Delivering Innovation

Some opinions of our professionals about WordPress 5.0
If you have a WordPress website, you have no doubt heard of Gutenberg, the new WordPress editor, currently available as a plugin and expected to be the default in WordPress 5.0. Here at PMA we LOVE technology, and we love NEW technology, especially when it makes our customers’ experience smoother and they achieve their goals faster and easier.

With all this talk about Gutenberg, we sat down with two of our WordPress professionals to get their thoughts and tips to share with you.

  • Do not immediately update to WordPress 5.0 every time it starts, which is yet to be determined. New releases always have some bugs, and this release will be no exception and possibly even worse. WordPress 5.0 is a “wait and see” version.
  • With the release of version 5.0, the Classic Editor plugin will be included for anyone who UPGRADES to 5.0. Do not install the classic editor plugin now; wait until it upgrades to 5.0 and then activate the included Classic Editor plugin. This plugin is undergoing a review and will be different from what is currently in the plugin repository.
  • In the current version (4.9.x) of WordPress, Gutenberg is a plugin and the ‘classic’ editor is the standard editor. In 5.x, that will be reversed. This means that people won’t “have” to start editing in Gutenberg, even if they upgrade to version 5 (although they may have to download another plugin).
  • Gutenberg still has several bugs, or more accurately, interface issues to work out. I wouldn’t be surprised if the publisher delays, though their bug tracker still lists November 27 as the release date. They state that they will have a new minor release every two weeks for the foreseeable future after that release. Early adoption may not be in the best interest of many customers.
  • From a developer’s point of view, Gutenberg will be great!…eventually. They will not need to teach the end user about shortcodes. Instead they will use ‘dynamic blocks’ to achieve the same thing.
  • Gutenberg treats pages as a layoutwith text as part of that layout, not like a text blog with layout as part of the text. This pushes people to become de facto designers, not just de facto writers.
  • One big advantage of Gutenberg that I see initially is that you can reuse blocks. The downside will be that you can create a large number of these reusable blocks, cluttering up the interface (or the blocks panel).
  • Another great advantage (and a great disadvantage at the same time) is that you can customize each block independently. This will lead to great looking pages from people who can design, but also horrible looking pages from those who can’t design but are willing to mess with design.
  • The downside of the two ‘upsides’ above means possible serious database contamination, so site optimizations and caching will be more important, as well as frequent backups.

For existing sites (our pros add), users will be frustrated on three fronts for a short period.

  • First is that it’s going to be annoying to edit existing posts and pages. Users will not have the ‘locks’ that Gutenberg boasts about. Gutenberg is going to treat existing (legacy) content as one giant ‘classic’ block. The concept looks good on paper and sounds good to programmers, but it won’t be pleasant for people just starting out with the Gutenberg block concept. They’ll want to break that big monolithic block into smaller “real” blocks. This will lead to inconsistencies within a page or post, and people will likely start rewriting many of those pages entirely. The posts won’t be too bad, because they are normally not edited (unless they are custom posts created by other plugins).
  • The second the frustration is going to be the typical problem of ‘how do I start and where is everything’. In Gutenberg, you start typing so the editor knows you want a block of text. At that point, the familiar features of the TinyMCE editor (paragraphs, bullets, etc.) appear, and not before. Also, when you copy and paste, Gutenberg treats each paragraph as a block, which interferes with the way things are copied and pasted. Something simple is now more complex (although some things that are now complex will be simplified).
  • The third frustration will be plugins. Many plugins are barely maintained or are no longer maintained. If they have page or post editing components, they may not be updated to support Gutenberg. Additionally, there will be a host of new plugins to add specific features to Gutenberg. It will be the wild west of accessories for some time until the cream reaches the top.

Much to think about!

The big tip our pros wanted to pass on: backup your site before any upgrades. But most importantly, you can’t afford any downtime for your website if you’re not sure what this update will do to your site and you don’t feel like you have the technical skills (or the time) to fix anything that’s wrong. break. in the process, contact a professional before making the change.

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