Big Changes are Coming to WordPress 5.0

Written by Hirsch Fishman

It was announced a few months ago that big changes would be coming with WordPress 5.0, scheduled to be released sometime in 2018. This major release promises a major overhaul to the content editing experience, something that every webmaster and editor uses.

Since all of our websites use WordPress, so we wanted to let you know about how this will impact your website.

If you have logged into your site dashboard in the last week or so, and have installed the most recent upgrade to WordPress (version 4.9.8), then you have no doubt seen this big message calling attention to the pending release. It looks like this:

When will WordPress 5.0 launch?

Currently, there is not a definitive launch date. We only know that WordPress 5.0 is expected during mid- to late-2018. When the update does become available, your website will either be upgraded automatically, if you have that setting configured, or you will receive notification within the WordPress dashboard.

Replacing the Current WYSIWYG Visual Editor

The new visual editing system that is being introduced with WordPress 5.0 will replace the current WYSIWYG editor, which has largely remained unchanged since WordPress was first created. The visual editor – WYSIWYG stands for “what you see is what you get” – stores the tools you use when adding images and stylizing text on a page, post, event, or other types of content. It’s what lets you type your content, format it, paste in content from external sources, etc. – in short, what you use to update every single piece of content on your website.

This new editor, called Gutenberg, contains all of the features included within your current WYSIWYG editor – the biggest improvement is that it will now make it possible for you to build and create unique web pages filled with lots of content blocks, which you can easily move around with a drag-and-drop interface. In short, this change will give you greater control over the design and appearance of your pages and posts.

A new menu, which looks like this, is introduced to let you select what type of block you would like to add. Not only will you be able to select from Common Blocks, such as images, headings, lists, and more…

…but you will also be able to add a variety of other pieces of content, such as:

tables, custom HTML, the classic WYSIWYG editor…

…and a whole host of easy ways to embed items such as YouTube videos, Facebook posts, Instagram posts, and much more.

This upgrade will completely change your experience of editing content on your website. Where before plugins, custom fields, custom page templates, and much more would have been necessary in order to create a custom look for your page content, for the most part, you will now be able to design and build pages filled with lots of different layout blocks without a need for all of that.

That being said, in some cases, it may still be necessary to use things such as custom fields and custom page templates in order to create a unique layout element – we don’t believe that that need will go away with the release of 5.0. Things such as banner images, accordions, tabbed interfaces, etc.

Advantages & Disadvantages

Advantages

WordPress 5.0 will make for a more flexible content management system for designing unique page layouts, with its introduction of movable blocks of content. You used to need visual layout plugins in order to create pages with visual blocks, which in our opinion are too overwhelming to use and offer to many choices. That is why we haven’t recommended using them on any of our websites, preferring regular layouts combined with custom fields for unique page layouts.

Gutenberg will also give editors a much more visual understanding of the page appearance and how the content will appear on the front end. You won’t need to constantly save and preview changes to see how a post will actually look.

Disadvantages

This being a major update to WordPress, and probably one of the most significant changes to the editing interface that WordPress has ever seen, getting used to WordPress 5.0 is going to take time and practice to understand. It is entirely possible that some plugins and themes may not be initially compatible with Gutenberg. This is something that only time will tell, and that we will be evaluating over time after the release.

Curious to try it?

If you are curious to try the new Gutenberg editor on your website, it is currently being rolled out as a plugin; the notification that is posted at the start of this post is visible in your dashboard, and it can be installed that way.

WordPress also has made available a demo site, at https://testgutenberg.com/, which you can use to test it out. We encourage you to take advantage of this website and give it a try. If you then decide to install it on your website, follow the prompts on the dashboard.

If you have installed Gutenberg and decide that you don’t like it, you will be able to revert to the classic editor through a plugin, which you can download here

Here’s What You Need to Know

We, as part of the wider WordPress community, will be trying to understand how the introduction of the Gutenberg editor will impact the websites that we have already created, and on how we create websites going forward.

This applies not only to basic content such as pages and posts but also to other post types that websites commonly use, such as events (if you are using either the Events Manager plugin or the Events Calendar plugin), products (if your has an online store), etc. For example – WooCommerce, one of the most popular e-commerce plugins for WordPress, which we use for all our e-commerce websites – has already issued a release saying that they are still studying Gutenberg to fully understand the changes.

We ask your patience as we evaluate the new editor, and will keep you aware as we learn more about how WordPress 5.0 will affect your specific website. In all likelihood, we will be scheduling webinars for our past clients to participate in, where we will go over how to use the Gutenberg editor. We may also reach out to on an individual basis to update you on how your website will be impacted.

Please feel free to contact us in the meantime if you have any questions, or after it is released.

About Hirsch Fishman

Hirsch has been working professionally with websites since 2001, working exclusively in, and focusing on, the Jewish community. Hirsch offers a wide range of website knowledge to his synagogue web design clients from his years of experience working in the Jewish community. He lives in Raleigh, North Carolina.

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