There is plenty of talk at the moment about when Gutenberg is coming. For those of you who’ve managed to miss this monumental WordPress news, Gutenberg is WordPress 5.0 and it’s promising a us whole new editing experience. Possibly a downside is all that I can think of when people say “Gutenberg is Coming” is the Coca Cola “holidays are coming… holidays are coming” – and it’s giving me mental images of a truck full of code about to arrive into our websites with flashing lights, woolly jumpers and people with over rosy cheeks.
Is Gutenberg something to get excited about or should we approach with caution?
First of all, Gutenberg is coming and it is, we think, coming pretty soon. No amount of foot stamping or hiding under the desk will stop it. The official release date is 19th November 2018 – with a whole load of Beta versions coming in the next couple of weeks. However, if you read this latest article in the Gutenberg Times with the published details of the roll out plan, you’ll see there is still an 8 day window of flexibility (now is that per release or in total???) and there is still a plan B that will see it being released in early January 2019. I think the launch in November with the proximity to Black Friday may be reason to push it back to 2019 but we shall see.
Here at DigitalJen, we think that it should be approached with a mix of excitement and trepidation. Now is the time to make sure that your WordPress site is backed up every day. Be that by your host, a paid for service or you. You should be doing this anyway, but take this as a nudge to make sure it’s happening. It’s also time to make sure your php version is 7.0 or above – you need to do this with your host and you’ll have a message flash up on your WordPress dashboard if you’re still on 5.6 or below. Do it now – it should be free and we’re here to help if necessary.
Expect to see lots of updates coming through. Theme and plugin developers are beavering away trying to make what they’ve created ‘Gutenberg ready’. When it does arrive, it will be a mixture of a game of ‘catch-up’ for some and snagging for those who’ve already done the bulk of the work. Some themes are quite public already about the fact they’re not ready which means you might get plugin clash with a plugin that is ready. In those cases, it may be necessary to roll-back to a backup and wait until the next update is done. But you’re doing backups every day so that’s not an issue. (hence the nudge…)
Many plugins are already done, you’ve updated them and didn’t even notice so that bodes well. There will be snags. There are snags on every big WordPress update and developers will be working like mad to smooth those out. It’s not in their interest to leave them broken!
WordPress 5.0 is going to be a change to the Editor we’ve known and loved for years. However, having built 2 sites from scratch on Gutenberg, I think it’s good change. Basically, instead of having the main editor, you have blocks. Each block gives you a choice of functionality – so you can use it as a normal text box, or add an image, or a button (buttons without code or plugins… good news indeed!), or a spacer, or a whole load of other things. Your header line will be a block. A paragraph can be a block – or you can have several paragraphs in one block. It’s like a blend of the good bits of editor mixed with a drag & drop page builder.
If you’re a drag & drop page building kind of WordPress user, at the moment, I’d stick with that. Divi, Beaver Builder or WP Bakery will give you way more functionality than Gutenberg will when first released. I suspect the functionality will mushroom once they’ve got the foundations sorted.
If you’re a “plugin for everything” kind of WordPress user, Gutenberg will offer functionality that means you can ditch some of the plugins. Which is great becuase it will improve your security and speed up your site.
What will happen when Gutenberg arrives.
One thing I can promise you – the world will keep spinning. As I’ve said before, there will be snags but the internet will continue to exist.
Gutenberg is already available as a plugin and is working rather nicely (ignoring columns, although they’ve hopefully fixed those by now). When WordPress 5.0 is released, the Classic Editor will become a plugin that you can install and it will keep everything exactly as you know it.
As it becomes established, it wil become more obvious which themes are not going to be made compatible by their developers and that will be an indication that you will need to update your theme to a Gutenberg ready one over the next few months. We’re here to advise and help with that if you need us. There will be the Twenty Nineteen theme launched alongside WordPress 5.0 so that could provide an easy and straightforward switch if you need it.
Will DigitalJen be using Gutenberg?
Absolutely. We’ve been working with it for a couple of months now and it’s really opened our minds to what could be possible without investing in either someone who can code or expensive plugins. If you want to come for a training session, do a session over Skype or just have a consultancy call about it, just get in touch For sites on our managed service we will be checking them rigourously and making the decision whether to move them back to the Classic Editor if necessary – we’re hoping it won’t be but we shall see.
Gutenberg is coming… exciting times for WordPress users. Just do a backup first. We’ll keep you posted with how we’re getting on.