won’t be all that different than the current plugin. (And one thing VERY good about Gutenberg is that it is decently backward compatible. You can create pages in it, use it’s blocks, and they will still retain most of the content if it is disabled – unlike most page builders.)

While I’m preparing to mitigate the problems caused by WordPress 5, I’m also trying to allow for the possibility that it might be okay.

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