Prep Your WordPress Website for the Big Version 5.0 Release
By Brad Stitgen
The WordPress development team has been working hard since early 2017 to modernize the way pages and posts are edited. The new editor, known as Gutenberg, is a completely new editor that will replace the current default text editor, TinyMCE.
As with any big change software change, there will be a bit of a learning curve to become acquainted how the new software works. Depending on how your WordPress website is set-up, what theme you may be using, and what plug-ins have been installed there could software issues. At this point, while it is likely that any issues should be minor for most websites, nobody knows for sure how a particular website will react when the new editor replaces the old editor.
When will the new editor be released?
Currently, the Gutenberg editor is available as a WordPress standalone plug-in. Honestly, for most business websites, it’s unlikely that one would install the new editor plug-in. Let’s face it, most business owners are busy running their business. Trying new editors is likely not a high priority!
So when will Gutenberg become part of WordPress (also known as being added to “core”.)? The short answer is Gutenberg will be the default editor when WordPress 5.0 is released. When will WordPress version 5.0 be released? Most likely in the very near future.
How should a business that depends on WordPress for their business website prepare for Gutenberg’s release?
The first step I strongly recommend is to create a complete back-up prior to doing the WordPress 5.0 upgrade. While every WordPress owner should already be doing periodic back-ups, it’s especially important with such a major upgrade!
The important thing is the backup needs to be the complete website. Not, just part of the website… for instance just the database files. The back-up needs to be such that you will be able to completely restore from scratch the website on your web host. This means the back-up will be backing up your content, plug-ins, themes, settings, and WordPress itself.
For most business owners I also recommend a second step…
First, let me start by saying I look forward to the new editor being added to WordPress. It really is a step forward in the way content will be created on WordPress websites. That said, as with any major change in a software system, there are likely going to be hiccups and training issues that need to be worked through. So, if you want to minimize the time you need to spend on learning the new editor and possibly any software issues I recommend holding off on using the new editor. Let the early adopters work through the issues that are bound to pop-up.
Luckily, the folks at WordPress have made it easy to keep using the old editor while still updating to the latest version of WordPress. The solution is to install the Classic Editor plug-in ( Link: https://wordpress.org/plugins/classic-editor/ )
The Classic editor plug-in can be installed today in your pre 5.0 version of WordPress so that when the 5.0 version is released your default editor will not be Gutenberg. When the time comes that you are ready to move to the new editor… simply deactivate the plug-in and Gutenberg will be the default editor.
Just how long will the will you be able to hold off on updating to the new editor?
The word from the WordPress development team is that the Classic Editor plug-in will be supported until at least December 31, 2121. (link: https://make.wordpress.org/core/2018/11/07/classic-editor-plugin-support-window/) If usage of the plug-in remains high at that time the support deadline will likely be extended.
In short with the Classic Editor plug-in you will have plenty of time to continue using the current editor. For many, I suspect, this will mean staying with the old editor until their website is redesigned. This would be the perfect time to implement the new editor since the new site would be built using it and thus virtually eliminating any compatibility issues.