On November 19, a brand new version of WordPress (5.0!) is going to become available for download and updating. With it comes the hyped up and controversial new editor, Gutenberg. A lot of people are worried, confused, and not sure what this means for their current WordPress websites. So it’s time to clear the air a little bit!
WordPress 5.0 (+ Gutenberg) will be available on November 19, 2018.
This means that’s when everyone can update their WordPress install (if you hosting provider has automatic updates turned on for WordPress websites, the install may happen auto-magically or if automatic updates are turned on within WordPress). From that point on, when people download a WordPress from wordpress.org or install a new WordPress website on a server, it’ll be WordPress 5.0 with Gutenberg.
If you don’t want to update immediately, you don’t have to. Just turn off your automatic updates for the time being. If automatic updates are pushed by your hosting provider (for example, if you use Siteground), check the settings in cPanel to turn it off. To turn off the WordPress auto-update feature for major versions (it’s a good idea to keep minor updates turned on so they get applied automatically, usually these are small bug fixes and security updates), open up your wp-config.php file on your server and add this line:
define( 'WP_AUTO_UPDATE_CORE', minor );
If you feel nervous about doing this yourself, just give us a shout, and we’ll do it for you (for free, no strings attached!)
Gutenberg is going to the new editor and it’s a paradigm shift.
Gutenberg is a new way to create pages and posts. You can still do all the things you could do before, but now you do them a little differently. The new editor introduces a concept called, blocks, which are essentially, building blocks you use to create your post. For example, a paragraph is a block, a list is a block, a blockquote is a block. By isolating these pieces into blocks that stack, Gutenberg gives you the power to easily customize and move around individual blocks.
You’ll also see in the little GIF above that the formatting menu isn’t at the very top anymore. Instead it’s connected to each individual block, showing just the settings that are appropriate for it – and there are more settings in the sidebar that change based on which block is selected.
Gutenberg is an improvement on how we normally create posts in WordPress for most people. But that’s not what worries people.
None of your old posts and pages will be affected. Gutenberg will NOT break your website.
If you’re using any kind of page builder (for example, Divi, or a custom page builder a developer made for you), your old pages and posts won’t be affected!
Probably, the page builders won’t work in Gutenberg, and in order to keep using them, you’ll have to install the Classic Editor plugin (this will be the short term solution for most of you, until your chosen page builder plugin becomes Gutenberg compatible or you get your developer to make your custom page builder Gutenberg compatible).
If you don’t use any sort of page builder, then you can just start using Gutenberg. Your old stuff won’t be affected, you can still use shortcodes and you can still do everything you could do in the old editor (going forwards to be known as the Classic Editor).
If you use a screen reader or need full keyboard access, install the Classic Editor. Gutenberg isn’t ready for you yet.
I feel sad whenever I have to mention this. They have definitely made strides in making Gutenberg accessible, but it’s not totally there yet. Why wasn’t this a priority? I’m not really sure. It seems like a major oversight to not begin with accessibility in such a huge revamp, but that’s the current reality. So until Gutenberg is fully keyboard accessible, stick to the Classic Editor.
As always, make sure your website is backed up before major changes are made to your WordPress installation.
This is good practice all the time, however, it’s worth repeating especially right now. WordPress 5 drops on November 19. Make sure you do a backup by November 17-18! If anything does go wrong or is wonky, you’ll feel better knowing you can revert back to the backup with everything intact. Trust me. Better be safe than sorry.
We’re going to be doing a month long series on how Gutenberg works and how it affects your WordPress websites, until November 19. So be sure to subscribe to our newsletter to hear about each article as it goes live every Tuesday. 🙂