Wow, WordPress, you have really made December an even busier month! The new version of the platform (WordPress 5.0.) has generated quite an uproar in the blogging world by introducing the brand new editing experience – Gutenberg.
What’s WP 5.0? What’s Gutenberg? What’s the difference and what should I do? – these are the questions we’ve heard a lot over the last few weeks. So we’ve broken it all down for you – read on!
What is WordPress 5.0?
WordPress 5.0. is a newer version of the good old WordPress.org platform. The company publishes new updates every once in a while, adding new features, making security improvements and so on. Most of the time, a lot of us don’t even notice the change and update automatically.
But WordPress 5.0, released on Dec 6th, turned out to be a major overhaul. This release is all about two new things:
- A brand new Gutenberg WordPress Editor
- Twenty Nineteen WordPress theme
So What is Gutenberg?
In short, Gutenberg is the nickname of the brand new WordPress editor. Bye Text Editor!
As part of the WP 5.0. update, the company introduced major interface changes to improve the post editing experience – the functionality has remained pretty much the same, but it’s now presented in a different technological manner.
In Gutenberg, every element is a block. In previous versions, all the content elements you created were recorded inside one big HTML file. Each time you have used a shortcode, added embeds, or a widget, a new record had to be made to that master file. As a result, that increased chances of individual elements not “behaving” as they should, resulting in slow loading pages and glitches.
With Gutenberg, that’s changing. You can now add content to your posts and pages using a drag and drop experience – by just mashing up different blocks (quotes, headings, images, buttons, columns etc.) in your blog editor. The content addition process becomes -or it will with time!- more intuitive and straightforward by making every single element about your content its very own block.
In essence, the whole point of releasing Gutenberg was to improve your user experience and reduce the WordPress learning curve. And, at the same time, modernize the tech capabilities of the platform to make it even more robust. So that’s good news!
Surely, a new editing experience will require some routine adjustments. So if you are missing the “classic” post editor, you can install it as a plugin (supported until December 2021). This way you can use both options alongside. But don’t cling to the oldie for too long – the WP team said that Gutenberg is a multi-stage project with newer add-ons in works, and it’s worth becoming familiar with your new editor promptly.
So Why The Mix-Up?
Gutenberg is part of the new “package” that comes with installing the WP 5.0 core update, which also includes other goodies. That’s why these two became synonyms and are used interchangeably to describe the same thing. Updating to 5.0 version means that you will get Gutenberg too, so you will notice plenty of articles and reviews, including from top industry players, are considering the two almost synonym in colloquial language.
What’s New With Gutenberg Editor?
Blocks (and reusable blocks): Blocks now power all the editing. Instead of adding a shortcode or using another trick, you just use the block functionality to add new elements to the page. And that’s really fun because you can, for instance, transform a text paragraph into a quote by just changing its block type. Afterward, you can further customize that block e.g. change its placement, add text decorations etc.
And all the customizations you create can be saved and reused later to save you tons of time. So you’ve made that killer multi-column layout with great typography for one of your blog posts. Save it and re-use it once again in just one click.
Document Outline: Once you have added a headline or two, you get an option to review your post outline – super handy for revising copy structure when writing lengthy posts.
Tables: These are no longer a hassle to create. No plugins needed. In Gutenberg, you can now add them as a block.
Anchor Support: You can now link directly to any block from anywhere else on a page or post. So for instance, if you want to let users jump to a specific section of your blog e.g. #what’s-new, you just need to add a respective anchor to that heading block using the HTML Anchor field. Plain and simple!
And what hasn’t changed? You will still need professional designers and developer to do site-wide changes and updates to your website, and to create custom features and functions for your posts and pages. But foundational additions that previously needed HTML knowledge, like adding buttons or tweaking font colors, have become a whole lot easier with Gutenberg editor.
HOW DO I UPDATE?
With the help of a specialist. The sudden release of 5.0 means that many plugin developers haven’t had enough time to sort through compatibility issues. So the update could result in site errors and should be better done by WP specialists who can securely backup your site prior to the update, and watch out for incompatibilities.
CAN I AVOID THIS UPDATE?
To find out if you can defer, delay or skip this update you should reach out to your hosting provider, since WP core updates happen on the server side of your site. Different hosting providers have taken different stances on this WP 5.0 release, from offering deferral to completely skipping it, auto-updating with or without notice, and everything in between.
CAN THIS BE REVERTED?
Partially. As we mentioned, you can still enable a classic post/page editor instead of Gutenberg with a help of a plugin.
Updating to WP 5.0 and then reverting is very hard to revert and not recommended or worth it as interim changes would be lost; rolling back to an earlier version would have to be done by a highly specialized team only, and only if allowed by hosting provider.
WP 5.0 and Gutenberg have created quite a stir. But fret not! Change is often for the best, especially when it comes to digital innovation. The new editing and writing experience comes with a ton of good stuff!