WordPress 5 – new editor

Last week WordPress core was updated to version 5.0. A new version is generally no big deal and if you look at the release archive you can see this is number 12* for the year. Most of those are incremental updates prompted by performance or security improvements.

In fact version 5.01 dropped today and if your site has the right permissions it will auto update for 5.01 but generally won’t have changed from the 4.9 series unless your webmaster, developer, host or other handy ops person triggers the update from 4.9 (something usually 4.9.8.)

Version 5.0 is a big deal because it is the biggest change since Feb 2008 (v2.7) in my view. The reason WordPress 5.0 is a major change is because the core editor has been replaced by the Gutenberg” editor which has been available for some time.

The pro’s of implementing the Gutenberg editor include making it easier for non-tech people to layout more complicated pages including columns and other formatting. That kind of thing used to require some skill in code or a page builder. It should also improve the WYSIWYG experience.

Page builders have been around for 3-4 years and have got better. If you use the Divi or Avada themes than you already have a page builder. Both of those have improved incredibly but they do add an overhead that can cause problems.

There are other page builders out there and some are not so great. What can happen is that the builder gets included as part of the theme and then that theme is not updated in a timely way. Elementor is one of the page builder plugins that can get activated over most themes but as many people have found there are complexities and potential conflicts with that scenario.

What most site owners want is a CMS that is easy for them to update with content and if they can do some extra formatting on the pages that is a bonus.

Now that the Gutenberg editor is part of core WordPress it would be a good time to look at changing to a newer theme that fully supports the new editor. Having Gutenberg as part of core means it will be kept up to date with each new version of WordPress and so that simplifies life.

If you have an older site then the best option for now is to activate the Classic Editor and not use the Gutenberg one for now. We want to see what conflicts there are with other plugins and themes and generally have time to get used to the new editor. These are the “cons”. Because it is the editor which has changed there are likely to be edge cases and unforeseen consequences.

Activating the Classic Editor plugin preserves the status quo and keeps you existing WordPress site safe. If your site is one that I look after then I have already done this for you. Like many others (more than 6m so far) I have upgraded a number of sites (40 ish) to WordPress 5 and I’m testing the new editor and the new Twenty Nineteen theme on some others.

For more detail on WordPress 5.0 go here.

As of today WordPress 5.01 has been released.

“WordPress 5.0.1 is now available. This is a security release for all versions since WordPress 3.7. We strongly encourage you to update your sites immediately.”

If you are already on Version 5.0 then 5.01 should happen automatically.

As always if you have a WordPress site and need help just ask.

* Open source software especially changes all the time and is analogous to a self healing system. A healthy platform like WordPress has ten’s of thousands of contributors helping to make everything better.

If your site is a few years old and the core software including plugins is up to date it is a bit like the situation where you replace an axe head and the handle periodically but still think its the same axe.

BTW – the data on your site stays the same (until you change it) but the software is evolving continuously as it keeps getting improved.

Other posts about Gutenberg How WordPress 5.0 and Gutenberg Will Affect Your Site

And Ma.tt Interview on Gutenberg and Future of WordPress